12th December 2023 Danzig a Miscellany – Giles de Boulay

On Tuesday December 12th 2023, Banbury Stamp Society welcomed Giles du Boulay who gave a presentation titled ‘Danzig: A Miscellany’.

  Danzig, now known as Gdansk, is a Baltic Sea port with a postal history going back to the 1300’s. Giles started his display with some 16th century mail from Danzig to London carried by the ‘Merchant Strangers Post’.  This was followed with material from the 1600’s, carried as ship letters and included disinfected mail. 

Napoleon held Danzig for seven years and we were shown letters to and from his ‘Grand Armee’.  Moving to the 1800’s, we were introduced to a link between Danzig and the Crimean war:  The Russian Navy was blockaded in its Baltic ports and during this period mail to and from the British Navy was routed through the Consul in Danzig.  Examples of prisoner of war mail from the Franco-Prussian war (1870) followed along with German and British naval visits.  WWI saw large numbers of casualties being treated in Danzig.  Mail was sent free if it had the appropriate handstamp from the hospital.  The Armistice at the end of WW1 saw Danzig declared a Free City and German stamps were overprinted until Danzig could produce its own issues.  During this period there was significant emigration of Germans to South America with an official Danzig post office on board the liners.  We skipped to the end of WWII with some very poignant letters written as the Russian Army surrounded the city and then finished with some modern Polish stamps featuring Lech Walesa.

Next meeting will be a New Years social with members to display recent acquisitions. 7:30pm on Tuesday January 9th, 2024 at Hanwell Fields Community Centre. The Banbury Stamp Society is on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’, or contact John Davies on 01295 255831.