Iceland - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Iceland, an European Island Nation in the North Atlantic Ocean just outside the Arctic Circle East of Greenland, has a total land area of 39,770 square miles and a population of close to 320,000. Iceland, warmed along the coast by the Gulf Stream, is a beautiful country with  mountains, glaciers, fjords, plateaus, sand-fields, plains, glacial rivers, waterfalls, boiling mud-pools, and geysers defining its topography. It is also volcanically active. For years, fishing and agriculture were the mainstays of its economy. Around 15 years ago the country diversified to economic and financial services and in its wake, became one of the wealthiest and most developed nations of the world. However the recent failure of its banking system has resulted in political unrest. Geothermal and hydro power currently provide 80% of its energy needs. It is striving to be energy independent soon.

Travel Resources:

June through August is peak tourist season for Iceland – longer days are a bonus then. Iceland is often described as the land with pristine landscape. For those wishing to enjoy Northern Lights, winter is the time to visit Iceland. Major attractions are the capital city of Reykjavík, the Blue Lagoon, Askja, Leirhnjukur, Látrabjarg in the West Fjords for bird watching, Glymur, Gullfoss, Dettifoss, and Laki Craters. Mountain biking, whale watching, fishing, river rafting, hiking, riding, swimming,  fishing, angling. and hunting are the main activities enjoyed by visitors. Fish, lamb, and dairy are the staples of their cuisine. Traditional dishes include skyr (yogurt), hakarl (fermented shark), cured shark, singed sheep heads, and black pudding.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Frommer’s Iceland978-0470973790$15Detailed maps throughout. Reviews of hotels, restaurants, and sights. Itineraries, walking tours, and trip planning ideas.
Iceland Road Map978-3707904512$131:400,000 scale. Reykjavik at 1:5,000 scale.
Iceland Grounded Adapter Plug – GUBB001FDC9M8$8


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Iceland were a set of seven stamps released in 1873 showing Numerals. Each stamp in the set (Scott #1 to #7) catalogs for over $100 mint and over $600 used. The numerals theme along with certain surcharge overprints continued until the turn of the century. The sets are also sought after and catalogs in the $500 range for mint. In 1814, Denmark-Norway was separated into two kingdoms and Iceland was ceded to Denmark. In 1874, Iceland was granted limited home rule, following an independence movement that arose under the leadership of Jon Sigurosson.

Iceland released a set of fifteen stamps between 1907 and 1908 in the Kings theme. The set (Scott #71 to #85) catalogs for around $600 mint or used. The designs show head portraits of Christian IX and Frederik VIII, the kings of Denmark from 1818 to 1906 and 1906 to 1912 respectively. This was followed by a set showing Jon Sigurosson in 1911. That set (Scott #86 to #91) is also sought after and catalogs for around $60 mint and $90 used. A high-value set showing King Frederik VIII (Scott #92 to #98) was also released in a similar design in 1912. That set is even more valuable at around $300 mint and over $400 used.

Other issues of Iceland enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of fifteen stamps released on January 1, 1930 released to mark the 1000th anniversary of the Icelandic Parliament (Millenary of the Althing). The set (Scott #152 to #166) catalogs for around $375 mint and $900 used. The designs show Parliament Building, Viking Ship in storm, Parliament Meeting Place of 1690, Viking Funeral, Vikings Naming Land, The Dash for Thing, gathering wood, Thingvalla Lake, Iceland woman in national costume, Iceland flag, First Althing on 930 AD, Map of Iceland, winter-bound home, woman spinning, and Viking Sacrifice for Thor. Althing was founded in 930 AD making it the oldest parliamentary institution in the world. The parliament building depicted termed the Alpingishus was built in 1881 of hewn Icelandic stone.
  2. A set of seven stamps released on December 3, 1948 showing the Hekla volcano. The set (Scott #246 to #252) catalogs for around $80 MNH and $6 used. The designs show eruption of Hekla volcano and a close view of Hekla. Iceland is geologically young with volcanic eruptions happening somewhere in Iceland every five years on the average. Hekla, the volcano depicted in this set is located in the South of Iceland and is one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes. Iceland released a number of sets in the 30s and 40s and most of them are valuable. One such set is the set of eight stamps (Scott #203 to #208B) released between 1938 and 1947 in the Geyser theme. The set catalogs for around $175 MNH and around $45 used. The country has many geysers including the Great Geysir, the oldest known geyser in the world.
  3. A set of two stamps released on May 5, 1986 in the National Parks theme. The set (Scott #622 to #623) catalogs for around $35 MNH and $3 used. The designs show Skaftafell and Jokulsargljufur, national parks of Iceland located in the South and North respectively. On June 7, 2008 both of these became part of the Vatnajokull National Park.
  4. A set of five stamps released on September 5, 2002 in the Fish of Lake Thingvallavatn theme. The set (Scott #970 to #974) catalogs for around $15 MNH or used. The designs show brown trout and several sub-species of Arctic Char. Fishing industry is a major part of Iceland’s economy accounting for about 40% of the country’s total export earnings. 
Numismatic Profile:

Danish coins along with coins of Norway, Sweden, and Private Tokens were used in Iceland until decimal coinage (100 Aurar = 1 Krona) was introduced in 1922. Many of the Bronze Tokens from the period are valued into the 100s in XF. The Copper-Nickel 10 Aurar Decimals of 1922 are valued around $40 in UNC. Iceland has also issued a few gold coins over the years.

Numismatic items of Iceland include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$2 and upAurars from the 1930s onward in VF and recent Krones in UNC starts around $2. Recent Copper Nickel Proofs, early 20th century Aururs in XF, etc start around $10. Commemorative Silver Proofs start around $40. Gold coins and significant errors in old coinage go into the 100s.
Paper Money$2 and upUNC banknotes from the 1960s onward starts around $2. High value UNCs from the same period starts around $10. Scarce large notes of the early 1940s in VF starts around $40. Recent bundles in UNC, 19th century notes in VF etc go into the 100s.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Volcanic ash, lava rock jewelry, woolen wear, Reyka vodka etc., are some souvenirs from Iceland.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Antiques$10 and up19th century maps start around $10. Maps can go into the 100s for some 18th century and older specimens.
Mineral Specimens$5 and upRhombic Pure Iceland Spar optical Calcite samples start around $5. Sphere carvings, other designs, and larger samples (over 1lb) fetch a good premium into the 50s and 100s.


Last Updated: 12/2015.

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