Žilina delivers mail history

OTTO Gáťa, 69, has been collecting stamps and mail artefacts for over 40 years. His collection has been exhibited on almost all continents, and the collector has received several awards. In 1981 he built a small postal museum in the village of Plevník, near Žilina, which is open to the public.
Apart from stamps, seals, and old letters, Gáťa's collection consists of various objects used by postal workers - mailboxes, letter and package scales, uniforms, telegraph machines, inkpots, signboards, and even post pistols.


GÁŤA, a real mailman.
photo: Miloš Skalický

OTTO Gáťa, 69, has been collecting stamps and mail artefacts for over 40 years. His collection has been exhibited on almost all continents, and the collector has received several awards. In 1981 he built a small postal museum in the village of Plevník, near Žilina, which is open to the public.

Apart from stamps, seals, and old letters, Gáťa's collection consists of various objects used by postal workers - mailboxes, letter and package scales, uniforms, telegraph machines, inkpots, signboards, and even post pistols.

"I am interested only in artefacts from our territory, especially in those coming from the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire," he said. The object he values the most is a postage stamp from Trnava from 1751.

Gáťa inherited the collector's hobby from his parents. "My father was a stamp collector and my mother gathered metal signboards. I was already collecting stamps in the first year of elementary school. At that time I really liked mail carriages on the pictures," Gáťa said.

The decision to collect mail objects came in 1961, when painter Martin Benka gave him an old Christmas card. From then on, Gáťa became a regular visitor to bazaars and antique stores across Slovakia, buying everything that concerned mail. He used to correspond with collectors from all around Europe. "There were times when I wrote 20 letters to them a day," he said.

"It was quite difficult to obtain such objects because they were recorded as inventory and when a post office closed down, they had to be returned. Many nice things were irretrievably taken out of the country. I was often sorry that I lacked the necessary finances to save them for our region. For example, we don't have one single mail carriage in Slovakia," he explained, adding that it was not until 1983 that he managed to get his first postal trumpet.


Miloš Skalický is a journalist with the Žilinské noviny

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