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Faroe Islands

02 May 2020

Franking Labels — LONDON 2020: Old Post Cards

NOTE: Because of the global pandemic known as Corona virus or COVID-19, the London 2020 International Stamp Exhibition has just (on 18 March 2020) been postponed until late February 2022.  At the current time, it is uncertain whether these franking labels will be issued as scheduled on 2 May or not.

Faroe Islands: Franking Labels — LONDON 2020: Old Post Cards, 2 May 2020. Images from Posta.

New stamp issue: Franking Labels LONDON 2020: Old Postcards
Date of issue: 02.05.2020
Value: 4 x 12,00 DKK
Stamp, size: 55,0 x 22,5 mm
Photos: Old Postcards – owned by Álvur Danielsen and Brian Hague
Printing technique: Flexoprint
Printer: Limo Labels, Denmark
Postal use: Small inland letters, 0-50 g.

LONDON 2020: Old Postcards

People have always been interested in postcards, especially ones illustrated with photos. These postcards can tell interesting stories better than many words. In the Faroe Islands, postcards became quite common before the turn of the 20th century. There was a post office in Tórshavn already in 1870 and the oldest photos used for postcards are from the 1880’s, some perhaps even older. Although the telegraph and the telephone were first introduced in the Faroes in the early 20th century, these means of communication were much more expensive than sending a postcard for Christmas. Birthday greetings and condolences were often sent in a postcard. Thus, postcards came in great diversity and quantities.

1) King’s Bridge, Eystaravág, around 1903
When Christian IX, King of Denmark visited the Faroes in 1874, the area called King’s Bridge was spruced up and a special staircase made for the royal reception. Outside the beautiful stone wall warehouses of Jens Olsen and Jens í Dali, built in 1901, you will see Skansatangi. The warehouses have disappeared but a long jetty was made from Skansatangi in 1922-1929. Worn anchor chains and ship hulks were not an uncommon sight on the bays of Tórshavn before the enlargement of the jetty – not to mention wrecked oarboats tossing about in the surf between the houses.

The postcard features Tórshavn around 1890. The old Public School from 1894 had not yet been built. The Church of Tórshavn, built “on the outskirts of the town” in 1788 can be seen here after having been renovated in 1865.


2) Fish workers in Tórshavn around 1900
When the monopoly was abolished in 1856, creativity and desire for work increased around the country. The result was a growth in population with many more settlements and better paid work for the inhabitants. The traditional peasant society became a part of history. Schooners were bought from the Shetlands and Britain. The first profitable fisheries were conducted by the “Trappu-brothers” with the schooner “Fox” in 1872. Pioneering work in fishing operations was done by the Danish merchant and consul A.W. Skibsted in Frederikshavn. The Skibstedcompany built a jetty, warehouses and owned the stone-paved ground at Runding in Tórshavn where you can see women do piecework washing and spreading fish for drying. This became the Faroe Islands’ most significant export to the south of Europe and was often called the “best dry salted cod in the world”.

The postcard features the stone paved ground “Niðri á Støð” at S.P. Petersen in Fuglafjørður, 1908-09.


3) The Royal Visit 1907, Tórshavn
A great and unique event took place in July 1907 when King Fredrick VIII, Prince Harold and some Danish ministers and members of the Danish Parliament visited the Faroe Islands and its 15.000 inhabitants.  Christian Bærentsen, the only Faroese to hold the office of Prefect of the Faroe Islands from 1897-1911, received the distinguished guests at the King’s Bridge in Tórshavn. The town was crammed with people from all over the islands. The ships in the retinue of the King on this visit to the Faroes were ”Birma”, the royal yacht, ”Atlanta” and ”Geysir”. On the bay you will see “Smiril” decked with flags to the left of the royal yacht’s longboat which brought Frederick VIII ashore.

The postcard features the King’s Bridge crammed with people when the King arrived with his retinue in 1907.


4) Vestaravág and Vágsbotnur, 1930’s
Vestaravág is one of two bays in Tórshavn. It became of great importance in 1768, when the Danish merchant Niels Ryberg hit upon the idea of making Tórshavn a kind of free port and a base for smuggling. From Vágsbotnur cargos were brought with smugglers’ ships to Britain, turning a handsome profit for Ryberg. This also created a lot of work for the inhabitants of the town. The well-known row of houses at Bryggjubakki is today an idyllic image of Tórshavn – built in the late 1920’s. Earlier, firms and companies were located here and have now been replaced by coffee houses and restaurants.

The postcard features “Thorshavn’s Furniture Magazine” at Peter Poulsen’s (Petur Snikk) – probably dating back to 1915. Petur is seen standing at the door. He was the carpenter behind the famed “chairleg cancellation” in 1919.

Álvur Danielsen

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