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Poland



CURRENCY

1860, 100 kopecks = 1 rouble.

German occupation of Poland 1915, as Germany.

1918, 100 pfennig = 1 mark.

100 hallerze = 1 krone.

100 fenigi = 1 mark.

1924, 100 groszy = 1 zloty.

1950, 100 old zloty = 1 new zloty.



Before

Area of northern central Europe between Russia and Germany which has changed its boundaries many times and has, on occasion, disappeared completely from the map of Europe.


Markings on letters date from the 17th century and, as in Russia, an organized message service was in operation at this time. By the Napoleonic wars named handstamps were in use in the large cities of Warsaw, Cracow and Lublin. Grande Arm& cancellations were used during the period of the Duchy of Warsaw.


1815-50

After the Napoleonic Wars the part of Poland controlled by Russia was in a constant state of unrest. In 1830 there was a major uprising in Warsaw and the army declared its support for the people. In 1831 fighting took place and the Poles were largely successful until they were defeated in July; Warsaw was entered in September. As a result, the Tsar ruled in February 1832 that Poland should form an integral part of Russia. It became a Russian province in 1847. In 1846 there was a revolution in Austrian Poland and as a result Austria, Russia and Poland revoked the Treaty of 1815 and Cracow was declared an Austrian territory. During this period, in spite of civil disturbances, postal services were extended and handstamps were used in most of the large towns.


1850-71


FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 1 January 1860



In 1850 those parts of Poland which had been absorbed by Austria and Prussia used the newly-issued stamps of their parent territories, and in 1856 when Russia issued adhesives these were also used in the province of Poland. These can be recognized by post-marks and numerals which were issued by the respective authorities.


During a liberal regime under Tsar Alexander II, Poland was given a separate postal service in 1858. A 10 kopek value was issued in a design similar to Russian stamps. These stamps were printed in Warsaw but when the Poles again rose against the Russians in 1863 the freedom which the Poles had gained was lost, the printing works was closed down and Russian stamps were again introduced.


1871-1914

Poland continued as a province of Russia throughout this period and used Russian stamps. The postal service was dominated by the Russians and was also used as a means of censorship of the Polish liberals.


1914-39

As part of Russia, Poland was invaded in 1914 by both Germany and Austria-Hungary. By 1915 the country had been overrun and on 12 May 1915 German stamps overprinted RUSSISCH-POLEN were issued in their area. Further south, military post stamps of Austria-Hungary were brought into use. In 1916 the captured area became the 'General Gouvernement-Warsaw' and further overprints were issued. Some areas of Poland also used overprinted stamps of the German Eastern Military Command - though these were originally intended for the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.


With the collapse of Austria and Germany, a Polish republic was proclaimed on 3 November 1918. During 1919-20 Poland was awarded large areas from surrounding territories: Western Galicia from Austria (1919); Eastern Galicia for 25 years (1920); Posen, parts of West Prussia and Lower Silesia from Germany (1919); part of Upper Silesia after a plebiscite (1921). During all this period warfare had continued between Poland and Russia. The Treaty of Riga in March 1921 awarded parts of White Russia to Poland, and Central Lithuania (q.v.) was gained in 1922. In 1923 the agreement over Eastern Galicia was repealed and it became part of Poland. This set the boundaries for Poland until 1939.


Polish POs abroad

In the period from May 1919 to 1923 a P0 was operated in the Polish consulate in Constantinople. Overprinted Polish stamps in the north Polish currency of fernigow and marka were used. For details of the P0 in Danzig, see that state. A further P0 was opened in Odessa on the Black Sea in November 1919 during the civil war between the Bolsheviks and the White Russians. Normal postal routes were blocked and mail was carried from Odessa by sea to Poland on the Baltic


1939-45

On 1 September 1939 German forces invaded Poland and precipitated World War II. On 17 September the Russians moved into Poland from the east. On 28 September Poland was divided between the two aggressors. Germany annexed those provinces which had been lost in 1918-19 and also parts of the provinces of Lodz, Warsaw, Cracow and Bialstok. These areas then used German stamps. The remaining German area was designated 'The General Government of Poland' and overprinted stamps were issued on 1 December 1939. East of the River Bug was annexed by Russia and used Russian stamps until the German invasion in 1941. The stamps for this second occupation by Germany, issued on 26 October 1941, were those of the General Government inscribed 'Deutsches Reich General Government', changed to 'Gross Deutsches' in August 1943.


In July 1944 a provisional government under Russian control was formed at Lublin and gradually assumed control of the liberated areas. On 26 June 1945 a government of national unity was formed. First stamps of the new government appeared on 7 September 1944 and were inscribed 'Poczta Polska'.


During the war a Polish government-in-exile was established in London and stamps were released on 15 December 1941. These were used on Polish seagoing vessels and on certain special days at Polish military camps. Polish troops fought in most theatres of war with Allied forces and special fixed P0 markings were used for them.


1945 to date

Following World War lithe shape of Poland changed again. Russia retained those areas east of the River Bug which had been occupied in 1939. To compensate, Poland was given large areas to the west in the former German provinces of East and West Prussia, Danzig, Silesia and Pomerania. This was followed by the transfer of the German-speaking population from the area and its resettlement by refugees from the Russian area.


On 28 October 1950 the currency was revalued and 100 old zloty became 1 new zloty. Overprints in the new currency were authorized and many local overprints were released.


The Constitution was changed in 1952 and the country became a People's Republic on 22 July. However, there was soon movement towards a more liberal regime. Steep price increases in the 1980s caused the labour force led by the Ship Builders in Gdansk (Danzig) to create a new independent Trade Union 'Solidarity' under Lech Walesa. The Unions agitated for further reforms, though this had to be aborted during a period of Martial Law in 1982-83.


Early in 1989, there was a further wave of strikes which led to talks between Solidarity and Polish Workers' Party. Multiparty elections were held in the summer of 1989 and the Communists ceased to be the ruling party. A market economy has been introduced but problems still exist, though more recently the increase in Tourism has markedly improved the balance of Payment.


Poland has been invited to join both NATO and the European Union. Formal accession has not yet been agreed but it cannot be far away.


Danzig


CURRENCY

1920, as Germany.

1923, 100 pfennings = 1 Danzig gulden.



Before 1871

Ancient Free City on the Baltic coast. It was Polish in 1454, but was seized by the Prussians and annexed in 1793. Surrendered to the French in May 1807 but was restored to independence by the Treaty of Tilsit in July 1807. Came under the protection of Prussia and Saxony at this time but was besieged by the allies in 1812 and, although it surrendered in 1814, was awarded to the King of 1~russia by the Treaty of Versailles.


Had commercial importance and was included in the list of towns in the British Post Office Act of 1657, at which time the postage rate was given as 12d per ounce. In general, Danzig followed the postal reforms of Prussia.


During the Crimean War of 1854-5 was the base of the British Baltic Fleet, which operated a postal service with three id stamps, which were cancelled on arrival in London, though many have a handstamp of Danzig on the face.


Danzig was incorporated into the German Empire with the rest of Prussia in 1872.


1918 to date


FIRST STAMPS ISSUED Overprinted Germany 14 June 1920.



At the end of World War I Danzig was a German-speaking area in the centre of a region which was in the new territory of Poland. The Allied powers made it a Free State in an attempt to accommodate both parties. Before the new constitution was finally drawn up in November 1920, a British force was based in Danzig to keep the peace. This used a Field P0 mark of H2 from March to November, when the troops were withdrawn.


Unoverprinted German stamps had continued to be used up to 13 June 1920, and new issues were prepared for the Free State and appeared in January 1921.


Danzig suffered from the post-war inflation which afflicted Germany and many surcharges were introduced to accommodate the ever-increasing rates of postage. A new currency was established in 1924.


A Polish P0 operated in the harbour of Danzig. This used Polish stamps overprinted PORT GDANSK. The first issues were released on 5 January 1925 and the office remained open until the outbreak of World War II.


The government of the Free State became increasingly pro-Nazi in the years leading up to the war. It was occupied by the German army on 18 September 1939 and was re-absorbed into the German postal administration. After World War II Danzig was awarded to Poland and was renamed Gdansk. The German population was evacuated from the area and resettled west of the Oder-Niesse line, and displaced Poles from the Russian occupied provinces were allocated to the area.


East Silesia


CURRENCY

1920, both Czech & Polish used.



Area of the Austrian Empire round Teschen which was claimed by both Poland and Czechoslovakia following World War I. Although a plebiscite was decided upon, it was impossible to hold, one owing to civil disturbances in the region. The area was divided between, and the respective sectors incorporated into, the two countries.


Early in 1920 the area was occupied by Polish and Czech forces and each region issued stamps overprinted so [Silesie Orientale] 1920; the Czech region on 13 February 1920 in Czech currency and the Polish on 15 April 1920.


Warwiszki

Small neutral zone between Lithuania and Poland occupied by the Poles in March 1923. Stamps of Poland overprinted SAMORZAD WARWISZKI were issued on 23-27 March 1923 but were quickly replaced when the area was incorporated into Poland.



Poland 1918-38
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Poland 1938-45
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