World-famous stamp engraver, Czeslaw Slania, dead at 83
Mr. Slania was born near Katowice, Poland, in 1921. When he was six years old, his family moved to Lublin. Even as a small boy, he demonstrated advanced talents for drawing and producing miniature engravings.
When he was older, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, recognized as one of the best art graphic centres in Europe. Mr. Slania’s diploma engraving was an interpretation in the small format of the Polish artist Jan Matejko’s grand painting “The Battle of Grunwald” about the battle of Grunwald/Tannenberg in 1410.
For this work, Mr. Slania was awarded his diploma with a special honour. While still a student, Mr. Slania was employed by the Polish Stamp Printing Works, where he learned to engrave in steel, a harder, more demanding metal than copper.The first stamp by Mr. Slania was issued in Poland on 24 March 1951.
Having engraved 23 stamps, the young engraver went out into the world to seek his fortune. He came to Sweden in 1956. Since 1959, Mr. Slania has been faithful to the Swedish Post Office, but he is also a cosmopolitan who has visited numerous countries and areas and made stamp and banknote engravings in many of them, including for Denmark, Iceland, France, Monaco, Israel, Brazil, Tunisia, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, Germany, Singapore, China, Belgium, Poland, the Vatican, Thailand, Spain, Hong Kong (SAR) and others, as well as the United Nations.
Having learned his craft so early and also having it as his hobby, Mr. Slania has come to engrave more stamps and banknotes than any other engraver. His stamps have received the highest awards.
He has been Court Engraver in Sweden since 1972. He has also received the Order of Saint Charles and the order Mérite Culturel in Monaco and the Dannebrog Order in Denmark. In 1983, he received the Robert Stolz Music Prize for the “Music” stamps in Sweden. In 1999, he was awarded the highest order from Poland, the Commander Order, by the Polish President.
In 1986, he produced engravings for six United Nations stamps on the theme “Philately — The International Hobby”. Two of these stamps reproduce engravings that show Mr. Slania at work, hunched over a polished steel die. In 1997, six stamps incorporating the 1986 designs were issued to pay tribute to philately.
His 1,000th stamp was issued in March 2000 for the Swedish Post. In commemoration of this milestone, a commemorative stamp on a souvenir sheet was released, which remains one of his finest pieces of work.