If you’re into collecting stamps, you already know that philately can be an expensive hobby. Stamp prices change from time to time, but the oldest and most unique pieces usually see their value increase every year. Let me say that Poland has a long tradition of stamp collecting, and it’s not just about the satisfaction of owning rare stamps – it’s also an opportunity to make some money.
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The Fascinating Story of Poland’s Most Expensive Stamps
Some of the most expensive Polish postage stamps can cost as much as a decent car! Stamps from the 19th century are especially popular among collectors. I think it’s worth mentioning that the most valuable collection of Polish stamps is now in Great Britain.
A few years ago, it was sold by a local auction house for a whopping one million dollars! This collection, known as „Polska nr 1,” once belonged to Włodzimierz Rachmanow and was considered almost a national treasure by Polish philatelists. The real rarities in this series were the unused stamps.
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One of the most famous Polish postage stamp from the People’s Republic of Poland is called “Inverted Boxers” / „Odwrotka bokserów” and features two boxers in a reversed position. Printing error made the stamp more appealing and increased its value. Some time ago, the catalog price of this stamp was 60,000 PLN.
Now, if you’re wondering about the Polish philatelic market, I can tell you it’s still underdeveloped compared to, for example, the bibliophilic market. The most expensive Polish postage stamps are usually those from the interwar period up to 1956 and older items. For instance, the 10-crowns fee stamp issued in Kraków in 1919 used to cost three thousand dollars. Over time, its value increased significantly – many years later, it was worth as much as 70,000 PLN.
Polish Stamp Rarities and the Market
There are many rarities on the Polish market, but not many buyers. Polish philatelic items are often imported from abroad, with collectors going to countries like Germany or Great Britain to find them. However, online auctions have also gained popularity.
Price lists of old postage stamps are determined by several factors, with the most important one being the wealth of the potential buyer’s wallet. In Poland, stamp prices vary and many can be purchased for just a few dozen zlotys. Purchases worth several thousand zlotys are becoming more common, but wealthy collectors are still scarce. Auctions where items worth tens of thousands of zlotys are sold remain rare.
What Makes a Polish Stamp Expensive?
Many Polish philatelists are primarily interested in buying national stamps. The prices of these stamps depend on their:
- Additional features, e.g., lack of serrations, colors, printing errors
Collectors also pay attention to the quality of the stamp – many of them avoid buying canceled and unglued copies. The most expensive Polish postage stamps don’t include copies from the 1980s or stamps from the People’s Republic of Poland, as they were mass-produced. The „boxers’ retreat” is an exception to this rule.
To find price lists of Polish stamps, you can look in specialized catalogs. To determine the value of a Polish stamp, Fischer’s catalog is a great resource.
A Few Notable Polish Stamps and Their Prices
- Blue 10-crown („Niebieska 10-koronówka„) : This stamp from the Kraków edition of 1919 can cost up to 70,000 PLN today. It was printed in only 440 copies.
- Oldest Polish stamp: The first Polish postage stamp, issued under the partitions of Poland on January 1, 1860, is a priceless item for any collector. In 2018, at an auction at Christoph Gaertner’s Auction House, it reached a price of 40.7 thousand USD (over 150,000 PLN).
- 1956 Inverted Boxers („Odwróceni bokserzy z 1956 roku„) : This stamp from the Polish People’s Republic features two fighting men with the „Poczta Polska” inscription and the face value of the stamp reversed. At the Cherrystone auction in 2009, one of the stamps from this series was sold for 21,000 USD (over 60,000 PLN).
- Włodzimierz Rachmanow’s „Polska nr. 1” Collection: In 2010, Warwick & Warwick auction house sold this unique collection of the first Polish stamps for over one million dollars. The collection was once owned by Russian collector and philatelic expert Włodzimierz Rachmanow.
- Letter with two („List z dwójką„): The most expensive item from Rachmanow’s collection was a letter addressed to the Polish Bank in Warsaw, sent from Kalwaria via Mariampol. It had a starting price of 5,000 pounds (24,000 PLN) and was auctioned for 51,000 pounds (245,000 PLN).
- Letter with a four („List z czwórką„): Another valuable item from Rachmanow’s collection, this letter features the only known four stamps glued to the corner of the envelope. Its starting price at the 2010 auction was 8,000 pounds, and the buyer paid 30.5 thousand pounds (almost 150,000 PLN) for it.
- Warsaw Uprising Collection („Kolekcja z Powstania Warszawskiego„): The „Warsaw Uprising” collection from German collector Manfred Schulze includes letters, envelopes, unique stamps of the Field Post Office, and their designs from the time of the Warsaw Uprising. The collection, comprised of 123 priceless memorabilia, was sold for 190,000 EUR to the Warsaw Uprising Museum.
- Double Pilsudski („Podwójny Piłsudski„): This 1935 stamp features a double-printed image due to a typographical error. Only two pieces have been found today, and it was valued at approximately 49,000 PLN on the Allegro website, but no buyers have appeared yet.
Can you make a profit on stamps?
The value of postage stamps is largely influenced by current market trends and the preferences of buyers, such as collectors. A stamp’s worth ultimately depends on the amount someone is willing to pay for it. This is why it is crucial to have stamps assessed by an expert who is knowledgeable about market trends.
It is possible that a commemorative collection may contain valuable items sought after by other art collectors. The chances of finding such items increase if the collection contains foreign stamps. To sell these stamps, you can search for a buyer independently, list the stamp on an online auction, or propose a sale to a philatelic company in the industry.
Most postage stamps, even older ones, can generally be purchased for just a few zlotys each. Such collections are primarily formed out of passion. Only select, unique pieces hold greater value, and it is possible to make a profit by buying and selling these items. However, in order to consistently earn money from stamps, one must possess not only the knowledge and skills to distinguish between valuable and low-value items, but also an understanding of the market and collector trends. This is a task best suited for true enthusiasts and professionals who, after years of collecting, can monetize their passion. The same principle applies to coin collecting.
How to determine the value of stamps?
Many people may be unaware that they possess old, forgotten stamp albums in their basements or attics. These relics, once treasured by grandparents or other family members, could be worth a significant amount of money today. A collection assembled several decades ago may now have a completely different value. How can you determine if your family heirloom stamps are valuable?
Determining whether a collection can be sold at a profit is a challenge not only for those who have inherited or discovered family heirlooms, but also for collectors themselves. While there are home-based valuation methods, it is advisable to consult a professional for a guaranteed fair purchase price. Stamp valuation is conducted by experts in the field of philately. These experts can identify, assess the condition, evaluate the authenticity, and determine the market price based on their knowledge of the market and collector preferences.
To have your stamps assessed, you should contact a professional philatelist. Some of them offer expert opinions and valuations online. By sending photos of the collection and key information about it to their email address, you can obtain a professional valuation. Grzegorz Marzec, who operates a philatelic company that is a member of organizations such as the Association of Polish Antiquarians and the American Philatelic Society, is one such expert. His company primarily buys and sells postage stamps.
Polish stamps offer a rich and fascinating world of philatelic treasures. While the Polish philatelic market might still be underdeveloped compared to other countries, the enchanting history and rarity of some stamps make them highly sought-after items for collectors worldwide. The stories behind these stamps not only offer a glimpse into Poland’s past but also make them valuable investments for those who appreciate the art of stamp collecting.