Polonus member Jay T. Carrigan showed this one frame exhibit for the first time at the Philadelphia National Stamp Exhibition in April 2011 where it received a Gold Medal in the Single Frame Exhibit category, and a Polonus Gold Medal.
Background – This exhibit can be considered a forerunner to my other one frame exhibit “Free Franking for Displaced Persons, British Zone of Germany, 1945 - 1947”. Where this exhibit ends, the Free Franking exhibit starts. The background information in the synopsis for the Free Franking exhibit also pertains to this exhibit, and will not be repeated here.
What is unique about this exhibit is the circumstances under which a fully functioning postal system was created and operated under extremely adverse conditions. These stamps are not charity labels, not cinderellas but real postage stamps used in a real postal system. The stamps were used on both domestic and international mail. Yes, it is true that this postal system was created primarily by the philatelists who organized and ran the intra-camp mail systems in the Polish POW Camps (Woldenburg, Gross-Born, Neubrandenburg and Murnau), but that in no way should lessen the magnitude of their achievements.
Scope – All of the postal emissions for the period May 3 to October 19, 1945, with varieties and usages.
Organization of Exhibit – Title Page, First Libertas Issue (woodcut, 2 pages), Second Libertas Issue (zinc plate, 6 pages), Mermaid Issue (4 pages) and Sailing Ship Issue (3 pages).
Challenge Factor – I have collected this material for decades, but it was not until 2010 that the opportunity presented itself to acquire some of the better material shown in this exhibit. After some 40 years, I finally have a reasonably complete collection.
Completeness – All postage stamps are shown. All major types of postal stationery are shown. Three minor varieties of the Libertas postal cards are not shown.
Google and Wikipedia are also excellent sources for background information.
- Kulpinski, Chris, Polish Displaced Persons in Germany - 1945-1948 (2005) - CD or spiral bound available from http://www.kulpinski.net/philately/Polish%20DP%20in%20Germany.htm (2004 edition also available from APRL)
- Machowski, Józef, Katalog Poczty Miedzyobozowej W Okregu Lubeka (1963) - Part 6 of a series on POW Camp issues, available from APRL
- Ruch (pub.), Polskie Znaki Pocztowe, TomIV (1966) - 5 vol. set available from APRL, but only vol. 4 pp. 1232-40 needed
- Fischer (pub.), Katalog Polskich Znaków Pocztowych, Tom II -available from CCNY, PHF, RMPL
- Stereo Stamps (pub.), Catalog of displaced persons, prisoners of war, concentration camp and ghetto stamps during and after World War II in Germany (1970, part I) - available from APRL
- Heber, Manfred, Katalog der Lagerpost um 1945 (1984) - available from APRL
- Longueval, A., Les Timbres des D. P. Camps (1977 ?) - text in French, German, English and Dutch
Accuracy of Information – The first three references above are the only ones containing background information about these issues. Unfortunately they are not always in agreement and in a few cases present drastically different scenarios. In some cases they are even internally inconsistent. I have tried to make sense out of all of this and present a cohesive story line for this exhibit, but in some cases I had to extrapolate from the information available to me. More research is definitely needed, but it may be some time before these events are clarified and I’m not in a position to wait. I want to exhibit this now!
Rarity – The unoverprinted Libertas stamp at the top of page 2 is a major rarity. The extant quantity is unknown, but based on my observations it is certainly less than 10 copies and probably less than 5 copies. All usages of the woodcut Libertas stamps are also rarities. In fact, all covers and used postal stationery are hard to find. The only “common” items in this exhibit are the Mermaid and Sailing Ship issues (stamps and stationery) in unused condition.