08 July 2020
Take a voyage of discovery to explore the Faroe Islands. Islands of the far north. Islands with a Viking heritage and a wealth of interest for the geographer, historian, naturalist and, not least, philatelist.
The Faroe Islands are situated in the North Atlantic, approximately halfway between Shetland and Iceland. The Faroes are a group of eighteen islands, with a total area of 1,400 square kilometres (540 square miles). The islands’ population is just over 50,000, of whom about 21,000 live in the capital, Tórshavn.
The islands are part of the Kingdom of Denmark but, since 1948, have been self-governing. The Faroese have their own national flag (the Merkið), parliament (the Løgting) and language (Faroese is related to Icelandic and certain Norwegian dialects). Fishing and fish-processing are the islanders’ main source of income and employment.
The Faroes are mountainous and have a dramatic beauty all of their own. Huge perpendicular cliffs, up to 735 metres (2,460 feet) high, tower above the slate-grey sea. The islands are home to countless thousands of birds and are a bird-watcher’s paradise.
Faroes Stamps and Postal History
The Faroe Islands have a wealth of interest for the philatelist. The first post office in the islands opened, in the capital, in 1870. Danish stamps were used until January 1975 when stamps, inscribed “Føroyar”, were issued for use in the islands.
Emergency bisects and a provisional overprint in January 1919 are always in demand. The occupation of the islands by British forces during the Second World War led to further provisional overprints and a range of wartime markings. These too are very popular.
Danish versions of local place-names were shown on the islands’ cancels until 1962 when they were replaced by their Faroese equivalents. So, for example, for the Faroes’ remotest island, the Danish Myggenæs became Mykines. Such details contribute to a fascinating philatelic history.
Faroese postage stamps are issued by Posta, the Faroes’ independent postal authority, with designs relevant to the islands. One hundred Faroese stamps, from 1975 to 2003, were engraved by Czesław Słania.
Information about new issues can be obtained from Posta Stamps, Óðinshædd 2, FO 100 Tórshavn, Faroe Islands (website: https://en.stamps.fo/)
Faroe Islands Study Circle
The Faroe Islands Study Circle was formed in 1991 for collectors of Faroes’ postage stamps, postmarks, postal history and so on. It shares information on these subjects. Many members also have a more general interest in the Faroes - their geography, history, wildlife, transportation, etc - and so the Study Circle also endeavours to cater for these wider interests.
Although founded in the United Kingdom, the society now has a worldwide membership. There are currently members in 18 countries outside the UK.
- The Study Circle’s award-winning journal (called “238”) and newsletter are both sent to members twice a year, either as printed copies by post or electronically.
- Postal auctions are held and a series of picture postcards has been published.
- Meetings are arranged when opportunity permits.
- Visits to the Faroes were arranged by the Study Circle in the 1990s but individual travel to the islands is now much easier than it was at that time.
- Members of the Study Circle’s organising committee are elected by the membership and serve for two-year periods.
The society strives to be an informal, friendly society, providing a mutually-beneficial service to help all members pursue and further their interests in the Faroe Islands. Membership currently costs from £12 per year.