Artist unknown

Achates Ferdinand Gripenberg

Postmaster 1856–1872

Gripenberg (1805–1872) was nominated for the post thanks to his dependability, not due to his experience in the civil service. Before joining the postal services, he worked at the Governor-General's office. During his time, the Postal Services no longer checked people's post as this had given the organisation a bad reputation, and it did not fit Alexander II's liberal politics. Censorship of foreign newspapers continued. The postal route network was expanded. Gripenberg was not a great reformer, but he managed to improve the Postal Services' public image significantly through small actions.

Gripenberg passed the matriculation exam in Turku in 1819, after which he pursued a military career. He served in Finnish and Russian regiments, and he was appointed the Company Commander at the Finnish Cadet School in 1844. He was a Major General when he moved to the Governor-General's office in 1855.

Postal History in Finland

  • Demand for postal services increased. More newspapers were published, more letters were posted and industry and commerce, including forest industry, developed.
  • Stamps introduced in addition to stamped envelopes in 1856.
  • Letterboxes placed in more rural areas outside town centres in 1856.
  • A new main post office building opened in Nikolainkatu (now Snellmaninkatu) in Helsinki to house the Postal Administration and a post office in 1857.
  • Home deliveries made for a special fee (the fee was abandoned in 1885).
  • An emblem with two crossed horns was used alongside with the emblem with one horn.
  • The first sub-post office established at Mustiala agricultural college in 1860. A sub-post office was cheaper to run than a post office.
  • Railway deliveries began when the Helsinki-Hämeenlinna railway was completed in 1862.
  • More than 933,000 letters delivered, 0.53/person in 1865 (725,000 paid for, 208,000 free).
  • 39 post offices in 1864.
  • Women first joined the postal services in 1864.
  • Local postal services set up in Helsinki to compete with the government postal services in 1866.
  • Finland issued its first perforated stamps with denomination in Finnish pennies and markkas in 1866.
  • The first post coach from Helsinki to Vyborg in 1870.
  • Steamboat Postiljon started wintertime deliveries between Sweden and the Åland Islands in 1870.
  • The first postcards (stamped postcards) introduced in 1871. The world's first postcards published in Austria-Hungary in 1869.


  • Finland switched to right-hand traffic in 1858.
  • The Finnish markka accepted in 1860 and introduced in 1865 (silver standard, gold standard adopted in 1877).
  • The first Diet since 1809 held in 1863.
  • Helsingfors Dagblad suggests a blue cross on a white background for the Finnish flag in 1863.
  • Aleksis Kivi published his first play, the tragedy "Kullervo" in 1864.
  • The Elementary School Act 1866. Ordinary people learned to read and write. Education increased people's interest in world affairs and their world view expanded.
  • The Famine of 1866-68; 8% of the population, around 150,000 people, died.
  • Aleksis Kivi's "Seven Brothers" published in 1870.
  • Population 1.7 million in 1860.

Global Events

  • Hollywood was founded in 1857.
  • The first telegraph cable laid between Europe and North America in 1858. It worked for only three weeks as sea water damaged it.
  • Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species", the foundation of evolutionary theory, in 1859.
  • London Underground opened in 1863.
  • Alfred Nobel invented dynamite in 1863. His laboratory exploded the following year.
  • Electric motors and generators were developed, and the telephone was patented in the 1870s.
  • The English FA Cup, the most longstanding, regular sports competition to date, first held in 1871.