Tidsskriftet Kulturstudier
Tidsskriftet Kulturstudier

Tidsskriftet

Artiklen er en kulturhistorisk undersøgelse af de visuelle fortællinger om nationen og det nationale på mellemkrigstidens danske frimærker. Fokus er indstillet på de store designkonkurrencer, hvor både kunstnere og helt almindelige borgere blev opfordret til at indsende egne forslag til nye nationale frimærkemotiver.

English summary

Visualizing a nation
Stamps and the nation in Denmark in the inter-war period

Stamps were an important element in the visual culture of a society until very recently. Apart from its quite prosaic function as documentation of payment of postage, the surface of the postage stamp has also been used for symbolic communication from state elites to the population in general. This article explores the visual narratives that the postage stamp has communicated in Denmark about the nation and national values. The focus is on the 1930s, when there was intense debate in the Danish media concerning the stamps’ motifs and graphical qualities. A number of design competitions were held during this period, when both artists and the general public were encouraged to come with their own proposals for new national stamps. The study demonstrates that the stamp was an important national symbol as it functioned as an easily accessible visual focus for discussions about Danishness and Danish values. At the same time, the content of the discussions, like the many alternative and unused postage stamp motifs, shows that there existed many different opinions about how the nation should bevisualized. In particular there was a clear discrepancy between the state iconography of the stamps that were issued and the large grouping among the unused proposals which made use of the landscape and elements from peasant society to emphasize what was ”typically Danish”.