Norge #1, 1855

4 Skilling, sent from Aalesund July 7th, 1856 (NK#1, Sc NO#1)

In 1854, Norway modernized its postal system largely based on the British success the previous ten years. The first Norwegian adhesive postage stamp was issued in the spring of 1855.

Several sketches were submitted for approval in the fall of 1854, including some bearing the semblance of King Oscar I of Sweden in a square aspect ratio. In this time Norway was in union with Sweden, sharing the Swedish monarch. The final design by A. H. Zarbell consisted of the Norwegian coat of arms, a lion holding the axe of Olav. The coat of arms originated in the 12th century and has gone through many design revisions over the centuries. The first Swedish stamp incidentally was also a coat of arms and issued half a year after the Norwegian 4 Skilling. (The 3 crowns design)

Watermark – a lion tipping his hat
  • Known for its very large margins
  • Print run was 2,018,200
  • Paper used was mainly hemp, grey-white in color and course textured leading to poor fuzzy printing qualities
  • The watermark was of the “thick” variety, showing the coat of arms
  • Color varietes range from light blue, dark blue and greenish blue
  • Most known forgeries are crude and don’t have the right amount of horizontal shading lines
  • Highly sought after varieties include; double footed lion and cracked plate
  • Due to the large variety in print qualities, all the original plates were able to be puzzled together by stamp forensics
  • Mint copies are very rare


References and links:

4 Skilling 1855, Centenary of the Norwegian Postage Stamp. Norsk Filatelistforbund Oslo 1955

Norway Number One – The New Handbook – Second Edition. (Gjelsvik, 2000)

Norske Riksvåpen, Wikipedia

Scott Catalogue Vol 6

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