24 juli 2024

My experiences sending international mail with Sandd

As chairman of the Korea Stamp Society during 2018-2019, in December 2018 I wanted to send a card to a few KSS members. Because I regularly read about the Sandd stamps in the Dutch Filatelie magazine, I thought it would be an interesting idea to send these cards via Sandd, a company which was recently bought by PostNL and merged into the PostNL family. A nice bonus was that using Sandd stamps would give something extra to the envelopes for my fellow philatelists of the KSS.

The international rate of Sandd was simple and available online on the Sandd website. One card in an envelope was within the 0-20 gram rate, at the price of EUR 1.10. Because those stamps were only sold per 20, I chose to order a sheet of 20 stamps of EUR 0.60. The EUR 0.60 stamps were meant for the local postal rate. This meant I would pay 10 cents too much per envelope, but that was better than paying for 20 stamps of EUR 1.10. I didn’t know if they would arrive at all. The stories on the internet about the Christmas stamps (used in December in the Netherlands only) from Sandd were not particularly good.

Christmas card sent to Australia.

On 29 December 2018 I posted all the envelopes. They were to go to the United States, Australia, Great Britain and South Korea. After I had not heard anything for several months, I started to think that all cards had disappeared. But suddenly, within just over a week difference in time, I was told by all addressees that they had received their envelope. That meant that 100%(!) of the envelopes had arrived.

Christmas card sent to the US.

The strange thing, however, was the moment of arrival: for Great Britain it was 10 March 2019, but for the other three countries 15 March and 18 March. Totally different parts of the world, but arriving within a week and in the latter case even on (almost) the same day! It was almost as if these envelopes were sent at the same time by Sandd sometime at the end of February. How else can such a similar time of arrival be explained…?

Front and back of envelope sent to Japan. Notice the date in the Japanese cancellation on the back.

Because I wanted to have envelopes with internationally used Sandd stamps myself, I also deliberately addressed a few envelopes incorrectly, using the extra stamps from the sheet of 20 Sandd stamps I had bought. I sent these envelopes to countries which I knew from experience have a high quality of postal service, which means they will actually return such mail. In this case I chose Canada, Japan, Norway and Greenland.

On December 30, 2018 and January 6, 2019 I put these envelopes in the Sandd letterbox (located in a store in Amsterdam). Because the return sticker of the Greenland postal service contains a date stamp, in the case of the Greenland envelope it is actually possible to find out when the envelope arrived in Greenland: 11 March 2019. So here again almost the same period as with the Christmas cards!

Envelope returned from Greenland, complete with Nuuk (Godthåb) cancellation showing a date.

Apart from the fact that many envelopes arrived at almost the same time at their destination, there is something else that matches: the Sandd cancellation on the stamps. Unfortunately the stamping is very light, but on some envelopes 22 or 27 FEB 2019 is just about readable, showing that indeed the envelopes had been in some Sandd office for quite some time. This immediately gave rise to a second question: why did these envelopes remain with Sandd for almost 2 months?

Envelope returned from Spitsbergen (Svalbard), an Arctic territory serviced by the Norwegian postal services.

And there is even a third thing: the return shipment of these envelopes was, at least according to the encoding on the envelopes, always done by PostNL. It was mentioned earlier in Filatelie magazine (see issue 4-2019) that PostNL and Sandd are helpful to each other and that’s clearly visible here.

NSA or No Such Address, written by a Canadian mailman.

Now that Sandd has been taken over by PostNL, this trick of creating modern postal history is no longer possible. The Greenland postal item is probably even unique, I suspect not that many people decided to use Sandd to send mail to the Arctic regions…

Ivo Spanjersberg

Ivo Spanjersberg

Webmaster. Collecting Korean revenue stamps (see http://www.spanjersberg.net/). Also member of Korea Stamp Society (https://www.koreastampsociety.org/) & Nederlandse Vereniging voor Fiscale Filatelie (http://www.belastingzegels.nl/).

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