Wimmer's Olympics

Sometimes I muse about what things would be like if I were a rich man. Would I go out and buy each and every die proof that's around? I might well, though I must also admit that buying die proofs which are basically the finished article is not half as exciting as finding progressive die proofs, essay die proofs, etc. At least you then have something a little bit different to look at, rather than just a very crisp and beautiful print of the master engraving.

Luckily enough, every now and then one might find the odd gem which apparently is not that much sought after and can be picked up for a reasonable price. Which was the case with the item featured today:

It is a die proof for the Austrian issue of 1948 for the Fund for Entries to the Fifth Winter Olympic Games in St. Moritz, engraved by Georg Wimmer. Here is the actual image, so you can have a better look.

I like it especially because the finished article looks like this:

Quite a difference, eh?! It begs a number of questions though. Was the original design to be like this, with the background remaining unengraved? Or is it 'just' a progressive die with the background still to be finished? I can't of course answer that.

Then there's the matter of the denomination. Both value and surcharge are different from the eventual stamp. That is not that strange, though; it happened quite often and to make matters more complicated, I've seen an image of yet another die proof with yet another surcharge:

Image courtesy of eastern auctions

I've tried looking at the stamp engraving to see whether you can see any fiddling about with the figures, but can't see anything which might help me along (Or can I? Has that 4 been replaced with a 5?):

However, I have come to the conclusion that the die proof shown at the top is not a progressive die proof for the eventual stamp because the shading on the 'podium' is quite different on the die proof than on the stamp. On the die proof it consists mainly of dots:

whereas on the stamp it is a pattern of hatched short lines:

And now that I see the two images side by side for the first time I also notice a difference in the placement of the rings: note how the top of the bottom rings is at the front on the die proof and at the back on the stamp!

So there we have it, so many questions, so few answers, so many sleepless nights...