Europa 2014 – Musical instruments stamp from Liechtenstein

March 10th, 2014

At yearly intervals the member states of the Association of European Postal Operators, PostEurop, all issue stamps on a common theme. In 2014 their focus is on musical instruments. For this year's Europa stamp Philately Liechtenstein has chosen a historic "Drum" (face value CHF 1.40). In the background of this commemorative designed by Armin Hoop is the notation for a pattern of drum-strokes called the "Franzosen-Tagwacht".

The landsknecht drum dating from around 1760 belonged to the Liechtenstein Guard and was made by an unknown master craftsman. It is now in the possession of the collections of the Prince of Liechtenstein; it was acquired by Prince Joseph Wenzel I of Liechtenstein (1696-1772). With its eye-catching brass body, at just under 45 cm high and bearing the arms of the Princely House, it stands out from the wooden drums customary at the time. On its elevation to Princely rank at the beginning of the 17th century the Liechtenstein Family acquired among other things the right to establish an armed guard. In the 18th century this Guard, following the fashion of the age, was transformed into a grenadier company with an establishment in 1773 of sixty men, one sergeant, two corporals and one drummer. When Prince Johannes I acceded to the throne in 1805 he disbanded the grenadier company for reasons of cost, retaining only a few mounted guardsmen.

Drums made in the landsknecht tradition were used for military purposes for centuries. They were an indispensable tool for the army's daily routine. The drummers' task was to give signals by means of different drum-strokes and to mark the marching rhythm with their thudding sound. Countless commands – from muster through the routine daily activities to advance and retreat – were communicated by the drummers. They also set the pace for marches. This varied between 88 and 132 paces per minute.