Sunday, 15 October 2017

Greenland 1963 - Polar Bears

In the words of that now famous Disney bear, Baloo, "The simple bear necessities." That's right. This week is all about bears. Ursus maritimus. more commonly known as the polar bear, to be precise. The mighty and majestic polar bear could very well be considered the king of bears. It is our largest land-based predator. A boar (adult male) can weigh in at up to 700 kg. That's a heavyweight to rival "Iron" Mike Tyson! The other brutes of the bear family, the Kodiak and the brown bear are on average slightly smaller.


On 17 September 1963 Greenland issued a new design consisting four values to expand on the definitive set which started on 7 March 1963 with a beautiful "Northern Lights" design. The new design, conceived by V Bang, features a stunningly-engraved polar bear by the master, Czeslaw Slania. This has to be one of my favourite Slania engravings, simple, elegant, and very effective in small stamp format.

In Greenland the polar bear lives in the northernmost parts of West Greenland and in Northeast Greenland,. Since they move with the drifting ice, they can also be seen elsewhere in Greenland. Having said that, though, polar bears are not easily spotted unless you happen to find yourself on a boat cruising along the coast. If you are lucky enough to be doing such a thing, they can be fairly easily spotted due to their off-white fur, which contrasts somewhat with the pack ice.

Until next time...

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Greenland 1966 - The Boy and the Fox

The flickering lamplight dances across the face of the storyteller. The small audience, huddled together to ward off the winter chill, sit and listen with fascination. The storyteller gesticulates wildly as the tale draws to a conclusion. Her arms create moving shadows over the walls, animating her narrative. The story is punctuated by gasps and murmurs of delight from the audience. She raises her arms one further time, then drops them. The story is now finished. The villagers retire to their beds, happy to have survived another day of bitter cold.

Such scenes were common in Greenland during the long winter nights. On these nights many folk tales would be told. I'm sure each audience would've had their favourites. One story that may have been quite popular was "The Boy and the Fox". After some searching on the net I found a folk tale of the same name, but one from Sweden. I'm not entirely sure it is the same tale as that told in Greenland, but the theme is possibly similar.

The story is about a boy who one day sees a fox sleeping nearby. Instead of admiring it for its wild beauty, he sees it in profit. Why, if he could sell it, he could buy a whole batch of rye seeds. He starts imagining caring for a field of rye. he knows the other villagers will be jealous. They will want to get into his precious rye. He would have to shout at them to get out! Without realising, he shouts out loud. The fox, suddenly alerted to his presence, darts away to safety.
The boy called so loud
that the fox awoke.
The fox sprang to his feet,
and away he went to the woods.
So the boy did not get even a hair
from the tail of the fox.

Between 1957 and 1969 Greenland issued a series of five stamps celebrating Greenlandic folk tales. On 22 September 1966, the 50o value stamp depicting "The Boy and the Fox", was issued. This stamp was designed by Jens Christian Rosing, who designed some 150 stamps. And it was engraved by Czeslaw Slania. As I mentioned above, I'm not sure if the tale I found is the correct one, but the scene depicted on the stamp certainly seems to fit. In this delightful scene we see a boy, with a rather maniacal look on his face, about to pounce on a fox. The fox, it appears, has only just become aware of the boy, and is in the process of making off with all haste. What a great engraving!

Until next time...

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Greenland 1964 - Samuel Petrus Kleinschmidt

A keen student of languages, Samuel Petrus Kleinschmidt, born 27 February 1814, studied  Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Dutch, French, and English, all the while retaining his childhood languages, Danish, German, and Greenlandic. Oh, and in his copious spare time, he also translated parts of the Bible into Greenlandic!

Born of humble beginnings in the rectory of Lichtenau in southern Greenland to missionary parents, Samuel travelled to Saxony in Germany in his youth where he studied before taking an apprenticeship at a pharmacy. In 1837 he began working as a teacher. Perhaps the pharmaceutical business wasn't his style. In 1841 he returned home to Greenland and began giving church sermons in plain, everyday Greenlandic language. Samuel spent the rest of his days in Greenland, preaching, and researching and writing about language. In fact, he invented the orthography (the conventional spelling system of a language) used for writing Greenlandic - a system utilised up until 1973 when it was revised. Samuel Petrus Kleinschmidt died 8 February 1886.


On 26 November 1964 Greenland issued a stamp commemorating the life's work of Samuel Petrus Kleinschmidt. The stamp was engraved by Czeslaw Slania. This is a lovely engraving. Samuel's eye contain so much passion, drive and focus. And, of course, that awesome beard!

Until next time...

Sunday, 24 September 2017

I Interview... Colin from England

It has been a while since my last Slania Crazy! interview. Time for another, methinks. A loyal follower of my blog, named Colin, graciously volunteered some of his time to share with us his thoughts  on the master engraver. Enjoy!

Slania Crazy!: Thank you very much for participating in my "I Interview..." series.

Colin: Glad to take part.

Q: When did you start collecting Slania stamps?
A: I started back in 2002.

Q: What drew you to start collecting him?
A: When I saw his magnificent 1000th stamp  for Sweden

Q: What is your favourite Slania stamp, and why is it your favourite?
A: His 1000th stamp also happens to be my favourite. And I have visited Drottningholm Palace (Ed If you like you can check out my blog post on this amazing stamp HERE.

Q: Where do you usually get your Slania stamps?
A: Several places. Ebay, fellow collectors, and Auctions for the scarce ones in my Slania Collection, which if successful, I remove the items I want and sell the remainder.

Q: What references do you like using? Which is your favourite?
A: The images are excellent, and has more images than

Q: Do you remember what your first Slania stamp was?
A: Again, it was Slania's famous 1000th stamp  for Sweden

Q: Do you collect any other engravers?
A: No, my aim is to get as complete a collection of Slania that I can.

Q: What are your other stamp specialisms?
A: Gibraltar, Malta, and The Philatelic Congress of GB

Q: How do you store your Slania stamps?
A: I store them on Hagner/Prinz stock cards until I write them up for display to philatelic societies

Q: Do you have any collecting tips to share?
A: Buy MNH if possible, as they will retain value better and are better for display. When I write up a page for display I try to include a high resolution scan 1200dpi (4 x normal size) of the best stamp on the page, which highlights Slania’s engraving skills.

I'd like to thank Colin again for taking part in the interview.

Until next time...