KALINA, Annemarie

'Noblest of all stamps' is how Annemarie Kalina (born 1941) defines recess-printed stamps, and yet it took a while before she was given the opportunity to engrave them. Born in Klagenfurt, Austria, in 1941, she was educated at the Fachschule für Handfeuerwaffen in nearby Ferlach. For four years she learned how to engrave, mainly small firearms, but her education also focused on art history and drawing, both freestyle and portraits.

After her schooling, Kalina became a professional engraver in Vienna, and later moved back to Klagenfurt where she established herself as an independent engraver. But when, in 1972, one of her teachers at her former school left, she took up teaching the art of engraving there. She remained at the school until her retirement in 2002.

Part of the school’s curriculum was to organise field trips to various companies where engravers worked. And that is how she eventually ended up at the State Printing Works in Vienna. Annemarie Kalina was explained the A to Z of recess-printed stamp production, and became absolutely fascinated by it. So when asked whether she would want to engrave stamps, she was overjoyed, said ‘Yes’ immediately, and spent the next two years learning the art of stamp engraving, which is different from “normal” engraving in that for a stamp engraving to be successful, it not only has to look beautiful but it should also be good enough to translate into a good printing.

Kalina’s first stamp for Austria was the 1988 issue to mark the 1100th Anniversary of Feldkirchen in Carinthia. As with so many of Austria’s issues, this was a stamp produced in a combination of recess-printing and photogravure. The main thing with this combination of printing processes, according to Kalina, is that you need to be creative with the lines you engrave, but you must make sure the engraving does not go against the intentions of the designer.

In a freelance capacity, Annemarie Kalina engraved some ten stamps for Austria, between 1988 and 1996, when unfortunately, health problems forced her to give up her engraving work. Unlike many other engravers, who often seem to be specialised in portrait engravings, Kalina only produced two portrait stamps, of Julius Raab in 1991 and Norbert Hanrieder in 1992, the rest of her oeuvre being mainly architectural stamps.

Her favourite stamp is also the one stamp she engraved that was printed in intaglio only. It is the 1990 issue marking the 850th Anniversary of Seckau Abbey. The stamp depicts a Madonna known as “Our Dear Housewife of Seckau”. The challenge with this stamp was that the Madonna had to be placed against a uniform background representing the rough bark of a tree, which should however not be too dominant. It took a lot of effort, said Annemarie Kalina when interviewed, to come up with a suitable solution.

Other favourites of hers are the 1990 stamp for the “Natural Beauty Spots” series, depicting the stalactite caverns of Obir, and the 1995 issue to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Carinthian Referendum, depicting Hollenburg Castle.

Annemarie Kalina told me that she admires the work of her contemporary Wolfgang Seidel, and also speaks highly of the very fine engravings of a more recent member of the club of engravers, Robert Trsek. Kalina very much believes that recess-printed stamps are the noblest of all stamps, and not just because of the challenging process of engraving. She is of the opinion that, compared with recess-printed stamps, other stamps often look dull and uninteresting. Stamps produced in e.g. gravure or lithography can in no way compete with the expression, depth and clarity of an engraved stamp.

This article was first published in Stamp and Coin Mart of September 2011 and is reproduced with their kind permission.


Austria, Feldkirchen
Austria, Ansfelden

Austria, Seckau Abbey
Austria, Leoben university

Austria, Beauty spots
Austria, Julius Raab

Austria, Norbert Hanrieder

Austria, Carinthian mining exhibition
Austria, Carinthian referendum

Austria, Theresian Academy Vienna