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  The Stamp Gallery of Czech and Slovak Graphic Art




PRAHA I
Landscapes


1924: Seizinger's home town Hildburghausen has become part of the new German state Thuringia after disbanding the small duchies in Germany. After his failed revolt in Munich, Hitler is condemned to arrest in the fortress Landsberg.
"Stravil jsem v Praze nejlepší léta svého života, našel jsem v pražském prostředi
svou pracovní a tvůrcí rovnováhu a teprve práce na československé známce
mi pomohla uvědomit si své rytecké možnosti a schopnosti."

(In Prague I spent the best years of my life, I found in Prague surrounding
my creative and artistic balance and only the work on a Czechoslovak stamp
helped me to realize my engraving abilities and talents)
Karl Seizinger

Karl Seizinger reached the climax of his artistic work already on his second professional station in Czechoslovakia. Still today he owns a significant high esteem there. In 1924 Seizinger moved from Helsingfors to Prague in order to start an occupation as an engraver at the National Bank of Czechoslovakia. Like in Finland, he first engraved banknotes, e.g. one, which was designed by Alfons Mucha. He got his first order for the postage stamps of the definitive series "Hrady, města, krajiny" (castles, towns, landscapes), topics and motifs he really loved, as Seizinger's quotations below will show. The first stamps of this definitive series were issued on June 1, 1926, and were enthusiasticly accepted as well by collectors as by special philatelistic publications. So, for example, the German magazine "Die Briefmarke" wrote about Seizinger in 1929 (translated from German): "Postage stamps are the visiting cards of a state. The current visiting cards of the Czechoslovak Republic belong to the most beautiful of the world. The merit for this fact is first of all due to their creator Karl Seizinger, however, also to farsighted persons in Czechoslovakia who called - free from any small-minded attitude - such an outstanding artist to the country and entrusted him with the production of the national stamps."

Up to 1934, Karl Seizinger engraved all postage stamp issues of the republic, among them also the motif of the Prague Castle depicted here, which he implemented based on a copy by the well-known Czech graphic artist T. F. Šimon. The following quotations should a little bit highlight, how Seizinger himself saw his work on postage stamps.



Hrad

HRADČANY A KARLŮV MOST V PRAZE
(Castle and Charles Bridge in Prague)

line drawing by Karl Seizinger
shown in the town museum Hildburghausen


Karluv most

Original stamp based on a picture by T. F. Šimon
date of issue: October 19, 1926, MiNr. 253
Quotations by Karl Seizinger
about engraving of city sights and landscapes
(among others to the stamp depicted here)

all quotations from the brochure
to the small Seizinger exhibition
in the Town Museum in Hildburghausen (translated from German)

"I always had a special preference for city sights and landscapes, I engraved more than 65 stamps and, in addition, a lot of designs."

"Once I had to engrave the Prague panorama with the castle. The view showed more than 100 windows, many buildings and chimneys which would have disturbed the optical harmony while simply reducing their size. I engraved approximately 30 windows and less buildings, the general impression survived in spite of the reduction. The engraver has the same task like a conductor, who has to hold together an orchestra, in order to come to full effectiveness."

"If I engrave landscapes, I start with the most distant parts. In order to get a plastic effect, the buildings, mountains etc. become more and more stronger. The finer the distant parts and the deeper the foreground is engraved, the more plastically and impressively the effect will be. In the very sense of the word, the perspective must be felt. There are landscapes, which look pale, because foreground and background are engraved similarly thin, then they have the effect of a gray pencil drawing. Air and clouds need great efforts, because all fine and interrupted lines must be engraved free hand."

Seizinger very strongly identified himself with the country, which enabled him to fulfill his lifetime dream. He normally signed his engravings with the Czech version of his first name - "Karel". From 1934 he got a colleague in engraving and at the same moment a great rival, too - Bohumil Heinz. With him, he alternated in engraving of Czechoslovak stamps until the end of the state. Immediately after the Munich agreement in autumn 1938, Seizinger left Czechoslovakia. It is reported about the different reasons, which led to this decision, on a special page later. He himself describes the leaving of the country in his application for "Joh. Enschedé en Zonen" pretty neutral and without any political evaluation as follows (translated from German): "When Hitler carried out the attack to Czechoslovakia, I voluntarily left Prague in order not to work for the Protectorate ... Politically, I have not been active, I also didn't belong to the NSDAP or to others of its sections."

What a irony of the history, that just the people of the German postal authorities in the occupated Protectorate "Böhmen und Mähren" found three of Seizinger's great engravings, which were present in the State Printing House, as good that they took them, added a new frame and country name, and issued them as new stamps. But it is very interesting that they - because of what reasons ever - deleted Seizinger's hidden engraver signing "S" on the stamps (more to this speciality of Seizinger on one of the following pages).

Although he felt himself very closely connected to the country, he only once returned after the war to the now communist Czechoslovakia, already 85 years old. During this visit, a photograph was taken, which was the pattern for the Seizinger commemorative stamp from 1983. One reason for this very late visit of Czechoslovakia could have been, that after his leaving a heavy discussion about him took place. In several publications one imputed him that by his voluntary leaving he had backed out "his" Czechoslovakia in hard times, which had done so many things for him. And his artistic rivalry with Bohumil Heinz was taken as a symbolic struggle between Germans and Czechs. But one easily forgets that the Czech Heinz worked without any problems for the German postal authority in the Protectorate, while the German Seizinger refused to work for them by leaving the country.

Still today, however, and again more in the past years, Karl (or Karel) Seizinger is seen - besides Heinz - as greatest and best engraver of Czechosloavk stamps, even if the national Czech view sometimes over-estimated his rival Heinz, as the following quotation shows (translated from Czech): "In the contest beween the strong appropriateness of every single impression of Heinz's lines and the rather 'bohemistic' improvisation of Seizinger there is no doubt about the final success of Heinz."
Title Page * Introduction * Biography * Personality * Hildburghausen * Helsingfors *
Praha I * Praha II * Praha III * Praha IV * Praha V * Praha VI *
Belgrade * Zagreb * to be continued