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The Things of Warsaw / Room of Postcards

Album do pocztówek, AF 29192 [1]

Album bound in blue linen with white eagle, twenty-four sheets and incisions for inserting postcards

The growing popularity of postcards at the turn of the 20th century as well as international exhibitions of postcards created an impulse for starting postcard collections. Hence the need arose to release special albums for the sake of storing and viewing small cards roughly uniform in size. The already existing albums for photographs on paperboard were not fit for that purpose. Therefore, a convenient system of incisions was implemented
on paperboard pages to inserting postcards, and later also photographic prints on thinner paper. The background of exhibited postcards was also adorned – overprints in various colours were used, featuring mostly plant motifs: maple leaves (as in the presented album), lilies and tiny flowers in bouquets and garlands.

Much attention was paid to album covers, striving for the most elaborate bindings that responded to fashion, tastes and wealth of clients. A variety of materials were in use: colour cardboard, paperboard, leather, paper imitation of leather, canvas, velvet. Painted motifs included coats of arms, vistas, geometrical and floral decorations. Expensive, artful and exquisite album covers incorporated mother of pearl, bone (including ivory), filigree, wood
in different colours as well as metal, silver or gilded onlays. They were often complemented with fittings on the edges and a decorative buckle as well as plates with monograms, coats of arms or dedications. Art Deco bindings are particularly beautiful, adorned with an abundance of decorations in the form of figural scenes as well as animal and floral patterns.

During the period of Partitions – when the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth territory was divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria in the course of three Partitions that took place between 1772 and 1795 – Poland was also replete with albums bearing patriotic motifs, especially after 1905, in the aftermath of the tide of revolutionary and independence movements. Produced both outside the borders of the Russian Empire and in the Kingdom of Poland established after the Congress of Vienna (1815), they were often distributed illicitly. The commissioners or publishers of postcards and albums were often multi-trade companies. Especially at the beginning of the century, postcards were sold at stationery stores, bookshops and photographic ateliers. As for the presented album, it is unknown whether the company J. Wadowski from Warsaw, located at 121 Marszałkowska Street, was the album’s publisher or merely the seller. During that period, shops were subjected to frequent controls during which “unlawful” materials, such as postcards with the image of General Tadeusz Kościuszko (1746–1817, one of the major Polish national heroes, leader of the uprising against Russia and Prussia in 1794, the so-called Kościuszko Insurrection), were confiscated. The owners were forced to pay high fines or even imprisoned, and their shops were closed. During World War I (1914–1918), after Russians had left in August 1915 and the city was seized by Germans, during a rapprochement in German-Polish relations, it became allowed to pursue many hitherto forbidden undertakings, such as events, monuments, changes to street names, as well as releasing publications of patriotic character. The featured album with an eagle on the cover is a perfect representation of that era full of hope for regaining the country’s independence.

Album bound in blue linen with white eagle, twenty-four sheets and incisions for inserting postcards
WARSAW; C. 1914
AF 29192
38 × 21 × 1,5 CM

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