Scandinavian Collectors Club



The first edition of this book was reviewed in the August 2006 Posthorn. The book was expanded in 2011 and updated again in 2015. The most significant change is that this third edition has 86 pages vs 60 in the first edition.


            Tourist cruises to Spitzbergen were popular during the last decade of the 19th century and during the early 1900s up until the outbreak of World War I. The introductory chapter provides some historic background and mentions the picture postcards that were spawned by the Polar balloon flights of Andrée and Wellman. The tourist ships and the firms that operated them are summarized.


            Early cruise ships were chartered by Capt. Wilhelm Bade of Germany. In the 1890s he used such ships as the Stettin, Danzig, Erling Jarl, and Kong Harald. Several Norwegian shipping firms provided cruise service via the Lofoten, Neptun, and Vega. British lines employed the Lusitania, Garonne, and Ophir, and St. Sunniva. Germany’s Hamburg-Amerika Line used the Columbia, Auguste Victoria, Moltke, and Oceana among others, and its Norddeutscher Lloyd Line offered tourists passage on the Grosser Kurfurst and Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm.


            The section on stamps and etiquettes was expanded based on publication of a Norwegian local post catalog. The cachets of the various ship companies are clearly illustrated with some examples on cover as well. Cachets of the Andrée and Wellman expeditions are shown and a useful alphabetical list of cachets by place name concludes that section. A bibliography offers readers further references to consider.


            An appendix lists the cruise ships with details like shipping line, gross tonnage, builder and date, and ultimate disposal. Another appendix consists of tables listing the post offices that cancelled Spitzbergen mail over the period covered by the book, the number of covers and cards recorded for each cachet, cards by destination, and the names of the tourist ships that visited Spitzbergen from 1893 to 1914.


            The text is nicely laid out and the illustrations are of good size and in color. This book is a nice record for collectors of Spitzbergen mail during this interesting period of postal history.


Alan Warren