Danish West Indies - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Danish West Indies was a colony of Denmark-Norway in the Caribbean until it was sold to the United States in 1916 in the treaty of the Danish West Indies and renamed as the United States Virgin Islands. It consists of the islands of St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, and a number of islands that have a combined total area of 134 square miles and a population of 110,000. The primary reason for the acquisition was to avoid Germany taking control of the area – it was determined as a strategic point to defend the Panama Canal. Tourism is the primary economic activity of the area currently with over two million visitors a year. Most of them visit on cruise ships. The National Geographic Introduction to the area and the Fodor’s Guide are excellent references, if you plan to visit the area.

Philatelic Profile:

Danish West Indies started issuing stamps under the Danish dominion in 1856. Prior to this, the only philatelic items of interest are British Post Office Pre-Stamp Postal Markings of the 1849-1855 period and stamps of Great Britain with DNI cancellations (canceled C51 or circular date stamp) from the 1865 to 1879 time period. The former on cover fetch upwards of $600 and the latter catalog upwards of $30. The first regular issue of DNI was a coat of arms issue of 1856. The issue (Scott #1) is rare and catalogs for around $200 Mint or Used. Copies on cover are very rare and fetch well into the 1000s. The first issues with ‘Danish West Indies’ inscription was a set of nine numerals (Scott #5 to #13) issued between 1874 and 1879 in bi-colors. The set is sought after and catalogs in the $1K range for Mint and a little more for Used. Inverted frame varieties exist and they fetch a huge premium. Stamps of Danish West Indies were replaced by US stamps from September 30, 1917. The first six-months of US acquisition saw a transition period when US, DWI, or mixed frankings were all used. Genuine copies from the period are rare and valuable.

Numismatic Profile:

Danish West Indies coinage started in the early eighteenth century and was based on the Danish currency (till 1849 – 96 Skilling = 1 Daler), although the values were not equal. In the late 18th and early 19th century, Danish copper and silver coins were used in addition to local coins. Decimal Coinage (20 Cents = 1 Franc) started with the introduction of Bronze Cents in 1859. Mintage was in the 200,000 range and the first issues are valued at around $35 for XF. Early Proof Like items with very low mintage (10) exist and they catalog for a few hundred dollars range.

Collectible Memorabilia:

Souvenir Collector Spoons, vintage coastguard patches, original historical photographs, etc form the most popular takeaways from the Islands.

Related Posts:
  1. United States of America.
Last Updated: 12/2015.

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