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Excerpt from the British "Stamp Magazine", May 2002
(issued advanced-dated April 2002)

On 19th March 2002 Czeslaw Slania received the Royal Mail Lifetime Achievement Award for his 50 years in design.  The award is well merited and appropriate - the Rowland Hill Awards consist of a polished steel die of the portrait of Sir Rowland Hill, taken from the master die which Slania engraved back in 1995 for the great postal reformer's bi-centenary.

Slania has a track record of being involved in matters intended as an honour to him.  Amongst these are:  

the stunning booklet pane (1991) for his 70th birthday, reproducing the picture of Gustaf III's coronation in 1772.  

The pane is displayed full size on this site's Sweden-section, pg. 17

the magnificnent 50 kroner stamp (2000) from Sweden which celebrated his 1,000th stamp engraving.

The sheet is displayed full size on this site's Sweden-section, pg. 21

and, more recently, the splendid engraving of Carl Wahlblom's heroic painting of the death of Gustav II Adolf at the Battle of Lützen in 1632 - not a stamp as such, but a masterpiece organised by Sweden Post to mark Slania's 80th birthday (October 2001). 

The engraving is displayed full size on this site's Sweden-section, pg. 21

Slania has been engraving stamps for half a century (a world record), but he also holds the world record for engraving stamps for more countries than anyone else - 28 at last count.  In an age when so many stamps are produced by photogravure or offset lithography it is heartening to see that intaglio, the oldest of the stamp processes, is alive and well.  the photographic processes are ideally suited for multicolour printing, but there is no doubt that when it comes to quality and prestige, intaglio is impossible to beat.  In the hands of a maestro like Slania we witness line-engraving of the very highest order, both technically and aesthetically.  

It is uncertain exactly where Great Britain ranks among the 28 countries for whom Slania has engraved stamps, but his connection with Royal Mail goes back exactly 20 years.  In 1982 he engraved the portraits of Henry VIII, and for of the outstanding personalities in the history of the Royal Navy, for the Maritime Heritage series.  Portraiture has always been regarded as Slania's greatest forte, but in this set he also engraved the ships in the background. 

One often gets the impression, in other fields of artistic endeavour, that lifetime achievement awards are presented as a consolation prize to actors who never quite earned an Oscar for a film.  But, in this case the award could never have been so well deserved.  Lifetime achievement awards also tend to come after an active career is long past, but Czeslaw Slania has got his reward at the height of his powers.  

Many congratulations, Mr. Slania, from the webmaster :-)

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