Martin Mörck reaches a historic milestone: Stamp No. 1,000
Martin Mörck, the most productive living stamp designer and engraver in the world today, will celebrate the issuance of his 1,000th stamp commission on August 11th in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. This stamp will be issued by Posta Faroe Islands.
As of that date, Mörck’s 1,000 different designs and/or engravings will have appeared on 1,152 stamps issued by 28 postal administrations around the world. 48 of these Mörck productions will have been issued by the Faroe Islands: forty of them as ordinary stamps while eight of them as franking labels (vending machine stamps).
Speaking of the total stamp count, I would like to highlight one important difference in terms of how Posta and Mörck count their stamps. Posta does not include the franking labels in their total stamp count while Mörck does. Posta classifies franking labels in a separate category from ordinary stamps although both of them are used for the purpose of postage. Mörck as an artist includes every piece of paper used for postage, bearing his artwork, in the total count of his stamps.
As a passionate collector of Mörck’s works, I always had a keen interest in playing a role in conceptualization and development of his 1,000th stamp. Knowing Martin’s genuine love for the Faroe Islands (see my Posta Stamps No. 51 article) and my own adoration of the Faroes, it has all along been my dream to have the Mörck Stamp No. 1000 to be issued by the Faroe Islands.
In July 2021, I made my initial concept proposal for Mörck’s 1,000th stamp to Svanbjørg Manai who was the Head of Posta Stamps at the time. My proposal was well-received. We had intermittent discussions on this topic along the way, but did not finalize it as a project until February 2022 when I met Svanbjørg, Ingun Olsen, the new Head of Posta Stamps, and Martin at the London 2022 International Stamp Exhibition. After our detailed discussions in London, we agreed that the stamp motif should be related to the sea, as Martin is a seafaring person, reflect the cultural identity of the Faroe Islands, and include the Faroese landscape. Our preference was using a Faroese painting if we could find one that matches the agreed criteria. Besides having an interest in this special milestone issue, it was also my aspiration for some time that Mörck’s 1,000th stamp should be the largest ever-known hand-engraved stamp. So, I expressed this desire of mine during our discussions. In the end, we agreed on this goal as well.
For the next step, Svanbjørg started searching through the Faroese artwork collections and identified a few paintings, but we could not decide on any of them. One day, Svanbjørg told me that she came across one painting that she liked very much when visiting Edward Fuglø, a well-known Faroese artist. It was the 1933 Emil Krause painting titled “Returning from fishing” hanging on the dining room wall of Edward’s house. The motif of the painting was matching our initial agreed criteria. Afterwards, we shared the image of this painting with Martin who also liked it and decided to engrave it for his 1,000th stamp.
Once the motif was chosen, I started working on the layout design of Mörck stamp No. 1,000 and its minisheet together with Durita Jacobsen from Posta. Until this day, the largest ever known hand-engraved stamp belongs to Czesław Słania, the legendary Polish engraver. That one is Słania’s 1,000th stamp issued by Post Sweden in 2000. For this stamp, he engraved a fragment of a Baroque style ceiling fresco from the royal summer residence at Drottningholm Palace near Stockholm. The dimensions of that stamp motif inside the perforated area is 75 x 55 mm. It was our goal to set a new record and thus defined the engraved area size of the Mörck stamp No. 1,000 as 82 x 62 mm.
In August 2022, I visited Fuglø at his house in Klaksvík and saw the original Krause painting to be engraved by Martin with my own eyes. It was totally a different experience for me seeing the actual painting. My initial reaction was “Wow”! It is a beautiful oil canvas painting sized 128 x 98 cm. The painting depicts three tired Faroese fishermen, returning from fishing, carrying their catch in a wooden crate on their back on the rugged shores of Viðareiði while enjoying smoking a pipe. The actual location of the painting motif can be found on the right side of Rt. 70 near Viðareiði boat ramp after exiting the Viðareiði Tunnel driving into the town. Edward told me that he acquired this painting because his grandfather was a fisherman from Viðareiði. He sees his grandfather whenever he looks at this painting.
Danish painter Emil A. Krause (1871-1945) visited the Faroe Islands twice in the early twentieth century. During his visits, he did a number of paintings depicting the Faroese life and landscape. He was extremely good at characterizing people, and the environment they lived in, in his beautiful paintings that became important to our understanding of the Faroese society in those years.
Besides engraving the stamp, Martin also designed and illustrated the cachet and cancellation of the FDC. The cachet depicts a profile of Mörck while engraving his 1,000th stamp. The location of the first day cancellation will be Klaksvík where the original painting is located.
This August, history will be written at the Great American Stamp Show (GASS) in Cleveland on multiple fronts. Mörck will be the second stamp artist ever reaching the 1,000th milestone after Słania. At the same time, Mörck will be the engraver who engraved the largest ever known stamp while Posta Faroe Islands will be the postal administration issuing the largest ever known hand-engraved stamp. Let’s not miss witnessing history. See you all in Cleveland!