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Art of postage stamps in Ukraine
The first adhesive postage stamps for the prepayment of letter postage were issued in 1840. England was the first country in the world to issue postage stamps. They were the brainchild of Rowland Hill, who successfully proposed them in his pamphlet Post Office Reform in 1837. The chief features of Hill’s system were gradually adopted in varying degrees by other countries throughout the world, first among which were Switzerland and Brazil in 1843. An inexpensive form of correspondence, the postcard, first introduced by Austria in 1869, was soon adopted by most other countries.
Collecting of postage stamps began soon after their introduction, and in the 1860s the first stamp albums were produced. Stamps became more than items of confirming the payment for postal services — they turned into collectors’ items and from small rectangular paper they turned into magnificent pieces of miniature art. The study of postage stamps, stamped envelopes, postmarks, postcards, and other materials relating to postal delivery was given a name — philately. The term philately also denotes the collecting of these items. The term was coined in 1864 by a Frenchman, Georges Herpin, who invented it from the Greek philos, “love,” and ateleia, “that which is tax-free”; the postage stamp permitted the letter to come free of charge to the recipient, rendering it untaxed.
The first stamps of independent Ukraine with the word Ukraine on them were issued in 1918. Altogether in the times of the Ukrainian People’s Republic five postage stamps were issued — two of them were designed by Sereda, an artist of whom little is known, and the other three by Heorhiy Narbut, a graphic artist of a remarkable talent. His contribution to the development of the art of postage stamps in Ukraine decades later was commemorated with the establishment of a special Narbut prize, which is annually awarded to the best designers of postage stamps in Ukraine.
Among the winners of the Narbut in recent years such artists as Kateryna Shtanko, Mariya Heiko, Yury Buslenko and Svitlana Bondar deserve a special mention.
The first postage stamps, after Ukraine regained her independence in 1991, were released fifteen years ago. A publishing house, Marka Ukrayiny, to issue postage stamps, was set up at the Ukrposhta State Post Enterprise, and since then it has been regularly releasing stamps, which fully meet the needs and requirements of postal communication of Ukraine — and those of stamp collectors as well. The Marka Ukrayiny Publishing House gives commissions to design stamps to talented artists — Kateryna Stanko, Mykolay Kochubey, Volodymyr Taran, Serhiy Kharuk, Oleksandr Kharuk, Vasyl Vasylenko, Hennadiy Kuznetsov, Valeriy Rudenko, Yury Lohvin, Mariya Heiko, Hennadiy Kleshchar, to name but a few.
Kateryna Shtanko’s colorful Kvity Ukrayiny (Flowers of Ukraine), was awarded the third place at the 7th World Postage Stamp Cup in 2000. Mykolay Kochubey’s Z Rizdvom Khrystovym (Merry Christmas!) earned the third place at the International Philatelist Contest WIPA Grand Prize in Austria. Both Shtanko’s and Kochubey’s stamps bear the stamp of “Ukrainianness” and this feature distinguishes them among other stamps.
In 2004, the third place at the WIPA Contest went to Vasyl Vasylenko’s Hetmanski kleynody ta osobysti rechi Bohdana Khmelnytskoho (Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s Emblems of Power and His Goods and Chattels). This bloc of stamps is marked with a refined taste and superb execution. The series of stamps Vydatni osobystosti Ukrayiny (Great Personalities of Ukraine), which has been designed by Vasylenko, and his Tradytsiyni holovni ubory ukrayinskykh zhinok (Traditional Headgear of Ukrainian Women) confirm this stamp designer’s status of a highly original and versatile artist.
The Ukrainian stamp, Intehratsiya ochyma molodykh lyudey (Integration Through the Eyes of Young People), which was released in 2006, has earned the first place at the international contest that was devoted to the stamps in this Integration Series. Members of the association of European State Post Operators PostEurope (this Association is made up of 43 post administrations in Europe), regularly take part in the Integration Series contests.
Volodymyr Taran’s design of an international coupon for a contest held by the International Bureau of Postal Union, Switzerland, was recognized to be the best.
In 2006, in China, the Chinese Postal Administration recognized The Post of Ukraine to be the Best Participant in the stamp design contests, in which Dopomoha dityam (Aid for Children) and 60 Years Since the Victory in WWII blocks of stamps won the first places in their respective nominations.
The Marka Ukrayiny Publishing House does its best not only to meet the needs of the post service in stamps but also to cater for stamp collectors. Series of colourful stamps are planned and executed. Among such series of stamps one should mention Ukrayina — kosmichna derzhava (Ukraine as a Country That Takes Part in Space Exploration); Zapovidnyky ta pryrodni parky Ukrayiny (Nature Reserves and Parks of Ukraine); Lokomotyvobuduvannya v Ukrayini (Building of Locomotives in Ukraine); Skarby muzeyiv Ukrayiny (Treasures of the Museums of Ukraine).
The series of stamps, Ukrayinsky narodny odyah (Ukrainian Traditional Dress) deserves a special mention too. The publication of the fist stamps in this series began in 2000 and in 2007 the series will be completed. Mykolay Kochubey was commissioned to provide designs for these series of stamps, and his stamps are not only creations of art in their own right — they are also of a considerable ethnographic value as they present Ukrainian traditional folk dress from various parts of Ukraine, dating to various times.
The Kozatska Ukrayina (Ukraine of Cossacks) block of stamps, which was released in 2006, was dedicated to the fifteenth anniversary of Ukraine’s independence. The stamps of this block showed portraits of Cossack leaders and promoted the idea of Ukrainian independence. A special technique of printing was used to give the stamps a particularly refined artistic appearance.
Poshtovi marky Ukrainy (Postage Stamps of Ukraine) is an annual publication with stamp collectors in mind, which presents all the recently released stamps and their descriptions.
In 2006, Ukrainian and Austrian postal services combined efforts and released stamps and coupons with watercolours by Theophile Czyszkovsky of cityscapes of Lviv and with museum items from the Lviv Historical Museum featured on these stamps. This release marked the 750th anniversary of the city of Lviv, which was celebrated on a grand scale (for a period of time, Lviv was part of the Austrian Empire). In 2007, jointly with Moldova, a series of stamps will be released with representations of fishes that live in the River Dnister on them.
The Marka Ukrayiny Publishing House, in addition to stamps, releases post cards and envelopes featuring pictures, which are devoted to various important events and personalities. Books that promote the art of stamp design are published too.
Krasa i velych Ukrayiny. Rehiony ta administratyvni tsentry Ukrayiny na poshtovykh markakh (Beauty and Grandeur of Ukraine. Regions and Administrative Centres of Ukraine Represented on Postage Stamps) is a lavishly illustrated book, which was recently presented at the 10th National Philatelist Exhibition that was held in Lviv. The book was praised by the postage stamp specialists and designers, as well as by the general public, stamp collectors in particular.
An unusual project has been recently launched at the Kyivsky poshtamt — The Central Post Office in Kyiv. You can have a picture of your own choice printed on a coupon that accompanies the Vlasna marka (Your Own) stamp. A great many people have already used the Your Own Stamp service. You are welcome to do the same.
The Marka Ukrayiny Publishing House
Tel./fax: +380 (44) 279-2182, 279-5930
Series of stamps Traditional Headgear
Block of stamps Flowers of Ukraine,
Block of stamps dedicated
Standard-issue stamps designed
Series of stamps Ukraine of Cossacks
International coupon, designed
Series of stamps Ukrainian National
Block of stamps Shatsky