Birth of Czeslaw Slania 

1983 20¢ US and Sweden
US #2036 – Engraved by Slania, this stamp commemorates the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between Sweden and the United States.

One of the world’s most famous stamp engravers, Czeslaw Slania was born on October 22, 1921, in Czeladź near Katowice, Poland.

The son of a miner, Slania discovered a love and talent for art an early age. By the time he was a teenager, he drew fake banknotes to sell at craft fairs.

1985 22¢ World War I Veterans
US #2154 – Slania stamp honoring World War I veterans

After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Slania was forced to quit high school. He then joined the Polish underground resistance.  Slania contributed to the resistance by producing forged documents. After the war ended, he went to the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow to study engraving. From there Slania went on to work in the Polish state printing office.

1985 22¢ Korean War Veterans
US #2152 was based on 1950 photo of US troops retreating from Chosin Reservoir.

Slania worked on his first stamp in 1950 – he engraved part of the stamp issued for the Polish Peace Congress. By 1956, he contributed to nearly 50 different Polish stamps.  Slania often would place secret marks in his stamp designs that could only be seen under a microscope. For example, one stamp he engraved picturing a library shelf had the names of his friends in the spines of the books.

 2001 34¢ The Nobel Prize
US #3504 – Slania engraved this joint-issue with Sweden.

During this time, Poland had a communist government that Slania didn’t approve of. So while on a cruise that stopped in Stockholm in 1956, he asked for political asylum. For his first few years there, Slania had trouble finding a job. But then in 1959, the chief engraver for the Swedish postal authority fell ill. Slania filled in for him and finished the job quickly, which led to a full-time job offer.

Sweden 100v
Item #M1804 – Collection of 100 Sweden stamps for under $9, many if which were engraved by Slania!
1992 29¢ Great Americans: Earl Warren
US #2184 – Slania stamp honoring Chief Justice Earl Warren

Slania quickly became renowned for his stamp engravings and would eventually produce stamp designs for 28 other countries, including several for the US. In 1972, Slania was made the Royal Court Engraver of Sweden.

1994 $1 Surrender of Burgoyne
US #2590 – Slania stamp picturing the Surrender of Burgoyne

In 2000, Slania engraved his 1,000th stamp, a Swedish issue picturing a portion of the painting, “Great Deeds by Swedish Kings.” That stamp was also the largest steel-engraved stamp ever issued, measuring 81 by 61 millimeters (about 3.2 inches by 2.4 inches). Speaking about that stamp, Slania said, “One of the pleasures is that the motifs are so varied. That makes it very interesting to work here as an engraver. I like particularly when there are many different details in a motif, such as horses, clouds, naked skin, a small brooch … this makes things pleasantly complicated, exactly as on my 1,000th stamp!”

2005 60th Anniv of the United Nations
UN#874-75 – Slania’s final stamp

Slania’s last stamp was a 2005 issue honoring the 60thsession of the United Nations General Assembly. He died shortly after that stamp’s issue, on March 17, 2005.

See more Slania stamps below:

1993 29¢ Grace Kelly
US #2749
1993 29¢ Dean Acheson
US #2755
1993 29¢ Traditional Christmas: Madonna and Child, booklet single
US #2790
1986 Human Rights/Stamp Collecting
UN #473-74
1986 Stamp Collecting
1986 Stamp Collecting

Click here for a website dedicated to Slania, which includes listings of all his stamp engravings.

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