Greenland, known as Kalaallit Nunaat in the Inuit language of Kalaallisut, has a very interesting stamp history, one that began in 1905 and has always been linked with Denmark, in whose kingdom Greenland lies as an autonomous country.
“Pakke Porto” stamps, 1905 & 1937
Greenland’s first stamps were not postage stamps, but parcel post stamps. Issued in 1905, these first Greenland stamps are inscribed PAKKE PORTO, the Danish phrase for “parcel post”. These stamps are not themselves identified as Greenlandic (or Danish, for that matter), so they can be hard to assign as Greenlandic unless a collector is familiar with these stamps. There were nine different values and colors of this PAKKE PORTO stamp issued in 1905; the design was briefly revived in 1937 on a pair of lithographed stamps.
Greenland postage stamps, 1938 — now
The first Greenland postage stamps were issued in 1938, inscribed GRØNLAND and also bearing the phrase KGL POST (an abbreviation of “Kongeligt Post”; i.e., the Royal Post of Denmark). These stamps, as all Greenlandic stamps, use the Danish currency 1 krone = 100 øre.
KALÂTDLIT NUNÂT, 1964
These Greenland stamps featured both Danish and Greenlandic subjects — kings, polar bears, explorers, sea ice, and the like. For several years, every stamp used the Danish name “Grønland”; in 1964, for the first time, the local name was used, using the spelling KALÂTDLIT NUNÂT. At first this phrase was rendered in a smaller typeface than the Danish, but from 1969, the two versions shared equal prominence on Greenland stamps — though the subjects of the stamps themselves still favored Denmark.
KALAALLIT NUNAAT, 1978
In 1978, a new spelling of the Kalaallisut name of Greenland was first used: KALAALLIT NUNAAT. (“Grønland” was retained, as always.) In 1984, the first stamp with only the Inuit name was issued (honoring Danish Prince Henrik’s fiftieth birthday, ironically enough). The general rule, however, would remain to always use both.
Local subject matter, 1980s
The 1980s saw a noticeable change in the subject matter of Greenland stamps; local scenes were showed more often, as the strictly Danish subject matter was gradually reduced. Birds, bears, boats, and natural Arctic scenes began appearing more often on stamps, whose designs also increased in elegance and effectiveness. Collectors’ pieces like maximum cards and souvenir sheets also became popular issues. Over the years, several collectible semi-postal stamps, sometimes surcharged overprints, were issued.
Greenland stamps today are still issued by Denmark, still use both names of the gigantic island, and are still in krone and øre. Collectibles of many different types are available; check the subcategories for the newest items for sale from Greenland.
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