Thursday, August 27, 2009

And then there were five
Right, remember the comments on the last entry? Well, today I'm going to show you the five versions of the Hradcany Castle definitives of Czechoslovakia. We start off with a picture of the original design by Alfons Mucha, courtesy of a Cuba miniature sheet of 1988.
As you can see (this was a point raised in the comments), there is no sun behind the castle. Note also the position of the doves in the bottom corners! Now, the original design was adapted by the printers. Mucha was not used to designing on stamp format, so the design had to be altered somewhat to make it work on a small format. What the printers ended up with is now called the Type I stamp.
You can now see that the sun has risen, indeed in such a place which would not be possible in real life, and note also that the doves are facing the other way! It is thought that the lettering was deemed not very legible, so another change was made which yielded the Type II stamp.
Note that the lettering is now in colour on a white background. Apparently, Mucha had enough of the printers tinkering with his design, so he stepped in to make further changes to improve the legibility of the stamp, thereby creating Type III.
The position of the wording is now in a different place and indeed much better to read. But more changes were made, though I do not know by whom and why. I suppose they are just cosmetic changes. Here is a Type IV stamp.
Can you find the differences? Yes, the sun has finally disappeared and the bush at the front has been filled in with little lines. Still not satisfied, more changes were made, for there is also a Type V stamp!
Here, the bush has been removed to give more prominence to the church at the front.
Now, there is also a subtype of this Type V stamp. It is in design like the Type V stamp but it is larger and produced in a different way. Some schools of thought say this is a whole new type and should be called Type VI. There is only one stamp printed like this (sorry, I haven't got it so can't show it), but that was very much at the end of the line for the definitives, so it may well have been that more values would have been printed in this Type VI if the series had run on. But that is pure speculation! Unless someone knows stuff that I don't! (which is highly likely!)


keijo said...

Excellent post...

Just few months back I read a book about Muchas artwork (including not only prints, but paintings,sculptures etc). I'm amazed how productive Mucha was (dispite of conditions/lifestyle). And more amazed I'm how close he was to be forgotten...

toon said...

while in Prague, do visit the MUCHA Museum! I've been there and there is really a superb collection of Mucha's work.
you'll never forget.