“Toppen og Bolden” – from Denmark to China

The other day I received a request from a fellow Postcrosser from China, whether I could send him a postcard from Denmark because that was the one that was missing in the collection he is making for his four year old daughter. His specific request was to get a postcard with the Danish flag (that’s easy) and the little mermaid (talking about cultural symbols!). That proved a bit more difficult as I don’t live in Copenhagen but I found a stamp with ‘Den Lille Havfrue’ – which brings me to the topic of this blog post.

So that made me look in more detail at the other stamp I put on the Toppen og Boldercard – that was a bit more puzzling. With the help of some Danes I found out that it is another Hans Christian Andersen fairytale that is referenced, namely “Toppen og Bolden” – or ‘The Sweethearts’. The story is about a drawer full of play things where a mahogany top meets a leather ball and falls in love with her, but the ball thinks she deserves a better suitor and it basically goes downhill from there.

That explains the top and the ball on the stamp, but what about the skyline in the background? That looks like New York to me – it doesn’t seem to be a Danish skyline. Or is it a reference to the universal appeal of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales??

If anyone knows, I’d be very glad to hear it!


About Marian van Bakel

I graduated in International Business Communication at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. After my studies I was a Visiting Study Fellow at University of Oxford where I conducted a research on the adjustment of Dutch diplomats and their partners in London. In February 2012 I successfully defended my PhD thesis ‘In Touch with the Dutch’, in which I put expatriates in touch with a Dutch host to examine the effect of this contact on the success of the international assignment. During my PhD research I also worked as in house communication consultant at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. I am currently a postdoc at the Department of Leadership and Corporate Strategy at the University of Southern Denmark (www.sdu.dk/en). Since 2004 I have done extensive voluntary work in the intercultural field for the Young Society of Intercultural Education, Training and Research (Young SIETAR). One of my projects was to co-edit and co-author A Suitcase Full of Discoveries (2008), an intercultural storybook for children.
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4 Responses to “Toppen og Bolden” – from Denmark to China

  1. Some further research showed that the stamp is part of a cooperation between Danish and Chinese artists, who made a series of four stamps all featuring the same skyline and a H.C. Andersen story. So it might very well be a Chinese skyline – anyone any idea?

  2. Pingback: “Toppen og Bolden” – the sequel | Marian van Bakel

  3. Pingback: The Great Wall: the spine of the Chinese people | Marian van Bakel

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