December 9, 2012

0408 DENMARK (Hovedstaden) - The Little Mermaid

Everyone knows the fairytale The Little Mermaid by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Unfortunately many actually know the animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation in 1989, which, as all the productions of this kind, presents an embellished version of the original. The story has nothing cheerful, and the end is tragic. In short, a young mermaid fell in love with a prince who lived on the shore, and to get married with him, she appeals to a witch, who transforms his fishtail into legs. This sacrifice, which removed her from the aquatic world, was anyway useless, because the prince married a daughter of a neighboring king. She could have become again mermaid, if she would have killed the prince, but she didn't do so, but decided to sacrifice herself again, throwing herself into the waves.

In 1909, Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of the brewing company Carlsberg, commissioned a statue to represent the Little Mermaid. He had been fascinated by a ballet about the fairytale in Copenhagen's Royal Theatre and asked the prima ballerina, Ellen Price, to model for the statue. Ultimately, the statue's head was modelled after Price, but for the body was used the sculptor's wife, because the ballerina didn't agreed to pose nude. The bronze statue was created by Edvard Eriksen, then a little known sculptor, and was unveiled on 23 August 1913. Eriksen has taken a certain "poetic license" when creating the statue. She has part legs, part fishtail, although the story clearly defines when she has a fishtail and when she has legs.

The Little Mermaid falls into a category of iconic statues that cities have come to regard as mascots, or as embodiments of the spirit of a place, so now 75% of all tourists visiting Copenhagen go to see the statue. Over the years, it suffered many acts of vandalism, which I personally don't understand, but every time it was quickly restored. The statue displayed in Copenhagen harbour has always been a copy; the sculptor's heirs keep the original at an undisclosed location. Also copies of them are located in Solvang (California), Kimballton (Iowa), and even in my country, Romania, in Piatra Neamţ.

About the stamps
All the stamps on this postcard are special, but for different reasons.

First one, the blue one, is part of the oldest series in Denmark still in production and second oldest in the world after Norway's Post Horn stamps. "A public competition was held in 1902 to find a new stamp design that was simple to understand and easy to print. Architect Julius Therchilsen came up with the winning design which was accepted after the minor addition of a few hearts. Most of the elements in his design were derived from the Danish coat of arms: the lions, crown and hearts. Three broken wavy lines on the stamp represent the three main waterways in Denmark. [...] To this day, the wavy line design remains virtually unchanged from its first issue in 1905. Having such a long history means there are several variations to look for: slight changes to the print or colour with some combinations of color, value and print being less common than others."

The following three are part of a commemorative series, issued on June 1st, 2012 and showing themes and motifs from Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales. As his stories are internationally known, the idea is to commision foreign artists to design the motifs. The Chinese designer Shen Jiahong has created the first four stamps, featuring motifs from:
• The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep (2.00 DKK) - It's on the postcard
• The Nightgale (3.00 DKK) - It's on the postcard
The Wild Swans (6.00 DKK) - It's on the postcard
• What the old man does is always right (8.00 DKK)

This is a post for Sunday Stamps #100, run by Viridian from Viridian’s Postcard Blog. The theme of this week is totally awesome, amazing stamps or stamp sets, mini-sheets, anything you wish. Click on the button to visit Viridian’s blog and all the other participants.

The Little Mermaid (statue) - Wikipedia
The Little Mermaid - Copenhagen Pictures
Wavy Line Stamps -
Hans Christian Andersen - WOPA

sender: Rita / Gogge1 (postcrossing)
sent from (Denmark), on 15.10.2012


  1. i love colourful stamps like this set, and i so rarely see it on danish postcards - thanks for sharing :)

  2. I really like the old Danish stamp design. I didn't know anything that old was still being used.

  3. what a grat story and yes,it might sound tragic to consider it as a children's lit,but I want to read the whole thing.

    My Sunday Stamp: Mickey Mouse

  4. What a great idea for a postcard blog! I´ll be back to see more!


  5. The three Andersen stamps are so lovely. thank you for participating. Happy Sundan Stamps 100.

  6. I have a lot of the stamps in the series but not the 100. Denmark seems to have many colourful stamps including those issued at Christmas each year.

    I have spent a lot of time in Copenhagen and visited the Little Mermaid almost every time I go. I never cease to be surprised at how small she is - Little is the right name.

  7. The mermaid in winter makes a lovely postcard, the pastel stamps are a nice contrast.

  8. The Little Mermaid looks so cold! I wonder why there is no snow on her. The stamps are so lovely they make me want to read Hans Christian Andersen again. The stories frightened me as a child.