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”PKO: Certainty. Trust” – a new exhibition at the NBP Money Centre

19 Styczeń 2022

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”PKO: Certainty. Trust” – a new exhibition at the NBP Money Centre

In the 1930s this slogan could be seen in newspaper advertisements, on products for everyday use and on trams. The Post Office Savings Bank (Pocztowa Kasa Oszczędności – PKO) was the largest Polish financial institution during the interwar period and one of the most recognisable Polish brands.

The NBP Money Centre has prepared an exhibition devoted to the history of PKO in 1919-1939. The intention behind the presentation of the institution, which contributed greatly to the promotion of the idea of saving money, was to highlight the issue of ”saving”, an activity which is still so important today and which is one of the areas of the Centre’s economic education. The showcase presenting the Post Office Savings Bank is arranged in a very attractive way. In addition to photos documenting its history and reproductions of advertising posters, a collection of money boxes from the NBP Money Centre collections is also displayed.

The Post Office Savings Bank was established by a decree signed by Chief of State Józef Piłsudski in February 1919. Hubert Ignacy Linde, the then Minister of Post and Telegraphs, was entrusted with the mission to organise the bank and was its first director.

Combining postal and banking services had its roots in the lands of the Austrian partition, and Linde had experience as an organiser of the Polish post office in Galicia. The origins of PKO were very modest. Inflation and subsequently hyperinflation were not conducive to saving money. The situation changed with the Treasury and currency reform of Prime Minister Władysław Grabski in 1924.

The stabilisation of the Polish currency encouraged Poles to save. In 1928, Henryk Gruber, doctor of law, an experienced government official and a cavalier of the Order of Virtuti Militari, took over as president of the Bank. PKO owed a lot to his invention and personal commitment. It was the president who created its brand and built the trust of the public and the bank’s financial strength by employing tools which were innovative at that time: Gruber launched an extensive multi-sided promotion campaign and devised its advertising slogan: “Certainty. Trust”.

Gruber attached particular importance to the popularisation of the idea of saving among the youngest, which was demonstrated by the rise of school savings banks (szkolne kasy oszczędności) from 1935. At the same time, PKO carried out activities that supported the economy of the state and its social goals, including the construction of the city and harbour of Gdynia, the Central Industrial District as well as power plants, gas plants, water supply plants and residential housing.