Old postal routes come to life

Old postal Routes

The Hague, May 11, 2020 - For centuries, postal mail was distributed across Europe by postillions on horseback and by stagecoach. PostNL today releases 6 new stamps on which the old postal routes from the Habsburg Empire come to life again.

Relay system

From the 16th to the 19th century, mail delivery in Europe was actually in the hands of 1 family: Von Thurn und Taxis. The family business, which flourished under Habsburg monarchs such as Philips de Schone and Karel 5, used a relay system to deliver the mail as quickly and efficiently as possible. Along the routes there were enough substations for the postillions to rest. They were also able to change horses and drop off and take mail with them.

Blue and gold

Studio026 from Arnhem has depicted this relay system by Von Thurn und Taxis on the stamp sheet Old Post Routes. The blue images on the stamps show both horses in motion and at rest. The large gold symbols, which follow from left to right with the horses and the stagecoach, also refer to the system of action and rest. There is a thin line with golden stripes between the images that depict the stops along the routes.

Super fast

The mail was first transported by horse and rider, later by the stagecoach. Carriages, although slower than horses, took much more mail. Paying passengers also generated extra earnings. The motto for the postal couriers of Von Thurn und Taxis was citi, citi, citi, citissim! In other words: fast, fast, fast, super fast! “The concept was developed based on that credo,” says Anne Schaufeli of studio26. "That's why the message is so prominent on the sheet."

Design competition

With the new stamp sheetlet, PostNL is competing for the main prize in the EUROPA Stamp Best Design Competition. This design competition is organized annually by PostEurop, the organization in which all European national postal companies work together.


The Old Postal Routes stamp sheet consists of 6 stamps in 2 designs with the International 1 designation, intended for mail up to 20 grams with an international destination. The stamps will be available from May 11, 2020 at Bruna stores and through the website. The period of validity is indefinite.