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«Dr. Roman Babut President, the Polish Club of Olympic and Sports Philately “THE OLYMPIAN” of the Polish Philatelist Union Vice-chairman, the ...»

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A Polish Olympic story

in the Eternal City

“ROME 1960”

Dr. Roman Babut

President, the Polish Club of Olympic and Sports Philately


of the Polish Philatelist Union

Vice-chairman, the Olympic Collector’s Club

of the Polish Olympic Committee

Warsaw, July/December 2010



1.1. The Olympic Fund memorabilia

1.2. The POC Fund Vignette 1960

1.3. Vignettes of the State Enterprise “SPORTS LOTTO”

1.4. Vignette of the State Tourist Enterprise “SPORTS TOURIST”


2.1. Design and concept of the Olympic postage stamps

2.2. Printing sheets and issue numbers

2.3. Misprinting

2.4. First Day of Issue – 15 June 1960


3.1. A Polish dream became the true

3.2. The Polish athletic “WUNDERTEAM” - a philatelic chronicle

3.3. The schoolboys of “papa” Feliks Stamm

3.4. The Polish weights on the Olympic podium



4.1. The Games Opening Day, 25 August 1960

4.2. Raising Olympic funds by the Polish Philatelists Union

4.3. The Olympic Year and 100 anniversary of the stamp POLSKA 1





th When thinking of 50 anniversary of any event one should raise a question – what was that a time 50 years ago? and what is left in my memory if I was witnessing this great event of the Games of XVII Olympiad in Rome? The 1960 was a year of very high tension in the Cold War between giants of this world USA and USSR (for younger readers to remind: USSR = Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics = a communist country with one of the most inhuman regimes in a history of the human being). Shortly after the Rome’s friendly Olympic atmosphere, a US navy started invasion (April 1961) and blockade of the Pig’s Bay after installation of Soviet ballistic missiles at a territory of Cuba and, in answer, Soviets erected the Berlin Wall (August 1961). The both conflicts were like sparks in a factory of explosives and a new global war was hanging in air. This was also time when Beatles has opened a new history of music.

In a time of the Games in Rome, August 25 – September 11, 1960, I was a teenager and I was on my summer holiday as a scout in a deep forest at the Mazurian Lakes, the North-Eastern Poland. In fact it was my Olympic lesson “number one”. Only way of information for us was a loudspeaker hanging high on the tree called by Polish people “barker”. Information, mostly about successes of a socialist Poland, was broadcasted from local radio centre from early morning till an evening silence. But one day..., suddenly, we heard a strange, sounding from far away, broadcasting of a sports event. It was from the Olympic Games in Rome. Next days we were obligatory gathered by our instructors together and seated around tree with the “barker”. In the same time I was a member of a youth philatelic circle in a basic school, very popular activity in those miserable times in Poland. After holiday, I went to my philatelic guardian and told him that I would like to collect Olympic and sports stamps. With his help I prepared my first exhibit titled “THE PEACE RACE WARSAW-PRAGUE-BERLIN” and displayed at the European Sports Stamp Exhibition “WROCŁAW 1963” organised on an occasion of the European Championships in Men’s Basketball. Now, I could say that for more than 50 years I have devoted my philatelic collecting to OLYMPICS and SPORT, and nothing else, as a stamp exhibitor. So, in this way the Olympic Games in Rome have influenced my philatelic life.

For an Olympic and Sports Philately beginnings of sixties of the past century were very significant and important. Very positive Olympic atmosphere after Rome’s Games resulted in grounding of several national and international clubs/organizations of Sports and Olympic Philately. On the March 12, 1962, the Polish Club of Olympic and Sports Philately “THE OLYMPIAN” was founded as one of the first clubs in the world, after Gruppo Sport CIFT – Italy (1957). Next, appeared OLYMPSPORT in ex-Czechoslovakia, Sports Philatelists International – USA,, IMOS – in the Federal Republic of Germany (1965).

In Poland, directly after difficult years of recovering from loses of the World War II, there were great expectations from the Polish Olympic team going to Rome, mostly from the athletic and boxing teams. All eyes of a Polish public were turned on the Polish “wunderteam” and the boxers from school of “papa” Stamm. Some of athletes, like Zdzisław Krzyszkowiak - 4.place in Melbourne and Gold in Rome, achieved in Rome their best life Olympic result in a sports career, others like Józef Szmidt began fantastic career with Gold in Rome and next Gold in Tokyo. Some finished career in the Olympic Games like E. Krzesińska after winning Gold in Melbourne and Silver in Rome.

In 1960, Poczta Polska for the second time in a history issued stamps with the Olympic theme.

This article, Chapters 1-5, is a philatelic story about the participation of the Polish Olympians in the Olympic Games of XVII Olympiad in Rome in 1960, was originally written for, translated into Italian and published in the Journal of the UICOS, Unione Italiana Collezionisti Olimpici e Sportivi. The article is dedicated also to a historical FRIENDSHIP between Poland and Italy confirmed not only in the Polish national anthem, but also in human and Olympic collectors, day to day, relationships. The Chapter 6 is just a report on the Olympic festivities in Warsaw and is an example how Olympic philately can also be present in a life of the Olympic Family.


1.1. The Olympic Fund memorabilia Experiences with collecting of funds for participation of the Polish Olympic Team have a long tradition since 1921 since a first “OLYMPIC WEEK” was organized in Poland. As very first Polish Olympic memorabilia were vignettes issued in 1923 to gather funds for the first ever participation of the Olympic team under a WhiteRed flag in Chamonix and Paris 1924. Year 1960 was a last year of direct collecting of funds by the Polish Olympic Committee. This task was transferred to sports business organisation and later also to the Poczta Polska (read: Polish philatelists). Again, main action was addressing Poles living abroad to collect hard currency (US dollars, Deutsche Marks, French or Suisse Francs, and other limited in Poland currency). A porcelain medal was sent in return to thank for a financial contribution over 200 US dollars. This medal is a first one which opens a collection of official medals of the Polish Olympic Committee. A quantity of distributed medal is unknown but not too many donators paid 200 dollars. Today, the medal is very rare and desirable item for Olympic collectors.

Fig. 1 The medal of the Polish Olympic Committee, made of porcelain ( 95 mm diameter), commemorating the Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley and the Games of the XVII Olympic Games in Rome 1960. On the reverse text: “CITIUS, ALTIUS, FORTIUS * THE POLISH OLYMPIC FUND”

1.2. The POC Fund Vignette 1960 A history of official POC’c vignettes starts in 1923 during an “OLYMPIC WEEK” when first participation of the Polish Olympic Team was promoted and funds gathered among the Polish society. A motto of the vignettes with three denominations was: “POLAND FOR THE OLYMPIAD”. In 1960 the Committee issued the last official vignette for the Olympic Fund with a new logo of the POC.

–  –  –


1.3. Vignettes of the State Enterprise “SPORTS LOTTO” Due to changes in financing of sport and its institutions in Poland, since 1959, two new institutions (regardless a state budget) were responsible for gathering of funding for the POC, namely a national lottery “SPORTS LOTTO” and a tourist organisation “SPORTS TOURIST”.

In 1959 “Sports Lotto” used two vignettes which were obligatory to buy when placing a numerical or football lotto coupon in collecting points. A basic single game was charged 2 złoty but players who send multiplication of 5 coupons could get triangle-shaped vignettes of 10 zł. It was quite popular to use later the vignettes as a postage stamps in order “to recover” money.

Fig.3 The vignettes with denomination 2 zloty and 10 złoty issued by ”Sports Lotto”.

A misuse of vignettes against the Poczta Polska on a domestic letter An extremely interesting story is related to the 2 złoty miniature vignette designed by the famous Polish engraver Czesław Słania which presents a ferro-net concrete structured sculpture “THE RUNNERS” designed by prof. Andrzej Roman. The sculpture was placed in a front of the entrance to the 100,000 visitors stadium named “Xth Anniversary Stadium” (anniversary of establishing the communist regime in Poland) and built of brick rubbles and waste collected from ruins of Warsaw after withdrawal of Nazi German “engineers” and bloody military troops which bombed, blow up with dynamite and fired out 90 percent of buildings in Warsaw in the end of 1944 and beginning of 1945.

In 2009, the stadium was completely demolished and rubbles removed. Today, the place is a largest construction site in Europe – a new “NATIONAL STADIUM” is under construction for the European Championships in Football EURO 2012. To my surprise, when heavy bulldoggers disappeared from the site I saw the sculpture of runners standing on its place (well protected) and will again decorate the main entrance on the opening day of the EURO 2012.

1.4. Vignette of the State Tourist Enterprise “SPORTS TOURIST” In beginnings of sixties the communist regime soften passport restrictions on travelling abroad and established an enterprise “SPORTS TOURIST” which was an organizer of group travels abroad (usually only a part of participants returned from travels to democratic countries). In 1960 the office organised excursions to Rome with tickets to the Olympic events. A “voluntary” donation of 100 złoty for the Olympic Fund was charged additionally. For this purpose, the 1956 POC’s vignettes “The boxers” of denomination 10 zł were overprinted with a violet cachet stamp “100 zł”.

–  –  –

2.1. Design and concept of the Olympic postage stamps Before the Olympic Games in Rome 1960, the Polish Olympic Team participated seven times in Olympics since

1924. After a great success of the first Olympic set of stamps for Melbourne 1956, after suggestions of the Polish Olympic Committee and renomous Polish philatelist the POCZTA POLSKA issued eight stamps constituting symbolically two stadiums, the pre-war stadium with denomination 60 groszy each stamp and recent one, after the WW II with the face value 2 złoty 50 groszy. The five white stadium tracks symbolise five Olympic rings. The Olympic flame represents hope of Poland for great successes in Rome which really came true. To underline the sports discipline, the silhouettes of athletes (in white colour) are dry embossed making the 3D impression.

Fig.5 The basic form of the stamp issue of POCZTA POLSKA for the Olympic Games of XVII Olympiad in Rome 1960 Probably, unintentionally the 60 groszy block allows describing a tragic history of the Polish sport during the WWII. On 21 June 1940, Tomasz Stankiewicz a member of the Silver cycling team Paris 1924 and Janusz Kusociński Gold medallist from Los Angeles 1932, adversary of Pavlo Nurmi, were shot down by the German Gestapo butchers in the Kampinos Forest, about 25 km far from Warsaw. J.Kusociński was a homeland defender during the 1939 September’s Campaign against IIIrd Reich aggression on Poland and a member of the underground Polish Army. He was captured and tortured by the Gestapo in the prison named “PAWIAK” in Warsaw. T.Stankiewicz was captured directly on a Warsaw’s street and brought directly in the same transport together with Kusociński to the place of murder in the Kampinos Forest.

The single stamps of the series depict a history of the Polish Olympic successes before 1960.

Paris 1924, July 27 – the Silver Medal for the bicycle race 4000 meter team pursuit – the team Tomasz Stankiewicz, Jan Łazarski, Franciszek Szymczyk and Józef Lange. First, ever medal for the Olympic team of Poland.

On the same day, the closing day of the Games, a rider Adam Królikiewicz with a horse Picadore won the Bronze Medal in the individual horse jumping.


–  –  –

2.2. Printing sheets and issue numbers The ROME 1960 stamps were designed by Stefan Małecki and printed in two-colour offset technology. The printing sheet of each denomination consists of 60 stamps (6x10), i.e. allowing separation of 15 “stadiums”.

Such a sheet arrangement allows forming various combinations of pairs, strips and blocks of four.

–  –  –

The stamps were produced perforated (1.200.000 stamps of each denomination) and imperforated (60 gr - 10.092.000 stamps, 2,50 zł – 10.650.000 stamps).

At a top margin of each printing sheet the title of the issue “XVII OLYMPIC GAMES – ROME 1960” appeared for the first time on issues of the Poczta Polska. On few sheets printing markings were found which were usually cut off from other sheets in production process of stamps.

For practical purposes first sheet in the package was stamped with the text in green: “NAME. Stamps “OLYMPIAD ROME 1960” on the right vertical margin. Probably only single complete vertical strip with this stamp has survived.

7 Fig.8 The name of series printed on the right margin of the first sheet in a postal distribution package

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