Like at the formation of any collection, in bibliophilately there also occur unusual discoveries, interesting observations, exciting searches for thematic rarities, and even surprises brought about by a rich diversity of formal and graphic solutions in the philatelic material. Among the most extraordinary discoveries related with my subject I count "The Days of Book" organized in the camp for Polish prisoners of war on 29 August - 4 September 1943; and the existence of a village bearing the unique name Książki (Books). One day, at the very beginning of the formation of my collection, I became intrigued by a piece of paper brought by a philatelist to an exchange meeting. After taking a closer look it turned out to be an order slip for a borrowed book, with a mysterious stamp of surcharge of an unknown "Post DB. OF. IIC." From the preliminary information I found out that the mysterious mail service worked in the camp for Polish prisoners of war in Woldenberg (now Dobiegniew in West Pomerania). But where did the library and the stamp of surcharge come from? There were many other questions. It took a lot of time and asking expert philatelists, as well as browsing through literature, to solve the matter.
On the premises of the camp which occupied 25 hectares and gathered about 7000 soldiers German camp authorities gave in 1941 the permission to issue stamps for internal mail service organized by Polish officers. This service functioned from 7 May 1942 to 25 January 1945. In the camp there were issued, manually and using a typographic method, the stamps for the internal letter circulation, as well as blocks of stamps, self-contained covers (postcards); also, occasional postmarks were used. Cultural and Educational Commission along with a Library Council were appointed. This Council organized an exhibition for the 400th anniversary of Polish book, as part of "The Days of Book." To honour the exhibition an occasional postmark "DAYS OF BOOK" was prepared, including exchangeable dates from 29 August to 4 September 1943. Occasional postcards were issued, and even - as I learned several years later - invitation cards were printed. Editions of stamps and postcards were from several hundred to three thousand specimens. Obtaining those rarities, which are the pride of my collection, took many years and every time it caused a consistent raising of adrenaline known probably only to eminent sportsmen.
Among the extraordinary discoveries I count also the village named Książki, i.e. Books. Its name, in fact, is not derived from a book but rather from Polish ksiądz (a priest) or księżna (a princess); but the local post office uses a stamping machine with the inscription "Książki." The interesting history of the village tells us that in the period when it belonged to Poland it was called Xiążken, Ksionsken and Książki; and in the period of German rule it was called Hohenkirch. The most difficult to get was the postmark with the name "Książki" from the interwar period, particularly after 1920 when Pomerania regained independence.
Many interesting observations come to mind after the analysis of philatelic material I have defined as "the stamp library." By this term I mean stamps on which title pages or frontispieces of books are reproduced. Thanks to them, we can recognize a given volume, and even carry out an analysis with regard to the time of edition and its publisher, condition and other matters connected with a book. Although the present-day stamp library isn't yet worthy of the age still it is universal, which means that it includes books from many fields. There are "sacred books" such as the Bible and Koran, outstanding and widely known literary works such as Don Quixote by Cervantes, literature represented by Jan Kochanowski's Chess and Luis de Camoens' Lusiads. There are historical works concerning the history of Bulgarians and Cyprus, and of Albania by Castriot Skandenberg. Works on medicine are represented by books on tuberculosis and fight against it. Political books make an extensive section, from The Book of Empire by Francis Joseph through the works by Marks and Lenin, to The Green Book by Muammar Quaddafi. Our library contains also primers and dictionaries, and besides that such cimelia as the Ebers papyrus or manuscript of Maya Indians.
Stamps with reproductions of title pages encourage a bibliophile to become interested in a volume, and even to learn its history or to find further information about an author. This was the case with the series of stamps issued in 1924 by Post of Portugal and devoted to the author of national epic Luis Camoens. Five stamps from this long series present the cover of the first edition of Lusiads from 1572. The book was published in Lisbon, in the printing house of Antonio Gocaluez, which one can find out while reading a magnification of a stamp. But really intriguing are the other stamps showing important events of Camoens' life. Curiosity induced me to take an interest in both the work and its author.
The similar case was with the stamps from a tiny Pitcairn Island, on which the Bible was presented. They led to a fascinating story about the sailing ship Bounty and its crew of mutineers, and about the island lying near Tahiti and discovered by Major Pitcairn's son. History of the Bible also required literary search.
Exciting search accompanied stamps issued on the occasion of book fairs, particularly international fairs in cities which have centuries-old tradition in this field. I gained many interesting experiences while looking for a large number of stamps issued in the International Book Year organized under the patronage of UNESCO in 1972. Post offices of many countries, including exotic ones, issued multi-stamp series, as well as other philatelic values.
Along with the development and expansion of the collection bibliophilately becomes more and more interesting intellectual adventure that has synergic qualities because it not only connects bibliophily and philately, thus ensuring the co-operation of these two processes, but also enhances them in both emotional and creative way.