Liechtenstein’s postal history begins when the mail collection station was opened in Balzers on 1 September 1817 by the Austrian postal administration. Before that, the Lindauer Bote (Lindau messenger), a transport service operating between Lindau at Lake Constance and Milan, supplied letters, money and goods to the region. The new post office was integrated into the rest of the Austrian postal network so Liechtenstein was treated as a part of Austria. This is why the first Liechtenstein stamp that appeared in 1912 bore the inscription “K.K. Österr. Post im Fürstentum Liechtenstein”, i.e. Imperial and Royal Austrian Post in the Principality of Liechtenstein. Although eight years later the postal service became independent and was named “Fürstlich Liechtensteinische Post”, it remained under Austrian administration until 1921 when the treaty on the handling of the postal, telephone and telegraph services in Liechtenstein by Switzerland entered into force.
The souvenir sheet to commemorate the foundation of Balzers’ mail collection station 200 years ago includes three motifs from postal history: “Postman” (face value: CHF 1.30), “Post horn” (face value: CHF 2.20) and “Stagecoach” (face value: CHF 2.80), which were produced using steel engraving and jointly equal the value of a registered letter.
The Argentinian painter Helmut Ditsch supplied the motif for the special stamp “Rappastein” (face value: CHF 3.80). The original painting is around one-and-a-half metres wide and depicts part of Liechtenstein’s mountains including the 2,222-metre-high Rappastein. The freelance artist with Austrian roots, who meanwhile lives in Vaduz, studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.
His four sets of work – mountains, desert, ice and water – were created during his thirty years of artistic work. Ditsch reflects his own experience of nature, which he gathers when mountaineering alone, in his paintings as tangibly as possible – which is one reason why the artist rarely refers to landscape painting but instead to communicating nature. His oil paintings that closely resemble photographs, some of which are wall-size, are produced with an enormous amount of physical effort in four steps from the initial sketch until they are finished. The designer Hans Peter Gassner illustrates this gradual production process on the stamp in vertically arranged bars. The special stamp on mountain paintings is available as an 8-stamp miniature sheet.
Eight stamps with stone fruit printed together on one sheet represent the third and last part of the stamp series on old fruit varieties. To this end, the fruit “Mombacher Frühaprikose”, “Reine Claude Verte”, “Kirkespflaume”, “House Plum”, “Schauenburger Kirsche”, “Ungarische Beste” Apricot”, “Nancy Mirabelle” and “Gelbe Denise Kirsche” (each having a face value of CHF 1.00) are depicted accurate in every detail.
Stone fruit can be processed and enjoyed in many ways just like pome fruit. The Mombacher Frühaprikose, an apricot that is widespread in Europe, although unfortunately very sensitive to the cold, is versatile in the kitchen. It matures in the second half of July and is well-liked for its delicious taste. The home plum is also frequently found. It is a high-yield variety with a small fruit and a distinct aroma that also grows well at high altitudes. A Swiss hotel operator is supposed to have brought the Schauenburger cherry back from his travels in Lebanon around 100 years ago. It became the most important dessert cherry within a space of 40 years. However, as such it never met industrial processing requirements and is thus rarely found today.
With its 160 square kilometres, the Principality of Liechtenstein is the world’s sixth smallest state in terms of size. In Europe, only San Marino, Monaco and Vatican City are smaller. The population needs space, i.e. a settlement area, for living, consumption, mobility and leisure time. In Liechtenstein, this settlement area makes up only 11% of the total area while 33% is agricultural land, 41% forested area and 15% is designated as an unproductive area.
Since 1984 the settlement area has grown by an average of 16.8 hectares per year, which is equivalent to around 24 football fields, with 1,762 hectares designated as such in 2014. The settlement area per inhabitant has remained roughly the same at 472 square metres since 1984. Particularly in a small country like Liechtenstein, it is important to use the available land as economically as possible for sustainable development. The Philately is drawing attention to this issue with its new special stamp entitled “Settlement area” (face value: CHF 1.50). The graphically designed and UV lacquered stamp depicts the size of the country’s settlement area in different coloured pixels in relation to the other areas.