Beginnings of the Post in Independent Poland: 1918 – 1920

When independence was declared on November 11, 1918, Poland had to integrate the former German and Austrian postal systems and the two different currencies.

The purpose of this exhibit is to document the process of nationalization and unification of the Polish Post through the introduction of new postal rates and markings, as well as definitive stamps, of this new country on the European map.

The Polish Post started its activities in Lublin in November 1918 and a few days later in the Warszawa area.

In former Galicia, a regional government was established, called the ‘Polish Liquidation Commission’, which issued regional stamps in the winter of 1919.  German, Austrian and Bosnia-Herzegovinian stamps, used as forerunners, were withdrawn within a few months.

In the western part of the country, the Polish Post started its activities in the former German territories in the winter of 1919 as a result of the Wielkopolska (Great Poland) Uprising in Poznan and the surrounding territories.  German forerunners were in use until April 1920.

Following the Treaty of Versailles, Poland took over Pomerania and the south-west part of Wielkopolska in January and February 1920.  The Post and Telegraph Offices in those areas came under the control of the Polish Post.  Of particular note, but hitherto little studied, is mail from Post Offices under the jurisdiction of the Pomeranian Postal Management in Gdansk (Danzig), which functioned only from January 1920 to September 1921, and from German TPOs which were handed over to Poland according to an agreement with Germany of November 1919.

Postal Agencies were opened abroad in Odessa and Constantinople in 1919.  The former functioned only for four and a half months, whereas the latter lasted for almost 2 years.  Commercial mail from these two agencies is extremely rare.

The first postage stamps issued by the Polish Post were provisional overprinted stamps of the former German and Austrian Postal Administrations just as were the postal forms, postal money orders, telegrams and the like used provisionally.  Provisional Polish handstamps replaced the old ones, until definitive Polish datestamps were introduced.

On the Eastern Territories Polish Post was active from August 1919 till July 1920.

The Polish Post Provisional Period 1918 – 20 is rich in variety and interest for the philatelist.  The album shows how short-term, regional solutions applied during that unique historical period.

A small amount of commercial mail from those days has been preserved and is being shown in this exhibit In some cases, they are the only known examples.

Plan of Exhibit


1. Lublin Postal Management

1.1. Austrian and Bosnia – Herzegovinian forerunners

1.2. Lublin Provisional Issues

2. Warszawa Postal Management

2.1. German forerunners

2.2. Local overprint

2.3. Provisional and definitive issues

3. Kraków Postal Management

3.1. Kraków Provisional Issue

3.2. Local overprints

3.3. Polish Liquidation Commission issue (PKL)

3.4. Eastern Silesia provisional issues

4. Poznan Postal Management

4.1. Mixed Polish – German frankings

4.2. Poznan Provisional Issue

4.3. Gniezno Provisional Issue

4.4. Definitive issues after the ratification of the Versailles Treaty.

5. Polish Postal Agencies Abroad – Odessa and Constantinople

6. Bydgoszcz Postal Management (after the Treaty of Versailles)

6.1. German forerunners

6.2. Mixed Polish – German frankings

6.3. Definitive issues

7. Gdansk Postal Management

7.1. Definitive issues


J. Auleytner, Articles in the philatelic periodicals Filatelista, Przeglad Filatelistyczny 2002 – 2008, OPUS 2009.

J. Auleytner, Philatelic Gems in the Crown of the II Republic of Poland 1918 – 1920, Warsaw 2009.

M. Zbierski – Polish Postal Rates, 1918 – 1939, Poznan 2003.