Faroe:New Stamp on Old Pharmacy In Klaksvík

\"\"Although there are remains of settlements dating back to the Viking Age, the town Klaksvík as we know it today, is a relatively new phenomenon. Around the large cove there were originally four large farms, which gradually developed into separate neighbourhoods: Gerðar, Myrkjanoyri, Vágur and Uppsalir. The population was scarce, in 1802 the census showed that 88 people lived in the four districts. At that time the Faroe Islands were subject to a royal trade monopoly by the Danish throne.

It goes without saying that this was not very conducive to the islands\’ development – and with the political and social changes, which took place in Denmark and other Nordic countries in the first half of the 19th century, the requirement grew for free trade in the Faroe Islands. Branches In the 1830s it was decided to strengthen the Trade Monopoly, and prepare the population in the Faroe Islands for a future free trade. As part of these initiatives branches were set up outside Tórshavn. The first branch opened in 1836 in Tvøroyri Suðuroy, two years later the branch in Klaksvík opened to cover the Northern Islands – and finally, in 1839 a branch opened in Vestmanna to service the Western Isles. Establishment Klaksvík As mentioned before, the Northern branch of the Trade Monopoly opened in 1838. It was built just north of the settlement Vágur, and was referred to as \”Establishment Klaksvík,\” as it was situated by a bay at the foot of the mountain \”Klakkur\”. This location was later the reason that the village Vágur was renamed Klaksvík – a name which eventually came to include all the settlements around the bay. The original trading house is the northernmost of the adjoining buildings we know today, and is normally referred to as \”Gamla pakkhús\” (The Old Warehouse). Besides this, there was also built a dwelling house, various outbuildings and a jetty on the beach. From 1839 the manager of the branch was the renowned Johan Mortensen, who, after the introduction of free trade, established the powerful Mortensen\’s trade company in Tvøroyri, Suðuroy.   Nýggja pakkhús Eventually the company grew and in 1847 a two-storied building was built south of the original warehouse. This is the house that today is called \”Nýggja pakkhús\” – The New Warehouse. So originally there were two freestanding buildings, and it is only later, around 1896, that the houses were built together. Inside the new building you can still see the Royal Trade Monopoly logo, a winged Hermes helmet, cut into one of the door frames. This logo is only preserved in the Faroes. Hermes was the merchants\’ god in Greek mythology. The abolition of the Trade Monopoly By an Act of March 21st 1855, the Danish authorities decided to liquidate the Faroese Trade Monopoly. The liquidation should take place by January 1856, but there would be some time before anything happened. But on May 15th 1856 an auction was held of the properties of the Trade Monopoly in Klaksvík. In tough competition with other stakeholders, a representative of the Danish merchant and tobacco manufacturer Jørgen Bech bought the entire property for 6,210 rix-dollars. A new era The Trade Monopoly was now a thing of the past on the Faroe Islands, and this was the beginning of a rapid economic and social development. Several new trading companies were established and began their development of the Faroese trade and shipping business as well as the growing fishing industry. E. E. Meijer, who on behalf of Jørgen Bech & Son, had bought the Monopoly’s properties in Klaksvík, continued for the next four years as its representative in the Faroes. The old manager, Johan Mortensen continued for a year and a half after the acquisition, until he moved to Tvøroyri, bought trading rights and established Mortensen\’s trade, which for long was the leading trade and shipping company on the Faroes. In 1858 J.C. Djurhuus took over as manager of Jørgen Bech & Son in Klaksvík, and ran the business for the next 50 years. During this period the company grew rapidly and established branches in many parts of the country. Jørgen Bech died in 1870 and his son Peter Bech took over the Danish company. At the same time the Danish businessman and politician J. Gustav Hansen bought a part of the company, and by 1907 he owned the entire company. Free trade was of great importance for the development of Klaksvík. Already in 1865, Jørgen Bech & Son owned several fishing vessels and this had an impact on the population, which in 1907 passed 700 people. Although the development was not as explosive as in Tvøroyri, Klaksvík started its transformation from the old agricultural society into a modern fishing society. With support from the visionary Peter Bech Hansen and J. G. Hansen, schools were built and the first doctor came to town – and at the turn of the century there were four shops in the small village. In 1910 a small motor boat yard was built by the old trade houses, and the foundation was established for a future development of what later became the largest fishing port on the Faroe Islands. In 1915 the enterprising businessman JF Kjølbro started a trade company in Klaksvík and this was the beginning of a rapid development. Within a few years Kjølbro expanded into the country\’s largest fishing company with a large fleet of fishing-sloops, later motorized vessels of various types, a fish plant and a shipyard. During the 1920s and 30s people moved from the Northern Isles to Klaksvík to live and work – and only about a century after the Trade Monopoly had opened its branch at the rather deserted cove up in the Northern Isles, Klaksvík had evolved into the second largest city on the Faroes – and the islands\’ largest fishing port.   The old trade company But back to the old trade buildings. In 1883 the shop moved from the old building into the new. On the ground floor there was a shop, while the first floor, which then was a large room, among other things was used as a wine and spirits store. This until 1908, when direct sale of liquor was prohibited by law, and government controlled rationing introduced. The Draper’s Room The shop of Jørgen Bech & Son was a business with mixed assortment. Among other things, they also sold clothes – and gradually the need for a regular draper’s shop emerged. It was therefore decided to build a draper’s room and offices on the first floor. The work on the first floor began in 1918 and craftsmen from Tórshavn were hired to do the job. One of these was the renowned carpenter Magnus Jacobsen (Magnus á Kamarinum) who decorated the cross beams and windows with its beautiful carvings, made desks and carved the shelves. The paintings Besides the beautiful wood-carvings, the draper’s room was decorated with 17 small paintings, painted directly on the drag bars in the room\’s sides. These paintings are motifs of landscapes around the Faroe Islands and sceneries from Klaksvík and surroundings – fisheries, vessels at anchor and the commercial buildings. Eleven of these paintings were painted by local artist Eliesar Joensen, four by Jens Christian Guttesen, a painter from Torshavn, while the rest are unsigned. Inside the draper’s room is a counter shaped like a horseshoe, so that customers could enter a room without being on the wrong side of the counter. Furthermore, there is a large table in the middle of the room where the shop assistants could drop the clothes off for trimming, etc. This table is also equipped with drawers all the way around, for storing small things. Also the counter is internally equipped with shelves and cabinet doors for storage. Drugstore In 1931 the company behind the shop went bankrupt and the municipality bought the buildings. At this time a need for a drugstore had arisen, and the pharmacy monopoly Tjaldurs Apotek, otherwise only found in Tórshavn, rented the former draper’s room where they opened a branch for Klaksvík and surroundings in 1932. The room that time forgot In 1961 the building of a brand new pharmacy was completed, and the old drugstore was abandoned. The offices on the first floor were used for other purposes, but the draper’s room stood untouched until Norðoya Fornminnisavn (The Northern Museum) took over the buildings in 1975. In the premises was the complete drugstore, fully equipped with original pharmacy bottles, jars and tools for manufacturing of drugs and pills. In 1983 Norðoya Fornminnissavn opened the drugstore as an exhibition. This, together with the pharmacy in The Old Town in Aarhus, is the only completely authentic old pharmacy in the Danish kingdom. The room that time forgot is now one of the jewels of the Faroese museum world. The old storage room which became a draper’s room in an era with great emphasis on decoration and craft – which unchanged became the town\’s pharmacy and then just stood there, authentic, untouched – ended up as a cultural historical time warp. Just the feeling of standing in a room that has not changed, while the entire city outside grew up, is staggering. If one day you get the opportunity to visit Klaksvík, do not miss the experience to visit this strange place and feel its atmosphere.

Technical Details

Issue Date: 24.09.2012
Designer: Anker Eli Petersen
Printer: LM Group, Canada
Process: Offset
Colours: 4 Colours
Size: 64,0 x 23,00 mm
Values: 8.50 kr

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