Introduction To Collecting Poland
Part III - POLAND #1
In 1858, the autonomy of the Congress Kingdom of Poland was extended. As one of the steps leading to a more independent status, the supervision and direction of the postal service in the Congress Kingdom was put in the hands of the Governor and of the Council of State. Following this, the newly established Polish Postal Administration decided to issue separate Polish postage stamps and stamped envelopes, to replace the Russian stamps and stamped envelopes, then in use. In January 1860 the first Polish stamp (Figure 1) was issued.
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The design was almost a complete copy of the first postage stamps of Russia. The differences were in the inscription of the Polish eagle in the shield instead of the Russian eagle and in the inscriptions which are in Cyrillic letters at the sides of the coat of arms ( “10 KOPE.” at the left and “SA LOT KOP” at the right) and in Polish letters below the coat of arms (ZA ŁÓT KOP. 10). The value indication “10” is repeated in all four corners. This 10 kopeck stamp (per letter not exceeding 1 łót of weight) could only be used within the Congress Kingdom and to Russia. Letters to other countries had to be paid for in cash and unstamped. It is estimated that some 3 million of these stamps were printed. As a result of the January Insurrection of 1863, tighter control was imposed by the Russians and the first Polish stamp was withdrawn in April 1865.
If Poland ceased to exist from 1795 to 1918, how then can we define the first stamp of Poland as the issue of 1860? Answer: Poland, at the time, was a constitutional kingdom within the Russian Empire and under Tsarist ruling, Poland was allowed to form its own postal system and to issue its own stamps. This, however, was short lived as noted above.
A word of caution to the unsuspecting buyer... .Scott catalog lists this stamp at (USD) $2400 in VF mint condition and (USD) $250 in VF used condition. As a result of increasing market prices, forgeries abound, therefore, we recommend having your intended purchase expertized by a certified expert to confirm authenticity.