TPO -> TPOs of Norway

TPOs of Norway

By Tony Goodbody

There are at least three comprehensive books, two of them in English, which deal with the TPOs of Norway. The information and illustrations below are derived from the monograph by the former Treasurer of the TPO & Seapost Society, Arthur Chambers(1).

Chambers classifies the postmarks into 8 types (figure 1) which is a remarkably small number for a country such as Norway. He also divides the railways into about half a dozen groups, each with its own map (figure 2).

Fig. 1: Types of Norwegian TPO cancellations from a monograph by Chambers Fig. 2: Map of Norweigan railways - Nordbanen Group of Railways (after Chambers)

The first TPO datestamps were issued in 1875 although several TPOs were running before that date, from which some manuscript marks are known. Figure 3 shows Type 1 cancellations of the Hovedjernbanen (Trunk Railway) in the Nordbanen (Northern Railway) group.

Fig. 3: HOVEDJERNBANEN Type 1 cancel

Figure 4 shows a Type 2 double circle cancellation from the NORDBANERNES POSTEKSPEDISJON (Northern Railway TPO). Figure 5 shows a mark from the same TPO with a Type 3 cancellation which is simply a development of Type 2 with horizontal lines above and below the date.


Types 2 & 3 cancellations but with larger circles were still in use during the 1950s (see figure 6). The use of these cancellations on GB postcards is interesting. They were reply paid cards and such use was perfectly proper. The facility is no longer available.

Fig. 6: OSLO - RANDSFJORD Types 2 and 3 cancels

The Type 4 cancellation is the kind usually referred to as the "Swiss Bridge" (figure 7) and was used by a number of routes. It is similar to Type 3 but with the addition of vertical bars above and below the date.

Fig. 7: Type 4 TPO cancel - NORDBANERNES POSTEKSP. II/ B

Latterly, large double circle marks were in use as typified by the HAMAR - RØROS route (figure 8: Type 5) which was in fact the last TPO to run in Norway.

Fig. 8: Type 5 TPO cancel - HAMAR - RØROS TPO, Train 371

At the same time, 1989, the BERGENSBANEN mailguard (Oslo - Bergen) was using the small single circle cancellation (Type 6, figure 9). Various codes are known both alphabetical and numerical.

Fig. 9: Type 6 TPO cancel BERGENSBANEN

An unusual type of cancellation (for Norwegian TPOs) is the Krag machine cancellation. Shown in figure 10 is the international route OSLO - ED with the words "BUREAU AMB" in French. Ed (pronounced something like "Eared") is just over the border in Sweden.

Fig. 10: OSLO-ED Krag machine TPO cancellation

No example of the "Target" type of cancellation is available for illustration.

I do not know when the last TPO ran but the BERGENSBANEN mailguard and the HAMAR-RØROS TPO were still running in 1990 when I believe all other TPO operations had ceased.



(1) Chambers, A. "Norwegian Travelling Post Offices/ Part I/ The Railway Markings." Published by Philip Cockrill, 1988. This is a delightful book with its maps and tables with known dates of use for each postmark. It is probably sufficient for all but the most advanced collectors.
(2) Jackson, E.N. "Norwegian Railways Postal connections and Cancellations" published by the TPO & Seapost Society, 1997. This is another scholarly work with many maps and incidental information.
(3) Tiemer, J. "Katalog über die Stempel der norwegischen Bahnpost Expeditionen" published by the author in 1983. This work is the most comprehensive and detailed work of the three. It is however in German and is for the true specialist. Tiemer does, however, use the same classification of postmark types as Chambers.

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