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The Things of Warsaw / Room of Souvenirs

Papierośnica z widokiem Trasy W-Z, MHW 29335

Cigarette case with a view of the W-Z (East-West) Route

The cigarette case with a view of the the W-Z Route was produced in the 1950s. It is made of silver and features a trademark of Cepelia – popular name derived from the abbreviation CPLiA of the Centre for Folk and Artistic Industry. Established in 1949, the state-run institution engaged in broadly understood promotional activities focused on folk art and handicraft. It united workshops that cultivated traditional handicraft techniques. It was also supposed to serve as a means to control small-scale handicraft workshops and ensure that their products conformed ideologically to the Socialist propaganda.

This aspect seemed important especially with regard to souvenir production, which formed an important branch of Cepelia’s operations. Cepelia’s souvenirs enjoyed high renown: jewellery, knick-knacks, desk and tobacco accessories. Given the then widespread fashion for smoking tobacco, cigarette cases, ashtrays and matchbox holders were commonly used and regarded as elegant gifts.

The cigarette case is adorned with an engraved view of the W-Z Route, the first postwar transport infrastructure project on such a scale. It was ceremonially launched on 22 July 1949 – the date of the most important holiday of People’s Poland. The thoroughfare connected the eastern and western fringes of the city. An innovative urban planning solution consisted in hiding a section of the thoroughfare in a tunnel underneath Krakowskie Przedmieście Street as well as Senatorska and Miodowa Streets. The road and tram tunnel as well as a pedestrian crossing combined with an escalator are still adorned with Socialist Realist decorations.

The Room of Souvenirs features office, tobacco and toilet accessories with the images of the W-Z Route. The motif testified to the technological potential of the new political regime and reflected the dynamic development of the Polish capital, as well as the enthusiasm with which Warsaw residents welcomed the reconstruction of their city. All of the items portray the entrance to the tunnel along the thoroughfare, with a fragment of Krakowskie Przedmieście Street and the King Sigismund III Vasa Column visible above. Such representations served an ideological goal of adding the new transport thoroughfare to the canon of Warsaw landmarks. The symbolic framing of modernity represented in the cigarette case is indeed charmingly expressive, but it may also appear slightly naive. The tram in the tunnel of the W-Z Route stands across the direction of traffic because such arrangement made it possible to fully showcase the vehicle. Realistic representation yielded priority to the clarity of the message.

Cigarette case with a view of the W-Z (east-west) route
MHW 29335
9,9 × 5,7 × 1,2 CM

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