For the first time in ages we had a ‘Christmas’ themed evening at our local stamp club. I decided to show a selection of engraved Christmas stamps from Austria, and they make a perfect theme for this year’s Christmas blog as well!
I quite like the Austrian issues, because they’re clean and simple. Just the one stamp each year and almost always the designs are based on a Nativity scene. Austria, of course, is steeped in Baroque architecture and art, so it isn’t very hard for them to come up with the most wonderful designs based on the many artefacts in their churches and abbeys.
Some are incredibly old, such as this 15th century fresco which you’ll find in the church at Tainach in Upper Carinthia. Funny how Joseph’s handbag looks more 20th century than anything from that long ago!
Some are not old at all, such as this modern icon by Anton Wollenek, made in 1920. Professor Wollenek is internationally known for his icons, and they have also appeared on various stamp issues from the Palestine Authority, such as this 1997 Christmas set.
As you will probably know I have a soft spot for stamps which are (almost) wholly engraved. My favourite ones from the Austrrian catalogue are therefore the Christmas stamps engraved by Rudolph Toth.
I like the serenity of this Virgin and Child stamp from 1975. It is part of the altar in the Viennese Schottenstift, or Scottish Abbey. It is late Gothic, dating from the 15th century.
Another gem is this 1967 stamp, depicting the Adoration of the Shepherds. It is the middle part of a beautiful triptych which is part of the altar of the Nonnberg Convent in Salzburg. Again, we’re talking (late) 15th century here.
But my absolute favourite is Toth’s 1985 stamp. It depicts the Adoration of the Christ Child, and is a marbled relief which you’ll find on one of the prominent houses in Salzburg. But it’s not so much what it depicts. The quality of the engraving is so incredibly superb that you still think you’re looking at a relief rather than an engraving. In fact, I love it so much that I made it my desktop background this Christmas period, so I can look at it each and every day. Just click on the image to get a blown-up version and you’ll see what I mean.
I can only hope that your Christmas will be just as wonderful as this!
See yous later