1956 Melbourne Olympics: The Polish Postmark

On the 2 November 1956 Poland produced a set of six stamps representing boxing, fencing, hurdling, javelin, gymnastics and rowing. These are shown in the stamp pack. This was their seventh Olympiad but the first 0lympic stamps issue.

Associated with the issue was a postmark that bears a striking resemblance to the MCG, in particular the elevated roof of the old Southern Stand. The postmark heading is “XVI Olimpiada Melbourne” and ” Warszawa 1″ “2-11-1956.”

Four covers were also issued. The use of stamps on each cover appears to be consistent. The cover with the brown map of Australia has the fencing and hurdling stamps, the cover with the gray map of Australia has the boxing and rowing stamps, the cover with the Globe has the boxing and rowing stamps and the cover with the column has the javelin and gymnastics stamps. Occassional covers with a single stamp have been seen.

On the 27 November, Elzbieta Krzezinska-Dunska, won the Gold Medal in the Long Jump. She also equalled her world record of 6.35 metres. The Post Office released a stamp on the 12 December 1956 showing a long jumper with a similar postmark. This stamp was seen singularly on any of the above covers. It shows her without her very characteristic ponytail.

“In 2000, Australia Post produced instant gold medalist stamps for the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games. This was not only a first for Australia, but also globally.” The Polish issue considering the technology available was an incredible production.

The Boxing Stamp

The boxing stamp had 14 stamps issued where the central boxers were inverted. In 2009 one was sold for $21,000 US. This makes it a crown jewel of Olympic philately.

But Beware!! If it’s too good to be true it probably is.

On Ebay (December 2020) there are three dealers with “inverted centres” for sale and their sites advertise that they have sold 9 stamps in the last 6-12 months. Only one site advertises that the stamp is a replica. The others advertise that what you see is what you get. Only one feedback shows anger at being dubbed. The stamps sell for around $50 USD a far cry from the original at around $25,000 USD.

The Javelin Thrower Stamp

Review of the right lower corner of the javelin thrower stamp shows it was engraved by Czeslaw Slania. He was a polish born engraver of stamps and banknotes. He left Poland after engraving this stamp due to the political situation and moved to Sweden. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Słania was the most skilled and prolific of all stamp engravers, with over 1000 stamps to his credit.

in August 2001, Czeslaw Slania visited Australia for the launch of the Australia–Sweden joint stamp issue. The stamp theme honours the 18th-century Swedish botanist, Daniel Solander, who accompanied Captain Cook on the Endeavour (1768–71). Czeslaw Slania engraved the two Solander stamps for Australia Post.

He also engraved four Australian stamps in 1994 – Aviation Feats depicting the achievements of early Australian aviators.

He died in 2005.

Poland released a postal card in 2000 celebrating the 100th anniversary of olympic stamps. It showed images of the Slania engraved Javelin Thrower stamp and Elzbieta Krzezinska-Dunska winning the Gold Medal in the Long Jump. In 1992 Elzbieta Krzezinska-Dunska was shown on a postcard with her trademark poney tail. She died in 2015.

Australia Post Collectors Website