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  The Stamp Gallery of Czech and Slovak Graphic Art




PRAHA III
Monopoly


1932: In Seizinger's native town Hildburghausen Adolf Hitler tries to be employed as policeman with the help of the Minister of the Interior Frick, in order to become German citizen in this way. After refusal of his application Hitler gets the German citizenship in Braunschweig sometime later, the condition for becoming member of parliament and then chancellor of the German Reich.

Hrad Karlštejn (Karlův Týn)

Seizinger's first stamp
for Czechoslovakia


according to a picture of
Tavík František Šimon
June 1, 1926, MiNr. 250


Karl Seizinger started his activities in Prague as an engraver for banknotes at the National Bank in 1924. Here he mainly cooperated with Max Šabninský, whose pupil he soon became. Besides this work on banknotes, designed by Švabinský, he engraved essential parts of one of Alfons Mucha's last banknotes. As described on the previous page, Švabinský was a very critical teacher and soon he recognized Seizinger's weakness in engraving portraits and his preference for landscapes. An so he recommended him to the printing house Unie as an engraver for stamps. At this time the Czechoslovak post office had decided - following the Masaryk definitives - to issue a new definitive series, which should promote the regional beauties of the new state Czechoslovakia - and this was Seizinger's domain. He quit his his contract with the State Bank and became a freelancer for Unie in the following years.

First there has been decided to issue four motifs: the castles Karlštejn, Pernštejn and Orava as well as the monastery Strahov in Prague. He had not to use special designs created for stamps, but already exisiting pictures of the contemporary painters Tavík František Šimon and Alois Kalvoda, who had to be asked for their agreement to the use of their works. But they had no more influence. It was only Seizinger's responsibility to transfer the models adequately to the postage stamps. The young and very ambitious Karl Seizinger was very engaged in his first philatelic works. As an exception to his usual improvising way of working, he created for his first stamp engraving - castle Karlštejn - a detailed line drawing. Apart from that, Seizinger's stamps usually came into being only during the engraving on the plate itself. The picture only was copied on the plate in indications and only when engraving Seizinger decided, how he drew the final lines. He tried out and improvised, what later was used as reproach against him, his style would be "bohemistic". He himself once argued about his way of working as follows (translated from Czech): ".. for this is the real nature of engraving. A complete and final line drawing, copied and then engraved, has nothing to do with a real engraving, because every engraver is able to do this". Seizinger worked in this way his whole professional life and so works of art of their own came into being, because he alone decided, how his pattern had finally to look on the stamp.

He frequently used and liked photographic models and if he had a picture of an artist, he worked independently without any support or consulting of the artist, as he did it for example with the first four motifs of the landscape series (MiNr. 245-252), the issues "Prague" and "Tatra" (MiNr. 253-256) and later with the motifs "Levoča" (MiNr. 268), "Velehrad" (MiNr. 272), "Brno (MiNr. 273/291), "Vysoké Tatry I" (MiNr. 274) and "Teyn church" (MiNr. 276/293) of the jubilee series from 1928. Professional or amateur's photographs were used for the issues "Hradec" (MiNr. 267), "Jašina" (MiNr. 270), "Hluboká" (MiNr. 271), "Vysoké Tatry II" (MiNr. 292), "Telegraph Office in Prague" (MiNr. 260) and "Malá straná" (MiNr. 294). Only step by step Seizinger dealt with motifs on which no landscapes were shown. So first he tried a portrait in 1928, a portrait of president Masaryk according to a photograph. However, he made sure the help of his teacher Švabinský. One year later he first created figural scenes within the series to the 1000th anniversary of Saint Václav's death (MiNr. 283-287). With this series, Seizinger also was the first one, who transferred pictures painted by great Czech painters from the past to postage stamps - this is by Mikoláš Aleš, Josef Mánes and Felix von Jenewein.

First among professionals, but soon later among stamp collectors, too, Seizinger's engravings reached the highest acknowledgment and popularity. The postal authorities as well as the printing house again and again decided to choose Seizinger when new issues should be designed. And so Seizinger had a monopoly in creating Czechoslovak stamps until the beginning of the 30ies. His way of working set rules and the printing house Unie didn't risk to use engravings of other persons, because they believed that only the clear and strong line of Seizinger's engravings would guarantee a successful printing. Just once there was an exception when the fifth issue of the "Hrady, krajiny, města" series - the motif with the Prague National Museum (MiNr. 289) was engraved by the French engraver Abel Mignon. Obviously Seizinger wasn't involved - and finally he was also indifferent to this decision -, because still in the 70ies he didn't know who the engraver of this issue was. When looking back, this exception must be seen as the beginning of Seizinger's monopoly in engraving Czechoslovak stamps.

Title Page * Introduction * Biography * Personality * Hildburghausen * Helsingfors *
Praha I * Praha II * Praha III * Praha IV * Praha V * Praha VI *
Belgrade * Zagreb * to be continued