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FAROE ISLANDS POSTAL SERVICE 2002 ISSUE
Design by Martin Morck

The Faroe Islands Postal Service will issue a new minisheet on the 11th of February 2002. The mini sheet is named "Viking voyages on the Atlantic." Its features three stamps that depict a Viking, Viking map, and Viking ship with a postage value of 6.50 DKK each. The Viking Age has always drawn and fascinated people. These brave men used nature such as smells, sounds, flight of birds, and colors and currents of the sea to navigate their way. Vikings were experts at interpreting nature and getting valuable information from it. This is an orientation skill that has unfortunately been lost by today's technologically dependent society.

The Vikings did use maps to navigate their ships. One of the oldest preserved Icelandic map of the North Atlantic known is the Skalholt Map, which dates from 1590 and was made by Icelander Sigurdur Stefansson. It shows the North Atlantic with its shorelines and islands.

For the Vikings to be able to sail for long periods without sighting land, however, required some other form of navigation. The course may have been held by reference to the celestial bodies. Or using the shadow cast by a stick onto a slab, the height of the sun could be found and the course determined. Another aid possibly used was so-called sunstone. This is a kind of quartzite that breaks up the rays of the sun and made it possible to locate the sun even in cloudy conditions.

Viking ships were the pride of any Viking sailor. These ships were made of wood with a rudder, mast, and rigging with a square sail made from wool. From archaeological finds in Norway, Denmark and Sweden we know that these ships were sharp-sterned with high raised prows. The prow and stern were very similar in design. Most of the oldest Viking ships can be divided into two different groups: the longship/warship and the trade vessel/Knarr. Longships have been measured 16 to 36 meters in length and the largest could be manned by a crew of around 100, of which 78 manned the oars. The trade ships had much smaller crews of 6-12 men.

The minisheet can be purchase either mint or cancelled. A First Day Cover is also available. The size of the minisheet is 157 x 70 mm and each stamp size is 39.52 x 28.84 mm. The printing process used is steel plate printing/offset and each stamp has a 13.25 perforation size.

To order these stamps or to learn more go to www.stamps.fo. Use the Universal currency conversion tool at www.xe.com/ucc/convert.cgi to convert currency.

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