[This post is renewed with new entries of Eurovision on stamps – last update 2020]
There have been 64 contests to date under the name of Eurovision Song Contest since its innaugural year 1956. While Eurovision changed format, distribution, aim, number of countries, voting system – Europe did not stand passive either: it grew, it united, new countries declared their independence and subsequently entered the contest, and last but not least, since 2000 it moved from being a mere TV event to being a multimedia and online event. This year in 2020 it was for the first time the event did not take place as it was planned to go live while Europe was almost entirely in lockdown during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eurovision did not go unnoticed in the realm of philately. Although only a small number of countries ever issued Eurovision-related stamps, here is the story of the Eurovision on stamps. Most of the countries – as it will become obvious later, issued the stamps following a win.
Wins: 1958, 1960, 1962, 1969, 1977
Is the stamp related to a win? No.
The first Eurovision-themed stamp can be attributed to France, in 1980. It features the back-then Eurovision logo and the satellite transmission of the event. Given the technical power of the day, it was all that could be done on a stamp.
This article refers to the series entitled “Ludzie kina i teatru” (“Personalities of Cinema and Theater“), issued by the Polish Post yearly since 2012. To date, seven such series were issued. New issued are already announced in the release plans for 2019 and 2020.
The series of stamps are brought together by structure: each series contains three individual stamps, as well as a minisheet featuring the respective three stamps, but also by imagery: all stamps have a glam/vintage look that makes them really appealing. The actors and actresses chosen to illustrate the series are all pioneers of music, dance, theater, cinema, radio and TV and most of them have been active in the interwar period. Each series contains both actors and actresses (two actors and one actress in a series in five year sets, two actresses and one actor in two year sets).
What I find interesting, except for the educational potential of the many names selected for the series, is the fact that many of these personalities are not only sacred monsters of the stage, but also they have intriguing life stories: of romantic relationships, of career succes, but also of heroic merits and of mysterious life events. I tried to select some of the biographic information about each of the featured actors and actresses below.
The 2012 issue
The three personalities chosen for the first issue of 2012 were: Aleksander Żabczyński, Jadwiga Smosarska, and Eugeniusz Bodo.
On Mar-21, 2017, the Israeli Post issued a series of 12 stamps commemorating popular Israeli love songs. The songs included were composed as early as the 1920’s and as late as the early 1990’s and are Israeli evergreens, being sung oftentimes in song contests and at weddings. Many of them have been covered by more than one artist, contributing therefore to their already ‘classical’ status.
The 12 stamps were issued in a sheet format that was not novel for the Israeli post. Three other similar sheets were issued in the past, commemorating Israeli singers, songs for children, and music albums. The structure of the sheet contains a central vignette and 12 stamps set out clockwise on all four sides of the sheet. Each stamp features an illustration and a text in print or handwriting Hebrew. The text represents either the first stanza of the song, or the chorus.
“Elder Nicolae, the Fiddler” (1906) is one of the best known paintings of Romanian painter Ștefan Luchian (1868-1916). Although Luchian excelled in the area of landscape and still life painting, there are a couple of well-known portraits signed by him, among which Gypsy flower sellers, laundresses, and children are captured in Impressionist style. A former student of the renowned Nicolae Grigorescu, and an avid admirer of Rembrandt and Correggio (whose works he copied during his 2-semester stay at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts), Luchian’s paintings are immediately recognized by Romanians due to his very personal touch. It is in this position that we find “Elder Nicolae, the Fiddler” – the portrait of a weary, anguished older man, caught in a moment that has little to do with his trade. Nicolae is resting, probably after vivacious carousing, where he conducted the entertainment of the merry-makers.
I have always been of the opinion that Marc Chagall‘s early modernism can be explained by a simple phrase, namely, the one explaining his origin. He was a Russian–French of BelarussianJewish origin (1887-1985). He took elements of Russian and Belarussian folklore, emerging Russian and French modernism, and did not forget at even one moment to celebrate the visual memory of the Jewish shtetl.
He was born Moishe Shagal and was one of the most longliving artists, falling short of 2 years to be 100 years old. He adopted Russian, and then French citizenship, lived in both countries but also spent almost a decade in the United States, and frequently visited Israel. He experimented with painting, stained glass, tapestries and ceramics. At the same time, he lived through numerous artistic influences and always remained true to himself, to the effect that it’s rare that a Chagall can be taken for the work of someone else.
The fascination with Chagall was, of course, not only in exhibitions and museums, and was not only incorporated in architecture (such as his stained glass works), but also made its way into the world of philately. Today we are going to look at some stamps inspired by Marc Chagall.
Issued in 2012, this two piece set features a painting from Marc Chagall (right) from the National Gallery of Armenia.
Chagall’s native Belarus seemes to never have enough of his art on their stamps. It happened for the first time for their EUROPA issue in 1993. Their issue devoted to contemporary art shows Chagall at his finest.
The National Gallery in Prague is one of the most “visible” galleries of art on stamps. With stamps being issued under the title “Art from the National Gallery” from 1966 (which is more than 50 years ago!), it was the foundation of one of the most long-lasting series of stamps in the entire world.
Published from 1966- present day: as of 2018, it will be ongoing for exactly 52 years chronologically.
Such stamps were not issued in only 2 years: in 1978 (stamps were issued for the 30th anniversary of the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava instead) and in 1983 (when stamps featuring art from the National Theater in Prague). That means that the 50th series of stamps inspired by the National Gallery in Prague are going to be issued in 2018!
Between 1966-1992 the issues were of Czechoslovakia. Issues 1993-to date are from the Czech Republic.
All stamps are given the title of the artwork, the artist (with years of birth and death where known) as well as the location of the artwork in the museum universe of Czechoslovakia/The Czech Republic. Rarely, an anniversary is being marked on the stamps (as it happened in 1994, for the stamp devoted to Lucas van Leyden, when the 500th anniversary of birth was mentioned on the stamp).
The series has a visible penchant for painting. Occasionally, sculpture is being shown. Only once photography was represented with one stamp (Jaromir Funke‘s “Loneliness with Glasses” in 2014). It is also the only stamp from the series not to have been engraved, but given a ‘modern’ look through digital printing.
Stamps were issued in series of 2 to 6. Originally the series included 5 stamps, but variations occurred. Most recent series from the Czech Republic include a maximum of 3 stamps.
191 stamps in this series were issued between 1966 and to date (including the 2017 stamps).
The stamps of former Czechoslovakia were usually issued during the last week of November, while the Czech Republic ones are issued in the second week of November. In recent years, the masterpieces to be shown on stamps are announced by the Czech Post at least 12 months in advance.
A large variety of local artists is being showcased in the half-centennial issue. Only 27 paintings by foreign artists were featured to date.
Many artists have been featured more than once on stamps from the series (the number between brackets refers to the number of times): Vaclav Hollar (4); Peter Bohun (3); Albrecht Durer (3); Alfons Mucha (3); Karel Skreta (3); Maximilian Svabinsky (3); Jan Zrzavy (3); Martin Benka (2); Cyril Bouda (2); Petr Brandl (2); Vaclav Brozik (2); Josef Capek (2); Lucas Cranach the Elder (2); Norbert Grund (2); Frantisek Hudecek (2); Jan Kupecky (2); Master Theodoricus (2); Pablo Picasso (2); Jan Preisler (2); Jakub Schikaneder (2); Zdenek Sklenar (2); Frantisek Tichy (2);
Below you will find the list of the stamps from this series (1966-2017) ordered alphabetically by the last name of the artist. Where available, Michel catalog numbers have been given. Years 1966-1992 refer to the issues of former Czechoslovakia, while issues 1993-present refer to the issues of the Czech Republic.