Tintin Stamps From the Royal Dutch Post

6 November 1999

News reporters seem to bring more bad news than good nowadays. News of crimes, wars, tax increases, rises in interest rates... but once in a blue moon, I would get a pleasant surprise. For instance, the news of the Royal Dutch Post's decision to release stamps featuring my boyhood hero, Tintin and friends on Friday, 8th October, was one rare piece of good news.

Dutch Tintin Stamp
Photograph © Rob Winkels

I had made arrangements to finish work early on that day to ensure I could get to the post office before closing time. I did not realise how popular the stamps were until the post office employee handed me what was left, which was not a lot: a dozen booklets of stamps and no more. No, no, the lady did not understand. I had asked for the lot. Yes, the lot meaning every related item that was released, the stamp booklets, the first day covers, écu-letters, phonecards and freebies!

"I'm sorry, Sir, but we've run out of the other items..."

Already? %$&#! I was devastated, I had not counted on the stamps to be that popular. I cursed myself for being late—I should have camped outside the post office the night before.

I must have looked really miserable, because the post office lady tried to cheer me up by holding up a free Tintin bookmark and saying that I could have it. But the disappointment was too great, not even a free bookmark could ease my pain. I wanted the first day covers.

As I was about to turn around and leave the post office after having paid for the stamp booklets, the man behind me spoke.

"So, you're after the Tintin first day covers?"

First Day Cover
Photograph © Rob Winkels
First Day Cover 2
Photograph © Rob Winkels

"Yes, but there is none left." I replied.

The lady behind the counter looked over my shoulder when she heard the the man's voice and said to me, "Ah, but this gentleman should be able to help you!"

For a moment I was confused; who was who and who was selling stamps over here? The stranger laughed and pulled out a box from under his arm (no, it was not a bomb, no post office hold-up here). He removed the lid to reveal hundreds of first day covers, which caused my jaw to drop.

"Are you a stamp collector?" I asked stupidly.

"I sure am!" replied the stranger, who appeared to be in his fifties. "I've got all the first day covers the Dutch Post have ever brought out. So which ones would you like to have and how many?"

Ahhh ... life is good again.