Strange Dutch stamps of recent yearsThis section of my stampsite will deal with some of the more peculiar stamps that have officially been issued by the Dutch Postal Service PTT Post (today renamed to TPG Post).
The Zero Cent stampThis strange stamp has a nominal value of 0 (zero) cents. It is something of a modern rarity. It is not listed in Scott, as far as I know, but the excellent Michel Catalog has listed it as "Geschenkmarke" #1 (present-stamp) and gives a value of 35 DM both mint and used. The description present-stamp is very accurate as the Dutch Postal Service distributed one stamp to each household in the Netherlands in January 1998 as part of the mailrates brochure.
The text that accompanied the stamp was: "This stamp is worth 80 cents on the day PTT Post goes to the stock exchange. This little jewel can than be used as a stamp for letters and cards up to 20 grams with a destination within the Netherlands."
Most people probably threw the brochure away, as just another piece of direct mail they had not asked for, hence reducing the number of available stamps. Stamps on piece, with a recognisable datestamp 29-6-1998, are considered as real used. Other cancels are not to be considered as really used.
Bulk postage stampsThese stamps without countryname or nominal value are meant to be used on bulk mail, normally direct mail by insurance companies and lotteries. They suddenly appeared in the late 1990s, almost without any official announcement. There are 5 different stamps with tulips and gold backprinting "port betaald ptt post" as well as one meant to be used on direct mail in the month December and one with a more touristic theme (someone lowering a raw salt herring in his/her mouth).
When you get some of these stamps it is most likely that they will be cancelled with CTO like dateless cancels, such as the examples on the picture show.
Latest news is that in 2002 warehouse Vroom & Dreesmann has been using stamplike vignettes on a mailing to its customers (See the rather poor quality scan taken from the Collect Club magazine). Whether these are to be considered as stamps or cinderellas is at this moment (August 2002) still under debate. According to official definitions it can't be a stamp, it has not been made available to the public for postage. PTT Post however, is not hindered by philatelic concerns and offers the "stamp" to its philatelic customers, even on an FDC. I don't know the English term, but in Michel this is called "Mache". In other words, to be avoided.
Post office meter stampsNow PTT Post is a company with shareholders it tries its utmost to raise the "shareholdersvalue" to the max. Under the rather bizarre moniker of "Improved quality for the customer" a program was started where it first became impossible to buy single stamps at the counter, just booklets of 5 or 10. Only the very few postoffices that have a philatelistic corner (opened one day every two or three weeks) can sell single stamps nowadays. The latest thing is that when you bring an unstamped envelope to the counter it will get a sticker like the one shown here. The people behind the corner are not allowed to put real stamps on the envelopes anymore. Just these stickers.