Czeslaw Slania was born on the 22nd of October, 1921, close to Katowice in Poland. He was educated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, which is recognized as one of Europe’s most reputed Graphic Art Centers.Even as a boy Slania showed exceptional talents for making miniatures and, while a student, was offered employment with the Polish Stamp Printing House where he worked for 6 years.
In 1956, at the age of 35, Czeslaw Slania arrived in Sweden, and a while later began engraving stamps for the Swedish Post. Slania explained “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 1000th stamp!”
The eminent master-craftsman worked most extensively for the Swedish Post Office but also produced stamps for postal authorities all over the world.Czeslaw is the inheritor of a centuries-old skill that has been practised by some of the greatest artists, including Rubens, Rembrandt and Dürer.
His dexterity and attention to detail is quite remarkable; he had the ability to engrave at an astonishing 10 lines per millimetre. Slania’s versatility is evident in the broad range of subject matter he happily tackles, from royal portraits and flora and fauna to film stars.
He even found time (and space) to include the odd personal reference within his minuscule canvas: a caricature of himself or the names of friends.
He passed away on the 17th of March 2005, and was buried in his city of birth, Krakow, Poland, on the 24th of March 2005.
His last stamp engraving was for The United Nations on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the General Assembly, released in February 2005, only one and half months before his death.
Never again will we see more exquisite engravings from his burin, but the pleasure that this man, through his talent and skill, has brought to so many will be his lasting legacy.
A much more detailed biography is available through the book by Janusz Dunst: Czeslaw Slania Katalog Prac [Czeslaw Slania Catalogue of Works], published 09.15.2007 by Fischer Printing House, Poland. The book contains an extensive biography in Polish and English, and colour photographs of all Slania’s works on stamps, philatelic items, and banknotes. ISBN 83-88352-41-5. The book is published in 1500 numbered copies + 100 unnumbered, and will not be reprinted.
“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 1000th stamp!”
“The art is mostly a state of soul”
When I was a 10 years boy, I began to collect stamps. One of my first experiences was the sensation of feeling in my fingers the relief of some stamps from sets of castles and monuments of Spain issued in the 1960s and 1970s, that fascinated me from the beginning. They were the first engraved stamps (called “calcografía” in Spanish).
Shortly after I came across a swedish stamp , I remember it perfectly and I still keeping it, Scott 1366 from 1981, showing the king Carl XVI Gustav, I was surprised the quality and clarity of the engraved lines. Years later, already in the 2000s, I started collecting stamps by Slania. Many colleagues and friends I have met since then, some of them have contributed to the development information or images in this page.
My acknowledge to the assistance of Stephan Pomp (Sweden), John Larson (USA), Mario Petretti (Italy), Pierre M Andersen (Denmark), Armagan Ozdinc (USA) and Marek Porawski and his father (Poland) and especially to Pepe Martínez (Valencia, Spain), and Javier Vázquez, (Zaragoza, Spain). With their help I have researched, sought, bought and procured pieces, some of them extremely rare, spending many hours online and with great satisfaction that involves find something I thought was impossible.
Also my appreciation to Ann Mette Heindorff´s webpage which was a very important point of reference in Slania collecting, together the Yahoo Group. I have taken the logical disposition made by Mrs. Heindorff to show stamps in lines with a description under stamp or other item and classified by countries and years, I think that is the best classification for Slania´s works.
To my father, in memoriam…
A mi padre, in memoriam…
“The artistic beauty is not to represent a beautiful thing, but it is the fine representation of one thing.”