Stamps of 2023: Åland (January 2023)

Åland is one of my favorite entities to collect stamps from and I have done so avidly since the 1980s. I appreciate the fact that the annual philatelic output is relatively small while the subject matter and designs are always interesting. Åland Post is one of the few postal administrations that will announce the details as well as the images for ALL of their stamps well in advance of a new year. This time, a video showcasing the 2023 stamps was posted on November 10, 2022, and a summary — with images — went out as a press release on November 23. Around one month prior to any issue being released, they become available for preorder in their webshop at The shop was recently updated with a new look and — much welcome to this heavy user — a much faster loading time. High-resolution images for the items scheduled to be released in January — including BOTH sides of the first day covers (some have wrap-around designs) appeared on the website on December 22, along with articles listing their technical aspects. I wish more postal administrations were as collector-oriented as Åland Post.

Jan. 4, 2023

Garden Berries Franking Labels

A berry is a small, pulpy, and often edible fruit. Typically, berries are juicy, rounded, brightly colored, sweet, sour or tart, and do not have a stone or pit, although many pips or seeds may be present. Common examples are strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, red currants, white currants and blackcurrants. In Britain, soft fruit is a horticultural term for such fruits.

In common usage, the term “berry” differs from the scientific or botanical definition of a fruit produced from the ovary of a single flower in which the outer layer of the ovary wall develops into an edible fleshy portion (pericarp). The botanical definition includes many fruits that are not commonly known or referred to as berries, such as grapes, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, bananas, and chili peppers. Fruits commonly considered berries but excluded by the botanical definition include strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, which are aggregate fruits and mulberries, which are multiple fruits. Watermelons and pumpkins are giant berries that fall into the category “pepos”. A plant bearing berries is said to be bacciferous or baccate.

Berries are eaten worldwide and often used in jams, preserves, cakes, or pies. Some berries are commercially important. The berry industry varies from country to country as do types of berries cultivated or growing in the wild. Some berries such as raspberries and strawberries have been bred for hundreds of years and are distinct from their wild counterparts, while other berries, such as lingonberries and cloudberries, grow almost exclusively in the wild.

Growing berries and other so-called small fruits generally don’t require as much space as full-size fruit trees. By growing several different types in your garden, you can enjoy home-grown fruit from early summer through late fall. Before deciding which ones to grow, you will also need to determine whether the type and variety of plant is self-fruitful or requires a different plant in order to yield fruit (cross-pollination). Muscadine grapes, kiwis and most blueberries require two compatible varieties for successful pollination. Kiwi plants are also either male or female, so you need to plant at least one of each sex to ensure a fruit set.

The ideal site and soil conditions for a garden berry patch vary depending on the type of fruit you grow. In many cases, these plants aren’t fussy and will grow just fine in an average, well-drained garden soil with plenty of sun.

Åland Post issues a new series of self-adhesive franking labels on 4 January 2023. The theme is garden berries, and Finnish artist Mari Oksanen illustrates her first postal labels showing delicate berries that are grown in Åland gardens.

The four berry varieties shown on the franking labels are black currants (Ribes nigrum), raspberries (Rubus idaeus), gooseberries (Ribes uva-crispa) and strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa).

Åland Post

Black Currant (Ribes nigrum)

The black currant (Ribes nigrum) is a deciduous shrub in the family Grossulariaceae grown for its edible berries. It is native to temperate parts of central and northern Europe and northern Asia, where it prefers damp fertile soils. It is widely cultivated both commercially and domestically. It is winter hardy, but cold weather at flowering time during the spring may reduce the size of the crop. Bunches of small, glossy black fruit develop along the stems in the summer and can be harvested by hand or by machine. Breeding is common in Scotland, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, and New Zealand to produce fruit with better eating qualities and bushes with greater hardiness and disease resistance. The raw fruit is particularly rich in vitamin C and polyphenols. Blackcurrants can be eaten raw but are usually cooked in sweet or savory dishes. They are used to make jams, preserves, and syrups and are grown commercially for the juice market. The fruit is also used to make alcoholic beverages and dyes.

Gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa)

Gooseberry is a common name for many species of Ribes (which also includes currants), as well as a large number of plants of similar appearance. The berries of those in the genus Ribes (sometimes placed in the genus Grossularia) are edible and may be green, orange, red, purple, yellow, white, or black. Ribes uva-crispa, known as European gooseberry is native to Europe, the Caucasus and northern Africa. Gooseberry bushes produce an edible fruit and are grown on both a commercial and domestic basis. Its native distribution is unclear, since it may have escaped from cultivation and become naturalized. Gooseberries are edible and can be eaten raw, or cooked as an ingredient in desserts, such as pies, fools and crumbles. Early pickings are generally sour and more appropriate for culinary use. This includes most supermarket gooseberries, which are often picked before fully ripe to increase shelf life. Gooseberries are also used to flavor beverages such as sodas, flavored waters, or milk, and can be made into fruit wines and teas. They can be preserved in the form of jams, dried fruit, as the primary or a secondary ingredient in pickling, or stored in sugar syrup.

Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)

The raspberry is the edible fruit of a multitude of plant species in the genus Rubus of the rose family, most of which are in the subgenus Idaeobatus. The name also applies to these plants themselves. Raspberries are perennial with woody stems. Rubus idaeus, called a red raspberry or occasionally European red raspberry to distinguish it from other raspberry species is a red-fruited species of Rubus native to Europe and northern Asia and commonly cultivated in other temperate regions. The fruit is red, edible, and sweet but tart-flavored, produced in summer or early autumn. Red raspberries have antioxidant effects that play a minor role in the killing of stomach and colon cancer cells and may protect the liver.

Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa)

The garden strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) is a widely grown hybrid species of the genus Fragaria, collectively known as the strawberries, which are cultivated worldwide for their fruit. The fruit is widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness. It is consumed in large quantities, either fresh or in such prepared foods as jam, juice, pies, ice cream, milkshakes, and chocolates. Artificial strawberry flavorings and aromas are also widely used in products such as candy, soap, lip gloss, perfume, and many others.

The garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany, France, in the 1750s via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis, which was brought from Chile by Amédée-François Frézier in 1714. Cultivars of Fragaria × ananassa have replaced, in commercial production, the woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), which was the first strawberry species cultivated in the early 17th century. The strawberry is not, from a botanical point of view, a berry. Technically, it is an aggregate accessory fruit, meaning that the fleshy part is derived not from the plant’s ovaries but from the receptacle that holds the ovaries. Each apparent “seed” (achene) on the outside of the fruit is actually one of the ovaries of the flower, with a seed inside it.

The issue marks Mari Oksanen’s debut as a stamp artist, and she immediately fell for the illustration assignment:

“Creating something for the small space was a challenge; to make the motifs appear rich in detail yet simple enough to strike the viewer’s eye. I really enjoy working with flora and fauna related objects and design organic forms, so the garden berries were well within my comfort zone. The idea of giving the berries different moods and personalities came to me almost immediately, and I appreciated being encouraged to create playful and colourful labels rather than realistic images. The black currants look a bit mischievous and secretive, the raspberries are wild rascals, while the gooseberries are the gentle sweethearts among thorns. The strawberry is the juicy one, basking in sunlight,” Mari explains.

Åland Post

Facts about the issue
Name of issue: Garden berries
Date of issue: 4 January 2023
Artist: Mari Oksanen
Design: Mari Oksanen & Johanna Finne
Denomination of series: 4 × €2.10
Price FDC: €9.40
Size: 56 × 25 mm (labels), 115 × 175 mm (cover)
Paper: 40 gms thermal paper
Process: 4-colour offset
Printer: Cartor Security Printers

Jan. 4, 2023

Veteran Tractors (Series 3)

With an issue on 4 January, Åland Post’s stamp series featuring veteran tractors in Åland photographed by David Lundberg ends. The last two stamps feature a 1955 Ferguson and a 1960 Fordson Super Major. Starting in February 2020, the 3-year stamp series comprises at total of six stamps, with motifs spanning from the early 20th century to the 1960s.

The first stamp shows a Ferguson tractor that was developed by Irishman Harry Ferguson, revolutionizing agriculture when launched in 1946.

The Ferguson tractor came to Åland in 1956 in connection with an Åland exhibition, finding a new home on Valter Jansson’s farm in Svinö, Lumparland.

“The tractor was stashed away on the farm for many years, until my brother Lars-Erik and I decided that we would renovate it. Around 2005, I started looking for a new engine and was lucky enough to find one in excellent condition in Sweden,” Valter’s son Sven-Åke Jansson explains. He keeps the tractor on the premises of the veteran tractor club at the Åland rural centre in Jomala, where he uses the tractor with a crate attached to drive around with the children who participate in the 4-H activities at the former agricultural school.

The other stamp shows a 1960 Fordson Super Major. At the time, the Ford Motor Company was one of the largest tractor manufacturers. This model turned out to be the final version of Ford’s Major models.

Gösta Johansson bought the new tractor for his farm Västra Hinders, located in Önningeby, Jomala. The tractor is still preserved on the farm, driven by Daniel Högman, who bought it from his mother-in-law.

“I painted and fixed up the tractor in the early 2000s. It’s intact with original parts. The fenders have been replaced but, as you can see, it has original side plates, which is unusual. I haven’t added anything extra to the tractor and the exhaust system is original,” explains Daniel, who uses it also when cutting the roadsides.

Åland Post

Facts about the issue
Name of issue: Veteran tractors
Date of issue: 4 January 2023
Photographer: David Lundberg
Design: Johanna Finne
Edition: 2 × 45 000
Denominations: €1.80 & €2.90
Price FDC. €5.70
Price maximum card: €3.50
Size: 40 × 30 mm (stamps), 115 × 175 mm (cover), 148 × 105 mm (cards)
Sheet size: 2 × 12 stamps
Paper: 110 g/m2
Perforation: 13 per 2 cm
Process: 4-colour offset
Printer: Cartor Security Printers

2 thoughts on “Stamps of 2023: Åland (January 2023)

  1. Pingback: Stamps of 2023: Monthly Wrap-Up (January) | Mark Joseph Jochim

  2. Pingback: Åland 2023, Part 1 (Jan/Feb 2023) – Philatelic Pursuits

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