Czesław Słania (1921–2005) is considered one of the world’s most productive and accomplished engravers, as he engraved over 1000 postage stamps for 32 different countries and was known for the precision, speed and sophistication of his work. His output ranged from portraits to landscapes, buildings and nature, working across a variety of engraving techniques. In what would have been his 100th birthday year, a number of postal administrators have released new stamps honouring Czesław Słania.
Master engraver Czesław Słania was born on 22 October 1921 in Czeladź, Poland, and showed an artistic talent from a young age. In 1945, after the war, Słania entered the Graphic Department at the Krakow Academy of Arts, where he gradually specialised in engraving techniques, such as etching and copper engraving. Before his training was completed, Słania was employed by the Stamp Printing Company of the Polish Postal Administration, where he worked for six years, until leaving for Sweden. Słania didn’t engrave another issue for Poland until 1993, when he worked on the miniature sheet for the Polska ’93 International Stamp Exhibition. Poland will release a new issue honouring Słania later this year.
Słania moved to Sweden in 1956. After a few years, he was hired by the Swedish Postal Administration, and over the next 40 years, he designed approximately 450 stamps for Sweden. One of his most famous sets for Sweden is that depicting the Göta Canal for a Tourism issue in 1979. His 1000th engraving was honoured with a souvenir sheet in 2000, which is reproduced on a new Swedish miniature sheet released on 22 October.
The 100 stamps Słania engraved for the Faroe Islands showcase the range of his artistic talents, with the highly detailed stamp of 1979 showing a Faroese ram one of the best known. He also designed two souvenir sheets; the first for the Faroese Postal Service’s 25th anniversary in 2001. The second sheet, depicting a painting of the Faroese chain dance by the Danish painter Emil Kruse, was Słania’s 100th and last Faroese stamp.
On 8 August, the Faroe Islands released a miniature sheet with a 39k. value to mark the centenary of the Słania’s birth. This issue was in conjunction with similar issues from Denmark and Greenland. The stamps within the miniature sheets all feature a portrait of Słania but have different backgrounds. For the Faroe Islands, the background is an overview of the town of Klaksvík, with Kunoy Island’s southernmost end in the distance. The souvenir sheets are engraved by the renowned engraver, Martin Mörck, who many consider to be Słania’s heir in the field of engraving.
Słania designed 80 stamps for Greenland, including a much-loved design featuring an engraving of a polar bear for their 1963 definitives. Greenland’s new miniature sheet, released on 12 August, contains a 33k.5 stamp.
Słania engraved his first stamp for the Danish Postal Service in 1962 and continued to work for them until the 1990s, resulting in nearly 250 Danish stamps being created by him. Denmark’s miniature sheet, featuring two 33k. values, was released on 12 August.
The first stamps designed by Słania for Monaco, released from 1972, were a series of engraved royal portraits, beginning with an engraving of a painting by Nicolas de Largillière (1656–1746) of Jacques I (1731–33). In all, Słania engraved around 150 Monaco stamps. An issue honouring Słania was released by Monaco on 17 June. This was a portrait of the legendary artist designed and engraved, once again, by Martin Mörck.