Heraldic lion on postage stamps
The heraldic lion of Finland adorned the jubilee issue for the 150th anniversary of the Finnish postage stamp in 2006. In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Finnish stamp, a miniature sheet was issued on 27 October 2006 in scintillating red, blue and gold, on the theme of the lion coat of arms of Finland on Finnish stamps. The miniature sheet includes three stamps with values 0.70, 1.40 and 0.95.
The jubilee sheet was designed by Päivi Vainionpää and was printed in a run of 220,000. In addition to these, a special numbered edition of 3,000 was printed of the jubilee item, with the lion printed in genuine 22-karat gold.
Coat of arms
The lion coat of arms is a vital part of the history of the Finnish stamp: with a few brief exceptions, it has always been the picture on the definitive stamp. A number of designers have contributed their own versions of the stamp. The designer of the jubilee sheet, Päivi Vainionpaä, aimed to bring together a time-honored heritage and state-of-the-art technology: she has used on the jubilee sheet both old lion stamp originals and modern-day refinements of specialist printing technology.
The 95-cent postage stamp on the sheet is a cropped image of a ten kopek oval stamp. This was one of Finland's first stamps, from 1856. On the jubilee sheet it is portrayed stylishly: in red foil and embossed. The heraldic lion of Finland from 1930, drawn by designer Signe Hammarsten-Jansson, is shown on the 70-cent stamp. The white lion is embossed on a dark-blue background. The middle stamp on the sheet, with a face value of 1.40 Euro, is a section of the coat of arms stamp drawn by designer Pirkko Vahtero in 1975. The cropping, letterpress and gold foil bring out the lion strongly, with sculpted features on a dark-blue background. On the numbered series of miniature sheets, 22-karat gold is used to print this lion.
The numbered sheets cost 20 Euro each and they are sold in protective covers bearing the printer's certificate of authenticity for the gold. Cartor Security Printing has printed the sheets In France.
Heraldic lion on Finnish stamps
The first Finnish postage stamps, issued in 1856, did not bear the name of the country. Nor did the stamps that followed - until 1875. However, from the start they bore the national lion coat of arms. The coat of arms has been the illustration on our definitive stamps throughout Finland's philatelic history. Only in the period 1891-1917 was the lion of Finland replaced by the Russian double-headed eagle.
The last postage stamp model during Finland's period as a grand duchy of Russia, which was issued in 1889, was printed in Russian as well as Finnish and Swedish. Three languages on one stamp was quite a lot. But what also happened at that time was extraordinary: the lion coat of arms became the original coat of arms of the Duchy of Finland.
Coat of arms
The stamp based on the coat of arms model of the Grand Duchy of Finland adopted in 1889 was formulated by K. A. Bomansson and drawn by lithographer F. Tilgman in 1886. The Finnish flag carried at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889 also bore this form of the coat of arms.
During the Russian years, both the coat of arms and the name of the country were removed from stamps. The so-called "ring stamps" of 1891 bore no emblems referring to Finland. From 1901 onwards, the stamps also had the words PEN and MARKKAA (marks, the Finnish currency) printed on them in Latin script.
In October 1917, just before Finland became independent, a new series of definitive stamps bearing the coat of arms came into service. Architect Eliel Saarinen designed these postage stamps. This model complies to a high degree with the original coat of arms by Boye. Only the roses are in a different place in Saarinen's coat of arms. Matti Björklund (later Visanti) used almost the same coat of arms for his design of the so-called "Vaasa model" stamps during the Finnish Civil War.
Signe Hammarsten Jansson designed the following coat of arms stamp models date from 1930 and 1954 and them. These stamps also have the roses in a different location to those on Boye's coat of arms. Designer Pirkko Vahtero faithfully followed the positioning of the roses on Boye's design in 1975, when new coat of arms stamps drawn by her were issued. The 10-mark stamps of the series, which were issued as early as 1974, also bear the original colors of the coat of arms. The last stamps of this model were issued in 1990. They may still be used to make up postage, but these mark-denominated stamps are no longer sold at post offices. Finland went over to the euro in 2002.
The last lion model was the result of a design competition. Mika Launis drew the highly stylized lions on the Euro-denominated stamps, which were issued in the beginning of 2002.
Technical information postage stamps
Issue: Finland, 27 October 2006
Design: Päivi Vainionpää
Print: 5-color offset and letterpress by Cartor Security Printing, France
Stamp size: 37.5 x 36 mm
Sheet size: 73 x 120 mm
Perforation: 13 x 12.8
More information Postage Stamps
Postage Stamps 2006
Postage stamps of Finland