Monday, 22 February 2016

Poland 1953 - Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle is located in Krakow, Poland. It was built for Casimir III the Great, who reigned through the middle of the 14th Century from 1333 to 1370. It consisted of a number of buildings arranged around a central courtyard. 

It was rebuilt later in the 14th Century by Jogaila and Jadwiga of Poland. Incidently, Jadwiga, aka Hedwig, was the first female monarch of Poland. She reigned from 1384 till her death in 1399. Additional sections were added to the castle during the rebuild. One area known as the Jogaila and Jadwiga Chamber held the Szczerbiec sword, which was used in coronation ceremonies. This sword still resides in the castle and is part of a public exhibit. 

In the 16th Century the castle was further refurbished by King Sigismund I the Old. He hired Italian architects and sculptures a well as German decorators, transforming the castle into a beautiful renaissance palace.

For centuries, this castle was the residence for Polish monarchs, making it a valuable historical landmark and a representation of Polish statehood. 


On 10 November 1953, Poland issued a set of three stamps to celebrate 'Renaissance Year'. Czeslaw Slania engraved one of the stamps in this set. Slania's engraving is based on a photo by St. Kolowca. The stamp depicts the Renaissance inner courtyard of the castle.

Looking at my Slania catalogue, I discovered that this stamp contains one of Slania's hidden names. Or is there two? (more on that in a moment) If you look closely at the third floor, centre left of the stamp, you will see a name engraved above the window. The name PILCH can be just made out. Pilch was a friend of Slania. Here's a close-up:

According to the Heindorff website there is another hidden name on this stamp in the spot I have marked...

When I zoom in on this spot, I have to admit I can't see anything, not that I'm saying there is nothing there! But while studying this area I DID find something else. Well, I think I did. Here's a close-up of what I found at the base of the pillar to the right of the window.

This looks to me remarkably like 'SL' with the strike-through on the L. This is exactly the same as the way Slania engraved his name at the bottom of the stamp.


In 1956 this stamp was reissued with four different denomination change overprints. When I zoom in on each of these stamps, I can no longer find the markings that I believe say 'SL'. Below is a close-up of the 60 GR overprint, which, as you can see, no longer includes the letters.

When I zoom in on the other three overprints I find a similar scenario. Except for the 10 GR, which seems to have a slight remnant of the letters. 

You can just make out the struck-through 'L'.


Now I am far from an expert of Polish Philately, so I'm calling on all you guys out there who are. Firstly, were the overprints a separate printing in 1956? Or were the overprints done on surplus stock? Was this stamp printed from multiple plates? Were the plate/plates retouched in any way? I'm keenly interested to find out.

This may all just be my imagination, but I reckon this could very well be another hidden name. And for all I know it is already documented elsewhere. What do you think? Is this mentioned somewhere as a hidden name?

Until next time...

Stay Slania Crazy!


  1. This is an provisional issue. Typographic overprints PWPW on basic stamp to new values. Printed in 100 sheets.

    The colour of overprint:
    10 gr. - blue black
    40 gr. - black or blue black
    60 gr. - black
    1,35 zl. blue black

    Overprints printing in forms:
    (according to Fischer catalogue of Polish stamps)
    10 gr. and 1,35 zl. - from single form
    40 gr. - from 5 forms
    60 gr. - probably also from 5 forms.

    (according to Specialized catalogue of Polish stamps)
    10 gr. - single form
    40 gr. - 5 forms
    60 gr. - single form
    1,35 zl. - 3 forms.

    As you can see there are different data from 2 catalogues.

    1. Thanks heaps for the details Keram! I knew you'd be my got to guy for this! I'll study what you've given me today after my coffee :) Thanks again! I hope life is treating you well.


    2. That should read: '...go to guy...' :)