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1852, 100 cents = 1 gulden (florin).

Before 1650

Country bordering the North Sea in north-west Europe. It was a pattern of duchies and earldoms in the Middle Ages but gradually became consolidated under the Counts of Holland and in 1416 gained the region of Brabant along the border with what is now Belgium. The territory was annexed by Burgundy in 1436 and control passed to Austria by marriage in 1477. This passing to the Hapsburg family led to its control by Spain in the 16th century.

The misrule of the Spanish Habsburgs, coupled with the religious persecution of the Reformed Dutch Church by the Inquisition, led to the revolt under William the Silent, Prince of Orange, in 1572. Although William was the lieutenant of the Spanish king for the Low Countries, he supported the Dutch Lutherans and fought with them against the Spanish. The crown was offered to Queen Elizabeth of England in 1575, but was declined, though with promises of support.

In 1576, at the Pacification of Ghent, the northern and southern provinces created a union. In 1579 the seven northern provinces joined together in the League of Utrecht and declared their independence three years later. In 1584 William was assassinated by an agent of the Spanish king but the war was continued by his sons. The struggle was supported by England until 1648, when the Republic of the United Provinces was recognized by the Peace of Westphalia at the end of the Thirty Years War.

During this period no formal mail service existed but complex courier routes were established for the passage of reports and instructions. There is evidence that the service to Belgium organized by the Counts of Thurn and Taxis was also used to provide communications for the public in the more northern region.


Following the Peace of Westphalia, Holland entered into a period of maritime and trading supremacy. Wars with England developed from the clash of commercial interests between these two maritime powers but after war with France in 1670, William of Orange married Princess Mary of England in 1677 to cement an alliance of the two countries with Sweden. In 1688 James II of England was forced to abdicate because of his Catholic religion when William landed in Torbay. William and Mary were proclaimed king and queen of both kingdoms in February 1689.

Wars with France continued and after William's death in 1702 the alliance led to the suport of Holland in the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-15). Dutch power began to decline at this time, civil war was always possible between the religious factions, and after a disastrous war with England in 1781-3 there was a major religious civil war in 1787.

The postal service was still not formalized within the nation at this time and although postal communication was possible for the public, this was either carried by favour or by the Thurn and Taxis post into central Europe.


In 1793 French revolutionary forces marched into Belgium and Holland. The Dutch declared in their favour, and a British force was landed to try to expel the French.

In 1795 the Batavian Republic was formed in alliance with France and the Dutch fleet was used against the British navy. However, with defeat for the Dutch at the Battle of Camperdown in 1797, the British established naval supremacy and the remainder of the Dutch fleet surrendered.

In 1806 Louis Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon I and father of Napoleon III, was declared king. He abdicated on 1 July 1810 and immediately the region was incorporated into France. In 1813 after the defeat of the French the House of Orange was restored, and in 1815 Belgium and Luxembourg were added to the dominions of the King of the Netherlands.

A national postal service was created in the country in 1803 and a system of mounted postillions was used to collect and deliver the mail. Handstruck markings were introduced for all the large cities. When the country was incorporated into France, a French system of postal organization was introduced and this continued until the defeat of Napoleon in 1813-14.


The Kingdom of the Netherlands, which was granted to the House of Orange after the Congress of Vienna, controlled both Belgium and Luxembourg until 1830. At that time the Belgians rose against the rule of William Frederick following several years of religious discord. Belgium separated from the Netherlands in July 1831 and a war began. In 1839 the Treaty of London guaranteed the neutrality of Belgium, but the Netherlands still retained titular control of Luxembourg.

The use of handstamps was extended to the smaller villages. The railway service was used to speed the mail and the Hook of Holland was used as a transit port for mail to and from Britain



First stamps were printed in the Mint at Utrecht and did not show the name of the territory. It was not until 1867 that stamps appeared which included the name NEDERLAND.

Belgian independence made Dutch control of Luxembourg-difficult, particularly as Luxembourg joined the German Confederation in 1830. The King of the Netherlands received an offer from France to buy the duchy in 1867 but this was prevented by the Prussians.

Netherlands, Belgium & Luxembourg 1815-52
Click map for larger view


During this period of alliances among the great European powers, the Netherlands declared their neutrality and supported neither the entente between England and France nor the Central Powers.

The Netherlands was one of the original signatories in 1874.

The Netherlands remained neutral throughout World War I and, although there was substantial disruption of the overseas mails, the internal services were maintained. Allied and German troops that entered Holland during the war were interned.


Between the two wars the Netherlands was one of the pioneers of mechanized letter-sorting and the Transorma machine installed at Brighton in 1936 - the first British sorting machine -was developed in Rotterdam.

As a nation with a worldwide empire, especially in the East Indies, the use of air traffic to maintain commercial communication was important. The Royal Dutch Airline (KLM) was formed in 1919 and had expanded the direct link to Batavia before any other airline managed a regular service of this length. Special stamps for this route were issued in 1933.

In 1934 stamps overprinted for use in the International Court of Justice at the Hague were released but were withdrawn during World War II.


Again declared neutrality at the outbreak of World War II, but in May 1940 the country was invaded by the Germans and was quickly overrun. Holland was occupied until the early part of 1945, though the southern provinces were liberated in the summer and autumn of 1944.

Stamps inscribed 'Nederland' continued to be issued by the occupying powers, but without the Queen's head. A government-in-exile was established in London and stamps were issued on 15 June 1944. These were intended for use on Netherlands warships serving with the Allied fleet. However, following the restoration of independence in May 1945 the same stamps were released in Holland, though they were not valid for postage until 1 April 1946.

1945 to date

Since World War lithe Netherlands has not tried to maintain its stance of neutrality and has been an active member of NATO and the Western Alliance. It was an original signatory of the Treaty of Rome which created the EEC.

In 1947 stamps for the International Court of Justice 'were re-introduced and continued to be used during succeeding years.

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