October 11, 2013

Karl Bickel

I had a feeling of déjà vu this weekend, when I went to the Stamp & Postcard Festival in Prestwick. Like Stampex all over again. But then on a smaller scale of course. Yet again I found myself walking around the dealers' tables trying to focus on what I was going to buy. This time, though, I had a better idea of what I was looking for: New South Wales and India.

Nevertheless, the first two items I bought were Dutch and after that I bumped into this great Luxembourg set which I immediately snapped up. So that was the end of my concerted effort to work with some sort of want list.

However, the great thing was that it refocused my mind on my 'Engravers' collection. A collection which had I had been neglecting of late, but which I've rediscovered thanks to that chance find. For you see, the Luxembourg set I bought was engraved by Karl Bickel.

Now Karl Bickel is arguably the most famous Swiss engraver of all time and I would even venture to say he is among the most famous engravers of Europe. The majority of recess-printed stamps issued in Switzerland in the 1930s, 40s and 50s are engraved by him and he also engraved for other countries, such as a number of sets for Luxembourg and also for Portugal.

Bickel had already found fame as a portrait artist before he became involved with stamp engraving, and managed to cement that reputation even more with his engraved portrait stamps. I consider them among the best portrait stamps ever made and am showing you a few here so you can make up your own mind.

They are all from the annual Pro Juventute charity stamps issued in Switzerland. Just look at the fine detail and the lifelike expressions in the faces. They are truly magnificent.

Bickel himself was also most pleased with his portraits on stamps and is often quoted as stating that the 1927 Pro Juventute stamp portraying Pestalozzi was his favourite work. To be honest, I would beg to differ as I'm more a fan of his finer detailed work, but who am I to contradict the master!

See yous later

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