Svarslösen – betalar portot
In the section "Locals and Stamps with limited postal Significance" of Batho’s checklist you can find the following entry:
Behind the above entry this item hides (do not miss the child on the tricycle):
Designed by Sven Erik Olsson and printed by Oriel-Tryck in Lindesberg.
This is a new kind of stamp – the so called „Reply License Stamp“. It came up in 1968 - followed by Norway with the “svarsending posten” in 1974. The postage had to be paid by the licensee after delivering (betalar portot) - normally a company. Reply postal stationeries are known for over 100 years. They even are used for international reply. This one was returned from France (were one penny enough?).
And here a modern one from Deutsche Post ("ANTWORT" card):
In 1967 “Det Bästa” the Swedish Reader’s Digest obtained the first permission from the post to distribute cards bearing these reply stamps. The Post Office had strict regulations concerning the appearance of the reply license stamp: every issue must be approved and a copy submitted for the archives. Like every other postal item the reply cards must be cancelled with a stamp showing city and date.
Bonniers - the probably the wealthiest private concern in Sweden - was the second company using these reply stamps, starting in 1970. The stamp above was used on the following reply card:
“Bonniers AB“ is the share company and “Obligationsavdelning” the bond department. Bonniers Obligationsavdelning managed bonds with guaranteed payback for the Swedish state.
The Reply License Stamp had to be separated from an advertising letter and affixed to the reply card. The stamp was printed together with 5 tabs:
The tabs were used to indicate how many 1973-premium-bonds (premieobligationer) the costumer wanted to order: either 2, 5, 10, 25 or 50 pieces. The pictures on the tabs indicate the savings goal: vacation, sailing boat, car, house.
The label "2 st. 73: or" means: 2 pieces of the 1973 years premium bond.The buyer was participating in a lottery with the chance to win money on the bond number.
There also exist postal stationeries - unfortunately none with a bicycle:
There still is the question: how do the used cards come into the hands of collectors? Because of the customer data, the companies have probably destroyed them as a rule. Were cards stolen by employees? Are they "made" (cancellation by kindness of a post worker without subsequent dispatch)? Do you know more? Then please send an email to contact[at]bicyclestamps.de.
The Bonniers stamp is not easy to find, but on the other hand not very expensive, because there are only a few specialists collecting reply license stamps.
Thanks to my collector colleague from Sweden for the background information concerning this item. For him as bicycle stamps expert there is absolutely no doubt that these items are “not a stamp and will always be accepted as a cinderella only”. For unused pieces I can agree with this: these are only snippets, where no one has paid for the postage. In the case of used items with cancellation, however, the Reply License Stamps are the proof that the shipment has been properly paid - even if the addressee transferd the money to the post company only afterwards. The general technical term for „To Pay“ labels (receipt for the post-payment of postage) is "Postage Dues" – see “Mind your Language” from Douglas Merchant (BS2_13). So, make up your own mind – maybe for you it is a voucher? It is up to you taking it into your collection or not - as whatever.
References: Article from Björn Rombach and David Sher in BS2_48
A User Guide to International Business Response Services, page 31¸Royal Mail Group Ltd 2012
Steve Malone’s “Illustrated Bikes on Stamps”, page 99