Review of "DDPE - Den danske Postetat 1624-1927 (1983)"

[The Danish Postal Service 1624-1927 (1983)]

by Toke Nørby, Forlaget Nørbyhus, 2008. 704 pp. (In Danish)
ISBN 978-87-984623-2-3

By John R. Sabin, USA.


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DDPE-forside In a word, this book is a tome! It is heavy, printed in small letters, and filled with information. Although perhaps not the book one might choose for a nice read while on vacation, it is an absolute must-have for anyone interested in the structure and personnel of the early Danish Postal Service. The book is an "enlarged, reworked, and completed" version of the Danish postal historian, Fritz Johannes Jacob Olsen's books Poststyrelsen, Postkontorerne og Postmestrene i Danmark 1624-1924 (Postal Administration, Post Offices and Postmasters in Denmark 1624, published in 1925) and Den Danske Postetat 1624-1927 (The Danish Postal Service 1624-1927, published in 1929.) Nørby's book represents a prodigious amount of work by the author, which has resulted in a remarkably complete and useful product.

The book is structured in three main sections, each with an introduction, followed by several short appendices. Before delving into the book, however, one needs to realize that the information density is very high. This has necessitated the use of many abbreviations and acronyms. These can be found on pages 6, in the introductions to the three sections of the book (p.524, 525), and in the literature list (p.696). It is well worth while to maintain contact with these lists when using this book.

The first, and longest, of the main sections, DDPE-I, which perhaps contains the most difficult to obtain material, lists postal biographies of more than 4,300 people that were leaders of the post offices or were employed by the postal system from 1624 to 1927. Postmen (postbud) who delivered mail are not included. In each entry, the personal postal history of each entrant is recorded. In most cases, this information includes the entrant's name, including variants in spelling, date and place of birth, perhaps some educational details, positions held with the post with dates and places, and with references to the origin of the information.

The second major section of the book, DDPE-II, charts the postal administration and its members from 01.01.1625, shortly after the establishment of the Danish postal service on 24.12.1624 until 05.10.1983, when the last edition of the Danish Post and Telegraph's (P&T) Official Announcements, after which it is very hard to follow Postal System careers. Some of the less public functions became difficult to trace as soon as 30.09.1977, with the new structure of the Postal Service. Details of these arcane details are well explained in Nørby's book.

DDPE-II is arranged in order of the various departments of the postal service, and gives the names and titles of the Department Chiefs, when each was appointed and left the job. Many are cross-referenced in DDPE-I, where additional information can be found.

The third section, DDPE-III deals with post offices and lists each alphabetically along with the various ranking postal administrators in each. The format and information contained is much the same as in DDPE-II. I find this an especially interesting section, as it is possible to see how history affected the post by following postal appointments in cities such as Altona.

Den danske Postetat 1624-1927 (1983) is an important addition to the postal history of Denmark, and should be a part the library of every postal historian of Denmark.

The book is available from Toke.Norby@norbyhus.dk for 250 DKr (~$55) plus shipping and handling. See http://www.norbyhus.dk/DDPE/

John R. Sabin

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Toke Nørby - 22.12.2008