Danish West Indies

From Academic Kids

The Danish West Indies (DWI, Dansk Vest Indien) are a former colony of Denmark in the Caribbean, now known as the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Danish West India and Guinea Company settled on St. Thomas island first in 1672, expanding to St. John in 1683 (a move disputed with the British until 1718), and purchasing St. Croix from the French West Indies Company in 1733. In 1754, the islands were sold to the Danish king, becoming royal Danish colonies.

At times during the Napoleonic Wars, the islands were occupied by the British; first from March 1801 to 27 March 1802, and then again from December 1807 to 20 November 1815, when they were returned to Denmark.

On 12 December 1916, the islands were sold to the United States, which was interested because of their strategic position near the approach to the Panama Canal. Danish administration officially ended 31 March 1917.

Postage stamps

Missing image
3 cents, 1866

The first postage stamp of the Danish West Indies was issued in 1856. It had the same square coat of arms design as the contemporary stamps of Denmark, but it was denominated 3 cents and of a dark carmine color on yellowish paper. A yellow burelage of 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, DWI ran out of popular values periodically, and the colonial administration had to improvise. A 1c surcharge was 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 UPU regulations. 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 due stamps first appeared in 1902 also.

Missing image
20 bits, 1905

In 1905, the currency changed to bits and francs (why?), which required new stamps. Values from 5b to 50b had a silhouette of 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 definitive series of 1907 depicted Frederick VIII, followed in 1915 by a series for Christian X.

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.

See also

External link

fr:Indes occidentales danoises nl:Deens West-Indië no:Dansk Vestindia


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