Collect postage stamps from the turbulent history of Poland here, including WWI and WW2 occupation stamps and small local issues.
The first Polish stamp: 1860
Poland’s postage stamp history goes back to 1860, when a single postage stamp design was printed on an estimated three million stamps.
Since 1815, a large section of modern-day Poland had been called the Kingdom of Poland (usually referred to as Congress Poland or the Congress Kingdom); it was a puppet state of the Russian Empire. In 1860, Congress Poland printed its own postage stamps, without Russian approval, and these stamps were approved by the Russians. In 1865, these first stamps, inscribed in Polish and Russian and with a value of 10 kopecks, were discontinued in favor of Russian stamps.
Polish stamps in World War I
In 1915, German forces of World War I captured northern Poland from the Russians, and issued their own stamps with overprints. Also in 1915, several Polish cities issued their own stamps for local use: Chęciny, Luboml, Otwock, Przedbórz, Sosnowiec, Warszawa, Zawiercie, and Żarki. in 1918, unused local stamps that had been printed in 1916 were used nationally with overprints, a first in world postal history.
Austria occupied parts of southern Poland, but used its own stamps. In 1918, the city of Lublin, just after Austrian occupation ended, overprinted Austrian K UND K stamps in Polish. Kraków did the same with Austrian stamps, and also printed new stamps inscribed POCZTA POLSKA (Polish Post) with values in halerzy and korona (1 korona = 100 halerzy).
Polish stamps in the years after World War I
The monetary units of halerzy and korona were used — abbreviated H and K — on a set of new stamps in 1919 for use in southern Poland; the same designs, but with the monetary units of fenigi and marka — abbreviated F and M — were printed for northern Poland. Some of these stamps were overprinted with ‘LEVANT’ for use in Polish post offices in the Turkish Empire.
Subsequent Polish stamps used fenigi and marka exclusively.
In 1919, the Republic of Poland was established and recognized internationally; new national stamps were issued. In 1924, the currency was revamped, from that point using złoty and groszy (1 złoty = 100 groszy). These are still the units used today on Polish stamps.
From 1925 until 1937, Poland overprinted its own stamps with the phrase ‘PORT GDAŃSK’ for use in the city of Gdańsk (a.k.a. Danzig); in 1938, a new stamp was issued specifically inscribed PORT GDAŃSK.
Polish stamps in World War II
In 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and World War II commenced. At first, German stamps with overprints were used in occupied Poland, but eventually Germany issued new stamps inscribed GENERALGOUVERNEMENT and denominated in złoty and groszy. Some of these featured an image of Adolf Hitler, and some also added the phrase DEUTSCHES REICH. There were also semi-postal stamps, rural delivery stamps, and official stamps used by the Germans in Poland at this time.
During the occupation, the exiled Polish government in Great Britain issued several stamps for use on Polish ships. These were simply inscribed POCZTA POLSKA and all featured wartime images: soldiers, military vehicles, and buildings in ruin.
Polish stamps from 1945 — 1989
After the end of World War II, a new Communist People’s Republic of Poland was established, and new stamps were issued — sometimes inscribed POCZTA POLSKA (especially in the first decade), usually simply POLSKA — by the government until 1989. Poland experimented with its stamp designs and shapes during this time.
Polish stamps after 1989
In 1989, the Communists fell when Lech Wałęsa was elected as President; thus began the Third Polish Republic, which has continued to issue stamps inscribed POLSKA as well as several types of collectible postal items.
With its vital role in the history of Europe and the sometimes complicated twists and turns of its postage stamp history, Poland presents the philatelist or collector with endless possibilities for his or her collection. Current Polish stamps for sale that we have chosen to include in this section can be found here; the listings are updated daily, so check back often. Also check the subcategories for specific types of rare and collectible Polish postage stamps.
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