- Postage stamps and postal history of the Danish West Indies
St Thomas was a hub of the West Indies
packetservice from 1851 to 1885. Initially mail was transported by a Spanish packet to and from Puerto Rico; but in July 1867 the British picked up the mail contract, and packet letters are known using British stamps as late as 1879.
postage stampof the Danish West Indieswas issued in 1856. It had the same square coat of armsdesign as the contemporary stamps of Denmark, but it was denominated 3 cents and of a dark carminecolor on yellowish paper. A yellow burelageof wavy lines covered the stamp. (In the illustration at right, it is most easily seen along the bottom edge of the larger version.) An 1866 printing was on white paper, with the direction of the burelage lines changed, and in 1872 the stamps were perforated. In 1873 a 4c value in dull blue was issued.
1874 saw the first numeral issues of the same sort as used in Denmark. Values ranged from 1c to 50c; all were
bi-colored. Inverted frames are common for several of the lower values.
As usual for small colonies far away, the Danish West Indies ran out of popular values periodically, and the colonial administration had to improvise. A 1c
surchargewas printed on 7c stamps in 1887, and a 10c surcharge on 50c in 1895. An additional supply of numeral types in new colors came out between 1896 and 1901.
Single-color 1c and 5c stamps were issued in 1900 to meet
UPUregulations. Shortages of 2c and 8c values led to more surcharges in 1902, rectified in the following year by an issue of those values using the arms design of 1900. Postage duestamps first appeared in 1902 also.
As a result of the currency reform, in 1905, new stamps were issued. Values from 5b to 50b had a
silhouetteof King Christian IX, while 1fr, 2fr, and 5fr depicted the sailing ship" Ingolf" in St. Thomas harbor. New postage dues were required as well. Additional 5b stamps were produced by surcharging older stamps.
A few types are cheaply available today, such as the low values of the 1907 issue, but most fall into the US$10-20 range. Because the letter-writing population was very small, perhaps just a few hundred persons, used copies are often valued more highly by collectors, and both forged and
favor cancellations are known to have been made.
* "The Stamp Atlas"
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.