Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. We have an interesting story to tell of an old column lifting high a statue of a king of a defunct empire, now important in a new country. So important that the Nazis knocked it down.
Poland was a new country in the 1920s. Their early stamp offerings are not particularly impressive to the international collector. The paper is cheap and the drawings are undistinguished. The column on this stamp changed with a fountain and fence removed soon after the stamp but the drawing is so bad, I can’t tell the difference.
The stamp today is issue A40, a 10 Groszy stamp issued in 1925-1927 by Poland. It is part of an 11 stamp issue that show various monuments around Poland. This stamp shows the Sigismund Column in Warsaw. The stamp is worth 25 cents cancelled according to the Scott catalog.
After the reformation of Poland as a result of the Versailles Treaty there was much fighting. The Soviets wanted to dominate Poland in the hopes that Lenin could then link up with Communists in Germany as part of a worldwide revolution. Ukraine wanted to solidify independence from the Soviets and Poland wanted greater territory at the expense of Ukraine and Lithuania. The Poles had some success militarily against the Soviets and the peace treaty partitioned Ukraine and angered the Ukrainians and Lithuanians.
The victory left the Poles proud but poor and it is understandable why old symbols of an ancient and great Poland became so important. The King on the Column, Sigismund II, had ruled Poland, Lithuania, Sweden and fought wars for the Catholic Church hoping to convert the Duchy of Moscow from Orthodox and succeeding in pushing the Ottomans from Moldavia. The statue and column were erected 1n 1644 by Sigismund’s son King Wladyslaw IV to celebrate the moving of the Polish empires capital to Warsaw from Krakow. It was cast by Italians in the style of several similar monuments in Italy. This was a time of greater travel and the Polish King had experienced the artistic explosion of Italy while studying there in his youth.
During World War II, Poland was invaded by Germany and Russia, partitioned with Warsaw under German control. The column survived the 1939 destruction around it. In 1944 as the Russian army approached Warsaw, there was a rebellion by a mostly Jewish group that was brutally repressed by the Germans. The group of rebels was not controlled by the Polish government in exile, nor the communists that the Soviets intended to install. A cynical decision was made to let the Germans crush the rebellion. During this Sigismund’s Column was destroyed and the statue at the top was heavily damaged and siting on the ground. The Poles post war had a new granite column done and the statue was repaired and stands today.
Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open the conversation in the below comment section. Lately there has been a movement to be rid of older statues as they mean nothing to the current more diverse population. Are the old statues worth keeping? I won’t surprise anyone that I think so. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.