Scandinavian Collectors Club

Reviews

Martin Mørck is a Norwegian by nationality, who grew up in Sweden and now lives in Denmark. He is by some accounts the greatest living stamp engraver, with over 800 stamps engraved to date. He is only surpassed by the great Czeslaw Slania with over 1000 engravings to his name.

This book is a treasure. There are 54 pages showing the stamps he has engraved. He started engraving for the Swedish Post in 1978, but has done stamps for Åland, Denmark, Faroes, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Jersey, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montserrat, United Nations and the United States. Most of the stamps have been commemoratives, but he has also done Danish Wavy Line and Queen Margarethe definitives. Besides stamps he does engraved illustrations for magazines and currency notes. Perhaps his best-known magazine illustration is a portrait of David Bowie for Euroman.

The book is almost verbatim transcriptions from conversations that the author had with Mørck, translated into English for publication. They range from topics about the process he uses to recollections of his youth, to his interests outside of his work. One of his early hobbies was boat building. He is especially interested in Arctic exploration and has done a series of stamps for Greenland Post on this subject. He is a stamp collector, too, as was his father before him. He specializes in Norway No. 1 covers carried on steamers between towns in Norway.

The section on how he does his work is very interesting. He explains in some detail about the way in which the subjects are chosen, then the preparation of preliminary artwork, and finally talks about the engraving process itself. One of his major accomplishments was producing the largest engraving on a stamp, featuring Winston Churchill, for Jersey Post. It was designed in collaboration with Wang Hu Min, China’s most popular designer. It turned out to be a larger project than he anticipated, in more ways than size.

Mørck is an innovator in the field. He has developed a method for transferring images to the steel plates using a photographic process, making it easier to do the engraving. In China, he established an engraving school when he was working on a project for China Post.

There are many illustrations. They cover his travels as a young man and show his work as an engraver. The book finishes with enlarged illustrations of stamps he has done.  The magnified images emphasize the skill and beauty of the engraver’s work.

The book itself is a fascination. The section on growing up is printed on different color paper, called Munken Cream 15. The rest of the book is printed on Arctic White paper. Many pages show photos of engraved plates, with the pulled print on the opposite page, just a single image on each page. With so much thought put into making it a different kind of book, it was disappointing to find some of the stamps illustrated upside down in the first section!

Chris Dahle