Warnaar & Steinhausen

Collecting the work of stamp engravers can often be a bit frustrating. I was working on a section on Johannes Jacobus Warnaar in my collection and received the 1934 set from Curaçao to mark the tricentenary of Dutch colonization. It is a long set of 17 stamps in six designs.

Most of the designs are portraits with only one design showing a ship. I quite like the set and especially those ship stamps. I normally find that portraits are the best subject for engraved stamps, but I will readily admit that sailing ships come a very close second. There's something majestic about those sails and ropes and they seem to lend themselves perfectly to recess-printing.

So I picked up my SG catalogue to get all the relevant information and because I vaguely remembered there being something fishy about this set. And there you had it: engraved by J. J. Warnaar AND Rudolf Steinhausen. So that was the catch. Of course the catalogue does not go on to say which stamps are engraved by which engraver. Or did they maybe both work on all the stamps together?

Now my eyes are not trained enough to be able to positively distinguish engraving styles, but I had a go anyway. If I had to venture a guess I would say that the engravings of the ship, De Jongsten and Brion look finer in detail than the other three designs.

But the problem is that there are also two designers, so the difference I'm seeing is also exactly that between the two designers.

Not to worry: I just dusted off my old Dutch NVPH catalogue, hoping to find more detailed information there. And guess what? They only mention Steinhausen as the engraver, with the name of Warnaar nowhere to be seen!

I would normally guess that a 'home catalogue' would have more precise information, so I tend to think in this case that the NVPH catalogue will be right, but why on earth would the SG catalogue then include the name of Warnaar?

It's a puzzlement! So all I can do at the moment is hope that one day some Curaçao expert will read this and know the answer. And until then, I'm not confident enough to allocate this set to Warnaar so I'll just file it under Steinhausen and see what happens...