PostNL is issuing the Molly stamp sheet, featuring illustrations by Francien van Westering, on 12 February 2024. Each of the five personal stamps bears the denomination ‘1’ for post weighing up to 20 g with a destination in the Netherlands. The stamp design was created by art director Yvonne Warmerdam of Gouda-based Orange Licensing. A sheet of five stamps costs €5.45.
The cat Molly is the main character in illustrator Francien van Westering’s columns and books. Van Westering first came up with and drew Molly when she was a child. It was not until later in life, after making a career and name for herself as the ‘cat artist’ of the Netherlands, that she brought Molly back to life. She did so in columns in the women’s magazine Margriet and children’s magazine Bobo Magazine, as well as in books that she wrote and drew about Molly. Molly goes on little adventures in the countryside, loves nature, wears flamboyant dresses and doesn’t go anywhere without her hat with flowers on it.
The stamp sheet and Molly stamps feature different illustrations by Francien van Westering starring the cat Molly, while a large drawing of Molly in a hammock covers the sheet border. One of the stamps has a cut-out of this illustration. The other four stamps feature drawings of Molly with flowers, Molly with flowers and a cat at her feet, Molly sitting against a tree and Molly with a wheelbarrow with two cats in it. Of the five illustrations on the stamps, two fill the entire picture plane and three are individual illustrations. The three stamps with an individual illustration feature flowers against a white background. The Molly logo serves as the title of this issue on all stamps and at the top left of the sheet border.
The font for the value indication ‘1’ and Netherlands is a design from 2018 by font designer Martin Majoor of Arnhem. The typography at the bottom left of the stamp sheet is based on the 2017 Baskerville Regular font by Legion Fonts, inspired by the letters of English type designer John Baskerville (1706-1775).
The design of the Molly stamp sheet was created by Yvonne Warmerdam, art director of Gouda-based Orange Licensing. Warmerdam is intimately familiar with the work of Francien van Westering, the creator of Molly. “Orange Licensing was founded in 2014, which means it is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. We have represented Francien from the very start. Until now, we have mostly used her lifelike cat drawings, but recently began also using her Molly illustrations – first on greeting cards, followed by Christmas cards and now on this stamp sheet.”
Molly originated in Van Westering’s imaginary world, a world she often fled to as a child. Warmerdam explains, “She fantasised about a place where cats lived who wore cute clothing and could talk to each other. The main character was a cat named Molly. Francien spent hours writing about and drawing Molly. It was only much later, after she had been drawing cats for many years, that she brought Molly back to life, first through her columns in Margriet and Bobo Magazine and later in books. Every cat lover is familiar with Francien van Westering. It is clear that she has a huge fan base by the enthusiasm of the response to more products with Molly’s drawings now becoming available.”
Warmerdam explains the significant difference in technique between Van Westering’s lifelike cat drawings and Molly illustrations. “The cats are animals, while Molly is a character. For her classic cat drawings, Francien draws on a watercolour base and then adds meticulous details with coloured pencils. The result is very precisely drawn, realistic and lifelike, resembling a photograph. Molly’s illustrations have a much ‘looser’ technique. She uses only watercolours and at most a pencil to draw the whiskers, for example.”
For the stamp sheet design, Warmerdam was able to use a database of countless Molly drawings. “That huge collection of illustrations makes it easy to tell the story of Molly: a city cat who moves to the countryside. As a child, Francien often went on holiday to England with her mother and younger brother. She has always loved the country and its beautiful landscapes, especially the hills. This same landscape can be seen in the drawing I chose for the background, with Molly in the hammock.”
No half faces
Warmerdam took her time choosing the drawing for the background, as it would be a decisive factor for the other illustrations. “It was important that it did not contain details that might disappear in part behind the stamps in the foreground,” explains Warmerdam. “For example, you don’t want only half of Molly’s face to be shown. This is the only illustration I had to change because the ratio of the drawing was different from the size of the stamp sheet. I changed the edges slightly to make the image wider, but without compromising its authenticity. So, that minor change should not be apparent.”
With and without a background
In choosing the illustrations for the stamps, the fact that many drawings appear in the database as single illustrations was very helpful. “So, without scenery, you are not distracted by all kinds of details in the background. I tried different combinations of drawings: with a background, without a background and combined. I also even tried using a separate image for the sheet border, but that did not work out well. So, I needed to find the right balance. After all, too much detail would make it too cluttered, while too little would make it sterile. We liked this combination best, with a white background on three of the five stamps. Francien was enthusiastic about it, as was PostNL. I then chose the final illustrations. In doing so, I paid attention to as much variation as possible in the direction in which Molly is looking. And the drawings had to match each other, also seasonally. For example, you don’t want to see mushrooms on stamps issued in February.”
Warmerdam believes that the Molly character comes across well in all the illustrations. “Molly is really a little lady who is always groomed to perfection. She loves the countryside, being outdoors and flowers. The illustrations have lots of character, with soft colours and a nice nostalgic and warm look & feel. There is a sweetness about them, which we could all use nowadays.”
About Yvonne Warmerdam
Yvonne Warmerdam (Haarlem, 1978) studied European Studies at the Hague University of Applied Sciences and Interior Styling at the Artemis Academy in Rotterdam. She has worked as a marketing and communications officer at several companies and has been art director at Orange Licensing since 2014. This Gouda-based agency exclusively represents Dutch artists, including Janneke Brinkman-Salentijn, Michelle Dujardin, Jan van Haasteren, Anton Pieck, Rien Poortvliet, Francien van Westering and Darum. As art director, Warmerdam works out ideas visually and develops concepts to convince current and potential licensees that their products would be even better with artwork by these Dutch artists. For PostNL, Warmerdam previously designed the stamp series Anton Pieck (2020-2021), 25 years of Rien Poortvliet (2020) and the stamps PostEurop – Birds in the Netherlands (2019), Garden Birds in the Netherlands (2019) and the Experience Nature (2019-2023) postal sets with illustrations by Michelle Dujardin.
About Francien van Westering
Francien van Westering (Bloemendaal, 1951) is the unofficial cat artist of the Netherlands. She studied art at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and has worked as a freelance illustrator since graduating. With her subtle coloured pencil technique, she accurately conveys both the appearance and character of the cats she draws. For the Dutch women’s magazine Margriet, Van Westering wrote and drew a weekly column about her experiences with her cats for almost 15 years. A second column about her beloved cat Molly also appeared simultaneously in the magazine between 1997 and 1999, with a total of 80 columns published. Van Westering also wrote and drew stories for the children’s magazine Bobo Magazine starring the cat Molly. For years, Van Westering’s drawings have been used for a wide variety of products, from diaries, calendars and cards to hobby products, embroidery kits and puzzles. She has also published several books featuring her cat drawings and about Molly. Van Westering has designed an annual Cat Diary since 1993. In 2015, PostNL issued the stamp series Francien’s Cats, with four sheets of three stamps each.
The Molly stamp sheet is available exclusively while stocks last through the online shop and Collect Club’s customer service department at +31 (0)88 – 868 99 00. The validity period is indefinite.
The stamps has the denomination ‘1’ for post weighing up to 20 g with a destination in the Netherlands. The price per stamp sheet with five stamps is €5.45.
- Stamp size 30 x 40 mm (wxh)
- Sheet size 170 x 122 mm (wxh)
- Paper normal with phosphor print
- Gumming gummed
- Printing technique offset
- Print colours cyan, magenta, yellow, black
- Print run number of sheets
- Appearance sheet with five personal stamps in five different designs
- Denomination denomination ‘1’ for post weighing up to 20 g with a destination in the Netherlands
- Design Yvonne Warmerdam | Orange Licensing, Gouda
- Illustrations Francien van Westering
- Item number 840019
- Issue: Molly
- Issue date: 12 February 2024
- Appearance: sheet of five personal stamps in five different designs with denomination ‘1’ for post weighing up to 20 g with a destination in the Netherlands
- Item number: 840019
- Design: Yvonne Warmerdam | Orange Licensing, Gouda
- Illustrations: Francien van Westering
In addition to the official issue programme, PostNL also has an annual issue programme for personal stamps. This programme is flexible. Each issue is designed based on a fixed format with a fixed number of personal stamps. The stamps are exclusively available while stocks last via the online shop and Collect Club’s customer service department at +31 (0)88 – 868 99 00.
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