FALZ, Egon

Egon Falz (1932-2010) was born in Insterburg, Germany, in May 1932. From an early age he showed to have a great talent as a drawer. It was therefore no wonder that after having finished his secondary education, he proclaimed to want to become a graphic artist. His neighbour, who worked at the German state printers, got to hear of his intentions as well. She told him that he’d be better off becoming an engraver and if he’d like, she could try and get him an apprentice place at the printing works, knowing that they were always in search of good engravers for their security printings. And so, at the tender age of 16, Falz managed to be accepted by the printers, starting a career there which would last from 1948 to his eventual retirement in 1995.

At first, Falz would be trained as a letterpress engraver. This took some two years. While doing all sorts of small jobs in the printing firm, he was then allowed to learn to be a proper banknote and stamp engraver. Together with another pupil, who would later also become a prolific stamp engraver, Hans Joachim Fuchs, he was placed under the care of yet another well-known German engraver, Leon Schnell, passing on his craftsmanship.

In 1955, Egon Falz finally got to engrave his very first stamp. It was a single stamp for what was then West Germany, issued on 2 August 1955, to mark the tenth anniversary of the expulsions of Germans from beyond the Oder-Neisse Line. That same year he also engraved his first of many stamps for West Berlin, the 10pf + 5pf value from the set marking the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Bishopric. The stamp depicts St. Hedwig. In the following four decades, some 200 more stamps would follow. Falz would also engrave a number of banknotes, not just for Germany, but also for Venezuela.

His talent as a graphic artist would come in handy when he was called upon to design stamps as well as engrave them, though this would only be on a few occasions. In 1978, Falz designed and engraved a three-stamp set for West Berlin, when the original designer suddenly fell ill. The set, depicting Berlin Views, was the sequel to the 1976 set and the layout for the designs had already been prepared, but Falz was asked to step in and finish the designs. Also, the 1975-82 ‘Industry and Technology’ definitive set issued in both West Germany and West Berlin, has a single value designed by Falz. This time, the designer of the original series had died unexpectedly, just at the time the German Post needed new values added to the set. Falz therefore got the opportunity to design and engrave the 300pf depicting an electromagnetic monorail.

Although Egon Falz, like the other engravers, never had a choice of which stamps to engrave, he did have a specific preference for portrait stamps. One of his most iconic portrait stamps is without a doubt the 1964 single stamp, issued in both West Germany and West Berlin, commemorating President Kennedy.

As mentioned, being part of a team of engravers at the printers’ meant that they were just handed out their work, without having any say. It was actually the head of the department who made the decisions which engraver would engrave which stamp. Quite a few engravers would relish the chance and move on to that position, but when Falz was asked whether he would be interested, he declined. He loved his job as an engraver and wouldn’t swap it for the world for a mere ‘desk job’.

His passion for his work remained as ardent as ever, even after his retirement. In fact, when interviewed by the Deutsche Briefmarken-Zeitung in 2007, he could still get worked up about the fact that Germany no longer issued any recess-printed stamps. “I think it’s an utter disgrace that a state security printer no longer has the capacity and machinery for recess-printing”. A perfect quote to sum up the man and echo the views of many a stamp collector.

This article was first published in Stamp and Coin Mart of October 2014 and is reproduced with their kind permission.

STAMPS BY YEAR

1955
West Berlin, Berlin bishopric
West Germany, Expulsion of Germans
West Germany, Westropa 1955

1956
West Berlin, Engineer union
West Germany, Olympic year
West Germany, Thomas Mann
West Germany, War graves commission

1957
Saar, Merzig
West Berlin, Buildings and monuments definitives
West Berlin, Building exhibition
West Berlin, Portraits
West Germany, Constructive philately
West Germany, Justus Liebig University
West Germany, Leo Baeck
West Germany, Joseph van Eichendorff

1958
Saar, Rudolf Diesel
Saar, Homburg
West Berlin, Portraits
West Germany, Diesel
West Germany, Munich
West Germany, Trier market
Saar, Homburg

1959
Saar, Alexander von Humboldt
Venezuela, First stamps
West Berlin, Portraits
West Berlin, Berlin airlift
West Germany, Alexander von Humboldt
West Germany, Beethoven Hall

1960
Venezuela, Oil industry
Venezuela, Anzoátegui

1961
West Berlin, Louise Schroeder
West Berlin, Broadcasting exhibition

1962
West Berlin, Old Berlin definitives
West Germany, Catholics' day 

1963
West Berlin, Old Berlin definitive
West Germany, Relief organizations

1964
West Berlin, President Kennedy
West Germany, Catholics day
West Germany, President Kennedy

1965
West Germany, Adolf Kolping
West Berlin, New Berlin

1966
West Berlin, German architecture definitives
West Berlin, New Berlin
West Germany, German architecture definitives
West Germany, Werner von Siemens

1967
West Berlin, German architecture definitives
West Berlin, Art treasures
West Germany, German architecture definitives

1968
West Berlin, Magistrates court
West Germany, Karl Marx
West Germany, Olympics
West Germany, Wagner's The Mastersingers

1969
West Berlin, Contemporary art
West Berlin, Zoo
West Germany, Nature protection
West Germany, Women's suffrage
West Germany, Pope John XXIII

1970
West Germany, Europa
West Germany, Tourism
West Germany, Olympics

1971
West Germany, Tourism
West Germany, Dante Alighieri

1972
West Berlin, Friedrich Gilly
West Berlin, Stamp day
West Germany, K. Schumacher
West Germany, Tourism

1973
West Germany, Tourism (two issues)

1974
West Berlin, Georg W. von Knobelsdorff
West Germany, Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock
West Germany, Hans Holbein the Elder

1975
West Berlin, Gottfried Schadow
West Berlin, Industry & technology definitives
West Berlin, Paul Löbe
West Germany, Eduard Morike
West Germany, Industry and technology definitives
West Germany, Architectural heritage year
West Germany, Nobel Peace prize winners

1976
West Berlin, Views
West Germany, Konrad Adenauer

1977
West Berlin, Eduard Gaertner
West Germany, Peter Paul Rubens
West Germany, Ulm cathedral

1978
West Berlin, Berlin views
West Berlin, Walter Kollo
West Berlin, Prussian library building






1979
West Berlin, Congress centre
West Berlin, Advertisement pillars
West Germany, Pilotage regulations






1980
West Berlin, Berlin Views
West Germany, Osnabrück
West Germany, Urban renaissance








1982
West Berlin, Industry & technology definitives
West Berlin, Salzburg emigrants
West Berlin, Carl Gotthard Langhans
West Berlin, Berlin views
West Germany, Industry & technology definitives

1983
West Berlin, Berlin-Coblenz telegraph

1984
West Germany, Neuss

1985
West Berlin, Stock exchange

1986
West Berlin, Wilhelm Furtwängler
West Berlin, Ludwig Mies von der Rohe
West Berlin, Famous women definitive (lettering only)
West Germany, Famous women definitive (lettering only)

1987
West Germany, Definitive










1988
France, Franco-German co-operation treaty
West Berlin, Friedrich Wilhelm
West Germany, Franco-German co-operation treaty
West Germany, Leopold Gmelin



1997
Germany, Definitive

Comments

  1. Where is the bio info?

    Also Falz engraved many more stamps than shown here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bio: The bios that I upload here on this site are first published in the British magazine 'Stamp & Coin Mart', for whom they're written. I've only just written the bio of Falz, so that won't be published in the magazine until somewhere this summer and it won't appear on this website 'til some time after that, I'm afraid.

      Stamps: the database of engraved work is very much still a work in progress. I slowly but surely plough my way through the catalogues and am updating the various lists on an almost daily basis. The lists from the following areas are relatively complete (to my knowledge anyway): British Commonwealth, Austria and Hungary, Balkans, Benelux, Czechoslovakia and Poland. I've just started on France (which is huge, as you know) and will then move on to Germany which will of course means finally updating Falz's list.

      Delete

Post a Comment