Once upon a time ..
This page is devoted to the first mail carrying steamships which sailed in regular service between the Danish peninsula Jylland (Jutland) and the Danish island Sjælland (Zealand). The first attempt by the General Post Office to establish a regular mail service on the Aarhus-Kalundborg route was made in 1833 when the steamship Dania was tested on the route (1). It was not a mail carrying test, though.
S/S Dania
This steam ship was built by S. Rankin, Leith in UK. She was launched in 1823 and named Quentin Durward. Later, on 12 June 1827, she was sold to Denmark and renamed Dania (2). At first, she sailed in regular service between Aarhus and København (Copenhagen). As mentioned above, Dania was tested on the Aarhus-Kalundborg route. The test went well and, from a hand-written circular from the General Post Office, dated on 5 April 1836, we can read that on 22 January 1836 the Danish King, Frederik VI, approved a new Letter and Passenger carrying route in connection with the new mail carrying steamship route. The steam ship route was established on 1 May 1836. Again, Dania was brought into action, now on regular service.

S/S Dania
Andreas Laursen has kindly permitted me to use
his beautiful drawing of Dania. (3)


Old Scroll The Royal Decree
As the illustration to the left shows, the official announcement of the new shipmail route between Aarhus and Kalundborg was dated on 19 April 1836. The route was to be opened on 1 May 1836 as a Passenger and Mail carrying route. In 1836 the postage fee for a letter sent from Aarhus to København did not depend on which route the letter was sent - and after 1 May 1836 there were actually three ways, namely:

1. Aarhus-Kalundborg-København
2. Aarhus-Nyborg-Korsør-København
3. Direct by ship Aarhus-København

and it could be of significant importance to know which route was the fastest depending on which day in the week a letter should be sent.

The Mail Service in 1836 - The First Year
According to a circular from the General Post Office (GPO) dated on 5 April 1836, the mail service on this route took place in the period 1836.05.01-1836.10.31 where Dania left Kalundborg at 8 am on Wednesdays and Sundays. She was scheduled to leave Aarhus 8 am at Thursdays and Mondays. According to a GPO circular dated on 3 December 1836 Dania this year sailed her last tour of 1836 on 24 December, as she had to have a check of her machinery and other maintenance.

Aarhus-Kalundborg shipmail route
The Aarhus-Kalundborg shipmail route.

The Route Marking
According to Haandbog i det Udvortes Postvæsen (4): Every person is allowed to mark his letters such that it can be seen on which postal route he would like the letters to be sent. As to the Aarhus-Kalundborg route the letters should be marked with "Via Callundborg".

Via Callundborg

The above illustration shows a letter sent from København on 25 November 1843, a Saturday, with the "Kallundborg Steamship Post". From the letter, it can be seen that it arrived at Randers on the following day. According to GPO circular no. 5/1843.03.07: The "Kallundborg Steamship Post" which leaves København on Tuesdays and Saturdays has a connection to the steamship leaving Kalundborg, on Saturdays and Wednesdays.


I am indebted to Professor Russell V. Skavaril, Ohio, USA (b. 06.12.1936 - †30.11.2000) for permission to use and modify his Scroll from the (former) home page of "St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Philatelic Society". I am also indebted to the Danish artist Andreas Laursen for permission to use his illustration (3).


  1. Postvæsenet i Danmark (The Post Office in Denmark) III. By Fr. Olsen. Copenhagen 1908, p 370.
  2. Danske Dampskibe indtil 1870 III (Danish Steamships until 1870 III). By Holger Munchaus Petersen. Esbjerg Nautical Museum. ISBN 87-87453-25-8, p 89.
  3. Danske Hjuldampere (Danish Paddle Steamers). By Andreas Laursen. ISBN 87-14-28169-4, Copenhagen 1981, p 10.
  4. Haandbog i det Udvortes Postvæsen 1839 (Handbook of the postal services in Denmark 1839). By F.C. v. Jessen, § 44, Brevpostcourser i Danmark (Postal routes for letters in Denmark). Copenhagen 1839

    Other references: The circulars of the Danish General Post Office. Literature about the Aarhus-Kalundborg route and my own research in old newspapers and elsewhere.


Copyright 1997-2004 by Toke Nørby
This article must not be published without permission from the author
- but you are welcome to take a printout for your personal use ;-)


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Uploaded on 2 February 1997