Iceland Post Offices - Photos and Postmarks
by Alfred A. Gruber

My philatelist friend, Wayne Sommer (deceased), sometimes accompanied by his wife, Helen, made many trips to Iceland. In 1973 and again in 1976, he took color slides of postal establishments. Helen gave me his slides in 1997 with the expectation I would do something to utilize their value.

Wayne had also collected a number of cancels from some of those same offices in 1974. Later, the estate of SCC member Robert Lipscomb revealed a very nice group of 246 different covers (out of a possible 287 then) that Icelander Gudmundsen Arneson personally had obtained during the summers of 1958 and 1959. I purchased those covers.

My plan to marry matching pictures and covers was to create a slide program for the SCC membership. I began to discover slide projector repair and parts are about as available as blubber flensing. I considered putting this project on video. What with the publicity of television going to digital, I stalled out. Getting into the hoary category myself, I may have to bequeath this to a younger soul. Meanwhile, to keep my promise, this article will present some of the more interesting pairings.

The reader is advised the post office pictures in 1973/1976 will not match the dates on the covers. The reverse also is true; the type of cancel may have changed by the time of the photo. Iceland post offices, particularly the small ones (brefhirdhing) in farm houses or shops also moved about. (Descriptions of the offices come directly from Sommer's notes.)

The postmark descriptions and history is best left to the expert, Don Brandt. To brighten the prose, I unashamedly used some of his stories from his two fascinating books, Exploring Iceland through its Stamps, and, Walking into Iceland's Postal History. Thanks, Don.

Avoiding place location in the interests of space, the reader is referred to standard atlases or to Wayne Sommer's excellent Philatelic Gazeteer published in The American Philatelist (July 1981).









Höfn í Hornafjörður
















Email comments received 15 January 2002 from Thor Thorsteins:
[with minor edits by Webmaster for clarification]

I had the pleasure to look up where the good work of Wayne Sommer is presented. We met him often when he was in Iceland but unfortunately he was sometimes too eager to find the old houses which had previously been collecting offices and what they used as canceling devices.
In the presentation there are two bad faults:
1. Svalbarð, Reykjavík:
The correct house is shown but the collecting office never used the bridge type cancel with the name "Svalbarð". It was only used by an office on the North Eastern coast of Iceland. In Reykjavik they only used the numeral mentioned.
2. Sogamýri:
You show a farm in Sogamýri named Réttarholt which was owned by a well known farmer, Eiríkur. He was, first of all, known for his 15 daughters and no son. In this building there was never a collecting office. It was not far away and Sommer mixed them up.
Am afraid there are more similar faults in Wayne's manuscript and it would be important to correct before publishing.