BIOGRAPHY: Heinz W. Gutschmidt

Heinz W. Gutschmidt was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1906. His father was a bank clerk but in his spare time loved to make music and paint. His mother, too, was interested in all things artistic. As a child, Heinz suffered malnutrition during the First World War and was sent, like many other war children, to Sweden, in the summers of 1919 and 1920, where he stayed with a furniture dealer in Gothenburg. He enjoyed life in Sweden very much and was always reluctant to return to Germany.

In 1923 he finished his secondary education and subsequently travelled to Sweden, to escape an inflation-riddled Germany. But his father had arranged for him to go to work in a lightbulb factory in Berlin, where he could learn about advertising. Not the sort of thing Heinz was dreaming of. He was still dreaming of Sweden but did realise that his father was right: he did need an education before he could move away. What's more, with the graduation certificate for drawing with which he left the factory, he gained access to the Berlin Academy of Arts, in 1925.

While there, he made up his mind he wanted to become an engraver, so he was very happy to be given as position at the German State Printers in 1926. There he received further training for a couple of years, but times were increasingly hard in Germany and in the early 1930s the printers were forced to lay off many people, among which was Heinz.

He was 26 at the time, and while his family was able to withstand the bad economic times relatively well, Heinz was pining away, still dreaming of his beloved Sweden. And so, in 1933, he went to Gothenburg, moving in with Constanze Lindberg, an elderly acquaintance he knew from his summers spent there as a child. He tried to make a living painting pictures and making graphic illustrations. But in 1935, residence permits became obliged for non-Swedish residents. Ms Lindberg had become to rely on Heinz in her old age, so a lawyer advised her to adopt him. This was duly done so Heinz could stay in Sweden. In 1938, he obtained Swedish citizenship.

That same year Heinz found work at the porcelain factory Rörstrand in Gothenburg where he worked as an engraver and painter. But the firm could not survive the economic situation caused by the Second World War, so again Heinz Schmidt was being laid off when the firm went bust.

Being told by someone that the Swedish post was looking for postmen, Heinz applied and duly got the job. He remained a postman for the next 16 years, enjoying his work very much. A heart attack then forced him to stop working. While convalescing, to kill the time, Heinz drew a few essays for stamp designs. An employee of the Swedish Post saw these and was so impressed she immediately informed her boss. He asked Heinz to submit a proper stamp essay.

Heinz had never been so nervous in his whole life, he later said in an interview. His essay was approved on 14 April 1961 and that's how Heinz Gutschmidt became a stamp engraver with the Swedish Post.

Heinz' first engraved stamp was the 2k50 value of the Three Crowns, or Small Arms definitives, which had been introduced in 1939. This particular value was issued in August 1961. Three more values in this design were to follow between 1964 and 1969.

Of the many stamp Heinz engraved since his debut, he liked his 1966 definitive, depicting Ale's Stones in Kaseberga, best of all. His church door engraving of the 55ö value in the 1970 'Swedish Forgings' set is another one he was very pleased with.


Nordisk Filateli, October 2011

You will find Heinz Gutschmidt's database HERE.