While doing a little research on the engraver Josef Hercik (at least, I think that's how it started), I came across an auction lot of a set of engraved and signed souvenir sheets from Czechoslovakia, which were intriguingly named 'Mlada Fronta sheets'. I put in a bid and was successful so I had to find out more!
Turns out that Mlada Fronta is a daily newspaper which has run a 'Most Popular Stamp' poll ever since the early 1960s. And from 1965 to 1990 they produced special folders which included a specially made engraving based on a winning stamp.
I say a winning stamp, for there were many categories in the poll. The souvenir sheetlets, however, were always tied to the winner of the 'Best Stamp' category. Naturally, it being Czechoslovakia, this would virtually always entail an engraved stamp, for the non-engraved stamps from this period are very hard to find, if there are any at all.
Together with the winning stamps this would make a magnificent collection and I'm very happy I've since been able to add a few more, thanks to my fellow engraver enthusiast Florian from the Czech Republic.
I think my favourite of the lot I have so far is this 1983 sheetlet shown above, engraved by Ladislav Jirka. I already had the stamp, which is beautiful as well, but the larger floral engraving is perfectly stunning, I think.
The engraving of Rubens' Cleopatra reminded me immediately of Sem Hartz' hobby horse, which I quoted you a few weeks ago, on the 5th of April, about how recess-printed stamps should be printed in monochrome.
Comparing the actual stamp with the souvenir sheet engraving, I once again agree with him and find the single-coloured sheetlet much superior to the stamp.
Now, one of the categories in the anual Mlada Fronta poll is 'Best Interpretation by Engraver of a Work of Art'. Seeing that this is a specifically engraver-based poll, I've decided to add all the entries on this site, and you'll find them here. Again, collecting these Art stamps would make a lovely mini collection, and I may well try and do so. I've already got the one, which happened to be the same Cleopatra stamp as shown above, because it won in several categories that year!