Sunday, 8 September 2013

PFEILER, Werner

Professor Werner Pfeiler (born 1941) was born in Vienna in 1941. His artistic talent had become obvious from an early age but the family did not have the funds to give him an appropriate education in the arts. He did receive training as an industrial engraver, however, and developed his skills while being employed as such in the graphic industry. His talent shone through and he was soon head of the engraving department in the firm where he worked.

But the arts still attracted Pfeiler, so in his free hours he tried his hand at painting. He also enrolled as a guest student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna where he studied life drawing and anatomy.

From the age of ten, Werner Pfeiler, like so many young kids of his age, had been an avid stamp collector. He came full circle when he entered the world of stamp engraving in 1969. It was his engraved ‘Don Carlos’ stamp from the 1969 Vienna State Opera block, especially, which proved that he was a master in the technique, and this stamp kick-started his illustrious stamp engraving career.

For nearly four decades, the catalogue of Austrian stamps would be dominated by Pfeiler’s name. Numerous commemorative sets were engraved by him, and, maybe even more importantly, several high profile Austrian definitive sets were also from Pfeiler’s hand.

The first such definitive set was the 1973 ‘Beautiful Austria’ series, which was entirely engraved by Pfeiler. This set, in particular, has become an iconic set of the modern Austrian catalogue, and it is through the beauty of the engravings that Austria managed to put itself on the world stage as a beautiful country indeed.

Pfeiler repeated this mammoth task in 1984, with yet another large and magnificent definitive set, depicting monasteries and abbeys. Again, the whole set was engraved by Pfeiler, and indeed five values were designed by him as well. With the 1993 ‘Monasteries and Abbeys’ definitive set Pfeiler went yet another step further, by designing and engraving the whole set himself. It is very fitting that Austria’s final recess-printed definitive set, the 1997 ‘Myths and Legends’ series, would also be engraved by Werner Pfeiler, concluding his involvement in all of Austria’s definitives since the early 1970s.

Besides their definitive sets, Austria has since long included a number of long-running series in its annual stamp issuing programme. One of these are the annual Stamp Day issues. From 1983 to 1989 these consisted of various designs with a postal theme in similar frames. These single stamp issues, designed and engraved by Pfeiler, have become just as iconic as his other work.

Pfeiler has not only engraved stamps for Austria. He did some work for Luxembourg as well, such as the 1984 Paintings set and the 1994 set showing Government Houses.

For Liechtenstein, too, Pfeiler engraved the odd stamp, such as the portrait of Prince Hans Adam from the 1970-4 royal portraits series, and the 1974 high value stamp portraying Prince Francis Joseph II and Princess Gina.

Pfeiler’s work as a designer and engraver became well known and loved throughout the whole world. The beauty of the Austrian definitives from his hand has raised the profile of Austrian stamps enormously. They have all stood the test of time and can still be regarded as a benchmark for recess-printed stamps. Pfeiler’s work has placed Austria firmly in the upper echelon of countries issuing engraved stamps. As such, it has raised the profile of Austria as a country as well. For this reason, the Austrian authorities, in view of services rendered to his country, granted him the title of Professor. 


This article was first published in Stamp and Coin Mart of June 2013 and is reproduced with their kind permission.    
STAMPS BY YEAR

1969
Austria, Armed forces
Austria, State opera

1970
Austria, Musikverein building
Austria, Antique clocks
Austria, Operettas
Austria, Thomas Koschat
Austria, World Veterans Federation
Austria, Christmas
Liechtenstein, Royal portraits

1971
Austria, Art treasures (two sets)
Austria, Kitzbühel
Austria, Automobile club
Austria, Nationalised industries
Austria, Sports

1972
Austria, Art treasures
Austria, World heart month
Austria, Paris Lodron university
Austria, Stamp day

1973
Austria, Alfons Petzold
Austria, Interpol
Austria, Europhot congress
Austria, Definitives







1974
Austria, Hugo Hofmannsthal
Austria, Franz Stelzhamer
Liechtenstein, Royal couple






1976
Austria, Millenary of Carinthia
Austria, Viktor Kaplan

1977
Austria, Fritz Herzmanovsky-Orlando
Austria, Globe friends
Austria,Workers' samaritan federation
Austria, Stamp day

1978
Austria, Gmunden town charter
Austria, Battle of Durnkrut
Austria, Fishing championships




1979
Austria, Shooting club
Austria, Danube Steam Navigation Company
Austria, Bregenz festival
Austria, WIPA 1981

1980
Austria, Alfred Wegener
Austria, WIPA 1981

1981
Austria, WIPA 1981
Austria, Telephone system
Austria, St. Veit-on-Glan
Austria, Stefan Zweig
Austria, St. Nikola-on-Danube

1982
Austria, Franciscan art exhibition
Austria, Gfohl
Austria, Stamp day
San Marino, Christmas

1983
Austria, Postal savings bank
Austria, Weitra
Austria, Europa
Austria, Stamp day

1984
Austria, Anton Hanak
Austria, Monasteries and Abbeys definitives
Austria, Tobacco monopoly
Austria, Lower Austrian exhibition
Austria, Bar association congress
Austria, Stamp day
Luxembourg, Paintings


1985
Austria, Lower Austrian exhibition
Austria, Boheimkirchen
Austria, Bad ischel operetta week
Austria, Stamp day

1986
Austria, Prince Eugene exhibition
Austria, Protestants act and law
Austria, Stamp day


1987
Austria, Lower Austrian exhibition
Austria, Prince Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau
Austria, Engravers and flexographers congress
Austria, Stamp day

1988
Austria, Educational congress
Austria, Patriotism and Protest
Austria, Stamp day

1989
Austria, Eduard Suess
Austria, Judenburg exhibition
Austria, Stamp day
Austria, Interparliamentary Union
Austria, Criminal law congress

1990
Austria, First Provinces Conference

1991
Austria, Vienna museums

1992
Austria, Zeller & Millöcker
Austria, Europa




1993
Austria, Monasteries and Abbeys definitives
Austria, Stamp day
Luxembourg, Historic houses

1994
Austria, Vienna Mint
Austria, Stamp day
Luxembourg, Government offices



1995
Austria, Friends of nature
Austria, Europa
Austria, Composers

1996
Austria, Stamp day
Austria, Burgenland
Austria, Otto III charter

1997
Austria, Theodor Kramer
Austria, Myths and Legends definitives
Austria, Erich Korngold

1998
Austria, Ybbs valley railway
Austria, Pöstlingberg Railway
Austria, Pinzgau railway
Austria, Empress Elisabeth
Austria, Eisenstadt

1999
Austria, Patent office
Austria, Ancient arts and crafts (two issues)

2000
Austria, Life of St Malachy
Austria, Austrian stamps
Austria, Bus route
Austria, Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Austria, Ancient arts and crafts

2001
Austria, UN High Commissioner for refugees
Austria, Johann Nestroy
Austria, Ancient arts and crafts (two issues)
Austria, Leopold Ludwig Döbler
Austria, Institute for meteorology and geodynamics

2002
Austria, Lilienfeld
Austria, Christmas

2003
Austria, Christmas

2004
Austria, Wedding Elizabeth and Franz Josef
Austria, Christmas

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