I have been interested in censured mail from the Danish West Indies for approximately
two years My interest orginated with my collection of letters from the Danish West Indies and the U.S. Virgin islands from the transfer period.
My collection includes letters from the Danish West Indies/U.S.
Virgin Islands that were mailed to
Europe where consors inspected them.
I discovered that here was little puslished material about letters from this period. I was interested in learning
more about the various labels, and why there were many more English labels than US and Frensh labels.
I have therefore been collection censured letters fra the Danish West Indies/U.S. Virgin Islands by trading with fellow
collectors or by purchase.
My collection of censured mail straddles a period starting with mail from the colony and finishes with mail after the colony had been sold and became the U.S.
A principal focus has been letters mailed to Denmark, but also includes a few letters mailed to the Danish West Indies from
Denmark and Norway.
My collection is therefore separated into three different time periods as follows:
Colonial period :
Letters to/from the Danish West Indies dated earlier than March 31, 1917
Transfer Period: April 1 – September 20, 1917
The Danish West Indies colony was sold to the United States effective March 31, 1917, and the “Transfer Period” is the six month period April1 to September 30 1917 when either DWI or US stamps or both could be used
on mail sent from the former colony.
US Territorial Period:
the US Virgin Islands dated October 1, 1917– June 1919
Rates During The Three Different Time Periods:
DWI Postage Rates
U.S. Postage rates
Foreign letter 25 bit 5 cents
Registration Fee 25
bit 10 cent
The only difference in mailing and costs in the different periods was the increase in the registration fee from 25 bit (equal to 5 cents) to
After the DWI was sold to USA and in the transfer period were both DWI and US could be used in combination:
Foreign letters 25 bit or 5 cents
Registration fee 50
bit or 10 cents
Censured Mail - First
mail was opened and the contents inspected, and were then sealed with a label showing an inspection had been done. Most letters to and from the Danish West Indies were handled by the British censors.
The British censor offices started in late 1914, but did not become fully effective until late 1915, primarily because of the numbers censors required. British
naval ships intercepted the mail ships and retained them while inspecting the mail in British ports.
In late 1914, the majority of letters were sent North of the Shetland Islands due the German submarines. Here, the various ships in 1915 vere
greeted by the British navy, with the purpose of sending the ships in British port to censorship.
Here censorship labels were attached and the letters could now be released and sent to the detained ships.
There are also letters mailed after 1916 that were not censored. This is because some ships sailed without any lights to avoid the British fleet and escape being retained.
It is therefore not unusual to find letters mailed to and from the Danish West Indies during the 1914 – 1916 period
that were not censored.
Most UK letters were censored in London, where they were addressed to Denmark.
If they had been addressed, for example to UK they had been treated censorship in Liverpool.
From the affixed labels, you know where censorship processing took place:
1 -1499 in London
1500-3999 in Liverpool
4000-5999 in London
6000 -> Liverpool
There are a few exceptions to this general pattern. This is due to some London staff - moved to Liverpool - when the office opened in late 1915 and there was a small number of "censorship stations" where small teams worked.
The English labels are without "No." in "Opened by the censor."
All French mail to Denmark was sent via England, and France
did not need to censure this mail since England was very active in censuring letters. Very few letters from the Danish West Indies/US Virgin Islands were censured in France
In France, there
were 17 places - which were performed censorship treatment
Ouvert no. tells how they were treated. The few letters to and from the Danish West Indies / Virgin Islands were all treated in Dieppe. Dieppe Ouvert no. Available
The no. on the back of a censorship treated letter, I think it means that it was the staff no. of the examiner who performed the treatment. However, there is no confirmation of this.
In London, where there
was a small team of French censorship team - stamped it with small numbers (usually on the front) examiner's personnel number. This is known with certainty from an official report on the Postal Censorship, published after the war.
are as written very few letters as censorship treated in France, and all are extremely costly.
The U.S.A. entered the war in 1917 - After the colony was sold, and only then started censuring letters
in 1917. All these letters were mailed from the now U.S. Virgin Islands. However, England continued being the principal site for censoring mail.
In addition to New York, there were 6 other places in the US where there
were performed censorship - but I am of the opinion that letters from Virgin Island always was censored in New York.
There are a result serial no.:
1-500, 601-700, 801-900,1001-1100,
1201-1300 set from 5000 to 5099.
Office opened on Nov. 3, 1917, and closed June 20, 1919 (the last weekly repeat)
The US labels are very similar to the UK - but the American label is almost always says
"Opened by the censor. No" and then printed with a circle no.
In 1919 the censoring was reduced, and totally stopped in June 1919.