The Norwegian polar explorer Otto Sverdrup (1854-1930) was commemorated
in March 2004 with a set of stamps issued jointly by Norway, Greenland
Born on 31 October 1854, Sverdrup's Arctic career began in 1988 when
he was selected by Fridtjof Nansen to join the team that attempted the
first crossing of the Greenland ice cap. From that experience Nansen
appointed him captain of the Fram, which Sverdrup helped design
and rig, for the 1893 attempt to reach the North Pole.
During 1898-1902 Sverdrup led his own expedition, again with Fram,
sailing as far north as possible along the west coast of Greenland.
Ice conditions restricted their passage so they made for Ellesmere Island.
Among other notable achievements, he was responsible for charting a
total of 260,000 square kilometres (100,000 square miles) of the Canadian
Arctic. His maps were so accurate that they were still in use until
satellite-based maps were produced in the 1960s. Today many islands
and waterways within this region still bear Norwegian names, including
of course the Sverdrup Islands.
Despite his considerable achievements, Sverdrup has always been overshadowed
by Nansen, Amundsen and Rasmussen. It wasn't until 1957 that a monument
was erected to him in Steinkjer, Norway.
For more information about the explorer, go to the excellent Otto
Sverdrup Centennial Expedition website.
The joint stamp issue is in the form of three souvenir sheets, one
for each participating country. Each sheet features the same three images,
but only one image is denominated.
first stamp features a portrait of Otto Sverdrup against a background
showing the polar explorer planting the Norwegian flag at the northernmost
point of his expedition in Canada. In 1898-1902, Otto Sverdrup led the
second expedition of the polar ship Fram, during which he charted
a substantial area of the Arctic. This stamp is on sale in Norway.
second stamp depicts the polar ship Fram docked, with the
sled dogs ready for departure. Construction of the explorer ship was
initiated by Fridtjof Nansen and Otto Sverdrup. This stamp is on sale
in both Norway and Canada.
third stamp relates to the east-to-west crossing of the Greenland
icecap in 1888-89 which Nansen, Sverdrup and four others made on skis
and snowshoes, and features the exploration team in a boat on the coast
of Greenland on their way to hunt reindeer. This stamp is on sale in
The three stamps were designed and engraved by Martin Mörck, a
Norwegian citizen living in Sweden. Mörck is an internationally
recognized artist who has previously designed stamps for among others
Canada, the US, Monaco, Sweden, Denmark, Greenland, France and the United
The three different Official First Day Covers were designed by Canadian
Raymond Bellemare. He also created the cancellation that all three countries
used, with changes to the text for their different languages.