The Forschungsgemeinschaft Nordische Staaten (Nordic Countries Study Group) in Germany publishes a journal with reports of research on the stamps and postal history of this area. An added benefit for members is receipt of the occasional monograph issued by the organization. The latest of these is Wolf Hess’s first part on the postal history of Finland, from the beginning until the end of 1844.
The first section covers the handling of mail during the Swedish occupation for the period 1638 to 1809. The first method was the courier post or private delivery of mail by runners or horse rider, followed by sexton mail or correspondence by church officials. Paralleling these systems was the Crown Post whereby royal notices and other communications were carried and delivered by peasants.
Crown Post mail is often marked with manuscript drawing of “crown” symbol markings, and later used feathers affixed with wax to denote express or urgent delivery. Thus these systems in Finland reflect similar ones that were being used in Sweden at the same time. In the mid-17th century the General Post was established with a more formal system that included the delivery numbers in the upper right corner of the cover, and the establishment of set rates.
The author provides wonderful rate tables at this point, for which postal history collectors will be indebted. These include rates between Stockholm and major Finnish destinations during the period 1638 to 1786, and Finland domestic rates from 1705 to 1747. This section ends with an 1807 Swedish rate table for internal delivery between various Finnish towns.
The second section of this monograph discusses the handling of mail from 1809 when Finland became a Grand Duchy of Russia. Straight line and boxed cancels were introduced. Again, important rate tables are provided beginning with domestic rates for the period 1810 to 1816, followed by new ones covering the period 1816 to 1840. The importance of Åland in the routing of mail between Sweden and Finland is discussed in some detail.
A table of straight line cancellations with their periods of use is reproduced from the Norma catalog. Another domestic rate table covers the period 1841-1844, and a final table lists rates to European cities for the period 1822 to 1843. The book ends with a bibliography and an index.
This work is especially important for the rate information that is not easily found elsewhere. Thus the postal history significance of Hess’s book cannot be overstressed. Prestamp mail in Finland is well served with this book.