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Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani

This company was formed in 1916, under the name of "Det norske Spitsbergensyndikat", the name that adorns the first notes from the company. It soon changed name to its present name. Today, the company is virtully wholly owned by the Norwegian government.

This company has been the major issuer of notes on Svalbard. A feature of most of its notes, but for the most modern, is that they only were redeemable in the "season" (autumn to summer) for which it was issued. Each year (but for some exceptions) saw new notes. A consequence of the short circulation period is that the notes - except the most recent issues - are quite scarce. "Rare", "Unique", "Notes known only in official collections" and "Unknown" notes abound in the catalog. The designs are rather simple, as the examples below show:

10 øre 1941/42, overstamped. The overstamp siginifies that this note was among those taken to London during the war. Both the allies and the Germans stationed soldiers on the islands, and there was fighting.
7-10 such notes are known, according to the catalog.
1 krone 1954/55. 7-10 notes are known.
5 kroner 1978 - the last issue. (The notes were withdrawn from 1st January 1980, and could not be redeemed after 1str march 1980.) A rather common note.

The "season" went from autumn to summer because travel by boat from and to was only possible in the summer, you were landlocked until the airport opened in1973. If you missed the last boat "down" - which is known to have happened - you had to sign on for another year. Longyearbyen was a company town, the company owned everthing. When you were pensioned off, you had to leave - the company owned all housing, and there was just enough for the workers.

The Governor sent back any tourists who didn't have enough equipment to take care of themselves, and it was an offence to leave town unarmed because of the polar bears. From time to time people are still killed by polar bears. Longyearbyen is probably the only place in the world where no-one bats an eyelid of you enter the bank with a rifle and a balaclava...it's the correct attire for visiting the bank in winter-time.


This page was last updated on 05.02.2005.




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