January 1st, 1860 – The First Polish Stamp


The first Polish stamp was issued for the Congress Kingdom on January 1st, 1860 (Gregorian calendar). Because January 1st was a Sunday the stamp was not actually available until the following day. The design was similar to the contemporary Russian stamps with the arms of the Congress Kingdom in the centre. The engraving was done by the Polish Bank engraver Henryk Mejer.

Poland_Number_OneThe drawings he used were found in the archives at St Petersburg but the name of the artist remains unknown. The stamps were printed by the government printers in Warsaw on the orders of the Congress Kingdom postal service. The letterpress machine used was invented by Izrael Abraham Staffel (1814–1884) for printing in two colors. The machine was capable of printing 1,000 sheets per hour and it had a counting device which ensured an accurate count. Apart from these facts very little more is known about the machine.

The printing was done without consultation of the Russian postal service. The regional office in St Petersburg only approved afterwards, on March 4th, 1860 (Gregorian calendar). These stamps 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 believed that some three million of these stamps were printed. When the stamps were withdrawn from use on April 1st, 1865 (Gregorian calendar) a total of 208,515 stamps were destroyed; Russian stamps had to be used from that day onwards.

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar