The Age of Invention 1849-1920

The iceboat in the exhibition. 

Travelling with the post through Denmark - across the water

In the first exhibition room the ball mail coach marks the transport axis through all the galleries. As the "eye of the storm" in the middle of the second exhibition hall we encounter the history of the maritime postal service: the centuries old struggle to conquer Denmark's many "wet highways".

Around an old iceboat we depict the development of the postal service's vessels from sailing ships to screw steamers until the Danish state-owned rainway company took over the conveyance at sea in 1883. Before the powerful, motor-driven icebreakers really got at grips with winter ice, iceboats were the only way to transport post, packaged, and passengers over Denmark's Sounds and Belts. You could stop off on the island of Sprogø on your way over the Great Belt. Ship's models, paintings, and lots of old things from the maritime postal history are on display in the exhibition.

The transport history continues in the long glass corridor connecting the second exhibition room with the third. In the corridor, an electric model train set drives through Denmark, surrounded by pictures and fixtures and fittings from the postal service's rainway carriages, in which post was sorted on the move from the early days of rail trafic until the spring of 1997.  

Postal Reforms

In 1909, a national exhibition was held in Aarhus. Here the postal service wanted to show the "Old Post Office" and for the occasion they collected a complete interior of objects which at that time were 50-60 years old. We have recreated the interior of an old provincial post office to form the backdrop for a presentation of how the postal service developed from the mid 19th century until World War I. 

The service really began to expand in the wake of the Constitution of 1849. Civil servants assumed responsibility for a wide range of jobs previously assigned to private individuals. Systems were devised for the conveyance of mail in towns and in the countryside. A navy blue colleague, the rual postman, joined the red urban postman. The service began to build its own post offices, designed by the leading architects of the time, and to invest in various means of transport: stagecoaches, wagons, and bicycles - and eventually also automobiles and motorbikes. The exhibition shows models, old pictures, uniforms, and lots of other things.

The years when democracy was introduced in Denmark was also the period when the great school reforms of 1814 made a major impact: Most danes were now literate and willing to move to find work. The small, inexpensive stamp based on the British model was introduced in 1851 sparking off nothing short of a revolution in the history of communications. It meant an explosion in the number of letters - as well as new inventions such as the letter box. 

The oldest Danish stamos and the stamp-printing technology of those days are represented in the exhibition, as well as old letters, letter boxes, etc.  


The interior is a replica of Fredericia Telegrafstation around 1910: Northern Europe's international telegraphy centre. The State and the Great Northern Telegraph Company created this unique institution around a technology consierably service by women.

On display are also the most outstanding of the State Telegraph Service's substantial collection of instruments and objects which trace the history of electromagnetic telegraphy in Denmark: the Morse machine from the first telegraph office in 1854, material from the first telegraph line, the "Øresund Line" between Elsinore and Hamburg, the first electric batteries, telegraph wires, and cables - and old apparatuses from the Great Northern Telegraph Company. The story of the first director of telegraphy, songwriter and engineer Peter Faber, and the first female telegraph operator, author Mathilde Fibiger, are also included, of course. You can even practise your Morse skills as much as you want.

Until 1865 the postal service operated a semaphore system. The exhibition presents the history of the Great Belt Telegraph. In 1801, the postal service erected semaphores in Korsør, on the island of Sprogø, and in Nyborg in order to send messages across the Belt.  Daylight, clear weather, and a good telescope were required. Besides a code book. The thick code book which is displayed under the telescope contains all the codes which the semaphore operator needed. Several different semaphore systems were used in Denmark, but none of them could match the electric telegraph as regards efficiency. 


Twenty years after the invention of the telephone in1876, there were 57 Danish telephone companies. The rural exchange from Hjallese on Funen is an example of just how popular the telephone quickly became all over the country. Then the State asserted its monopoly and in a matter of years only the four big companies remained: KTAS serving Copenhagen and Zealand, FKT on Funen, JTAS serving Jutland, and the State Telephone Service.

Hundreds of well-mannered, single ladies with long arms served one of the most talkative telephone nations in the world. In the exhibition you can try your hand as a telephonist at an old-fashioned switchboard. There are also an abundance of old teleohones, pictures, stories, and objects from the era when telephone wires were installed all over Denmark to connect subscribers.   

Wireless Telephony and Telegraphy

The wizard's workshop, "Esbjerg House", has been revived to draw attention to the museum's unique collection of instruments created by the Danish inventor Valdemar Poulsen and his colleague P.O. Pedersen. Their work resulted in the world's first answering machine, the telegraphone, wireless communication, the arc transmitter, and the birth of Danish broadcasting.

It is a technical history, which in the exhibition is illustrated by examples of the advantages the population reaped from the inventions. From radio crystal sets for the amateur to Christian X's magnificent  radio receiver, enhanced by examples of old recordings from the era when Lyngby Radio served as the sound studio for the State Broadcasting Service.