Court of honour – postal museum

A sample of the rarities that will be shown at the LIBEREC 2022 exhibition and are on loan from the Postal Museum in Prague .

Drawing of the design by A. Mucha for the first Czechoslovak stamps

In 1918, after the establishment of Czechoslovakia, there was a need to print new Czechoslovak postage stamps. At that time, the leading philatelists J. Lešetický and J. Šula, on behalf of the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs, visited A. Mucha with a request to prepare a design for the first Czechoslovak stamps by the morning of the next day.

A. Mucha reminisced in 1928 (Český filatelista 1928/12):

 “We talked about ideas, and I suggested the Liberated Homeland – but for opportunistic reasons, and after a consultation in the office, Mr Lešetický returned with a proposal that neither Hus nor Sokol nor anything similar, which might unpleasantly bite either side, should come into the combination, and that Hradčany should simply be shown. I have so far submitted several alternatives for selection – Sokol, Vlast and perhaps something else – I can’t remember.

So I took Hradčany to do the job. In order that at least some of the idea of freedom might be remembered there, I let the new rays of light rise behind the temple, which in its final reproduction took the form of the sun.”

Alfons Mucha also explained the meaning of some other details of the drawing. The linden leaves are a symbol of Slavicism, they represent our countries, of which the central one, Bohemia, is the largest. The doves represent faith and hope in the future. The hearts express the peacefulness and tolerance of our people. The original sketch by Alfons Mucha is illustrated below.

The first Czechoslovak stamps were issued on the 18th December 1918, less than two months after the establishment of Czechoslovakia. They were issued in the following values – 3, 5, 10, 20, 25, 30 and 40 halers. There was no experience in printing postal stamps, so there are many imperfect prints of these stamps. Already during the issue of the first stamps it was found that the design was not perfect due to printing reasons. The letterpress, which was used to print the first stamps, does not allow for perfect printing of the colour area. Therefore, modifications were made to the A. Mucha design.

The second picture shows a drawing by A. Mucha. This drawing was the final design and the stamps in this drawing were issued from June 1919 to the first half of 1920.

Stamps in the 1st drawing

Stamps in the 2nd drawing

Stamps in the 3rd drawing

Stamps in the 4th drawing

Stamps in the 5th drawing