THESE COUPONS WERE
UNISSUED AND ONLY FOUND IN THE USA. NONE HAVE BEEN FOUND ON SVALBARD.
Coal Company - John Munro Longyear, an American, visited Spitsbergen
as a tourist with his family in the summer of 1901. He observed coal
exploration in Bellsund and spent some time ashore in Adventfjord where
he saw outcrops of coal. His interest piqued, he made a second trip and
obtained coal samples that proved to be of high quality. Longyear and an
associate, Frederick Ayer of Boston, purchased the tracts from
Trondhjem-Spitsbergen Kulkompagni on January 1, 1905 for 50,000
Kroner in fully paid shares and 10,000 Kroner cash. Development started
in 1905 and the first company building was constructed in 1906 by Wm. D.
Munroe, who found and acquired additional promising tracts at
Sassenfjord and Kapp Boheman.
Arctic Coal Company was
incorporated in Boston on February 6, 1906. The following areas
were claimed by the company.
Tract 1: Advent Bay tract -
area from Colesbukta (bukta = bay) to Adventfjord. Mine No.1 was opened
in the winter of 1906/07 in this tract in Longyeardal (dal = valley).
Tract 2: Green-Harbour tract - area from Grønfjord to Colesbukta
Sassen Bay tract - area from De Geerdal to Sassendal
Cape Boheman tract - area on Bohemanneset
Serious construction began in the
summer of 1906, sailing June 4th with supplies and 50 workers from
July 6, 1907 the first load of coal went over the new docks, becoming
the terminus of an aerial ropeway, stock pile and loading plant. By 1911
there were about 10 buildings at Longyearbyen. On October 1, 1911 the
last boat left Adventfjord, leaving a winter force of 90 plus a
foreman. Up to 300 people lived in Longyearbyen during the activities of
the Arctic Coal Co., mostly Norwegians.
About 1960 a booklet of coupons from 1911 was found during a clean-up in
the basement of the former Arctic Coal Co. office building. These
scrip, #7489F, are labeled Island Creek Stores
Company and are believed to have been used at their supply store.
Arctic Coal Co. proved commercial coal production on Svalbard
was feasible and profitable. However, the lack of sovereignty
created problems of claim jumping and land disputes. For example,
on Rusanovodden (odden = point), Coles Bay Point, in 1913 they
found a new Russian building of heavy plank, Russian flag on pole,
two men planning to stay the winter and 300 ft. from the house an
Arctic Coal Co. claim post, put there in 1905, broken and
Also, a number of individuals and companies were contesting their
claims on the east shore of Grønfjord. In addition, trappers and
prospectors would become caught by ice on Svalbard, experience an
accident or run out of supplies, then sought shelter, help and
supplies from the company. These became a constant problem and
burden to the company because they were seldom repaid and were
unable to obtain legal settlements. In addition, world tensions
were leading to war and there were uncertainties in the economy.
Because of these factors Ayer & Longyear decided to sell their
The company shut down in
the autumn of 1915. During the American period 160,000 metric tons
of coal were produced and shipped to Norway. The
Russian-Siberian Company was very interested in purchasing the
Arctic Coal Company along with other Russian, German,
Norwegian, and Swedish companies. F. Hiorth, C. Anker, and others
were encouraging Norwegian interests to purchase the American
company. It resulted in the government sending Adolf Hoel and
Svalheim, geologists and mining experts to Isfjord to investigate.
Their favorable report of September 1915 led to the Norwegian
government exerting pressure on the Central Bank, whose president,
Kjelland-Torkildsen, signed an offer in March of 1916 that
resulted in the purchase of the Arctic Coal Company.
The second type of booklet is listed on
catalog numbers are from an excellent catalog Norseke
Pengesedler which covers these issues along with all
Norway banknotes from 1695-2005 as well as
Bjørnøya (Bear Island)
Norwegian Banknotes with Svalbard [Spitzbergen] and Bear
Sæthre & Eldorsen 2005