King And Kaiser
Stamp Magazine|November 2019
Johann Kaiser engraved only three stamp designs, but they were the first issues of the Netherlands and Dutch colonies, so his place in philatelic history is secure
Adrian Keppel

When the young Johann Wilhelm Kaiser was establishing himself as a professional engraver, there was no such thing as a postage stamp. Engravers generally made a living with book illustrations and reproductions of works of art.

But Kaiser was in the right place at the right time, as new opportunities opened up in the 1850s, and it was he who engraved the first two stamp issues of the Netherlands.

Born in 1813, into a family of German immigrants in Amsterdam, Kaiser enrolled in the city’s Royal Academy at the age of 14 and began to develop his obvious talents as a painter and engraver. He soon began to focus solely on the latter, and established himself in his profession after a stint in the army.

He became well known for his beautiful book illustrations, and was commissioned to illustrate many works of Dutch literature, but he was even more well regarded for his renditions of artistic masterpieces such as The Night Watch by Rembrandt.

Even though Kaiser was only 38 years old at the time, his reputation was such that he was chosen to engrave the very first postage stamps of the Netherlands in 1852.

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