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About Czeslaw Slania

Czeslaw Slania was born 22nd 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 Art Graphic Centers. 

Already as a boy Slania showed exceptional talents for making miniatures and, still a student, he was offered employment with the Polish Stamp Printing House where he worked for 6 years.  

Immediately below is shown a very nice registered cover, partly franked with Slania's diploma work in stamp format (face value 90 G). Images kindly submitted by the owner, Mr. Roman Harmel, USA, for your viewing pleasure. See a close-up of the imperforated label on cover here (409 kb).  . 

Registered cover, with Slania's diploma work affixed as label

The red arrow top right shows the spot where Slania engraved the dates 11.54 -- 11.56, indicating that he worked for two years on his diploma work.  

To the right an enlarged fragment showing clearly the dates. 

In 1956, at the age of 35, Czeslaw Slania arrived in Sweden, and has engraved stamps for the Swedish Post ever since. More information about the painter Jan Matejko is available here. 

Slania explains that "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!" 

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. (Your webmaster's copy is No. 61/1500). 

The British Postal Authorities wrote in 1999: 
Polish-born Czeslaw Slania has earned himself a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's most prominent and prolific stamp engraver.  

Now in his late seventies, the eminent master-craftsman has worked most extensively for the Swedish Post Office, but has also produced stamps for postal authorities all over the world.  He [Czeslaw Slania] is the inheritor of a centuries-old skill that has been practiced by some of the greatest artists, including Rubens, Rembrandt and Dürer.  

His dexterity and attention to detail is quite remarkable; he has the ability to engrave at an astonishing 10 lines per millimeter. 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 finds time (and space) to include the odd personal reference within his minuscule canvas: a caricature of himself or the names of friends. 

  • A photograph of Slania at work

Besides for Sweden, Czeslaw Slania has engraved stamps for numerous other countries, often as joint issues.  He has also engraved banknotes, and further there exists unofficial water colours being perfect "forgeries".  Finally he has made a large number of private works serving as practice work.  

Although Czeslaw Slania blows out 80 candles on his cake in 2001, he has no plans to retire. He says that he will continue to engrave stamps as long as he finds this exacting medium a challenge.  Otherwise, he will stop.  For the record, he has engraved 1,049 stamps so far - and more are waiting in the wing.   

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