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Tricked the customs officer with water

A member of stænderforsamlingen (Assembly of the States of the Realm) in Viborg, Peter Thomsen, claimed that he could easily smuggle spirits across the border.

Peder Thomsen was a member of stænderforsamlingen in Viborg and married to Ane Thomsen, who ran Skodborghus Inn in the mid-1800s.

When the customs officer at Skodborghus was bored after being at the office all day, he would go up to the inn and get a cup of coffee, a punch and a chat. One evening, Peter Thomsen joked with him that within three weeks, he could smuggle three barrels of spirits over the river.

The customs officer did not believe him, and they bet 20 marks.

Time passed, and the customs officer and all his servants made sure they were prepared outside the normal route, where they expected to catch Peter Thomsen out. And sure enough, after a week, three carriages came drivinng along. The customs officer jumped up and stopped Peter Thomsen, who denied that he was transporting spirits.

The customs officer opened  up one of the barrels and sniffed at the cork. All the customs officers stood around; they were looking forward to a spot of punch. The customs officer sniffed another cork and a  third one, then he exclaimed:

– But... it's water!

Peder Thomsen explained that it  was indeed water, which he had to take over to his cattle.

– But I can assure you that while we have been standing here talking, three barrels of spirits have been driven over the river Kongeå using the normal route.

And the customs official had to pay the 20 marks.


All kinds of smuggled goods found their way over the river Kongeå.

Place: Skodborghus
Source: Erik Larsen, Skodborghus.