New definitive postage Netherlands stamps were necessitated by a change in the Dutch monarchy at the end of 1890.
On November 23, 1890, King William III of the Netherlands died. He outlived his two sons, by his first marriage, and his only remaining heir, from his second marriage, was his 10-year-old daughter, Princess Wilhelmina.
Wilhelmina immediately ascended to the throne, upon the death of her father, but she was too young to rule on her own or to be invested as the queen. Her mother, the Dowager Queen Emma, ruled as regent, until Wilhelmina became eighteen years of age in 1898.
Only one image of each major stamp denomination will be shown below. However, multiple collectible varieties of a particular stamp may be described in the catalog attribute tables at the end of each section. In most cases, the color descriptions used are from the NVPH catalog.
The eleven definitive postage Netherlands stamps shown above were issued beginning in 1891, continuing through 1894. The designs feature the likeness of the young Wilhelmina with long flowing hair. These stamps are referred to by philatelists as the "Princess Wilhelmina Issue".
These Netherlands stamps are all engraved on unwatermarked paper, and they are all perforated 12 1/2.
There were two printings of these Netherlands stamps. The 1891-1892 printings were on white and somewhat opaque paper. The 1894 printings were on a thinner, smooth, and sometimes transparent paper. The shades of the two printings of these Netherlands stamps were also different, as indicated in the following catalog detail table.
The four high-denomination definitive Netherlands stamps shown above were issued in 1893 and in 1896.
Their catalog attributes, including perforation varieties, are as follows:
All of the stamps of the Princess Wilhelmina Issue also exist with "SPECIMEN" overprints.
In looking through the NVPH catalog, I have noted that quite a few of the definitive Netherlands stamps of this period were also issued in booklets. The Scott catalog does not list booklet panes for these stamps at all, and the NVPH catalog only lists them in complete booklets. This would indicate that the margin blocks used in the booklets probably can not be told apart from the same margin blocks of the sheet-format stamps. Complete booklets of these stamps are quite expensive.
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Definitives of 1891-1896
Though the Netherlands is ruled by the House of Orange-Nassau, which
is a hereditary royal house, the monarch is not crowned, and there is
no coronation ceremony, as is the case with other European monarchs.
The "constitutional" monarch of the Netherlands has no religious
status. He or she is solely the political Head of State of the Netherlands.
When a reigning monarch dies, their oldest living heir immediately becomes the new monarch. After the new monarch ascends to the throne, he or she must swear an oath to uphold the constitution and to execute his or her hereditary office faithfully. This rather discreet ceremony is known in the Netherlands as the "inauguration" or the "investiture". It is after this ceremony that the new monarch "officially" becomes the King or Queen of the Netherlands, under the Dutch constitution.