A 'Swenglish' journey through family photos, notes and postcards
from the early 20th century.


Sepia Saturday: Postal Service of the Past

Postdiligens, 1880t_2A

Postdiligens, 1880t_1B

Postdiligens 1880t_1A

These postcards were printed by the Swedish Postal Service in 1969, but depict a postal coach from the first part of the 1880s. This kind of coach also carried passengers.

I found the postcards above when going through my dad’s desk. Besides his interest in stamps, these cards may have been of special interest to him as his grandfather Samuel (while also being a farmer) used to drive a postal coach (no doubt of a simpler model) between the railway station and the country store in a smaller village. According to family stories, that's where, as 60+ year old widower and father of nine (two of whom had died at a young age), Samuel, in the late 1890's, met his second wife – my great-grandmother Selma (then a young widow with one small child). (See photos of them both in the sidebar.)

Postdiligenser Fristad foto

This black-and-white photo I found among some of my grandfather’s (Gustaf T.) photos that I sorted through a couple of months ago. He was a journalist and photographer and among the photos left behind by him, not all are family-related – and with some it is hard to determine whether they are or not! (Those that I thought were not I gave away to the local history society.)

The building in this photo is the railway station at Fristad (in the province of Västergötland, Sweden). It is the village where my dad grew up, and his parents and grandparents before him. This station house was built in 1900 (the same year my grandmother Sally was born) but my guess (from clothes etc) is that this photo is from the late 20's or early 30's – and might well have been taken by my grandfather.

The post office was also in the station house at first, I'm not sure for how long. Anyway this photo seems to be of the postmen and postcoach drivers delivering the post around the village and surrounding countryside.

My great-grandfather Samuel retired from farming in 1903, and his oldest son Carl took over the task of driving the post as well as the running of the farm. (I know this from an article that my father's cousin once wrote for the local history society's annual magazine.) Carl died in 1928. His younger brother Gustaf ran the farm at the end until it was sold in 1930; if he also took over driving the post I’m not sure. I think that it might possibly be him on the carriage to the right in this photo (not wearing uniform).

Either way, the photo shows a time when postal service was taken seriously!

Linking to Sepia Saturday 182

De två vykorten med postdiligensen gavs ut av Posten 1969, men föreställer en postdiligens från 1800-talet, sedan 1900-talets början i Postmuseets ägo. Diligensen användes för befordran av både post och passagerare.

Jag hittade vykorten när jag gick igenom min pappas skrivbord. Förutom att han samlade frimärken, så kan de här korten kanske ha varit av speciellt intresse för honom med tanke på att hans morfar Samuel på 1890-talet brukade köra posttransport mellan järnvägsstationen och lanthandeln i Nitta. Enligt familjehistorierna var det där som han, som änkling i dryga 60-årsåldern (och far till nio barn, av vilka två dött i barnaåren) träffade sin andra hustru, Selma – då ung soldatänka med en liten dotter. (Tillsammans fick de ytterligare två barn, min farmor Sally och hennes bror Nils.)

Det svart-vita fotografiet fann jag bland foton efterlämnade från min farfar. Han var journalist och fotograf med hembygdsintresse, och det är inte givet att alla foton har direkt anknytning till vår egen släkt eller nära vänner. En del gruppbilder och okända porträtt har därför lämnats vidare till hembygdsföreningen. Den här bilden fanns två kopior av och jag behöll en. Byggnaden är stationshuset i Fristad, byggt 1900. Det innehöll till en början även postkontoret (hur länge vet jag inte). Av kläder mm att döma gissar jag att det här kortet snarare är från sent 1920-tal eller tidigt 30-tal. Det kan mycket väl ha varit min farfar som var fotografen.

Samuel överlät 1903 Storegården till sin äldste son Carl, som också tog över postkörningarna. Carl dog 1928. Jag tror han var sjuklig ett tag innan dess. Fram till att gården såldes 1930 var det brodern Gustaf som tog över där. Jag vet inte om han även tog över postkörningarna. Om han gjorde det, så skulle det kunna vara han på vagnen till höger i bild (i vanliga kläder, inte postuniform). Det känns som om det är något välbekant över silhuetten… Men säker är jag inte.

Hur som helst är det ett intressant foto som förtjänar sin plats i den här bloggen (som ju till stor del bygger på vykort som skickades med post i 1900-talets början).


  1. I enjoyed studying the group photo with the details of postal delivery - the carts, the bike, the mailbag. So many people were depending on them every day.

  2. This is a case of being thankful for your father's hoarding of old pictures I think. Wonderful examples.

  3. Yes, what treasures these are. Exciting photos, and so interesting too. It's sure amazing how important something was for them, and how they lived isn't it. Imagine that today.

  4. Nice to see photos of transport from Sweden from the days when they knew that it was, of course, correct to drive on the left.

  5. The postal coach seems like a fine way to travel, although I'm sure it wasn't as comfortable as transport these days, with pneumatic tyres and hydraulic suspension.

  6. A wonderful collection to have. My Great Great grandfather and later my Great Granduncle operated a country post office from their home. It would have been good if they had kept photos but then again, I am very lucky to have those I have now.

  7. The bags carried by the men at Fristad look very heavy. Our posties would struggle with one like that these days.

  8. i wish the people on these coaches could see the airplanes that carry mail now... imagine the looks on their faces.

  9. I always like seeing pictures showing postal history.

  10. Goodness, in some of these photos, they look like policemen!!! Seriously indeed...

  11. The first two pictures just delighted my soul -- love prancing horse pulling carts. My great-great grandfather was the postmaster in his village of Springdale, Wisconsin. He loved to read the newspapers, and as the stories are told, he "button-holed" folks coming to get their mail so that he would regale thme in his latest pieces of news.

    Thanks for the great pictures and stories.