The “Arge Danzig e.V.” is a community of collectors devoted to the philately of the Danzig area.
Arge Danzig History
On the 23rd of March in 1936, the Arge was founded in the restaurant “Ayckes Wein- und Bierstuben” in the town of Danzig. The driving force behind this gathering was an increasing number of well-done overprint forgeries offered as genuine in the 1930s. Collectors wanted to protect themselves from these products, so pooling and sharing their knowledge was required. An initial project of the Arge was a catalog of the stamps and cancels of the Free Town of Danzig, the cancels being a field that had not been tackled at all until 1936.
A credo was written down in one of the first circulars and is still kept up today:
“We want to serve the common cause, work and research together, share and increase our knowledge of Danzig stamps and cancels. We also want to fight against everything harmful, against scams, swindles and fakes, but also against the collector’s vice of self-deception.”
After German Colonies (1928), Memel (1929) and German Inflation (1931, today “Infla-Berlin”), the Arge was the fourth of its kind in Germany and was the second to pick up the name “Arbeitsgemeinschaft” which is still in use today. Under the presidency of Wilhelm Marx, monthly get-togethers were held in Danzig. Back in the day, most of the active Danzig collectors and stamp dealers were living in Danzig so these got quite lively. In 1940, the membership list was exceeding a count of 100. However, it declined over the following years due to the war. Until the end of the war (the last meeting in Danzig was on January 16, 1945) the Arge published 35 issues of their circular “Das Danziger Postwertzeichen” and numerous articles and reports.
Vice-President Fanz Prill, who was expelled from Danzig after the war, tried to locate surving members of the Arge in Germany and issued a first circular in 1947. Times were tough, however, and lack of funds in these years only made six circulars possible. Membership numbers also were down to 20 as many former members had died, were prisoners of war, or otherwise displaced and could not be located.
Starting in 1955, Gerhard Schüler, one of the surviving founding members of the Arge, revived the Arge and wrote three-monthly circulars. This was the second life of the Arge, only made possible by Schüler selflessly devoting time and resources to the cause. After finishing his studies at the University of Danzig, he had returned to his home town Hamburg in 1941. He headed the Arge until his death in 1981. At this time, the Arge had 90 members.
Karl Kniep, like Marx and Prill born in Danzig, took over the reins and led the Arge for another ten years. With a stronger focus on public exposure of the Arge’s activites and get-togethers all over Germany membership numbers increased rapidly, culminating at 240 in 1991 with 40 of these living abroad.
Exactly 55 years after the initial meeting in Danzig, the Arge was refounded as a publically registered society, complete with articles of association. This was neccessary to meet BDPh standards and ensure the Arge could continue as an entity independent from its respective presidents.
Local Arge Danzig gatherings
The first meeting after World War II was in Hamburg in 1980. Further gatherings took place in Braunschweig (1981) and Rückersdorf (near Nürnberg in 1982). These involved lots of talking, occasional lectures, members bringing part of their material both for exchanging knowledge and stamps or covers and were greeted with enthusiasm by both members and interested guests who are always welcome. Needless to say, the number of these events increased over the years. Currently, there is one official annual meeting, usually in Hamm-Pelkum with extra get-togethers in Berlin, Hamburg, Wiesbaden and Leipzig.
In 1992, the “house of philately” of the Polish Philatelic Associtaion hosted the first gathering in Danzig after the war. Since then, there have been further get-togethers in Danzig, organized by our Polish members and friends.
Arge Danzig Membership benefits
The members of the Arge are friends of the town of Danzig, freshmen and experts, collectors and stamp dealers – in other words: all the people who share the love of the stamps of Danzig. You neither need courage nor a big collection to join the Arge. The only requirement is an interest in Danzig philately. The big collections of some of our long-time members may be daunting, but they started from scratch, too. Your benefits:
– meet knowledgeable collectors loving near you, and receive answers for your questions. Open questions can be posted in the circulars and be addressed there
– four issues of our circular each year
– availability of back issues and reports through our library
– solid advice on building and expanding your collection or exhibit from experienced collectors