Thursday 16 April 2015

My New Blog

A big hello to all Stamp Crazy members! I'd like to offer you a personal invitation to my brand new blog - Slania Crazy! Come and take a look and become a member if you like!

Sunday 22 March 2015

Forest Scenes by Toth

Rudolph Toth was an incredibly gifted Austrian stamp engraver. He often worked in collaboration with the designer, A. Pilch.

In 1962 Toth engraved a set of stamps for Austria showcasing some of the country's stunning forests. In my view, Toth has done an amazing job capturing the majesty of the Austrian forest.

In the first stamp, Toth depicts a Lowland Forest using various shades of grey to good affect...

The second stamp depicts a typical deciduous forest. Click HERE for more on deciduous forests.

In the final stamp of the series, Toth illustrates a fir and Larch forest.

Here is an example of the European Larch Larix decidua ...

Stay Stamp Crazy!

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Czeslaw Slania in Aland

Aland or Aland Islands is an autonomous region of Finland. It ... "consists of an archipelago lying at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea." (Wikipedia extract) For more info on Aland, click HERE


In 1994 Czeslaw Slania engraved a set of three stamps for Aland, exploring Aland in the Stone Age. It is the simplicity of their design which I find the most striking. Let's take a look and you can judge for yourself.

The first stamp in the set depicts Stone Age pottery from the region.


The second stamp in the set depicts an example of the type of housing found in the region during this period.


The final stamp in the set gives an an insight into some of the stone tools utilised by the inhabitants of the region at the time.

Monday 23 February 2015

Czeslaw Slania - The First of Many!

The name Czeslaw Slania has become synonymous with engraving brilliance.  But where did the master begin? What was the first stamp he engraved? For a biography of Slania click HERE

The first stamp Slania engraved was as an apprentice under the watchful eye of M.R. Polak in 1950 for Poland. Slania had not yet earned the right to engrave the entire stamp. He was permitted to engrave the metal part of the hammer being wielded by a Polish worker. 

Poland 1950 Sc. #486

A proof of the stamp is also available in a special booklet in a different colour. I personally prefer the colour chosen for the proof.

Okay, so what about the first stamp engraved entirely by Czeslaw Slania? It wasn't long in arriving - the next year in fact! 1951. The stamp was again for Poland, and it was issued to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Paris Commune. If the skill of Slania had not been evident in the first stamp he worked on, this stamp leaves no room for question. It is simply beautiful.

There is an interesting story that goes along with this stamp. The portrait on the stamp is supposed to depict General Jaroslaw Dabrowski, but instead by some mistake somewhere along the line the portrait actually depicts the composer and pianist Henryk Dabrowski. I have been unable to locate another image of the composer Dabrowski for comparison, but I have found images of Gen. Jaroslaw Dabrowski. One such image is on a Polish banknote.

If indeed the portrait on the stamp is the composer Henryk Dabrowski, then the likeness he bears to Gen. Jaroslaw Dabrowski is rather striking. One could be forgiven for mixing the two up. Do these two gentlemen bear a striking resemblance? Are they perhaps brothers? Or is the portrait on the banknote wrong also? Or is the portrait of the correct man after all? If anyone has any information relating to this stamp, I'd love to hear from you. 

Sunday 26 January 2014

Enter the World of Engravers!

Czeslaw Slania

It feels like an age since I did my last blog post! In that space I have been keeping busy checking out, what is for me, a different type of stamp collection - engravers. To be honest, till recently I'd never really given much thought to who engraved what stamp. Then, just before Christmas, a stamp friend sent me some stamps engraved by Rudolph Toth, an Austrian engraver. The instant I saw the amazing details, I was hooked!! That very night I jumped on the net and started surfing, searching for engravers. I found to my delight and dismay there are plethora talented engravers out there. Besides Toth, two engravers stood out to me. One was Albert Decaris, an incredibly talented French engraver. The other engraver needs no introduction to those in the stamping world - Czeslaw Slania.

In the coming weeks I'll take a look at some of the works of Toth and Decaris, but today is all about Slania.

I did some basic research into Slania and found this great website: I quickly discovered that Slania's first stamp engraving as an apprentice was a part engraving on a stamp from Poland issued in 1950. Turns out Slania engraved the metal head of the axe on the left hand side of the stamp. Seeing this cool bit of info, I immediately knew how to start my collection - right at the beginning. So I have. I just purchased the stamp plus a proof that, I believe, came in a special booklet.

I'm rather chuffed, and I can't wait till they arrive. When they do, I'll post higher resolution scans. 

Stay Stamp Crazy!!

Saturday 21 September 2013

Lavender Hill Mob Forgery

The Fake 24p Rust Machin

The Lavender Hill Mob were a gang of forgers who printed over £50 million of fake currency during the 1980’s and early 90’s. They managed to inject over £30 million of fake cash into the economy, some of which is still circulating to this day. Although specialising in fake currency , the gang also printed Postage, Gas, and TV Licence stamps.

The focus of this brief study is the forged 24p Machin Head Definitive Postage Stamp ...

Genuine Stamp

The gang chose to forge the 24p Rust Machin Head stamp, as 24p was the current inland letter rate at the time. They printed the stamp in offset Lithography. They used a Genuine half-sheet of 100 as their template. The forged postage stamps began to appear in the summer of 1993 in mail posted from London and Essex.
Above is an example of the forged stamp alongside a Genuine stamp for comparison. Clearly the colour is an excellent match to that of the Genuine Stamp, enabling the untrained eye to be fooled.

To the trained eye, however, the forgery clearly stands out as a fake. For one, the perforations are much larger at 11 as opposed to 14 or 15. The perforations are also Line Perf. And not Comb. Perf. 

Large Forgery Perfs 11

Genuine Perfs 14 or 15

A close look at the gum also reveals a striking difference. The Deegam Catalogue further elaborates:  “The gum ... is very thin and shiny, with no green or blue dye. It does not appear to be gum arabic since there is no 'crazy paving' appearance under magnification … ”  Deegam further suggests,  “It maybe a variant of Polyvinyl acetate (PVAc).”

Stay Stamp Crazy

Monday 2 September 2013

Printing Confusion!

Who Can You Trust?

Recently I purchased a lovely Butterfly Custom Booklet direct from Royal Mail. After it arrived, I scanned it and proudly presented it on this Blog. For the technical details I referred to the Royal Mail website. I assumed the information on the site to be accurate. My assumption was wrong. Not long after publishing the article on my blog, it was pointed out to me that the method of printing described for the booklet was incorrect. I had written that the printing method was Litho (Lithography) when it fact, the booklet was clearly printed in Photo (Photograuvre).

To refresh the memory, this is the booklet in question...

I have found that the best way to tell the difference between Photo and Litho printing is to take a close up look at the value and the border of a stamp. When a stamp is printed in Photo tiny square cells can be seen along the edges of the coloured portions of the stamp. This is a product of screening, which is part of the Photo process.

Let us take a close look at one of the 1st Class Royal Mail Red stamps in this booklet.

As you can see this stamp clearly has the hallmarks of a Photograuvre printed stamp. The arrows point to the areas in which the screening effect can be seen.

Conversely, this is what a stamp printed in Lithography will look like...

I guess the moral of this story is to always question and to seek out your own answers! My lesson has been learnt.

Stay Stamp Crazy!!