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The Stamp Gallery of Czech and Slovak Graphic Art
1889: In Germany, after the so-called "Drei-Kaiser-Jahr" 1888 (Year of the three emperors) emperor Wilhelm II starts the era of the German imperialism with his first year of reign. The small residence town Hildburghausen is part of the duchy Sachsen-Meiningen and has already lost its former world wide significance in book printing. Exactly four weeks later, after Karl Seizinger was born here, 500 km southerly in the Austrian town Braunau, another man was born who often will meet and influence Seizinger's life, although he never will come in personal touch with him - Adolf Hitler. In this year, also Ante Pavelić was born, later president of Croatia, where Seizinger lived for several years.
KARL FRIEDRICH WILHELM ("KAREL") SEIZINGER
born on March 23, 1889 in Hildburghausen/Thuringia (Germany)
died on May 4, 1978 in Haarlem (The Netherlands)
designed by Cyril Bouda, engraved by Milo Ondráček
date of issue: December 18, 1983, MiNr. 2747
commemorating the 5th anniversary of Seizinger's death
according to a photograph, which was taken during his visit at the Stamp Exhibition BRNO 1974, when Seizinger already was 85 years old.
Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Seizinger was born on March 23, 1889 in the small South Thuringian town Hildburghausen (Germany), which had a world wide significance in book printing and engraving in the early 19th century, when the "Bibliographische Institut" had its residence there. By getting in touch with this old tradition of his native town, Seizinger began to be excited by the craft of engraving. So he started to learn the art of engraving at the graphic institute Metzeroth and wanted to meet the world in this way.
At first he went to Berlin and worked at the Karthographisches Institut. In the German capital he also met his wife Elisabeth. But soon he was forced to meet the world in a different way, when the 1st World War began. He had to join the army in Potsdam and later he fought at the western front in France. As a pilot of battle planes he was member of the "Kaiserlich Osmanischen Fliegertruppe" and was stationed in Turkey at the Black Sea, later he also came till Bagdad. At the end of war he came in touch with the Swedish researcher of Asia Sven Hedin (1865-1952) and worked together with him on Hedin's book "Bagdad-Babylon-Ninive". Back in Germany after the war, he couldn't find any occupation, because Germany's great and known printing houses mostly used the technique of typography. Finally he found a job as engraver of banknotes at the Finnish National Bank in Helsingfors.
In 1924, he accepted an offer from the Czechoslovak National Bank and moved to Prague. First he worked there as an engraver of banknotes. Besides his occupation he studied at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts under Max vabinský, one of the greatest Czech artists of the 20th century who also was responsible for the development of the Czechoslovak banknotes and stamps. The first time, when he himself came in touch with stamps, was an order for engraving the issues of the definitive series "Hrady, krajiny, města" (Castles, landscapes, towns). This series immediately became a classical set among Czechoslovakia's stamps and founded the high reputation of Czechoslovak stamps which lasts till today. In stamp magazines, Seizinger was praised "a new star in the heaven of engravers art". Until 1934, he engraved all issues of the country. After trouble with the State Printing House in the beginning 30ies, Seizinger left and worked only as a freelancer. This also is one reason why Czechoslovak stamps were engraved alternating by Seizinger or by Bohumil Heinz from 1934 on. Heinz now continously got orders, after he already had worked for the State Printing House during his study. Seizinger's last issue for Czechoslovakia was the mini-sheet commemorating the 1st Stamp Exhibition PRAGA in 1938. In the same year he voluntarily left the country for Belgrade in Yugoslavia because of different reasons, still before the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia. The postal office of the German occupation authorities took several of his great engravings, deleted his engraver's signing, changed the frame, added the new country name "Böhmen und Mähren" and issued them as regular stamps. Only once in his life Seizinger returned to Czechoslovakia, when he was guest of the Stamp Exhibition BRNO in 1974.
In Belgrade, Seizinger soon started to work for the Yugoslavian postal office. His first stamp set was issued shortly after beginning of WWII on September 6, 1939. Another set with motifs from Croatia followed on March 16, 1941. Soon after the German army invaded Yugoslavia, and Croatia declared its independence on April 10, 1941. Seizinger left Yugoslavia and moved to Zagreb, the capital of the now independent state of Croatia. During the war, he engraved there several interesting stamp issues. Already his first set "Zrinski i Frankopan", issued on March 7, 1943, became a very important milestone in the development of Craoatian stamps. The absolute highlight of his work in Croatia was stamp and sheet commemorating the 3rd Philatelistic Exhibition in Zagreb, issued in September 1943, depicting the old St. Mary's Church in Zagreb according to a painting by Vladimir Kirin (see title page of this Seizinger section). During his stay in Zagreb he also engraved a set of un-issued stamps for the "Generalgouvernement", the German postal office in the occupied Poland.
After re-establishing the Yugoslavian state, Seizinger had to leave the country, because he was a German, and he lost his complete property. Because he couldn't find any job in his home town Hildburghausen, which now was in the Soviet part of Germany, and also because the political situation seemed to be uncertain to him, he applied for an occupation in Haarlem (The Netherlands) at the well-known printing house "Joh. Enschedé en Zonen" in 1947. From 1948 on until his 72th birthday in 1961, he engraved for this company banknotes and stamps, among others for the Netherland Antilles, Portugal, Curacao, Syria, Indonesia, New Guinea and the UN in New York. He died on May 4, 1978 in Haarlem, in the age of 89 years.
A rather unpolitical man who only wanted to live for his art, he continously came in touch with the turbulent political occurences in Europe of the the 20th century. So now start with me to a little tour through the European history to the most important stations of his working life from Germany to Finland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Croatia and finally The Netherlands.
Title Page *
Praha I *
Praha II *
Praha III *
Praha IV *
Praha V *
Praha VI *
to be continued