The Samovar

Polish railways and train stations postmarks

ameis33 - 5/26/2006 at 14:06

from "Polskie Znaki Pocztowe Tom I", reprint of 1960 of the omonimous book written in the 30's...

To cancel postal stamps on letters sent from Warsaw train station post offices, special marks, made by four concentric circles with two letters inside, were used. Up to 1866, in Warsaw there were two train stations: the "Warszawa" and the "Praga" stations. From the first ("Warszawa"), it departed two railway lines, the first going to Vienna and the second going to Berlin through Bydgoszcz (the german Bromberg). From the "Praga" station instead, it departed a single railway line going to St. Petersbourg.

Stamps on letter sent from the post office in the "Warszawa" station were cancelled by mean of a mark with the "BW" letters inside (tabl. 19, fig. 1). Near of this cancel, it was also applied the datary "EKSPEDICJA POCZT DWORZEC WARSZAWA". On the other side, stamps on letter sent from the post office in the "Praga" station were cancelled by mean of a mark with the "DP" letters inside (tabl. 19, fig. 3), near of which there was a datary, similar to the previous one, but with the inscription "DWORZEC PRAGA" (tabl. 19, fig. 4). These cancels and post marks are usually in black color, but the BW mark and the two datary can also be found in red color.

In the year 1851, on the line opened at that time between Warsaw and Vienna, 4 ambulant post offices were introduced. These ambulant post offices were granted to cancel the postage stamps with some special stamps made by 6 concentric circles with a great point in the center, whose dimensions were: for the wagons 1 and 2, 3 mms; for the third one: 2 mms; for the fourth: 3 and 1/2 mms of diameter. Close to these cancellations some special stamps were applied with the words "EKSPEDICJA POCZT W WAGONIE" and the number of the wagon in the middle.

In the year 1861, on the route from Warsaw to Bydgoszcz, four new ambulant post offices were then opened. Those offices used to cancel postage stamps special cancels made by 4 concentric circles with the letters DB inside. Wagon 5 had a stamp with thin letters and a dot after every letter. The wagons 6 and 7 with the letters little bit wider and with the point after just the B. Wagon 8 with very wide letters and without points (tabl. 20, fig. 2). Nearby the cancels, there were applied other post marks with the number of the ambulant in the middle, similar to those described above, but with the numbers 5-8 in the center. Besides this, on stampless letters it can be found the "EXPEDYCYA POCZT W WAGONIE" post mark with the date in the middle (tabl. 19, fig. 11). The meaning of this post mark still has not been explained.

All the above cancels and post marks can only be found in black color, with the exception of the cancel with the 3 mm diameter point and the ones with the letter D.B. of the first and second type and for the 5th and 6th ambulat, that we have seen also in red color.

Besides the cancels and the post marks shown before, there are also other cancels always done by four concetric circles with letters inside. These cancels were used in special postal offices realized adapting wagons destined to the passengers transport on trains in which there weren't ambulant post offices and they were probably served by special postal inspectors. Here are the cancels:

1) on the route Warsaw-Bydgoszcz: with the letters DB1 / DB2 (tabl. 20, fig. 3 and 4)
2) on the route Warsaw-Vienna: with the letters "D.W." in two different shapes, with small and greater letters (tabl. 20, fig. 6)
3) on the route, opened in 1866, to Terespol, from Warsaw to Siedlce, and subsequently to Brzesc (I think Brest?), with the letters "D.T.", in two different shapes, with small and greater letters (tabl. 20, fig. 5)

These six cancels were probably introduced just after the 1860 polish postage stamps withdrawal, since they can just be found on russian stamps. On all the letters cancelled in this way, an hand written note shows the station from here the letters were sent. Such cancels can be found just in black color.

The cancel with the letters "B.W." used in the Warszawa station can still be found in 1874, but from the beginnings of 1874 the letters "B.W." in the center were erased on order of the Russian postal authority.

On russian ambulant post offices travelling on railways from St. Petersbourg to Wierzbolowa and from St. Petersbourg to Warsaw, which partially walked through the territory of the Kingdom of Poland, were used to cancel stamps or to sign mail these russian marks: the triangular dotted cancels with the figures 12, 14, 15, 16 in the middle or the datestamp with the words "С. П. Б. Варшавск. Ж. Д." and the wagon's number. The same marks can also be found on the 1860 polish postage stamps.

ameis33 - 5/26/2006 at 14:08

Table 19

annulli1.jpg - 94kB

ameis33 - 5/26/2006 at 14:09

Table 20

annulli2.jpg - 80kB

ameis33 - 5/26/2006 at 14:11

It is not a litteral translation. But the sentences were sometime so long, and without any punctuation mark. It was quite difficult to follow them as they was, so i've changed a little bit the structure of the sentences, but keeping (i hope) the original meaning. But... for those of you who don't trust in my translation, the original page in polish is still available...

The first thing i want to underline is the difference between post offices in train stations and ambulant post offices. The first ones, even if were located inside a train station, were and operated as normal post offices. Letters were then collected, processed (i.e. subdivided, canceled, etc.), and then the outcoming mail were then put on trains to reach their final destination.

With the term ambulant (is it the correct one?) i mean on the other hand, post offices located in proper wagons on trains. This wagons collected mail from post offices located in the train route and processed this mail directly on the train. The wagon itself operated so as post office, with it's own marks for cancelling stamps, etc. Even on the same route, there were several wagons available. And each one must be considered as a different post office, even on the same route, with different cancels and postal marks.

After this punctualization, i can make a little summary of polish cancels:

Train station post offices post marks

ameis33 - 5/26/2006 at 14:13

- BW
Used to cancel stamps in the "Warszawa" train station post office. From ? to 1874. At the beginning of 1874, the BW letters were erased.

- DP
Used to cancel stamps in the "Praga" train station post office.

Ambulant post offices post marks

ameis33 - 5/26/2006 at 14:14

- 6 circles mute cancel
In several shapes depending of the ambulant wagon (different size of the central dot diameters). Used on ambulant wagons 1 to 4, directed to Vienna. From 1851 to ?

- DB
In several shape (thin/wide letters and with/without puncts between letters D/B). Used on ambulant wagons 5 to 8, directed to Bydgoszcz. From 1861 to ?

- DB1/DB2
Used on ambulant to Bydgoszcz

- DW
Used on ambulant to Vienna

- DT
Used on ambulant to Terespol

DB1, DB2, DW and DT were used in ambulant post offices realized adapting passenger wagons.


ameis33 - 5/26/2006 at 14:18

I hope not to be boring. This tread should fix few (many?) errors i've done in my previous post related to the BW cancel.
As soon as the Prigara's book will came to Italy, i'll check what i wrote. If someone can do before, welcome...

achlenov - 6/7/2006 at 16:18

Wow! Great work! Maybe with a couple of illustrations this could be an article for the Journal/Bulletin? I know how difficult it is to translate from the "Ruch", you did a great job making it easy to read!

jlechtanski - 6/8/2006 at 10:18

This is an outstanding translation. It is so much more than Prigara has to say on the subject. Well done.


ameis33 - 6/9/2006 at 14:42

Here a picture stolen from the internet about the DB1 cancel

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ameis33 - 6/9/2006 at 14:45

The DB2 cancel, little bit light (like the previous one), but still nice. Source: Internet

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ameis33 - 6/9/2006 at 14:52

Thank's to jlechtanski, a spectacular folded letter, showing the BW cancel and much more.


1870 (11 May) folded letter from Warsaw to Lyon (14.5), bearing 1866 3k (with 5k background error, Scott # 20b) and 5k (5) tied by 4-ring "BW" cancels, Dworzec Station, Warsaw c.d.s., red Eydkuhnen-Bromberg "Aus Russland Franco" c.d.s (11.5), arced box "Franco", red "P.D." (on 5k stamp), blue Erquelines French entry c.d.s (13.5) and sender's oval, red manuscript "5˝" Prussian credit, Very Fine and most unusual franking.

From the Bojanowicz collection. Picture from mbiauctions, sale december 2005

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ameis33 - 6/9/2006 at 15:02

As we spoke about Bojanowicz and the BW cancel, i can't not to remind a sentence taken from his book about the nr. 1 of Poland


Introduced in 1864 this (NDR! the BW) is the most common of all the railway cancellations used in Poland and is found struck in red only on Poland No. 1 and in black only on Russian stamps.

All this kind of cancels are quite rare and scarce to find in good condition. But looking around (mostly, internet and in some auction houses), it is in effect much more easy to find BW cancels rather than the others. I could post pictures of almost 4-5 letters with this cancel, but noone or at least one with the others. So, i give to the Bojanowicz's sentence this meaning: among this rare cancels, it is the most common.


ameis33 - 6/9/2006 at 15:12

A 10k postal stationary, taken from the Christoph Gaertner stock

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Mikstein Vs. Polański

ameis33 - 6/19/2006 at 15:20

Today i've finally received my copy of the Prigara's book. As we are speaking about records, it tooks just 2 and half month to travel to Italy... I started reading it few weeks ago from the online resouces, but i still have to go deep (this topic still to be continued).

But, i must say, the basic information about this matter come from two polish authors: Mikstein and Polański. Even Prigara took them from there.

Before WWII, Mikstein has been a prolific author. He wrote a volume about postal seals in polish territories in XVIII century (Mikstein, "Pieczęcie pocztowe na ziemniach polski w XVIII wieku 1762-1800"). Take note he has used the word seals, not marks or cancels, as letters were closed using wax seals. This book has been translated in english and it is available at (I can redirect you to the right people if someone could be interested).

He also wrote a second volume (perhaps a sequel of the first?) about postal marks in the Warsaw principate and in the Kingdom of Poland (Mikstein-Rachmanow "Stemple pocztowe księstwa Warszawskiego i Królestwo Polskie 1808-1870", Nakładem czasopisma "Ikaros", Białystok 1938). This volume describe all postal marks used in the prephilatelic period in Poland, but also cancels on Poland nr. 1 and the railways postmarks i'm speaking about.

I don't have information about translation in english or other languages of this book, but it has been completely integrated in the book "Polskie Znaki Pocztowe", ed. 1960, from where i've taken the source of my translation. More than integrated, it has been completely copied. Well, i didn't compare word by word, but i can assure it at least for the chapter i was studying.

But Mikstein it has not been the only author who wrote on the same matter. Another important source of information is certainly the book of Włodimierz Polański "Znaki i marki pocztowe w Polsce w XVIII i XIX wieku (1780-1870)", postal signs and marks in Poland in XVIII and XIX century, published in Poland in 1922.

Both books treats almost the same arguments, but the work of Polański it is based on the study of documents, regulaments, decrets of the postal administration, with many references to these documents, and even some picture of the original in the appendixes. I believe the work of Mikstein has the same bases, but the results are sometime expressed "as is", without the description of the source, i don't know. I prefer much more the exposition of Polański, i find it better arranged, more sistematic and even more reliable.

The original book of Polanski has been written in 55 numbered copies. It has been translated in german in 1938 (? almost). The original book has been reprinted in 1985, and the german edition in 1993. The Prigara's book makes reference to a french edition? which i've never heard, but it could be...

By the way, the National Bibliotec of Warsaw has the original editions of both the three books i've spoken about. I took a look at them just last saturday... So, please, stop telling i go to Poland for ?...

Droga Żelazna Warszawsko-Wiedeńska

ameis33 - 10/14/2006 at 16:35

Brief hystory of the Warszawsko-Wiedeńska railway

The project of a railroad which would have connected Warsaw with the territories under the austrian occupation in the actual south of Poland (Galicia) dates back to 1835. In the original project, the railway’s path would have crossed the border in the Granica station, in the town of Maczki, actually a quartier of Sosnowiec, and would have continued in the austrian territories, passing through Cracow and finally reaching Vienna. For this reason, the railway was called Droga Żelazna Warszawsko-Wiedeńska. The different pieces of the railway have been projected by eng. Stanisław Wysocki

In 1839 the Towarzystwo Akcyjne Drogi Żelaznej Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej corporation was created and in 1840 the works began to construct the first piece of the railway, from Warsaw to Skierniewice. Between the steam traction and the horse towed coaches, the choice fell on the newer steam traction.

The company went bankrupt in 1842 and the works hung. But the 4 july 1843 the kingdom’s government created the new Zarząd Drogi Żelaznej Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej, a new board of directors of the company, and works resumed in 1844. The november of the same year the first piece of the railway, from Warsaw to Pruszkowa, was completed and the 28 november 1844 the first train began to travel. The train was reserved for important people and special guests. It took 26 minutes to reach the destination, 20 minutes for the return. The 14 june 1845 the piece up to Grodzisk Mazowiecki was completed and the railway was opened to the public.

The works went on. The 15 october 1845 the railway reached Skierniewice and Łowicz, the 1 december 1846 Częstochowa and finaly the 1 april 1848 Granica, in the town of Maczki. The whole line had a total lenght of 327,6 Km and 27 stations. It was the first railway in the Kingdom of Poland and, after the construction of the first short piece of the Carskosielskieja railway, the second in all the russian empire (to which the Kingdom of Poland belonged). Unlike the others railways in the russian empire, the track gauge (the distance between the tracks) was 1435 mm, the standard in the majority of the other western european countries and in the modern polish railways, instead of a gauge of 1524 mm adopted in Russia in 1843.

In the first year (1845), the railway transported a total of 143 600 passengers and 143 300 cetnars (the cetnar was a mass measuring unit equivalent to almost 50 Kg) of goods. The whole wagoons park was made by 8 steam locomotives feeded with wood, 58 passengers and 62 freight cars. But just in 1848 the number grew up to 35 steam locomotives, 87 passengers and 312 freight cars.

In the years 1859 and 1862 new connections to the prussian border was opened: from Ząbkowice to the Sosnowiec station and from Łowicz to Aleksandrów Kujawski, which was respectively connected with Katowice and Toruń in the territories under the prussian occupation. In 1866 the connection between Koluszki and Łodz (now Łodz Fabryczna) was built.

The railroad had to undergo to a constant technical modernization, connected to the progress of the railway technique. From 1859 the steam locomotives worked feeded by carbon. In the years from 1860 to 1880 a second track was built from Warsaw to Ząbkowice. In 1890 the number of locomotives was already of 287, with 432 passengers and 8718 freight cars, while the number of transported passengers grew up to 2,5 million and the freight load to 2,7 million tons. Up to 1901, the locomotives was purchased by western european factories. Only after this date they was purchased in Russia, but a different kind of locomotives were delivered for the different track gauge.

Connected to the construction works, to Warsaw in 1845 the impressive building of the Station Wiedeńska (Dworzec Wiedeńska) was built, under italian architect Enrico Marconi's project. The station has not survived to nowadays. In her place, there is actually the Centrum subway stop. In Warsaw was also located the railroad maintenance/repairing workshop (Warsztaty Główne) and in 1875, the technical institute of the Warszawsko-Wiedeńska railway has also been opened.

In the years 1857-64 the railway was leased to a German society. Out of that period it has always remained in Polish hands. In 1912 it was nationalized by the Russian government. After the return to the independence of Poland, it has been attached to the Polish railway net.

Warszawa – Grodzisk Mazowiecki – Żyrardów (Ruda Guzowska) – Skierniewice – Koluszki – Piotrków Trybunalski - Radomsko – Częstochowa – Zawiercie – Ząbkowice Będzińskie – Strzemieszyce Południowe – Granica (Maczki)

Sub braches
Skierniewice – Łowicz
Ząbkowice – Sosnowiec
Koluszki – Łódź Fabryczna

Timetable 1850.jpg - 130kB

ameis33 - 10/14/2006 at 16:49

The history of the Warsaw-Wien railroad in my previous post should answer some questions the first of which is: where exactly was Granica. Granica is not the name of a town, but a place in the old town of Maczki, which nowadays is a quartier of Sosnowiec. Sosnowiec was a strategic place, because it was near to both the austrian and the german border. Just for this reason the geographical location was called the triangle of the three empires (Trójkąta Trzech Cesarzy).
The railway was opened in several steps, and the postal service was also arranged accordling. This is also a reason why there are several railways postmarks (DW, BW, DB1, DB2, etc.). Information how the postal service followed the construction of the railroad can be found in the Prigara's book.
And finally, if you're planning to go to Wien, please consult the timetable...

Gary - 10/15/2006 at 09:00

To bring us closer to the end of the enmpire days for this location...

Baedeker 1914 Vienna to Warsaw

Granitsa, p. 6: From Vienna to Szczakowa (7v). We then cross the Russian frontier to Granitsa. Passports and luggage are fully examined (process similar to that at Wirballen). 6 v to Strzemieszyce.

1915 - Postal Guide - Warsaw - Vienna Railway
Branch of Route 42, Warsaw - Vienna. Branches at Zomkovitsy (p.t.o. at station) 7 v to Strzhemeshitsy (p.o. 1/4 v. away) to Granitsa (p.t.k. at station) 6 v.

From Granitsa to Shchakova, Austria 1 3/4 v.

1915 - Postal Guide - Moscow - Granitsa on Privislinskiya Railways
End of Route 19 via Strezhemeshitsy to Granitsa

1916 - Postal List
Granitsa s located on the Warsaw-Granitsa Line of the Warsaw-Vienna Railway AND on the Ivanograd-Dombrovsk. Line of the Privislinskiya Railways.

Another map

ameis33 - 10/15/2006 at 16:01

What's better than a map?

This map should cover the whole railway net in the Kingdom of Poland (not just there) over the second half of XIX century.
White lines should also be railways.
The map matches with the S1 in the appendix of "Russian railway postmarks" book by Kiryushkin/Robinson.
Of course it's in polish and doesn't show the different goubernia in which the Kingom was subdivided. If someone of you should have a better map, with names in russian, it could be the definitive post.

Let me know if i exagerated with the resolution

PS! Gary, can you give me some explication on the terms in your post?

polonia old.jpg - 409kB

Train post office nr. 6 and D.B cancel

ameis33 - 3/25/2007 at 12:32

Going on speaking about polish postmarks, here is an example of the train post office nr. 6 on the Warszawa-Bydgoszcz railway. The letter has been sent from Pniewo, a little town near Kutno, to Ostrowy, a small town north-east of Warszawa. The stamp has been cancelled with the D.B postmark, with the dot after the first D but not after the second B. The second mark is the EKSPEDYCYA POCZT W WAGONIE postmark, with the 6 inside. Pity this second postmark is not well impressed. The stamp is a 10k, perf. 14 1/2:15. Which issue? I don't know. There aren't elements which could help to identify it, even the year of this letter is not shown anywhere. Does someone of you know some trick?

B17 Fronte.jpg - 90kB

ameis33 - 3/25/2007 at 12:33

... and the detail of the postmarks

B17 Annullo.jpg - 66kB

verny - 3/25/2007 at 17:03

Fantastic thread and very informative - lets see it in the journal.

jlechtanski - 3/25/2007 at 18:28

Here is a 1902 map of Russian Poland that does show gubernias and railroads.

Unfortunately, it does not show the names in Russian.


ameis33 - 5/3/2009 at 16:33

The books of Mikstein and Polański, even if still remain a source of reference, are old and a little bit out of date. In the past months i've finally taken the book of Bojanowicz "Poland nr. 1 and its associated postal history". Despite its title, the book is not just related to the nr. 1 of Poland, but it covers almost all the postal history of the Kingdom of Poland.
The first chapter covers the prephilatelic period, but quickly, not in great detail. Then it starts a little review of russian stamps used in the Kingdom. Further on, the nr. 1 of Poland. It is described the project, printing, variety, forgeries, the plating (i didn't know the nr. 1 could be plated). The final chapters describes cancels, postmarks, the Warsaw post office and the railways postmarks.
The original version of the book is in english, so available even without my translations.
I think the picture below, better than all my words, is the best summary of all this chapter.
PS! Bojanowicz was a Rossica member and some of his articles can also be found on the Rossica journal.

Mappa Ambulanti.jpg - 114kB

to BW or not to BW?

ameis33 - 5/3/2009 at 16:41

I've spent almost one an half month out of Italy (and BTW, tomorrow i'm going to Kharkow...), but coming back, i've found this nice (? depends how you look it...) stamp.
Standing to Mikstein "... The cancel with the letters BW used in the Warszawa station can still be found in 1874, but from the beginnings of 1874 the letters BW in the center were erased on order of the Russian postal authority..."
I've followed several letters with this particular 4 ring cancel without any inscription, but they flew all away... so i'd to please myself with a loose stamp...
Paper is horizontally laid, as you could see by the back light scan. In the scan there are light area... I think it's the watermark. Perforation is 14 1/2:15. The stamp is from the fifth issue. Catalog says: "These stamps fade in water"... I see, that's why i looked for a letter...
Looking the stamp near the light, i can see bright spots on the surface... I don't have a lot of other russian stamps to compare, could it be the metallic lustre?

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F10 Retro CL.jpg - 77kB

jlechtanski - 5/5/2009 at 16:44

The flaking ink makes it hard to see the watermark.

What is the reference to "metallic lustre"?

ameis33 - 5/6/2009 at 15:41

Well, nothing special to be honest. The last post was originally posted times ago, even if it has gone lost. I just restored it...
If i'm not wrong there was a topic opened on the "metallic lustre"... I remember the words of Greg: i can't tell you what it is, but if you put several stamps one near the other, you'll see the ones with metallic lustre... I don't have several stamps, but on this, seen near the light, you can see some bright spots, and my question was: is this index of metallic lustre in the ink?