Date of Issue – 20 August 2015
Swedish Post introduced its new stamp issue on theme “Mushrooms”. The colourful philatelic release consists of two items and one stamp booklet that were unveiled and put on sale on the 20th of August.
The efforts by Elias Fries (1794-1878) to catalogue mushrooms are considered an important part of the development of modern mycology, the study of mushrooms. He is therefore sometimes referred to as “the Linné of mushrooms”.
Elias Fries studied botany at Lund University and became a professor in 1824. Ten years later he left Lund for Uppsala and became the director of the botanical garden and museum there. He was elected into the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1821 and became a member of the Swedish Academy in 1847.
Despite a brilliant career and academic titles, “the Linné of mushrooms” was often questioned as an expert. He writes himself in the introduction to his illustrated works, Sweden’s Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms,
“While staying a few fall seasons in Stockholm, I often inspected the species that were sold at Munkbron. Many of them were the harmless varieties, but I also found entire baskets of poisonous ones, for example Russula foetens; but when I informed them about this I was told, ‘Oh, the Gentleman does not know what he is talking about’.”
His pictures of mushrooms are an art history treasure and several of them are found in the illustrated work, Sweden’s Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms, which was published in 1860-1866. His illustrations laid the foundation for what people know today about mushrooms.
“The proofs for five of the seven current stamps, weeping milk cap, porcini, changle, scarlet waxy cap and funnel chanterelle, were taken from his illustrated works. All of them are edible”, says Mats Granlöf, the stamp project manager at PostNord Stamps.
During the mid-1800s, people living in Sweden were skeptical about eating mushrooms, but after several years of poor harvests and famine, as well as the enthusiasm of Fries, people’s perception changed.