18 juni 2024

200 Years of the KNRM

Every year PostNL releases a series of personalised stamps in addition to the official release programme. This is a flexible programme, meaning that PostNL also releases one-off stamp sheets in response to current events like the 200th anniversary of the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM). Each release is based on a fixed format with a fixed number of personalised stamps. The stamps are exclusively available from Collect Club’s online store and customer service on 088 – 868 99 00.

To mark the 200th anniversary of the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution, PostNL will release the 200 Years of the KNRM stamp sheet. These stamps are dedicated to the lifeboats and their crew who have helped and rescued more than 100,000 people in need since its foundation. The stamps each have a value of 1 for mail weighing up to 20 grams with a destination within the Netherlands. The stamps were created by the graphic designer Bart de Haas from The Hague. The price for a sheet of 10 stamps is €10.90.

In 2024, the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM) will be 200 years old. The predecessors to the KNRM were established in 1824 by private individuals after 17 ships were wrecked off the Dutch coast in an October storm. The predecessors were the Royal North and South Holland Sea Rescue Society (KNZHRM) and the Royal South Holland Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked Persons (KZHMRS). These organisations merged in 1991 to form the KNRM.

At the request of the Netherlands Coastguard, the KNRM performs search and rescue tasks on the water, as well as on the beach and in dunes. Rescue work is carried out from 45 rescue stations with 75 boats and 18 coastal rescue vehicles by 1500 volunteers, 1200 of whom are on the water and 300 onshore. KNRM lifeguards monitor the beaches on the Frisian Islands in the summer months. The Radio Medical Service of the KNRM provides remote medical assistance to crews on ships worldwide. Finally, the KNRM helps prevent coastal and water sports accidents by providing information and advice. Over 100,000 people have been helped or rescued by KNRM volunteers in the past 200 years. Much has changed in all these years, but the KNRM still does its work free of charge and on a voluntary basis. The KNRM has operated without government support since its foundation in 1824 and can do its work thanks to donors, legacies and gifts.

Each stamp on the 200 Years of the KNRM stamp sheet features an action photo of a KNRM lifeboat, with people visible on board where possible. Black and white photographs are used in the top row, with colour photographs in the one below. The boats sail in different directions, mostly on choppy water. All the photographs are positioned in the middle of the portrait stamp. Horizontal wavy stripes in orange and blue, the house colours of the KNRM, run across the stamp sheet. At the top of each stamp there is a band of colour which is a percentage of the colour of the wavy stripe below. At the bottom of each stamp there is a white area which runs through the stamp frame. The edges of the sheet feature a large photo of a calm sea with colours corresponding to the wavy stripes on the stamps. Each stamp has the title of the release and a photo caption. The bottom sheet edge displays a timeline with highlights from the history of the KNRM between 1824 and 2024.

The font for the value designation of 1 and ‘Nederland’ was created in 2018 by the font designer Martin Majoor from Arnhem, the Netherlands. The rest of the lettering uses FF DIN, a sans serif designed in 1995 by the Dutch font designer Albert-Jan Pool in Hamburg.

For 200 years, the KNRM has responded to emergency calls and requests for assistance on the water in all weather conditions. Not everyone knows exactly what the KNRM does, not even those who live near the coast like the graphic designer Bart de Haas from The Hague, who was responsible for designing the 200 Years of the KNRM stamps. “During our introductory meeting at the headquarters in IJmuiden, I said that I once thought I had encountered someone from the KNRM when I swam far into the sea at Meijendel and the ‘rescue brigade’ came along asking if everything was okay. I now know that the rescue brigade is different to the KNRM and I have immersed myself in the history of heavy storms, castaways and lifeboats.”

After the talks at the IJmuiden headquarters, De Haas visited the National Lifeboat Museum Dorus Rijkers in Den Helder. “It is the perfect museum for children and parents alike, there’s so much to see. I encountered Dorus Rijkers himself, at least in photo form. As a rescuer from the late 19th, early 20th century, he looked just as you would expect, with a large beard, pipe in his mouth and a sou’wester. In the museum you will find all kinds of objects used during rescue operations, like a rope throwing and seesaw device for shooting ropes to ships in distress in order to bring passengers to safety. The exhibition also shows the development of life jackets, which is a history in itself. Other striking objects include an assorted collection of awards.”

Linear graphic storytelling
De Haas initially imagined a stamp design consisting of a collage of these kinds of museum objects to look back at the past. “But that didn’t really work,” he says. “It raised too many questions and lacked a perspective on the present. Then I looked at whether I could show something about the creation of the KNRM in 1991 with the merger of the two original rescue organisations from 1824. That wasn’t quite what we were looking for either. Then I focused on one of the most visible aspects of the KNRM’s work: the boats and the different classes into which they are divided. This allowed me to tell a linear graphic story that shows both the past and the present, from the Eierland and Insulinde classes to the Arie Visser and the very latest Chaterina D class.”

Iconic boats
Black and white photos were used were used for the top row of stamps and colour photos for the bottom row. De Haas: “In this way, I wanted to make a distinction between the boats of the past and present. I selected the most iconic boats in consultation with the KNRM. It all started with the men who took to the water in the 19th century to rescue people with a rowing boat. That is the image that opens the stamp sheet. Then there is the introduction of the first motorised lifeboat, the first self-righting motor lifeboat and the first rigid inflatable, a rubber boat with a fixed bottom. The story continues up to the 10th stamp, with the introduction of the Chaterina D in 2023. Along the bottom edge of the sheet there is a timeline with important historic events. This was an opportunity for me to mention other developments. Positioning the years and highlights diagonally gave the timeline a decorative look.”

High waves
For the images, De Haas used photos from the archives of the KNRM, as well as other collections and museums. “There is a lot to be found, but you have to look carefully and be critical,” he says. “For example, it is not always clear which boat and class is shown or when the shot was taken. Dynamics were an important starting point in selecting the images. I wanted to show the sea, high waves and preferably rescuers in action. For example, the Zeemanshoop photo is not just a training exercise, it’s a real rescue from 1938 when the logger SCH 102 ran aground at the northern port of Scheveningen in a heavy storm.”

Calm versus dynamic
The maritime theme of the 200 Years of the KNRM release continues onto the edge of the sheet with a large photograph of the Dutch sea. De Haas: “Unlike the other photos, this sea is calm, so as not to distract from the dynamic stamps. Graphic elements have been added to the design in the form of the orange and blue stripes that run in waves across the stamp sheet. This brings all the stamps together and breaks the rectangular pattern of the stamps. Because whatever the sea is, it is certainly not rectangular. The wave patterns, which go from thick to thin and from thin to thick, were perfectly identical at first. But in practice, the shape has occasionally been adapted to make the typography stand out well.”

Tough and robust lettering
The typography also conveys movement as the title of the release (in blue) appears alternately at the top and bottom of the stamps. The same goes for the photo caption (in black). “The choice of font is also related to the water”, concludes De Haas. “I chose FF DIN, a tough and robust font by a Dutch type designer. You could just imagine that lettering on the hull of a ship.”

About the designer
Bart de Haas (1966, The Hague) studied graphic and typographic design at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. After working for a few years at various design firms, he established himself as an independent graphic and typographic designer in 1993. He has a strong preference for book design, but has also designed posters, magazines, websites and visual identities. Bart de Haas has designed books for Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography in Amsterdam, the former national museum of the Dutch Army (Legermuseum Delft) and the publishers nai010, Brill, de Buitenkant, Clio, SUN, THOTH, Vantilt, W-Books and Waanders. For PostNL, he has previously designed the stamp series Underwater World (2021-2023) and Ancient Species (2021-2023) and the stamps PostEurop – Underwater Nature (2024), Peace, the Highest Value of Humanity andThe Dutch Mill – 100 Years (2023), String Instruments (2022), Dutch Castles (2017), Apple and Pear Varieties in the Netherlands (2016), National Musical Instruments (2014) and Long Live the Forest! (2010).

The 200 Years of the KNRM stamps are exclusively available from Collect Club’s online store and customer service on 088 – 868 99 00 while stocks last. The validity period is indefinite.

The stamps each bear a value of 1, intended for mail weighing up to 20 grams with a destination within the Netherlands. The price per sheet of 10 stamps is €10.90.

Stamp size 30 x 40 mm (W x H)
Sheet size 170 x 122 mm (W x H)
Paper normal with phosphor print
Gumming gummed
Printing technique offset
Printing colours cyan, magenta, yellow, black
Print run 6000 sheets
Appearance sheet of 10 personalised stamps in 10 different designs
Value each with a value of 1 for mail up to 20 grams with a destination within the Netherlands
Design Bart de Haas, The Hague
Item number 840049

© 2024 Koninklijke PostNL BV

Rescue rowers (Roeiredders). Until 1895, KNRM rescues were carried out exclusively with the help of rowing boats. Photographer Chef Kreuger (KNRM image archive).
Eierlandklasse. In 1922, the first motor lifeboat of this class became available. The class is named after the infamous Eierlandse Gronden waters to the north of the island of Texel. Photographer unknown (Museum Noordwijk historical archive).
Zeemanshoop. This motor lifeboat was used by the KNRM from 1925 to 1971. The photo is from a rescue operation in 1938. In May 1940, students and Jewish refugees migrated to England aboard the Zeemanshoop. Photographer H.G.M. Schimmelpenninck (KNRM image archive).
Insulindeklasse. The first self-righting motor lifeboat became available in 1927. The pictured boat is now at the National Lifeboat Museum Dorus Rijkers in Den Helder. Photographer Cees van der Meulen (Netherlands Photo Museum Rotterdam).
Atlanticklasse. The first rigid inflatable boat (RIB), a rubber dinghy with fixed bottom. This class has been used by the KNRM since 1973. Photographer Cees van der Meulen (Netherlands Photo Museum Rotterdam).
Valentijnklasse. The first launchable RIB made entirely of aluminium. This class has been used by the KNRM since 1990. Photographer Martijn Bustin (KNRM image archive).
Volunteer rescuers (Vrijwillige redders). Crew on a Nicolas class boat, especially suitable for use on inland waterways. This class has been used by the KNRM since 2009. Photographer Roel Ovinge (KNRM image archive).
Arie Visserklasse. The largest RIB lifeboat in the world. This class has been used by the KNRM since 1999. Photographer Arie van Dijk (KNRM image archive).
Lifeguards. The KNRM lifeguards have used a rescue watercraft from the brand Sea-Doo since 2010. Photographer Olaf Kraak (KNRM image archive).
Chaterina D class. The aluminium successor to the Atlantic 75 class, mainly used on the Wadden Sea and IJsselmeer. This class has been used by the KNRM since 2023. Photographer Roel Ovinge (KNRM image archive).

Release: 200 Years of the KNRM
Release date: 24 May 2024
Appearance: Sheet of 10 personalised stamps in 10 different designs,
each with a value of 1 for mail weighing up to 20 grams with a destination within the Netherlands
Item number: 840049
Design: Bart de Haas, The Hague

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