The Mail Road Across Åland by Jan Andersson, 6 x 8-1/2 inches, 76 pages, illustrated, hardbound, in English, Åland, 2000, ISBN 951-8946-67-1.

This fine little book was published by the Archaeological Section of the Åland government, and tells the story of the development of the main mail route across the islands, which was in use from 1638 until 1910. For centuries Åland was part of the sea route between Sweden and Finland. With the advent of the postal system in the early 17th century in Sweden, a series of farm posts was established across the islands between which couriers could take the mails.

Inns, ferries, and other facilities were gradually created along this well traveled route across the mainland and the smaller islands. The mails left Sweden from Grisslehamn in Väldo and entered Eckerö at Storby. They continued across the mainland to Bomarsund, then on to Vårdö, Kumlinge, and Brändö, eventually reaching Turku in Finland. Mail deliveries between Stockholm and Turku began once a week and were then increased to twice a week.

The well-written text takes the reader from town to town, documenting the mail route with historic and current photos. While vestiges of the original mail route remain, it has largely been replaced with new highways. Still, it is possible for visitors to see remnants of the old post road and to get a feel of how the mails traveled for two and half centuries.

The book offers little in the way of postal history and instead dwells on the historic route and its mileposts. Still, for the casual Åland collector and tourists visiting the island, the book gives a nice overview of what can be seen in the context of history. The book costs about $10 and can be obtained directly from Posten Åland, Box 99, 22101 Mariehamn, Åland, or through their U.S. representative Nordica, Box 284, Old Bethpage NY 11804.

Alan Warren