PostNL’s latest personal stamps provide an overview of special stringed instruments.
Each stamp shows an overall picture with a detail of a stringed instrument. The detail photo continues on the left or right sheet edge. On the stamp, both photos are connected by white circles of different sizes.
Construction and playing style
The following stringed instruments are depicted on the stamps: kayagum (South Korea), harp (France), baroque mandolin (Italy), nkundi (Congo), rabab (Northern Africa), zither (Germany), viola (Netherlands), kamancha (Iran ), charango (Bolivia) and nyckelharpa (Sweden). With regard to stringed instruments, there is a difference in construction between lutes, harpsichords and zithers. Another difference is the way of playing, with a bow, by plucking or by hitting with hammers and keys as with the piano.
The stamps are designed by graphic designer Bart de Haas from The Hague. All the stringed instruments depicted were photographed by him in the Kunstmuseum The Hague. This museum manages an extensive collection of more than 3,800 musical instruments.
De Haas has chosen a balanced spread of western and non-western instruments. “They are not placed opposite each other, but are divided diagonally left and right on the stamp sheet. After all, the essence of music is the connection. The stamps feature stringed instruments from all over the world. From Europe of course, but also Africa, America and Asia are discussed.”
When making the detailed photos, the designer placed the most recognizable part of each stringed instrument on the stamp itself. For the mandolin he chose the remarkable sound hole with rosette. With the kayagum the attention is paid to the striking elements under the strings, with the harp it is the typical bend, with the nkundi the sculpted head and with the rabab the half-square neck.
On each stamp, the total photo and the detail photo are connected by increasingly smaller white dots. According to De Haas, this graphic element has a subtle music association. “You can see in it what you want to see: strings, frets, musical notes or LEDs. It’s lively, adds rhythm. And it dances a bit – that’s what music is for.”