One Page. Windmills in the Netherlands

From Stamps of the World

Windmills in the Netherlands

Etching by Rembrandt: Amsterdam 1640

The windmills of the Netherlands are part of the cultural heritage in our country and are generally well to very well maintained. The Netherlands is therefore very proud of its windmills. They were used to saw wood, to produce wool, paint, and paper, or to make grain, mustard, or other products. The windmill is also used for water management.

Prestige Booklet Netherlands Nr 47

The windmills are attractions for tourists. For collectors of stamps these are unique images to collect thematically.

Dutch Windmills by Joost Veerkamp 2013

There are still about 1100 windmills and 100 watermills in the Netherlands, which is a total of 1200 mills. The province of South Holland has the most mills (220 units) and the least (33 units) in Utrecht. Most water mills, mills that are moved by a water wheel, are located in the province of Limburg (56 units).

History of the Mill

The first windmills appear in the Netherlands in the course of the 13th century. These are standard mills where grain is ground into flour. Presumably it was not until the 15th century that mills were built to drain polders.

The oldest windmill type is the "standard mill". After the Middle Ages, it was largely supplanted by a new and more perfect type: the "Bovenkruier". Initially, the sails cross from the hood must be set to the wind on these mills. Later on there will be mills with a tail construction. This allows the miller to operate the mill from below.

FDC E56: Dutch Windmills and their location shown on the enveloppe

Highest 19th century

From the 17th century onwards, the Dutch windmill started a tremendous advance, culminating in the second half of the 19th century. There are then an estimated 9,000 windmills in the Netherlands.

Postal Card with windmills and cancel Nederweert 2013

Traditionally, grain is ground into flour with a mill. But all kinds of industrial applications were added, such as pressing oil, making paint or sawing tree trunks. Thanks to these industrial mills, areas such as the Zaanstreek and Amsterdam can develop into the first industrial centers in the Netherlands. In 1731 there were no fewer than 583 windmills in the Zaan region.

Postage stamp with picture from the Zaan Region
City Post from Zaanstad (local issue)

Polder mills

There are also the mills that drain the polders. Polder mills have also ensured that our country became larger: due to the draining of lakes and ponds, the Schermer, the Purmer and the Beemster were formed.

Postage stamp inland version 1914.
Used postage stamp, International version, Nieuwegein 2015.

Present situation

Due to the invention of the steam engine, more and more mills disappeared from view. In the Netherlands (2020) there are still about 1000 active mills, which mainly run for tourists.

Top location for tourists: The Zaanse Schans near Zaandam


Pictorial Postcard Kinderdijk Complex 1954

You can't get it more typically Dutch, the Kinderdijk-Elshout windmill complex: the 19 windmills that were built to drain the basin of the Alblasserwaard and thus provide dry feet for the inhabitants of the West Netherlands.

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Nowhere in the world are so many windmills so close together. They represent the Netherlands in a nutshell for every foreigner. If you look closely, you will see that the mills all have their own characteristics. They are served by volunteers, some of whom live in the mills.

More Windmills on Dutch Postage Stamps

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Meter cancels

Cover with Meter cancel Amsterdam 1956
Meter cancel Leiden 1941
Meter cancel Heemstede 1966
Meter cancel Joure 1975
Meter cancel Willemstad 1994
Meter cancel Amsterdam 1975
Meter cancel Papendrecht 1977
Meter cancel Zoeterwoude 1977
Meter cancel Groningen 1978
Meter cancel Lisse 1981
Meter cancel Borculo 1980
Meter cancel Doetinchem 1984
Meter cancel Kampen 1985
Meter cancel Rotterdam 1985
Meter cancel Schiedam 1985 Part of airmail cover
Meter cancel Schermerhorn 1985
Meter cancel Vlaardingen 1988
Meter cancel Amsterdam 1985
Meter cancel Amsterdam 1989
Meter cancel Nijkerk 1964.
Meter cancel Lieshout 1987.
Meter cancel Oldebroek 1985.
Meter cancel Heemstede 1985.
Meter cancel 1975 Stompetoren.
Meter cancel 1970 's-Gravenhage.
Meter cancel 1999 Huizen.
Meter cancel 1999 Roosendaal.

Pictorial cancels

Pictorial cancel 1963
Pictorial cancel Geldrop 1983
Pictorial cancel Doetinchem 1986
Pictorial cancel Alblasserdam 1987
Pictorial cancel Winschoten 1987
Pictorial cancel Rijssen 1989

Personalized Postage Stamps

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When a friend of mine looks out of her kitchen window, she sees above picture. A few years ago she had prepared two personalized postage stamps of the mills in her back garden.

Uitwijkse Molen
Zandwijkse Molen

These custom postage stamps cost more than the standard versions available at the post office, but they give your correspondance an extra 'personal' flavor.

Dutch Windmills used in other Countries

First Flight Cover from Porto (Portugal) to Amsterdam (Netherlands) 1982.
Windmill and Netherlands flag used in Liberia 1956
Machine cancel used in Germany 2018

Sources and Reading Tips

1.All windmills in the Netherlands:
2.UNESCO sites in the Netherlands on postage stamps:
3.Illustrations have been taken from my own collection and from various internet pages.
4.Thank you for visiting. Author: Toon Oomens