The following is an abridged extract from a talk delivered by the collector, D.L. Overbye, to the Manawatu Philatelic Society on 14th June 1967. While this talk was delivered over thirty years ago, the fact the Local Posts were discontinued as late as the early 1900s means what he had to say is as relevant today as it was then.
Definition of Local Posts: “Mail services which had franking validity limited to a town, district or route in any country or between particular seaports and which owed their instigation and issue of stamps to private as against official or gevernmental enterprise.”
The Local Posts have great historical interest and importance, as they often preceded the issues of the official (i.e. government issues). In many cases, one may even say in most cases, the private mail service alone built the foundations of, or largely assisted in, the vast postal administrations we know today. The postal systems of, for example, Norway would have been impossible without the “Byposts” (Town Posts). The posts of Britain and the U.S.A. were built on the private efforts of such as Dockwra and the Express Companies. In fact it was the private enterprise of the family of Thurn and Taxis which laid out the postal system of Europe from the 15th Century and set the pattern for the world.
During the latter part of the 19th Century, stamps of the local and private posts were looked upon by almost every collector as an essential part of their collection. The philatelic press of the world gave as much prominance to their new issues as to those of the Government posts.
The decision of Gibbons after 1899 – doubtless because of the growing mass of the world’s stamps – to cease to stock “locals” (and postal stationery) naturally led to the cessation of a special catalogue and special albums for Local Stamps. Gibbons set the fashion and other cataloguers and journals meekly followed suit. Newcomers to philately were therefore ignorant of either the existence or meaning of these private posts. But “locals” of both land and ship posts have regained their popularity and proper recognition and status. Apart from their innate interest and many attractive designs, as well as the fact that most of these issues were free from speculation associated with modern commemoratives and other unnecessary issues, specialists have realised that no country’s stamps or postal history is complete without the “Locals”.
That is one opinion as to the philatelic ranking of “Locals”. Another is along the lines that the fact that local stamps were the product of more or less private individuals was the cause of them falling into favour with stamp collectors and dealers for when stocks of the genuine, original stamps were exhausted the temptation to make reprints of them was in many cases too great to be resisted. In consequence of this and because the forger also took a hand in giving inexperienced collectors what they wanted, “Locals” came to be a byword for everything that was bad.
And now, let’s turn our attention to the “Locals” of Denmark, known quite commonly as the “Byposts” which translated simply means “Town Posts”, “By” in Danish meaning “town” or “village”.
Twelve towns and cities in Denmark had local posts. In all 326 different stamps are catalogued as issued by the Byposts, with a smaller number of businesses providing somewhat similar services. The accompanying collection has some 950 stamps, which includes used duplicates mounted to show different postmarks. The figure sounds impressive but a complete collection of both mint and used stamps and of all varieties would consist of around 1100 stamps.
The Byposts are particularly rich in varieties except as to watermarks seeing that all stamps were printed on unwatermarked paper. Name any variety and some Bypost is sure to have it: imperfs, imperfs horizontal or vertical, mixed perfs, double perfs, colour variations, wrong colours, different paper varieties, tête-bêches, overprints in colour errors, invert, opts, double or treble opts, defective opts, variations in size, shape of opt, forgeries, and even a few stamps printed on the reverse of other stamps.
The Byposts operated under license from the State, on what terms, rental (if any) and for what initial period, I have not yet been able to ascertain despite enquiry from the General P.O. in Copenhagen. Holte was the frist Bypost to be established. This was in 1866 though stamps were not issued by it until 1870 and then only two. It was the only Bypost to work under the former currency of 96 Skilling to the Rigsdaler. With the change to the decimal currency of 100 ore to the Krone (Crown) in 1875 all other local stamps were in ore values.
Relative to the United Kingdom, the Bypost charges were very low even allowing for the localised nature of the service.
The Local Post of Copenhagen has an interesting history. In 1851, when the first postage stamp was issued by the State, the only town in the country with a local service was Copenhagen where the “Fod Post” (“Foot Post”) had been operating since 1 March 1806. This service was orignally run by the Post Office but was transferred into private hands in 1809 and was privately run for the next 40 years. On 14 May 1849, by which time preliminary consideration was no doubt given to the issuing of postage stamps, it was again taken over by the P.O which continued to run a separate “Foot Post Office” until 1876. A license was subsequently issued to the Bypost once more giving the City a private postal service.
Other features of interest include: Some tête-bêches, numerous colour trials, forgeries, printings on reverse of other stamps, numerous stamps with gold and silver overprint, surcharges without gum, and misspelling of “telegam”.