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World's first book documenting postage stamps with holograms published

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The world’s first documented history of more than 450 holographic stamps issued across 80 countries has been published by a Glyndŵr University academic.

Professor Hans Bjelkhagen, emeritus Professor at the Wrexham institution, collected the stamps over a 25-year period while working as a researcher and consultant in the holography industry.

The collection features the world’s first postage stamp with a hologram, issued in Austria in 1988, and includes the only set of definitive hologram stamps issued in Great Britain.

The sheet of six stamps issued by the Royal Mail in October 2001 recognised the work done by British Nobel Prize winners over the last 100 years and was the first time a hologram stamp was issued in the UK.

Hans, who helped to develop several technology breakthroughs in holography while working at Glyndŵr University St Asaph, said that most of the stamps were issued as decorative items rather than security.

He said: “I don’t have any particular interest in stamps but I decided to start collecting them as I felt they’d be important to some people – and not easy to get hold of without working in holography as I did.

“The most common use for holograms is still as a security measure, first used by the likes of Visa and Mastercard, and it wasn’t until the 1980s that they first appeared on stamps.

“The issuing of holographic stamps peaked around the turn of the millennium, in 1999-2000.”

Among the stamp collection are images of astronomy, iconic global images such as Malaysia’s Petronas Towers and stamps commemorating the start of major sporting events, such as UEFA’s European Football Championships.

Hans photographed all of the stamps himself using special techniques to ensure the hologram images on them were captured correctly.

“Some stamps are wrongly described as holographic, so the number in the collection might not be as high as you might think,” he added.

“A postage stamp to which a hologram is attached or where the entire stamp is holographic must create diffraction of light when correctly illuminated.”

Holography and Philately: Postage stamps with holograms’ is published by xlibris and available to buy online at

Anyone interested in finding out more about the book can contact Hans on

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