Scandinavian Collectors Club


Danish West Indies Postage Stamps and Post Office Markings 1856-1917 by Arnold Sorensen. 96 pages on compact disc, privately published, Newburgh, Indiana, 2011. $20 postpaid in USA, $25 elsewhere from Arnold Sorensen, 7666 Edgedale Drive, Newburgh IN 47630 USA.


            Author Arnold Sorensen now chairs the Danish West Indies Study Group of the Scandinavian Collectors Club. The group was founded by the late Victor Engstrom who edited the 3-volume Danish West Indies Mails 1754-1917, now long out of print. The first volume on postal history was updated and expanded in 2001 by John DuBois. Volume 2 of the original edition examined the stamp issues, as does this new book by Sorensen.

            In his preface the author points out that he does not dwell on the depth of DWI stamp varieties that has been published earlier by Engstrom, Lasse Nielsen, and Gunnar Hagemann. Instead he provides a study of the stamps using better illustrations and adds information on postal markings found on the stamps. He also gathers together important information on DWI postal labels.

            Chapter 1 deals with the classic stamps of 1856-1874. Descriptions of the watermarks, the burelage or underprint varieties, and the printing of the stamps are presented. The mute cancel varieties used on these stamps are illustrated and census figures for known covers are tabulated. Especially rare aspects of the stamps are highlighted like private roulettes, imperforate and part perforate varieties, and rare cancellations. Examples of multiples and use on cover are nicely shown in color.

            The next chapter covers the bicolor issues of 1874-1905 with details on date of issue, intended rate uses, and the normal and inverted frame varieties. The various printings are discussed and again the stamps are listed with rare aspects noted. These issues are described in greater depth to include perforation varieties and some plate flaws. Earliest reported use dates are identified.

            Subsequent chapters are devoted to the 1901-1905 coat of arms issues, the king’s head and St. Thomas Harbor stamps of 1905-1917, and the postage due stamps of 1902-1917. These include manuscript markings, handstamp marks in black and other colors, and gummed labels.

            Early versions of these postal markings identified mail that was registered or paid. Handstamps of “C” and “F” denote mail received uncancelled at St. Thomas from the St. Croix towns of Christiansted and Fredericksted. The St. Thomas post office then applied dated arrival marks. Other markings include late delivery, postage due, and avis de reception (AR).

            A description of labels includes post office seals, registered, and return labels for reasons like unknown, refused, deceased, insufficient address, etc. A more detailed description of registered mail handling illustrates handstamped registry marks and their varieties. A final chapter addresses miscellaneous DWI material like the Danish mail ships, the destruction of unused stamps and stationery according to post office records, the rare Kingshill markings, international reply coupons, and propaganda labels favoring or opposing the sale of the Danish West Indies to the United States.

            Bibliographic references for further study are listed at the end of each chapter. One highly desirable aspect of the CD is the use of cover illustrations that include some gems from the Danish Post and Tele Museum. This work is a useful source for students of DWI philately. Those who prefer to work from a printed text can easily print and bind the book from the CD version.


Alan Warren