This stamp engraved by Czeslaw Slania for the Polish Printing Works and never issued, features the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.  It was engraved at the beginning of the 1950s.  The exact time is unknown.  It is a splendid example of Slania’s great talent for portraying that was later developed to perfection. Note the white empty field in the top left corner, that was reserved for inserting face value. Exist in different colours and combinations.

Paintings by Guercino. Observe the white square on each label, where the face value should have been printed.  

The following article by Mr. Jerzy Krysiak (Sweden) appeared in the Polish philatelic magazine «FILATELISTYKA», October 1998.  It was originally printed in Polish, and is translated into English by Mr. Richard Wegrzyn, Australia. 


On a commission from the San Marino Post Office Slania engraved three stamps based on paintings by the Italian painter Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) of the XVIIc.  The engravings are of  St. Marinus, St. Francis of Assisi and ‘Susan at her bath’.  The stamps are 33.8×43.5 mm., perforated 12 1/4, as well as imperforate. The stamps were printed by hand, less than 20 sets, in one colour but the the engraver painted several of them by hand in various colours.  These are the ones illustrated in the book ‘Czeslaw Slania, his lifework’ published by Count Leonard Bernadotte in 1989, Mainau, Germany.  It is difficult to say why the stamps were not accepted, maybe according to Catholic tastes ‘Susan at her bath’ was a bit too naked? Instead, the San Marino Post Office issued three stamps using offset printing.  Two of them were on similar themes as before, St. Marinus (Mi 887), St. Francis of Assisi (Mi 888), but the third stamp, ‘Susan at her bath’, was replaced by a portrait from the same painter, ‘Return of the Prodigal Son'(Mi 889).  Slania had no hand in the design of these issued stamps.  

(source: Ann Mette Heindorff webpage).

Slania also took part in a competition organised by the San Marino Post Office to design a stamp based on the theme of the birth of Christ.  Slania based his engraving on the painting ‘Visitation of the Magi’ by Rubens, in the Goteborg Museum of Art, Sweden.  Perforation is 12 1/4, printed by hand, in several single colours.  Only a handful were produced.  Unfortunately the competition committee decreed that the stamp did not conform to the theme specified and did not award a first prize to anyone.  

Slania won second prize and 100,000 lire (1967).  The stamp was never officially issued and is the only one of his un-issued San Marino stamps to bear a face value — 200 lire.  


Who did it ?


In 1954, when Slania was working for PWPW (Polish Security Works) a souvenir sheet was issued honoring the Polish Philatelic Federation. This stamp was engraved by B. Brandt and his name appears in the bottom right margin. Of this stamp were printed 75.562 sheets in gray-green and perforated (Scott # C-34) and other 11.900 sheets were printed in dark blue and left imperforated as souvenirs in the philatelic congress, without postal validity.

But in 1955 appeared a very good copy of this stamp, fake, printed in a near colour and paper as official issue. It was speculated that was Slania who did it, maybe with intention of show to his superiors, but other persons think that he was disliked because his engraving was better than the accepted. Some copies of this fake stamp was used for postage in regular mail, a fraud for the government funds. Further rumours said that this was what drove to Slania out of Poland, to seek asylum in Sweden, other says that due to a pulmonary disease.


– Some letters in the inscription III ZJAZD POLSKIEGO ZWIAZKU FILATELISTOW WARSZAWA 1954 (take a look for example in Ws of WARSZAWA).

– Sheets have a difference of 1 mm.

– Rear wheel on the coach is angled in the official, straightened in the fake.

– Coachman´s footrest.

– Window in the fake is smaller.

– Mouth of white horse is more opened in the fake.

(source: Close-Up 4-2006 and own investigation.)