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DANZIG: Postal History until 1920 J. L. Whiteside

Danzig is known to philatelists primarily for its stamp issues during the years 1920 to 1939. The city of Danzig and an area of some 700 square miles surrounding it became a Free State under the auspices of the League of Nationß on 10 January 1920. The new state commenced to issue stamps on 14 June 1920 and continued to do so until 1 September 193.9, when it was incorporated into Hitler’s Germany. Prior to 1920 the posts in Danzig had been operated successively by Prussia, the North German Confederation and the German Empire. This article deals with the postal history and post- marks of this forerunner period, concentrating on Danzig city but touching on the other offices later to form part of the Free State.

Danzig is an ancient city and seaport, now Gdansk in Poland, situated in the delta of the river Vistula (Weichsel in German). Because of its position it had long been an important trading centre for Poland and Eastern Europe via its connection with the major river systems of the region. It was one of the principal members of the Hanseatic League and for several centuries it was a Free City. Until 1793 it was a free city under the Polish Crown, but with considerable autonomous powers. After the second Polish Partition of 1793, it became part of Prussia and remained so until 1868, except for a period of French occupation during the Napoleonic Wars.

In the Prussian period (and under the German Empire thereafter) it was the capital of the province of West Prussia. It was also one of the 25 regional postal administrations — Oberpostdirektion — of Prussia. There were two of these in the province of West Prussia, the other being at Marienwerder. Between 1850 and 1867 a total of 75 post offices came under the Oberpostdirektion Danzig.

The earliest recorded letter from Danzig dates from 1650. Postal markings were not introduced at Danzig until 1817, so letters prior to this can only be distinguished by their letter headings. From around 1760 onwards a fair number of letters from Danzig exist, almost all addressed to the wine shippers of Bordeaux. Some of these are of special interest, since they were placed in the posts by forwarding agents in Amsterdam and bear the manuscript endorsements of these agents.

1779 Entire with Amsterdam Forwarding Agent’s Endorsement


Danzig Report  Nr. 30 - January - February - March - 1981, Page 2.

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