Bieniecki Int'l, Inc. is the oldest and largest dealer in North America specializing in all
areas of Polish postage stamps and postal history. In Polish stamps are znaczek or
znaczki. During the First Republic of Poland from 1569 to 1795 modern adhesive
postage stamps did not exist. Various written notations and postal markings were applied
to letters (koperty) which were delivered by both official and private postal systems.
Today such covers are designated stampless covers by postal history collectors. In 1858
the first stamps authorized for application to letters (covers) in Poland were Russian
stamps. In 1860 the first postage stamp was issued specifically for use with in the
Kingdom of Poland. This stamp designated as Poland Number One was produced from
1860 through 1865. Poland Number One was printed on a wide variety of papers using
various shades of red and blue ink resulting in a spectrum of color varieties and printing
errors that offer a challenge to stamp collectors of this issue of Poland. Every town had
its own cancellation devices with unique numbers creating a rich area of postal history.
From 1850 until 1914 Poland was partitioned into three territories ruled by Russia,
Austria and Germany. During this period all the stamps and covers used in what is now
Poland were the postage stamps and postal stationery issued by those three countries.
Agreements existed for the delivery of mail and parcels between the three territories as
well as internationally. The Austrians designated the area of Poland they controlled as
Galicia. The part of Poland controlled by Germany was referred to as Prussia. The names
of all the Polish cities were given Germanic forms. Poznan became Posen and Wroclaw
was changed to Breslau. The areas of Poland controlled by Russia typically kept their
Polish Town names but the postmarks, and circular date stamps were typically written in
both Polish and Cyrillic. The postal history of the occupied Polish territories that would
again become the Republic of Poland on November 11 1918 at the end of World War I,
was incredibly complex and offers philatelists a treasure trove of philatelic material
including Kingdom of Poland Postal History, Postage Stamps and Stationery used in
Poland; Postage Stamps, Postal History and Stationery issued by Austria for use within
the Polish territories. Prior to the partitions in the 18th century the The First Polish
Republic (Rzeczpospolita) was the largest haven for Jews in the world. The Jewish
community in Poland created huge amounts of Judiaca related postal history both before
and during World War I (WWI) and World War II (WW II). In August 1914 when WW
II started the rival empires began to compete for support from Poland. The Eastern front
ran through the heart of Polish lands and its citizens were conscripted to fight against
each other. All of the many battles that took place in Poland during WW I may be studied
by its postal history as the battling armies by necessity had to maintain their own postal
services. The Polish Legions of Jozef Pilsudski which served under the Austrian
command from 1914 to 1917 created a fabulous postal history that continues to be
studied by collectors today. The Second Polish Republic was created on November 11,
1918 as Poland was reborn as an independent Nation. From 1772 until the creation of the
Second Polish Republic the nation of Poland did not exist and had not had an
independent postal system during that period. Those governing the new state had to
quickly create a functional postal system and create postage stamps for use by its citizens.
The only practical solution to this lack of postage stamps was to create provisional
(interim) postage stamps by overprinting the inventories of German and Austrian stamps
that existed within the new Nation of Poland. During late 1918 and 1919 the government
in Warsaw collected the General Government Warshau occupation stamps used by
Germany during WW I and overprinted them Poczta Polska (Polish Post). These
overprinted stamps were put on sale and used for mailing letters thoughout the previous
German and Austrian Zones. Additionally late in 1918 the the government authorized the
overprinting of an inventory of Warsaw City local post stamps with 4 different values and
the words Pozcta Polska (Polish Post). Like the Poctza Polska/Gen. Gouv. Warshau these
provisional issues were also sold and used as postage. In the city of Krakow (Cracow) the
inventories of Austrian postage stamps were overprinted Poczta Polska and authorized
for provisional usage in the south of Poland. The previously described provisional issues
of Poland and several others such as Poznan and Gniezno were all prepared under
adverse circumstance in small shops with few resources as the entire country had just
survived WW I and once again become an independent nation. Some of these provisional
postage issues were produced in very small quantities and would ultimately become some
of the great rarities of Polish philately. The provisional postage stamps of Poland offer
the collector or philatelist an immense variety of color varieties and errors. Given the
conditions during this period only a small fraction of the covers and postal cards franked
with the provisional issues survived once again creating amazing rarities of philatelic
history from this period.
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