Between magical bookshelves full of books, magazines, and documents, a secret history of our Association’s Hunting Library is hidden.
First mentions about the Library are scarce. We know it existed before the war. Entries of the first pre-war statutes of 1923 and 1926 (in the division Objectives and Measures, Paragraph 4, Item E) talk about the need to establish libraries and museums. During the occupation, underground meetings of the Supreme Hunting Council took place in various spots. The first such meeting was held on Christmas Eve in 1939. Already, in 1943, special commissions had begun their work, including a commission appointed to assess losses at the museum/library on Nowy Świat Street in Warsaw.
Right after the war, pursuant to the decree of 14 April 1946 (“On Libraries”), the machinery that provided the grounds for public libraries in Poland was set in motion in the whole country. The activity report of the Executive Committee of the PHA for the period from 1 November 1945 to 24 March 1946 contains information on the appointment of ten problem commissions. One of them—the Museum Stock-Taking Commission (chaired by M. M. Tchorznicki)—began to stock-take the scarce, but very valuable, assets of the PHA in the form of the collection of medals, books, magazines, and trophies. The Commission addressed the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Reforms to return trophies found in mansions and on state property to the Museum of Hunting. The Museum Section addressed all fellow hunters in Łowiec Polski to help create the Museum of Hunting through acquisition of old hunting firearms, paintings, serigraphs; porcelain and glass with hunting scenes; books and publications on hunting in Polish and in foreign languages; medals, badges, and other items characterising hunting life and customs; and, finally, hunting trophies. They asked that donated items be sent, along with their dates and places of acquisition, to the Museum Section of the PHA at Miedziana 4a/4. The Section offered to return the costs of packaging and postage to donors, with gratitude. Łowiec Polski No 6 of 1947 announced the opening of the rebuilt PHA headquarters at Nowy Świat Street 35. A ceremony took place on 25 October 1947 at 10:45. On 4 December, at the same address, another venue for the social meetings of PHA members was opened. Meetings were to take place every Thursday at 5 p.m. The remnants of the saved collection of books were made available to fellow hunters. The establishment of the museum, including the collection of hunting literature, was marked by donations from private collections, and later by purchases from secondhand bookstores. The purchase that collected the largest number of rare prints devoted to hunting was the purchase of Józef Wł. Kobylański’s collection. According to the Resolution of the Supreme Hunting Council of 24 April 1949, Item 3c, parts of this collection were bought for PLZ 500,000. Original bills issued by J.W. Kobylański were preserved. A large part of the collection was acquired by way of purchases in secondhand bookstores and flea markets, of which we are informed by manually-prepared lists of purchased books, along with prices. On 5 November 1949, T. Madeyski donated a complete collection of Łowiec Galicyjski/Małopolski annals, which were then registered and included in the collection.
The Marshal of Poland, Michał Rola Żymierski, also donated his collections to the library. Two cover notes and a list of titles were preserved: one from 24 September 1948, containing 58 books, and one from 4 November 1949, containing 45 books (see gallery).
Between 24 November and 11 December 1949, the rooms at the PHA headquarters (a common room of the museum and the library) hosted a beautiful collection of paintings belonging to one of its members, Włodzimierz Korsak. Some paintings, and a folder with drawings, were donated to the library. An enumeration of over 500 books, inherited from Włodzimierz Puchalski, has remained in the registry books. Unfortunately, the collection has not found its way to the library in full. Despite the significant expense of repairs and organisation by the Association, the purchase of missing books and magazines was declared a priority. Numerous lists of sought-after and missing items have been preserved.
With the donation of museum collections, including several dozen books, to the newly-opened Museum of Hunting and Equestrianism in Łazienki Park in Warsaw, old cabinets were renovated and supplemented by display cases. Everything was painted black. In this form, the library has made it into modern times.
The core of the collection is represented by a gigantic collection of pre-war books; a large, albeit incomplete, collection of Polish hunting magazines; and hunting calendars, statutes, regulations, and reports. Rare prints include a little fragmented set of “Kobylański’s Envelopes” with documents. Some of them contain manuscripts of books by well-known hunting writers. A giant collection of German magazines (several hundred tomes) with gorgeous artwork from the era stands out as a notable exception.
Currently, the library is undertaking the work of writing down and describing the entire collection of books, as well as the digitalisation of most books, brochures, and magazines to make them available in electronic versions. A database containing keywords (second phase) is being created. This will allow for the browsing of books of interest, or for a specific title of an article.
Due to the limited number of materials concerning the history of the library, and the lack of iconographic materials of the headquarters from 1940s and 1950s, we are kindly asking that the public make such materials available to us by sending them to the address of the headquarters of the Executive Board of the PHA, with the annotation “LIBRARY.”