Scandinavian Collectors Club


Icelandic Numeral Cancellation, edited and published by the Föreningen Islandssamlarna, 2006. 114 pages, 8 ¼ by 11 ¾ inches, Cerlox bound, clear plastic covers, in English. Available for 150 SEK (approximately $21) plus postage from the publisher’s web site


            This handbook of the numeral cancels of Iceland was first published by the Society of Iceland Collectors in Sweden in 1992, followed by revised editions in 1996 and 2005. This latest version is available either in Swedish or in English. In addition to the numerical listing of the cancels, identifying location and period of use, the book provides much background and explanatory material.

            Aside from the main office in Reykjavik there are two types of post offices in Iceland: the complete or regular post office offering a large range of services, and the receiving office that handles mostly letters and stamps. The regular offices used dated cancels whereas the many receiving offices were assigned handstamps consisting of a number within a circle. Occasionally a regular office would borrow a numeral cancel when its dated canceller was worn or broken and while waiting for the replacement.

            The original numeral cancels (1 to 273) were distributed to the receiving offices in 1903. Later, more numbers were added. If a receiving office was promoted to a regular office, it converted to a dated cancel, normally of the bridge type.

            Different types of numeral cancels are defined by those with slanting numbers (Type 1) and those with upright numbers (Type 2), and by the diameter of the circle. Specific problems are addressed in the introductory text such as distinguishing between 6 and 9 or 66 and 99. A clear plastic template with these numbers is provided to aid in the distinction. Forgeries are also mentioned and a few covers with numeral cancels are illustrated.

            The bulk of the handbook is devoted to the listing in numerical order from 1 to 300. The Type 1 numbers are 1 to 210, and Type 2 run from 211 to 300. Each entry shows the town or location and the period of use where known. Some cancels were used in more than one location over time and these moves are tracked. The county where the receiving office was located is also listed. Some explanatory notes appear with each cancel. A few cancels, like 219, were used on a number of ships over the years, and these are all identified.

            An alphabetical listing by receiving office name identifies the numeral associated with it. Some receiving offices were assigned the same name, and so another list identifies which county they are in. A final list records which numeral cancel devices are now stored in the national archives in Reykjavik.

            Collectors of Iceland’s numeral cancels will need this handbook to help them identify the items they find, or are still looking for.


Alan Warren