Scandinavian Collectors Club


Spitzbergen Cruise Mail 1890-1914 by Pat Adams, Alan Totten, and Peter Williams. 8 ½ by 11 ¾ inches, 60 pages, comb bound, soft covers, Scandinavia Philatelic Society, United Kingdom 2006, ISBN 09523532 3 7. $25 postpaid in the U.S. from SPS Librarian, 28 Philip Nurse Road, Dersingham, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6WH, United Kingdom.

Visiting the Svalbard group of islands off Norway, and Spitzbergen in particular, became a popular tourist outing around the turn of the 20th century. Although the islands were known to the Vikings, the more recent records include those of Willen Barents and Henry Hudson. A brief history is presented, noting that the coal mining and whaling industries brought commercial interests, followed by exploration with Andrée's balloon expedition and Walter Wellman's airship venture to reach the North Pole.

These early activities stimulated tourists to visit the area via cruises offered by Norwegian, British, and German ship lines. A table lists the vessels by name, their line, tonnage, date built, and ultimate disposal. Next, the stamps including the Spitzbergen locals are described followed by descriptions of the postal facilities such as Advent Bay, Bell Sound, Green Harbour and the associated mainland offices of Hammerfest and Tromsø.

An important section is the illustration and numbering of cachets used by the various shipping lines and other entities. Some examples of tourist mail are shown, which consisted largely of post cards. An alphabetical list of cachets is cross referenced by cachet number and page number. A bibliography provides citations for further study.

The authors studied over 350 post cards from collections and auction catalogs and prepared tables that list frequency of strikes by canceling post offices, cachet types, and destinations of the cards. Concluding tables list the ships and the years they visited Spitzbergen.

The text is nicely laid out and illustrations are in color. This book is an excellent addition to the library of Scandinavian, Spitzbergen, and Polar collectors.

Alan Warren