Wiesby / Visby Mølle

  • Hallo Leute!

    This post is about danish skilling issues on letters sent to Visby. Similar letters also exist with the SH stamps.

    Some SH collectors may have stumbled on these kind of objects. They are distinct in the way, that they are usually only coverfronts and addressed to Frederik Höyberg, Visby Mølle and in a few cases to Frederik Höyberg, Visby Hedegaard.

    Höyberg was a miller and all these coverfronts originates from what I presume is the mill's business archive. This could at least explain why only the coverfronts are existing, while the business contents has been removed.

    The archive contained letters from nearby small villages (on the Tønder - Ribe mail route) and to my knowledge there are a few postmarks which are only known to originate from the Visby Mølle archive. These include the so-called Esrom-type postmarks, with three rings and a village abbreviation: DSTRP(Døstrup), REISB (Reisby), BBRO (Bredebro), BRNS (Brøns). Other quite rare postmarks from the archive are SKJBK (Skjærbæk) and numeral 161 (Ballum), though these are known from sources other than the Visby Mølle archive. The archive also contained more common postmarks, e.g. from Tønder.

    I have not been able to find out much information on the discovery of the archive. I know that Danish auction houses has sold a few of these, and sometimes several objects on the same auction.

    I wonder if anyone knows any details on the circumstances of the finding ? And for how long objects from the archive has been around on the market ?
    For instance, have you seen references to these coverfronts in philatelistic articles or auctions that predates 1970 - or even 1930 ?

    Here are some examples from my collection. I do not have any Esrom-types in my collection except SKJBK and would be very interested in seeing such.

    (1) Numeral 73 - Tønder
    (2) Numeral 161 - Ballum
    (3) Esrom-type SKJBK - Skjærbæk.
    (4) Letter, inside-dated Visby Mølle. Only few franked covers are known from Briefsammlungsstelle Visby Mølle. The content does not indicate any relation to Höyberg.

    Cheers Ole

  • Hej Ole,

    Sorry for the late answer (but I was not able to enter the forum for months).

    Thank you for showing these impressive pieces of your collection.
    I am afraid that this topic is too special and only a few collectors are aware of it. Nevertheless it would be very interesting to find out more about it.

    I saw the first cover fronts with these ESROM type cancellations on Hoiland auctions 10 to 15 years ago. The prices were and are quite high, especially for Schleswig Holstein covers, since only a few items exist.

    According to my knowlegde references are hardly to find. There are old articles from 1948 and 1959 (in NFT) but they do not show pictures.
    May be the Danish Postal History Society knows more and could help?

    Kind regards,

  • Hi nordlicht

    Yes, Visby philately is indeed a very narrow corner. When I started drilling down into it, I found the topic quite fascinating, with a lot of unknown circumstances to be discovered - or rediscovered.

    It's interesting information that you have. Though I have not found the auction catalogue yet, I am informed that particularly Thomas Hoiland's 128th auction had many Visby objects on. The auction was in November 2008, which matches with your observations.

    It's very interesting that you mention the NFT articles - I will definitely have to find those too. Do you remember whether they are about Esrom-cancellations in general or also mention any from the Sønderjylland area? My point is, that if e.g. BBRO (Bredebro) was mentioned in the 1949 article and if it's assumed that the BBRO, DSTRP, REISB and BRNS-strikes are only known from the mill's archive, then it can be concluded that the finding of the archive predates 1949.

    Good idea about contacting the Postal History Society. If I find out anything new, I will update in this thread.

    Since I wrote the original post I have acquired the attached coverfront sent to Höyberg (check spelling:-). It's unusual in the way, that it's franked with Fire RBS (Thiele III printing, 1854), where most Visby fronts I know, are franked with 4 sk. 1858 or 1863 issues. In some cases, I have also seen 4 skilling 1854 or the SH issues (Have attached a SKJBK on SH, though it can not be confirmed to originate from the mill's archive).



  • Hello Ole,

    Congratulation to you Visby cover front with Fire RBS. I think it will be difficult to find a second one. Although cover collecting in Visby started in July 1853 so that some more of these issues should exist, especially with Thiele III printing.

    I still have the Hoiland 128th auction catalogue if you want me to look something up for you.
    And I already sent to you some more information via "conversation".

    Kind regards to Denmark,

  • Hi Nordlicht

    Very, very interesting info you provided in the conversation (and most sorry I didn't see your message before now!)

    It can be concluded, that the Visby archive is mentioned by name as early as 1959. And Arnholtz more than indicates, that usage of the four non-SKJBK SH-ESRs has been known, at least since the 1940's - and so, also the finding of the archive.

    Funny detail, that the ESR-ABILD stamp was considered genuine back then.

    So I basically see two possible scenarios:

    1. Höyberg sold the archive himself, before his death in 1919.

    2. The archive was sold after his death between 1919 and the 1940's.

    As of now, I would guess option 1, based on the actual content is generally removed, leaving only the letter fronts.

    It's fair to assume that the archive has been quite fragmented over time.

    Still to my knowledge, is the 128th auction the largest single-outlet of Visby material - and therefore possibly also the largest and most representative "set of data", to say something about the statistical distribution of covers/singles/skilling/SH.

    One of the aspects of the Visby archives that intrigues me the most, is what it contained.

    I have never found any indications that there should exist a full inventory list of the archive, so we'll probably never know better, than an approximation.

    Could I ask you to count the number of Visby-related Skilling issues and the number of SH-issues offered in the 128th catalogue? Any addressed to "Visby Hedegaard" instead of "Visby Mølle"?

    Cheers, Ole

  • Hej Ole,

    The cover fronts with Fire RBS and with SH issues confirm a time period of usage at least between 1854 and 1864. If really a complete archive of 10 years was sold, there should be more items known?

    I had a look into the auction catalogue and found 7 ESROM cancellations on SH issues.

    Mange hilsener

  • In this post I will try to consolidate information about the Visby Mølle archive by using a timeline and a glossary. I will also provide an estimate of the size of the original archive.

    It is likely that new information will be available in the future; I would like to keep a consolidated view of the Visby history, so if any additional information becomes available, I will update this post by adding/correcting. To support this purpose, I have added a change-log in the bottom, which I will update with change description in headlines.


    To my knowledge, there does not exist a complete inventory list of the Visby archive. However, collector Folkart Thielen has done comprehensive research in this field, and has been able to document 48 known covers*, which can be traced back to the Visby archive. Add to that a few items that has been traded privately plus lose stamps/cut-outs (again, using the assumption that lose stamps cancelled DSTRP, BBRO, REISB, BRNS all originate from the archive). Based on that, I would estimate the archive to have contained less than 100 items.

    Obviously this number is uncertain, as for instance, if the archive contained a large number of single stamps from Tønder, these will not be included in the estimate, as these can not be traced back to the archive, if they have been removed from the original cover.

    * For more information on Visby covers, I can warmly recommend Thielen’s article “Esrom-Stempel und handschriftliche Entwertungen auf Briefen nach Wiesby”, which, as the name indicates, focuses on ink cancellations on Visby covers. However, the article also holds a wealth of other interesting information.


    1347 Trøjborg (aka Valdermar’s castle) is first mentioned. Trøyborg, btw, is a “danification” of greek “Troya”

    1745 Thomas Clausen was allowed to demolish Visby Mill (#1) and build Visby Mill#2

    1832 Frederik Höyberg is born

    1851 Farmer Knud Lausten Knudsen buys the Trøjborg castle ruin and builds Visby Hedegaard with the bricks from the castle. According to local legend, the bridge over Trøjborgs surrounding water grave crashed during the movement of the bricks, which explains why there is so much left of the ruin as of today.

    1854 Possible start year for the Visby archive, based on the oldest stamps seen used on Visby covers (Fire RBS Thiele III ,1854 and DK 4, 1854)

    1854 - 1858 Höyberg was not in Visby in these years (exact start and end dates not known). Thus, it is unlikely to find any "Frederik Höyberg, Visby Mølle" covers, at least from 1855 - 1857 - which would have been wrongly addressed.

    1855 The Knudsen family, including Knud and Kresten, is listed in the people’s count (“Folketællingen 1855”) as living at “Visbyhedegaard”

    1860 In the people's count of 1860 (“Folketællingen 1860”) had Höyberg address at Visby Mill. Though listed as both a miller and a "house father", Höyberg was not married. Further, the Visby Mølle household included four "tjenestefolk" (servants / employees).

    1862      The five SH ESR’s (BBRO, BRNS, DSTRP, REISB and SKJBK) are introduced.

    1863      Frederik Höyberg builds Visby Mill#3

    1865 Letter sent from BBRO to “Chresten Knudsen pr Hedegaard”. Kresten Knudsen (b 1836) was son of Knud Lausten Knudsen and died at Visby Hedegaard in 1922.

    1866 Possible end-year of the archive, based on stamp usage. One could imagine, that there exist Visby mill covers until 1875, but this has not been evidenced. A possible but unverified explanation could be, that Höyberg did not operate the mill after 1866 until he sold it in 1875.

    Update August 8th, 2022: End year confirmed by Höybergs memoirs, where he writes about 1866, that he stayed to participate in his friend Kresten Laust Knudsens wedding, whereafter he left Visby to never come back. Any letters addressed to "Höyberg, Visby" from 1867 are unlikely and would be wrongly addressed.

    1875      Frederik Höyberg sells the mill to Johannes Schmidt

    1887      Johannes Schmidt sells the mill to the Drehn-family

    1912      Carl Otto Drehn inherits the mill from his father. He dies in World War I.

    1917 Carl Otto Drehn’s widow marries Frederik Damgaard, who operates the mill likely into the 1930’s. Hereeafter Ive seen no further mentions of the mill.

    1919 Frederik Höyberg dies

    1940 Article in NFT on the SH ESR’s (I have not seen read this article)

    1944 Images of the SH-ESR’s in NFT

    1948 In NFT, Svend Arnholtz refers to the five SH ESR’s in an article about the ESR-ABILD postmark. Later studies determined, that the ABILD mark has never existed and the item which Arnholtz discussed, was a forgery.

    1953 Svend Arnholtz publishes his work “Danske poststempler”. The catalogue does not show actual usage examples of the SH ESR’s, but all five are priced (SKJBK 50,- DKK and the others 100,-), which indicates these cancellations were available on ther market in 1953.

    ca.1995 A collection with several SH ESRs is started. The collection is described as “based on Carl H Langes collection”.

    2007 Above mentioned collection is sold from 2007 onwards at Thomas Hoiland,Copenhagen. The collection was not sold in it’s entirity, but as single objects.

    2008 The Jacob Engel collection is sold on auction. As forum member Nordlicht pointed out to me, it is remarkable, that Jacob Engel’s exceedingly wide-spanning SH collection, did not include any Visby items. This underlines the general picture of the Visby Archive being a very closed archive until 2007.

    Some important milestones, which we do not know:

    - It is not known when Höyberg’s archive was sold – before or after his death – and to who

    - Hamburg philatelist, proofer and auctioneer Carl H Lange, aquired the archive – or apparently a major part of it. It is not known when or how Lange acquired the archive. As the 1990’s collection (see above) is said to be based on Langes collection, it is possible, that the collection was in the Lange family until the 1990’s.


    ESR / Esrom Cancellation type, resembling the better-known 3-ring postmarks with a number inside. The Esrom type cancellations was used at several Briefsammlungsstellen in Denmark from the late 1850’s, and five of these was used in the Slesvig-Holstein area.

    Höyberg, Frederik Miller in Visby in the 1850 - 60’s. Was later involved in promoting the 1920 referendum (Plebiscite). There is a road in Visby named after Höyberg (Höybergsvej).

    Update August 8th, 2022: Höyberg was never a miller - he was a distiller. The mill processed grain to be used to produce alcohol at Visby Hedegaard

    Knudsen-family Local Visby farmer family. Knud L Knudsen was the head of the family in Höyberg’s time, and the family resided at “Visbyhedegaard”, as it’s listed in the people’s count of 1855. The family consisted of Knud, his wife and their children and 22 employees, including a teacher. Kresten (see timeline above) was the only boy among his three sisters.

    NFT Nordisk Filatelistisk Tidsskrift (Danish stamp magazine)

    SH ESR Esrom type cancellations from the Slesvig-Holstein area. These includes the rare SKJBK postmark and the very rare REISB, BBRO, BRNS and DSTRP postmarks.

    Trøjborg Castle ruin in Visby (near Bredebro) in Southern Jutland

    Visby mill Is in reality three different mills. Höyberg operated the second mill and build the third, which had a wingspan diameter measuring 22 meters. Visby Mill also included a small farm, which in 1992 had 8 ha. land and concentrated on sheep.

    Visby archive Archive of mostly cover fronts, mainly sent to Frederik Höyberg, Visby Mølle. There exist a few covers with other receipients/ destinations (Knudsen, Hedegaard), but due to the similarity in geography and appearance, I consider all these part of the same Visby archive.

    Cheers, Ole

    Change log:

    Jan 5th, 2020 Initial post

    Aug 8th, 2022 Timeline updated (based on Höyberg's memoirs) with philatelisticly interesting dates (1854-58 and 1866) and the glossary entry about Höyberg.

    7 Mal editiert, zuletzt von Aabenraaer (8. August 2022 um 21:17)

  • Hi all

    Since I wrote above post, I found new material regarding Visby Mølle, including Fredrik Höyberg's autobiography and an interesting postcard from 1903.

    One of the more curious new historical details I've found is, that since the 1950's, Frederik Höyberg has been referred as "The Visby Miller", due to almost all Visby covers are addressed to him at Visby Mølle. However, Höyberg states directly in his autobiography "I was never a miller" - even though he both built, lived in and also (for a period) owned the mill.

    This can best be explained with a "Greeting from Visby"-postcard, cancelled 1903, showing "Drehn's mølle", which is the same mill,that Höyberg built in 1863 and Drehn bought in 1887. The building in the lower right corner is Visby Hedegaard, which was an alcohol distillery, owned by Knud Lausten Knudsen, but operated by Höyberg. The mill was an annex to the distillery and grinded grain, to be mixed with yeast to produce alcohol.

    The background for Höyberg's job was, that Höyberg had been a friend of the Lausten Knudsen family since his childhood - and in his 20's he worked at a distllery in Ribe.

    I will (eventually, ehm...) revise the above timeline post, with updated information.



  • Hi Ole,

    Thank you very much for sharing the results of your detective-like research.
    Very interesting and I hope that the owners of such Höyberg covers read here too.
    And of course, I look forward to the next detail you will reveal 8)

    Kind regards,

  • Mojn!

    Höyberg's bio is a treasure of interesting information😊 For instance he mentions, that when he was a boy in Ballum-Vesterende, they could hear the guns from Friedrichsstadt in 1848!

    I can mention another quite interesting detail, namely about the end date of the archive.

    The distillery business was bad, because they couldn't get enough grain - and the distilleries in Flensburg were much more effective. Höyberg went bankrupt and all his personal belongings were sold on auction. He still owned the mil, but it was bought for loaned money

    Höyberg ends the chapter about Visby in his autobiography by saying "I left Visby in 1866 with literally only the clothes I wore and a few coins".

    So we can conclude: Visby covers to Höyberg after 1866 are unlikely - and would have been wrongly addressed.

    Höyberg also writes, that he was sad to leave Visby, because during his work, he had learned to know all farmers in the area, as he was often buying grain from them, and was sorry to end these good relations.

    I recently identified the sender of Visby Mill cover as a farm owner from Døstrup, which adds to the theory, that the covers were related to the business activities with the mill and destillery.

    I speculate, that the Visby archive was handed over to Lausten Knudsen, as he was the de facto owner. If so, my biggest question now is: for how long was the archive in the Lausten Knudsen family's possession and who did they hand it over to ? Carl Lange ? If Lange also wrote an autobiography, I'd be keen on reading it😊

    Cheers, Ole

  • Mojn

    I have updated earlier timeline post with below changes:

    "Aug 8th, 2022 Timeline updated (based on Höyberg's memoirs) with philatelisticly interesting dates (1854-58 and 1866) and the glossary entry about Höyberg."

    Additional note: Höyberg was appointed operator of the distillery in 1858, when he returned to Visby, after being away since 1854. I assume he got this position, partly because of his friendship with the Lausten-Knudsen family and partly because he had experience as distiller, when he worked for his brother's distillery in Ribe. As it seems, that the Visby archive was a business archive, I would assume the start date of the archive is 1858. Therefore, I also believe, that the use of stamps issued in 1854 on Visby covers (4 RBS Thiele III and DK#4) are late uses, rather than originating from letters sent to Höyberg in 1854.

    Thus, I estimate that the Visby archive spans from 1858 - 1866



    4 Mal editiert, zuletzt von Aabenraaer (8. August 2022 um 21:22)

  • Hi Ole,

    Your estimation fits perfectly to the known Visby covers: earliest June 1858 to latest August 1866.
    Do you really know a 4 RBS or DK#4 on Visby covers? At least I cannot remember that I have ever seen one ...

    Kind regards,

  • Hi Nordlicht

    I have seen a (defective) dk#4 on a cover to Höyberg addressed to Visby Hedegaard. I didn't identify which print it was, but the last prints of dk#4 are actually from 1857-59, so that could naturally explain it.

    There is a Fire RBS (Thiele III print, 1854) further up in this thread. I have also not seen any other Visby covers with Fire RBS.

    All the best

  • Mojn!

    After many years with tears, sweat and a blood red budget, I have finally collected all five ESR-type postmarks from Schleswig-Holstein.
    They are all coverfronts and addressed to Frederik Höyberg, Visby Mølle, as all covers with SH ESR-postmarks are (with the very few exceptions discussed elsewhere in this thread).

    This is a major milestone in my collection and for a long time, I have been looking forward to take below photo😊


  • Hi Ole,

    It is a great achievement to get all these very rare items together. Congratulation.

    Next challenge: the same ESROM cancellations on Schleswig-Holstein issues? ;)

    Kind regards,