New Danish Stamp with the Writing Ball!

The set of 4 stamps, presenting important Danish inventions.

A report from Christian Barnholdt, member of the board of The International Rasmus Malling-Hansen Society, and former president and co-founder of the Society.


On october 30th the Danish Post Office Administration presented their ‘New Stamp Programme’ (Frimærker, Briefmarke) for 2015. I had the pleasure to attend the event – together with more than 100 guests – mainly Danish stamp collectors. I also had the pleasure to be allowed by the hosts to give a 3-minute presentation on the writing ball and Rasmus Malling-Hansen.


Among the 20 planned new stamps for 2015, there is a set of 4 stamps, presenting important Danish inventions. And one of these stamps is with the Writing Ball in its most beautiful version: The 1878 model with the colour ribbon. The particular writing ball on the stamp is one of the specimens from the colletion at Danish Technical Museum in Helsingør.


The background for this wonderful news is, that the Post Office wanted to present four important Danish inventions with their new stamp programme for 2015. They therefore asked Technical Museum for suggestions. And among the four Danish inventions that they recommended was the Writing Ball. I will assume that is was the director of the museum, the long time friend of the Society, Jens Breinegaard who chose the Writing Ball for one of these stamps. Or maybe the museums librarian, Niels Christiansen – also a long time friend of our Society. And I am pretty sure, that they would not have done that, if our Society had not existed. We visited the Technical Museum and their 9 writing balles at the occation of our first general assembly in 2006, where we were photographed with their wonderful collection of Writing Balls – and with Jens Breinegaard also seen on the photo.


The Malling-Hansen stamp has the value of 10 kroner, which will be the standard postage fee in 2015. The new stamp will appear to the public on March 14, and will be printed in 750.000 copies for a start. 6000 first day cover's with each stamp, 3000 with mini sheets and 6000 souvenirmaps will also be produced, and the Society will buy some of these to use as gifts to people who have made a special effort to make RMH and his life known to the public. The Internet has of course had a dramatic negative effect on the number of paperletters sent – and thus on the use of ordinary stamps. But let us rejoice, that our yearlong efforts to give Rasmus Malling-Hansen his well deserved position as one of Denmarks most progressive and intelligent reformers and inventors has taken another positive step.

Some of the founders of the Malling-Hansen Society together in the museum with Jens Breinegaard - number two from right - in 2006. Notice the museum's large collection of writing balls, showing the deveopment of the writing ball from the box model to the low model with paperplaten and colour ribbon, which could also write on large paper formats.
Enlarged picture of the new stamp. Notice that the inserted paper is too large for the paper frame of the writing ball.
This engraving of the same model showes how it should look withe the proper paper format, called folio, somewhat smaller than A4.

And last –but not least: As the ‘sharpeyed’ Writing Ball collectors and enthusiasts will discover on the copy of the new stamp – and which our webeditor Sverre Avnskog discovered immediately, there is something wrong with the picture of the Writing Ball. The sheet of paper attached does not fit the metalframe. It is too large, because it is a modern day A4-format. The correct format of the paper for the Writing Ball is smaller, called folio format. But when Technical Museum lent out their Writing Ball copy to the creator of the stamp, they either gave them a specimen with the A4 sheet installed – or they installed the A4 sheet on it. When we in the Society a couple of months ago received a draft of this stamp, Sverre immediately discovered the problem with the papirformat, and I reported that to PostDanmark. They thanked me for my critical comments – but it was too late to make changes.


And on the presentation Thursday the 30th they told me, that it was no problem, if I announced the error. So I did – and only got positive feedback from them. They seem to love if specialists like us – eg. Sverre – discover errors in new stamps. It makes the stamps more attractrive to the collectors.


As mentioned earlier there were more than 100 attendants to the presentation. But – contrary to my hopes – no representatives of the press. New stamps are obliviously not as interesting in 2014 as in ‘the old days’ before the email. So I did not manage to get any new newspaper articles about the Writing Ball.



October 31st 2014

Christian Barnholdt  


This is the information text about the planned set of stamps showing great Danish inventions.

14. marts 2015

Danske opfindelser

Fire frimærker med motiver af fire danske

opfindelser: tørbatteriet, roterstel

longjohn budcyklen og skrivekuglen.

Frimærkerne er designet af Post Danmark

Frimærker, graveret af Martin Mörck og

fremstilles i kombination af stålstik og




75.000 stk.10-striber med tørbatteriet og skrivekuglen

75.000 stk.10-striber med roterstellet og longjohn budcyklen

54.000 stk. miniark

6.000 stk. FDC med enkeltfrimærker

3.000 stk. FDC med miniark

6.000 stk. souvenirmapper

Sælges indtil 31. december 2015 eller så længe lager