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Note: See link to Wikipedia's article on Polish Philatelic History.

Ingert Kuzych has a more comprehensive and coherent series on postal history in the Bulletin of the Polonus Philatelic Society, issues #550, 551, 552. The series title is Before Lemberg: The Development of the Mail System In Central Europe And The Beginnings Of The Postal Service In Lwów (Lviv). Polonus and Dr. Kuzych have kindly made PDFs available here. See also a review of his book [Kuzych 2014] which includes material from the Polonus series and much more.


This page is organized as follows:

  1. Posts in pre-partition Poland (and elsewhere)
  2. Przedbórz Post under the Russians
  3. WWI Przedbórz local delivery stamps and the people behind them.
Also see the side links.


Postal Service in Pre-Partition Poland
Postal Service in Russian-Partition Poland (Also read about Russian Philatelic History, and Local Delivery under the Russians.)

Related topics in this website:

Occasionally you may see "porto" in eBay sales listings of Przedbórz stamps. But that seems inaccurate: "Porto" is generally interpreted as postage due. If you picked up a properly-franked item at the post office, there would be no postage due, or Porto. The additional fee was only for delivery to the home (and retention of the cover). So Porto seems an inaccurate term.


1.  An entertaining sidelight is provided by [Wilkinson 1953], who says it was a Cleveland carrier named Joe Briggs who pushed the free delivery idea to then - Postmaster General William Blair, after being reprimanded for delivering a letter to a Civil War mother.

2.  Auleytner [2007, pg. 7] provides a different example of philatelic mania: In Lublin, letter carriers were accused of tearing or cutting the stamps off all kinds of mail before delivery.

3.  Thanks to Jerry Zedlitz for pointing out Petriuk's comment. One of the outlying towns was apparently Radoszyce, 17 miles east.

4.  I believe the above discussion does NOT conflict with Petriuk or Kronenberg (scan V7_P69).

5.  Also see Bojanowicz [2008a,b]. The Poles date their postal service from 1558, as noted by commemorative stamps. E.g., Fisher 927 & 934 (Michel 1072 & 1085) (26 October &12 December 1958) marked the 400th anniversary of the Polish Post, if I read it correctly.

6.  From John Lechtanski's 3 March 2009 posting on the Rossica Samovar General Forum in response to a query of mine.

7.  The PBD says that Franczak was nominated for a promotion in Sept. 1919, but it was turned down because he profited from the stamps. He was later demoted and served out his time as an ordinary postal clerk.

8.   According to Wikipedia, Piotrkow had been in the Russian partition (Kingdom of Poland) before WWI, but was occupied by Austria-Hungary starting in 1915, so one would not have had to cross occupation lines to make deliveries (e.g., of the stamps) to Przedbórz in 1917-18.

Tokar [1993] lists the company as Piotrkowskie Zakłady Drukarsiko-Litograficzne Adolfa Pańskigo, at Bykowska 56, Piotrakow.

9.  According to various Internet sites, all of which seem to be copying Wikipedia, Ruggiano de Tassis, one of the early members of the Thurn and Taxis dynasty, had started a postal service in Italy sometime in the 1400's, capitalizing on experience in transportation starting perhaps as early as the 1200's (this last from the French Wikipedia article at http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thurn_und_Taxis.)

10.  By way of comparison, apparently Great Britain had established Royal postal or courier routes as early as the 1300's, but they weren't open to public usage until 1635, as Simpson and Cavendish's James Grimwood-Taylor told me at Chicagopex 2009.

While the general public could NOT use the Royal service, apparently freelance couriers would pick up mail at designated taverns and travel on regular routes. I'll bet they had a mail exchange set up at certain places.

"Hey Joe, I have six letters bound for Carlisle, but I'm going to Dover. Please take these, and give me half your fee next time I see you."

"OK, Moe, if you do the same with these two letters to Cambridge."

I don't know if it really worked this way, but it's plausible to me.
11.  Roman Sobus points out that Kamienski's statement sounds somewhat apocryphal because Poland's history as a state generally dates from Mieszko I's adoption of Christianity in 966.

It seems unlikely that mail would immediately have become so common, especially in this era of gradually growing literacy and commerce.

12.  Blockmans [2007, pg. 207] says that starting in 1260 C.E., there were regular couriers traveling between Tuscany and Champaign (for the Champaign trade fairs, presumably), and that around 1360, 17 Florentine companies set up the scarsella, a private courier service traveling between the major trade centers of Europe.

13.  The image has been "photoshopped™" so that the journal name and date adjoin the warning. In the actual journal, the latter is at the bottom of another page.

14.  We don't know when Przedbórz obtained its post office, as the town isn't mentioned in Domanski and Rich, nor in Mikstein [1936]. The latter includes a detailed list of the postal routes, but I can't figure out which one went through Przedbórz. It seems likely that Przedbórz didn't get a post office until sometime in the 1800's.

15. Werbizky [2010] explains that the official government mail in European Russia proper (which excludes Poland and Finland) delivered mail only on the major trade routes and railway lines, which typically included the county seat. The county administrators (zemstva) could arrange for any local mail service that supplemented, but didn't compete with, the Government Postal Service. He says that in the 1870's, there were 102 stamp-issuing zemstvos. (I don't know what the system was in Trans-Ural Russia.)

I also read somewhere else that Przedbórz was established as post office 157 no later than the 1840's. (Watch this space for the proper citation when I find it.)

16. Stampdomain's Wrocław postal history section says that Wrocław (then part of Bohemia) had a private post maintained by the town merchants in 1387, with rates regulated no later than 1542.

17. Reading Barefoot [1999] gives the impression that 18. דואר in the Shulchan Aruch text means mail in Hebrew, even now.

19. This section was rewritten and reorganized in Nov. 2011 based on Roman Harmel's reading of the Abramsohn and Franczak bios in the Przedborzki Słonik Biograficzny (Przedbórz Biographical Dictionary).

20. Roman Sobus, in a Nov. 2011 private discussion, told me of Pre-WWII Łodz "train platform mail", in which a postal employee stood on the train platform with a kit resembling a cigarette girl's, and would accept postal items, sell you stamps if necessary, cancel the items, and put them on the train as required.

21. Stan Wlodek was the first to point this out to me, citing the Polish philatelic literature. [Email, 26 July 2005]) (The link is to Abramsohn's entry in the Przedbórz Biographical Dictionary [PSB], which says the same thing.)


© 2007-2015 Sam Ginsburg.
Last modified 9 Oct. 2015