On state-owned and private collections of postcards
Postcards, the origins of which go back to the 1870s, became hugely popular at the turn of the centuries as a widely available, inexpensive and visually attractive means of disseminating information. This was also the time when the first private collections were built up. The biggest Polish collection, which belonged to Stanisław Rzeźniecki, comes from a slightly later period (fifty thousand items from it are now kept at the Mikołaj Kopernik University Library in Toruń). The interest in postcards was rekindled in the 1960s. An important role in the studies of postcards was played by an exhibition organised in 1987 at the National Museum in Wrocław under the title “The world in the 10×14 format.” The present article focuses on two important collections: one state-owned collection – at the National Library in Warsaw, and one private collection – belonging to a well-known post- card collector, Bohdan Dunin-Wilczyński. The postcard collection in the iconography department of the National Library now has over 100 thousand items, many of which are the so-called mandatory copies from the Social Life Documentation Unit. Bohdan Dunin-Wilczyński’s collection – comparable in size to that of the National Library – is quite different. It is based on family collections, gradually compiled over 45 years. Apart from Marek Sosenko, Robert Kreczmański or Jerzy Zieliński, Dunin-Wilczyński is one of the few “total” collectors in Poland, a man of very diverse interests and specialisations, made more and more specific over the years. This collection of over 100 thousand items is dominated by postcards dated before 1939. The biggest set – of about 20 thousand items – comprises “topographic” cards that depict not only Europe but also other continents, though predominant themes are Polish (about 14 thousand cards issued before WWII). The set of cards with reproductions of Polish paintings numbers about 15 thousand items.