Scandinavian Collectors Club


Transatlantic Mail Sailings Connected with Norway in the 19th Century by Harry Snarvold. 102 pages, 8 ¼ by 12 inches, hardbound, self-published, Göteborg, Sweden, 2010. Pricing information from Harry Snarvold, Eneliden 11, 433 64 Sävedalen, Sweden.


            Before reviewing Snarvold’s latest book it is worthwhile to review his prior publications in this area. For over 20 years the author has exhibited early mail to and from Norway, at first up until the Universal Postal Union and then to the end of the 19th century. He publishes these exhibits from time to time to share his material and studies of rates and routes with other collectors. One of the earliest self-published editions is undated but believed to be from the early 1990s. It consists of 50 loose-leaf pages in a binder and is titled North Atlantic Mail Sailings Connected with Norway up to UPU.

            In this book his focus is on North Atlantic crossings including the Caribbean and begins with an 1810 letter sent from Norway to the United States during the British blockade. Other destinations include Cuba, Peru, Canada, Mexico, and many U.S. addresses, and are organized by shipping line (Cunard, Hapag, North German Lloyd, Collins and many others). The earliest U.S. letter to Norway is 1851. Much of the book is devoted to discussion of the major ship lines and depictions of sailing and steam ships. The covers are illustrated in color.

            In 1992 Snarvold self-published his Norwegian Letters to Foreign Destinations until 1855, i.e. the pre-stamp period. In this 128-page work he broadens the scope to mail sent from Norway to mostly European destinations but also the United States, India and China. His organization is by country beginning with the earliest letter from Norway sent abroad to Great Britain in 1690. Each cover (shown mostly in black and white) is analyzed with respect to rates, routes, and postal markings. His appendices include rate tables and currency equivalents. Snarvold uses the English language in these first two books.

            In 1999 the Oslo Filatelistklubb published Snarvold’s Norske Brevportotakster til Utlandet 1743-1855 in Norwegian (“Norwegian Letter Rates Abroad”). This 60-page book lists postal rates for mail sent via Sweden to various destinations and then for mail sent via Denmark. The listings are chronological and by destination, with reference to postal regulations and conventions, and with illustrations of a few covers (mostly black and white but some in color).

            Harry Snarvold presented a display and talk at the Royal Philatelic Society London in November 1995 on “Norwegian Letters to Foreign Destinations to 1875.” A 62-page booklet was distributed illustrating many pages of his exhibit, beginning with the prestamp period followed by use of postage stamps. Destinations include Russia, Uruguay, Turkey, and South Africa among others. The booklet ends with a brief discussion of Norwegian maritime mail.

            His most expansive book of 310 pages appeared in 2003 and was again self-published. Carrying Norwegian Mail Abroad up to UPU uses a few covers lent by other collectors for this book. After a brief account of the Danish, Swedish, and Thurn and Taxis post offices in Hamburg, the author shows mail by destination beginning with the nearby Nordic countries and then the rest of Europe, North and South America, Africa, the Orient, and the South Pacific. The covers are shown almost entirely in color. There are brief descriptions of various shipping lines that carried the mails. Covers are again described in terms of rates, routes, and postal markings. The book concludes with a table of currency equivalents, a bibliography, and acknowledgements.

            Harry Snarvold’s latest book, again self-published in 2010, is of somewhat broader scope with respect to time, but once again focuses on transatlantic mail. Transatlantic Mail Sailings Connected with Norway in the 19th Century began as a single frame exhibit where it won gold awards in national and FEPA shows, and was then expanded in scope. This time the author approaches his material with four main objectives: maritime ship-letter mail during the Napoleonic Wars and the British blockade, the treaty period 1847 to 1875, the period of general post office notices and postal guides, and the decades following 1875.

            The treaty period is subdivided into eleven areas by specific conventions between the United States and European countries. In each category the author shows examples of mail to and from Norway and identifies the ship, sailing line, route, and applicable rates. The many manuscript and handstamped markings on the covers are identified and described in detail. Markings on the reverse are also shown. Occasionally an illustration of a sailing vessel or steamship is included to add interest.

            A wide variety of origins to Norway and destinations from Norway are shown. Among the former are Guatemala, Hawaii, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Uruguay, Newfoundland and remote areas of the United States. Destinations from Norway include Cuba, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Martinique, Panama, and to the U.S. in a closed bag via the Danish Post. The author provides brief descriptions of some of the transatlantic shipping lines and illustrates a few spectacular letters held by others.

            Most of Snarvold’s books are hardbound and only printed on one side of the page. The exhibit pages are neatly hand-lettered and in English, and the cover illustrations are in full color in this latest book. Snarvold’s works contain an enormous wealth of postal history information and he acknowledges the assistance he has obtained from the literature and other specialists.

            All of the above books by Harry Snarvold are in the SCC Library.


Alan Warren