Faeroese Postal History
Dutch Silver Stamp
A Jewel on a Stamp
Canadian Nat. Symbols
Private - Personalized
Philatelic Art Mews
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Some time ago I found accidentally this rather insignificant
postcard in a bric-a-brac shop in Copenhagen, featuring the motor ferry
"Peter Wessel" which during the 1940s operated the ferry route between
Frederikshavn (in Jutland, Denmark), and the town of Larvik in the southern part
Looking at the back of the card I had one of the biggest
surprises ever: the card was addressed to my parents in my childhood home, when
our family lived in Jutland in the 1940s!! Without telling the dealer anything
(otherwise he would have charged me ten times more than he actually did) I
bought the card for a song, as I believed that it rightfully belonged to me
:-) Home again, I studied the card further, and was immediately turned on.
The card is franked with a Norwegian stamp, featuring the Danish-Norwegian naval
hero Peter Wessel -- aka Tordenskiold -- after whom the ship on the card was
Norway 1947. Close-up of the stamp used
on the card. The stamp is part of a set of 11 stamps, issued 15th
April 1947, in celebration of Norway Post's 300th anniversary. The
stamp is based on a painting by the German artist Balthazar Denner,
created in 1719), on the background of battle ships in fight.
Denner's original painting as it
appears on modern Danish matchboxes.
Peter Wessel was born in Trondheim in
Norway, as the tenth child of alderman Jan Wessel of Bergen. Wessel was a wild unruly lad who gave his pious
parents much trouble, eventually stowing away in a ship bound for
Copenhagen. Here, the king's chaplain befriended the boy and sent him on a
voyage to the West Indies, and finally procured him a vacant
cadetship. After further voyages, this time to
the East Indies, on 7 July, 1711, Wessel was appointed 2nd
lieutenant in the Navy and shortly afterwards became the captain of
a 4-gun sloop Ormen (The Serpent), in which he cruised about
the Swedish coast picking up useful information about the enemy.
also commanded the 6-gun vessel Lindorm, and earlier, was
second-in-command on the 26-gun frigate Postillion.
In 1716 Wessel was ennobled and
assumed the name Tordenskiold (Thundershield).
In spite of Tordenskiold's rather short
life -- only 30 years -- his name lives on in modern Danish language
through the expression "Tordenskjold's Soldiers", which is used
when a small group of people play many different roles, often in an
attempt to deceive an adversary. Characteristic of Tordenskiold's
victories is that he attacked the enemy with an inferior force as was the
case in 1719, when he attacked the heavily manned Swedish fortress
Karlsten outside the town of Marstrand on the Swedish west coast, and in
no time captured the Swedish battleships. He called
on the commander of the Karlsten fortress, Colonel H. Danckwardt, and
demanded he surrender within the next five days, but the commander had no
intention of surrender, and for five days nothing happened.
The sixth morning Tordenskiold took as many
of his crew as possible and formed a small company. He landed a short
distance from the fortress and started his little "army"
marching past the commander's dwelling again and again, giving the colonel
the impression that he had many more soldiers than he really had. It was,
however, the same group of men who marched by every time that a
"new" company passed the fortress. Finally, Tordenskiold
went up directly under the window of the commander's residence and
shouted out the famous words:
"Why the Devil are you
hesitating? Haven't you realized that your time is up?"
Colonel Danckwardt became so scared that he surrendered
The situation is beautifully
immortalized through this painting by the Danish painter Otto Bache
Colonel Danckwardt's surrender contributed
much to the ending of the Danish-Swedish war (also known as the Great
Nordic War) in 1720. During a travel abroad that same year, Tordenskiold
was killed in Hannover (Germany) in a duel with a Swedish colonel, Staël
von Holstein of German-Baltic nobility.
His corpse was brought to Copenhagen and
buried in Holmens Kirke without much ceremony; according to Danish law
dueling victims were not allowed a Christian funeral.
When researching for this page,
interestingly, I have found that a township in Minnesota, USA, is named
Tordenskjold after the Danish naval hero. A French visitor to this website
has pointed me to a link giving the early history of the township,
including evidence of the naming of the place. Thank you Bruno :-)
Further, Mr. Blair Stannard (Canada) has
provided the following information in Norwegian, which I have translated
to English: Through Mr. Stannard I am aware of at least one
American postcard, cancelled in Tordenskjold in 1892.
Tordenskjold, (1870-1904), postkontor og kommune i Otter Tail fylke.
Kommunen ble til i 1869 med navnet Blooming Grove, men endret allerede året
etter navn til Tordenskjold, oppkalt etter den norske sjøhelten Peter Wessel Tordenskjold.
Postkontoret ble opprettet 27.10.1870 med Kelmer (Helmer / Hjalmer?) Hoff
som postmester. Stavemåten Tordenskiold er også sett. Det ble nedlagt
Tordenskjold (1870-1904), post office and municipality in Otter Tail
county. The community was established in 1869 with the name Blooming
Grove, but already a year later changed its name to Tordenskjold, after the Norwegian naval hero Peter Wessel
Tordenskjold. The post office was established 27th
October 1870 with Kelmer (Helmer / Hjalmer?) Hoff as postmaster. The
spelling Tordenskiold [with an 'i'] is also seen. The post office was
closed on 13th February 1904.
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