Polar Salon

6th International Polar Philatelic Exhibition Liberec - October 2022 

The Polar Salon is an international “worldwide” polar philatelic exhibition that takes place in various parts of the world every three years, mostly as part of national or international exhibitions.

The organising Committee of European Stamp Exhibition LIBEREC 2022, z.s. together with the clubs of polar collectors decided to organize the 6th International Polar Salon in Liberec in October 2022.

What is a polar salon?

Polar philately consists of philatelic material with a polar (Arctic and Antarctic) character. It is an organized international philatelic activity since the mid-1950s. At the exhibition it was possible to see materials from this area, which is interesting not only for those who deal with it, but also for those who want to learn more about polar history. Both parts, the North and South Poles and their surroundings, may seem at first glance unattractive to those who do not know their history. But the opposite is true. Polar philately includes expeditions of all kinds, parts of aerophilately and military postal history, thematics, ie polar oriented subjects or geographics, ie subjects from traditional polar places. Visitors could see exhibits from these five main categories in a wide range from the earliest postal documents to interesting current presentations of polar topics. It was a unique opportunity to see extraordinary polar materials at one place.

What is the connection between the “Polar Salon” exhibition and the countries where the exhibition is held?

International polar philatelic exhibitions are held regularly in various countries, usually in countries with a strong polar expeditionary history and a tradition of polar and collecting activities, such as France, Germany, Monaco and Denmark.

But we also have important collectors of polar philately. In addition, the Czech Republic has been making considerable efforts in the field of polar research for decades through the scientific activities of the Czech Antarctic Research Infrastructure, which also includes its own polar stations – on the coast of James Ross Island there is Johann Gregor Mendel station, on Nelson Island there is planned the construction of a new research station CZ * ECO Nelson on the place of original station. They are part of the Center for Polar Ecology.

What were the highlights of the exhibition?

The Polar Salon presented polar philatelic exhibits of extraordinary significance comparable to the most interesting items that occur in general philately. Unique materials was exhibited, such as the first letters from the Antarctic region, where scientific research was part of the expeditions of seal hunters and research expeditions from the early 19th century, such as the Ross Antarctic Expedition. You could see rare documents from the Belgian Antarctic Expedition and its first planned wintering in Antarctica (late 19th century). You could find complete materials documenting the first French, German, British, Swedish and Scottish Antarctic expeditions (early 20th century). The oldest known philatelic material from Greenland (18th century) or material showing the oldest transit of the Northwest Passage (in the middle of the 19th century) was also interesting. However, there were also interesting exhibits with more modern material.

Why is polar philately so fascinating and what attracts people to it?

That is a good question. One category of this material is described as “archival”. These are items full of history that you could expect in museums and archives as an important historical artifact. The fascination with this material gives it appeal beyond what can be found in their basic postal nature. But even modern polar philatelic material has an added touch of adventure and the secrets of the polar regions. Perhaps the very demanding environment of the polar regions evokes a feeling of physical and emotional danger in someone. More than 100 years ago, Robert E. Peary, an explorer and first at the North Pole, replied to the question of why he was continuing his research in the Arctic, that he had signed a contract with the “Arctic Fever.” The polar philatelic material is also interesting because almost no items have been cataloged and therefore a large amount of information is difficult to access for the general public. In addition to the existing unique types of materials, new discoveries are made every year (especially the postal history from the early polar expeditions). In some cases, some polar expeditions would be completely unknown today without this philatelic material. Just as it is difficult to live in the polar regions, so it is difficult to find most of the historical philatelic material. And this may make polar philately so attractive to all.

More information is available on the Liberec 2022 website:

History of Antarctic Exploration

History of Arctic Exploration