Polish Exile Mail in Great Britain 1939-1949
It is rare to find a book about stamps which has just the right combination of being a catalogue and a history book. But when the friendly folk at Barefoot send me the book “Polish Exile Mail in Great Britain 1939-1949″ I very soon discovered this was one of those books.
Most books about stamps tend to be either a catalogue (and rightly so in most cases when they are advertised as catalogues of course) or a history book, with stamps included. This book however is quite different from most books about stamps I have. It has a series of chapters which each on their own could have been small separate books, but which combined into this one book gives a very thorough history of the Polish postal services in exile during the Second World war and the related postal services of the Polish armed forces.
The book comes with series and series of stamps, cancellations, stationary, listings of camps, dates, addresses (like the secret postal boxes used), censorship information, official documentation, anything to make it possible for the serious collector of this particular field within the postal history to discover anything about it.
The book has one major issue, an issue I have with all of the books produced by Barefoot: except for the cover (and the back) the book completely lacks in colour. That is not so problematic, although a small colour section with just the stamps for instance would have been nice, but what is troublesome is the quality of the reproduction of the postal pieces in the book. The fact that it is all in B/W is understandable, given the cost of colour, but even the B/W reproductions are not really up to standard, all the illustrations look like they were previously Xeroxed and only then digitized to be included by the layout department in the book.
Given the detailed information of this particular part of history in this book the book is not just interesting to stamp collectors, but also to people interested in the Polish armed forces in the Second World War. All the camps, military formations and a lot more are included in the book. Take for instance the chapter about the Polish navy and the merchant shipping. This chapter includes page after page of Polish naval ships, with short histories of each ship. Only then does the chapter give information about the Polish naval postal arrangements. The same goes for the merchant shipping. Not only does the book tell the story of the military services, the exile community and the Polish Resettlement Corps also got the attention of the author and so they each get their own chapters.
Barefoot produced a beautiful book which is still readily available from them. You can find the book at http://www.jbarefoot.co.uk/stock.htm?item=25
Here are the details: “Polish Exile Mail in Great Britain 1939-1949″ by George Kay & Ron Negus, published by J. Barefoot Ltd. in 1999. Printed in English, 250 pages, ISBN 0 906845 52 1. The current prince is 20.00 GBP.
Some examples pages of the book are below: