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Gustaf Wilhelm Ladau

Postmaster 1811–1833

Ladau (1765–1833) was the first Postmaster General of the Grand Duchy of Finland, which was ruled by Russia. He was hard-working, demanding and meticulous, and achieved his goals by maintaining strict discipline. He was also a controversial director who practiced postal censorship and had mail checked in secret. Ladau was an influential leader and thought that Finland should have tight connections with Russia.

Ladau was born into a military family in the Iisalmi parish. He went to Haapaniemi military school and served in the Swedish army. His army career ended in the Anjala conspiracy, and he fled to Russia in 1789, where he served as a captain in the army from 1791–95. After resigning from the army, he served as an estate manager before returning to work in the civil service at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1808. Alexander I of Russia ordered Ladau to organise the postal services system in Finland in 1810.

Postal History in Finland

  • The postal services, first established in 1638, underwent a major overhaul when Finland was annexed to Russia in 1809.
  • Instruction for handling mail in 1811. At reception, letters had to be checked, weighed, postage collected, and finally letters were stamped.
  • The first postmarks were introduced in 1812. Name labels in one colour with Cyrillic text.
  • Instructions for mail deliveries in Finnish and Swedish in 1819.
  • The post horn was used by postmen and also as an emblem of the postal services.
  • The first official postman's uniform in 1827.
  • Eckerö Mail and Customs House completed in 1828 (C.L. Engel).


  • Annexed to Russia as an autonomous Grand Duchy in 1809.
  • The Diet of Porvoo in 1809.
  • The Bank of Finland established in 1811.
  • Helsinki made capital in 1812.
  • The Bank of Finland transferred from Turku to Helsinki in 1818.
  • Åbo Underrättelser founded in 1824 (the oldest newspaper still in print in Finland).
  • Population 1.17 million in 1820.
  • The university was moved from Turku to Helsinki in 1827.

Global Events

  • Russia ruled by Emperor Alexander I 1801–1825.
  • The Napoleonic Wars ended in Europe (1803–1815).
  • Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden in 1814.
  • Mary Shelley's novel "Frankenstein" published in 1818.
  • The first performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in 1824.
  • The first photograph was developed in France in 1827.
  • The Metropolitan Police at Scotland Yard established in 1829.