Czech owl stamps are second prettiest in the world

A sheet of postage stamps with a bird design won a prize in Vienna

A sheet of four Czech postage stamps with pictures of European owls took second place in a competition for the most beautiful stamps of 2015.

The award came at the Vienna International Stamps Exhibition (WIPA) in Vienna, an annual event for stamp enthusiasts.

The set of stamps on one perforated piece of paper were designed by Libuše Knotková and Jaromír Knotek, and engraved by Martin Srb. The Knoteks are well-known graphic artists who specialize in nature pictures. Aside from other animal-theme stamps, they have illustrated children's books. The stamps are made by flat plates that die stamp the black component, combined with color offset.

The stamps, denominated in Kč 13, Kč 17, Kč 21 and Kč 25, were issued Sept. 2, 2015.

“There are 13 original owl species in Europe, all of which are depicted in the miniature sheet. Of those, only one, the tawny owl, never appears in this country. Two of the depicted species rarely occur, but do not nest, in the Czech Republic. The other 10 species belong to the local breeding species,” the Czech Post Office said when the annual list of stamps was announced.

“The Kč 13 stamp shows the adult little owl with chicks. It is about the size of a turtle dove. It was once a common species but its current numbers are declining due to unclear causes. The opposite Kč 17 stamp depicts the boreal owl, again with chicks. This seemingly similar species is larger than the little owl; unlike the little owl that bends forward while sitting, the boreal owl always sits straight up. The large Kč 21 stamp features two owl species. The upper part of the stamp shows the flying snowy owl. This large tundra predator represents owls in the far north. When food, consisting mainly of lemmings or white rabbits, is scarce over the winter, it can also be found in this country. The lower part of the stamp shows the tawny owl sitting in front of a castle ruin. This is the commonest Czech owl species. The Kč 25 stamp shows the eagle owl. The size of 70 cm, weight up to 4.5 kg and a wingspan of almost 2 meters make it the largest European owl and the largest owl in the world. In a documented case, it caught a fawn weighing 13 kg. It also hunts predators, such as buzzards, hawks, feral cats and foxes,” the Post Office stated. The other species are depicted in the margins of the sheet. 

The first-place winner in the contest was a diamond-shaped Swiss stamp depicting a piece of jewelry. Third place went to a Hungarian stamp depicting poet and playwright József Katona. The stamp has a second image that is visible under ultraviolet light.

A Czech stamp depicting images from the Postal Museum won first place in the WIPA contest in 2012, coming ahead of entries from Liechtenstein and Slovakia.

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