HU OSA 300-55-7 Printed Ephemera

Identity statement

Reference code
HU OSA 300-55-7
Title
Printed Ephemera
Date(s)
1981 - 1989
Description level
Series
Extent and medium (processed)
2 Boxes of color prints, 0.88 linear meters
1 Archival box, 0.13 linear meters

Content and structure

Scope and Content (Abstract)
The series contains different types of printed ephemera produced in the underground and distributed independently in Poland in the 1980s. The ephemera come in very diverse formats, which can be roughly categorized into stamps, envelopes, postmarks and postcards, banknotes, calendars, photos, leaflets and posters. Importantly, these are not exclusive categories. Some of the stamps, printed for collectors rather than for practical purposes represent a form of a miniaturized poster. Some postmarks are reproduced in the form of postcards. And some postcards, due to their heavily political character, can be considered on a par with propaganda leaflets. As far as the visual content is concerned thee broad categories can be distinguished: (a) ephemera related to Solidarity and other political groups in Poland and abroad, as well as political prisoners, representing the symbols of resistance and documenting different types of political activities: protests, boycotts, and anti-government propaganda; (b) items relating to Polish history, including representations of the national symbols and famous figures, as well as commemorations of important events of the national past; (c) visual embodiments of the phenomenon of Polish Catholicism, including the cult of Virgin Mary, Pope John Paul II and father Jerzy Popiełuszko, Solidarity’s “chaplain” killed by the secret police. The ephemera collected in the series count among the most unique holdings at OSA, as well as constitute an extraordinary chapter in the visual history of dissent under Communism. The collection is notable for both historical and aesthetic value. This is especially true about the independent postage. The phenomenon itself is not unprecedented in Polish history: stamps, postmarks and postcards were printed and circulated during World War II, under Nazi occupation, during the Warsaw Uprising and in the prisoner-of-war and concentration camps. However it has no parallel in the history of the postwar resistance and dissent in the Soviet Bloc. The first runs of postage stamps were produced by the still legal Solidarity during its first congress in late 1981, serving as memorabilia for the delegates. Nevertheless, the origins of the independent postage should be traced to the early months of the Martial Law (December 13, 1981), when the political prisoners kept in the internment camps established an independent postage circuit, both internal and outbound, using linoleum rubber from the prison corridors. As the political underground expanded, the printing technique was perfected and the print runs enlarged. It was estimated that in 1986 there appeared around 200 sets of stamps (some of them gummed and perforate) with a print run between 5000 and 10000 copies each. The stamps were relatively expensive, due to the fact that they often served as means of fundraising for different independent initiatives. Despite the high prices, the risk involved and the absence of a collectors’ market proper (one could only get them through personal contacts) the independent postage grew remarkably popular not only among the underground activists, but also among the population at large. That was due to the fact that philately as an act of resistance was less demanding than reading underground press, and more gratifying in the emotional sense. The aesthetics of independent postage most of the time consisted in simple but powerful signs, often borrowing from national and religious iconography, which gave the collectors an immediate sense of symbolic unity. The same aesthetics and purpose applies to other types of ephemera collected in the series: calendars, fake banknotes, as well as the more common “genre” of political prints – propaganda posters and leaflets. The latter focus more on contemporary events and as such constitute an interesting way of representing/visualizing the history of Polish dissent during the last decade of Communism.
Accruals

Not expected

Conditions of access and use

Conditions governing access
Unknown
Languages
Polish, Russian

Allied materials

Publication note
"Subversive Philately" in RFE/RL RAD Polish Underground Extracts no. 8, 21 May 1985. "Solidarity Postage Stamps Honor RFE's 35th Anniversary" in RFE/RL Polish Independent Press Review, no. 6, 9 July 1987. "Poczta Solidarności" Biuletyn Informacyjny, no. 95, 5 September 1984.
Call Number Description
Boxes of color prints #1
300-55-7:1/1
[Stamps: Independent Politics: Solidarity], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/2
[Stamps: Independent Politics: Other Polish Groups and Political Prisoners], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/3
[Stamps: Independent Politics: Polish Underground Press], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/4
[Stamps: Independent Politics: International Dissent and Solidarity Actions], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/5
[Stamps: Polish Catholicism], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/6
[Stamps: Polish History: National Emblems], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/7
[Stamps: Polish History: Józef Piłsudski], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/8
[Stamps: Polish History: World War II], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/9
[Stamps: Polish History: Postwar Protests], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/10
[Stamps: Polish History: Instytut Literacki], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/11
[Stamps: Polish History: "Polskie Miesiące" Series], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/12
[Stamps: Miscellaneous], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/13
[Envelopes], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/14
[Banknotes: US Dollar], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/15
[Banknotes: Polish Zloty], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/16
[Banknotes: Shares], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/17
[Photos: Leaflet Action], ca. 1985
300-55-7:1/18
[Calendars], ca. 1985
Boxes of color prints #2
300-55-7:2/1
[Postcards, Posters and Leaflets: Solidarity Propaganda], ca. 1985
300-55-7:2/2
[Postcards, Posters and Leaflets: Wolna Poczta Internowanych [Internees' Free Post]], ca. 1985
300-55-7:2/3
[Postcards, Posters and Leaflets: 1989 Solidarity Electoral Campaign], ca. 1985
300-55-7:2/4
[Postcards, Posters and Leaflets: Anti-Government Propaganda: General], ca. 1985
300-55-7:2/5
[Postcards, Posters and Leaflets: Anti-Government Propaganda: Boycott], ca. 1985
300-55-7:2/6
[Postcards, Posters and Leaflets: Solidarity with Afghanistan], ca. 1985
300-55-7:2/7
[Postcards, Posters and Leaflets: Anti-Solidarity Propaganda], ca. 1985
300-55-7:2/8
[Postcards, Posters and Leaflets: History], ca. 1985
300-55-7:2/9
[Postcards, Posters and Leaflets: Polish Catholicism], ca. 1985
300-55-7:2/10
[Postcards, Posters and Leaflets: Polish Catholicism: Holiday Postcards], ca. 1985
300-55-7:2/11
[Postcards, Posters and Leaflets: Polish Catholicism: Oversized Items], ca. 1985
Archival boxes #3
300-55-7:3/1
[Audio cassette: Ksiadz Jerzy Popieluszko],
300-55-7:3/2
[Audio cassette: Pielgrzym Trudnych Chwil],
300-55-7:3/3
[Audio cassette: Walesa],
300-55-7:3/4
[Audio cassette: Jacek Fedorovicz],
300-55-7:3/5
[Audio cassette: Jacek Kaczmarski '82],
[cassette missing from case]
300-55-7:3/6
[Album: Solidarity postcards],
300-55-7:3/7
[Folder: Solidarity posters and leaflets],
300-55-7:3/8
[Book: Bracia nasi? by Kazimierz Podlaski],
300-55-7:3/9
[Book: Lajos M., lat 44 by Zsolt Csalog],
300-55-7:3/10
[Book: Sluchainost'],
300-55-7:3/11
[Book: Sublokatorka by Hanna Krall],
300-55-7:3/12
[Book: Oboz: Problemy narodow nloku komunistycznego],
300-55-7:3/13
[Book: Kultura 1981],
300-55-7:3/14
[Book: Wegry 1956: 13 Dni nadziei],
300-55-7:3/15
[Book: Reformy gospodarcze w europejskich krajach socjalistycznych],
300-55-7:3/16
[Book: Pzeminelo z ogniem by Noemi Szac-Wahnkranc],
300-55-7:3/17
[Book: Argumenty do dialogu polsko-bialoruskeiego],
300-55-7:3/18
[Book: Praski zamach stanu 1948 by Francois Fejtő],
300-55-7:3/19
[Book: Mysli o naszej Europie],
300-55-7:3/20
[Book: Bez Niena Wisci],
300-55-7:3/21
[Book: Ukrainscy w Polsce],
300-55-7:3/22
[Book: Zeszyty, 1983 ],
300-55-7:3/23
[Book: Niezalezna encyklopedia powszechna A-Z 1],
300-55-7:3/24
[Book: Praworzadnosc No 19],
300-55-7:3/25
[Book: ABC 1984/1],
300-55-7:3/26
[Book: Nowa koalicha],
300-55-7:3/27
[Book: Pukanie spod dna],
300-55-7:3/28
[Book: Dzieje kosciola rzymsko-katolickiego w czechnach i na morawach 1948-1978],
300-55-7:3/29
[Solidarity badges and matches],
300-55-7:3/30
[Folder: posters, leaflets],