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Europe/Other : Greek Mystery

 

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Guthrum
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01 Jul 2016
09:07:44am
Have we got a Greek expert on our team? I hope so, because I can't work out this anomaly:

Here we have the two top values in a set of eight, issued in 1982 to commemorate the Greek resistance in WW2. Each has a couple of words of description at the top - the problem is that they do not match the illustration - in fact they seem to be reversed.

Image Not Found

On the 30d. we have the inscription "Greek Resistance 1941-44 - Athens".

Gibbons elaborates: "Kaisariani, Athens", G.Sikeliotis (the artist)

Colnect elaborates even more: "Execution of Greek activists by the Nazi (sic), 1 May 1944.
Two hundred Greek political activists were executed at the Kaisariani Rifle Range by the German occupation forces in retaliation for the death of a German General."

Is that what you see in the image above? It's not what I see.

Now let's look at the 50d. stamp.

Image Not Found

To me, that's a picture of people being lined up for execution in batches; at the top, one batch meets their end. Bottom right, their womenfolk look on, powerless.

The inscription reads: "Greek Resistance 1941-44 - Northern Greece"

Gibbons states: "The Struggle in Northern Greece", V.Katraki
Colnect has "Resistance in Northern Greece"

That's a fairly non-specific description, matching others in the series which refer similarly to Thrace and Crete. It could apply, in my view, to the illustration on the 30d., but not to that on the 50d.

Is this a mistake on the part of the Greek Post Office, well-known to all Greek collectors, which has accidentally switched the illustrations? Is there any detail in the 30d. illustration that would place it in Northern Greece (as opposed to any other part)?

What do you know about this?

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ikeyPikey
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02 Jul 2016
12:17:29am
re: Greek Mystery

This would not be the first time that the explanations for two stamps were swapped.

Unlike Gibbons, Colnect will correct their listings in one day or two.

Scott 2005 got one right, and one not wrong:

Image Not Found

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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"I collect stamps today precisely the way I collected stamps when I was ten years old."
Guthrum
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02 Jul 2016
05:32:30am
re: Greek Mystery

Thanks, Michael, for posting the Scott perspective on this one, though as you say it doesn't exactly solve the problem.

Internet research is also inconclusive. The execution scene is definitely the work of Vasso Katraki - it appears under her name on a Greek Art website, where it is entitled, not very helpfully, as 'Blockade During the Occupation'.

Scott's 'Fighters at a Barricade' seems a good description of Giorgos Sikeliotis' design for the 30d.

The error (if such it be) is for once not down to the cataloguers. It seems that the stamp designer, or the person tasked with matching the woodcut to the required commemoration, has simply confused the final two. Katraki's woodcut is indisputably that of an execution in batches by firing squad, such as we know occurred at the Kaisariani Rifle Range in Athens, 1 May 1944. She may not have intended to illustrate that precise event, but the anonymous stamp designer has selected a good image to reflect it. Then he has muddied the waters by inserting the wrong label at the top of the stamp.

I would be surprised if no-one had noticed this in the thirty-odd years since the release of the issue, but, as is too often the case with stamps and their origins, the actual facts are virtually impossible to come by.

On a related tack, I have traced the identities of all the artists of this set except the mysterious "P.Gravalos", listed by both Scott and Gibbons. No Greek artist of that name has any internet presence, although a publisher of woodcuts (mainly Japanese in this case) frequently comes up as "Gravalos and Pulin". The relevant images (one of which Scott illustrates) are striking enough, but again seem to have no other internet presence than in stamp catalogues.

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SWH
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02 Jul 2016
07:01:37am
re: Greek Mystery

Interesting issue. I checked Michel and Yvert & Tellier. They don't help much as they both basically follow the description on the stamps.

Michel: Partisans at Kaisariani/Athens - Fighting in northern Greece.
Y&T: Partisans at Kaisariani - Fighting in northern Greece.

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ikeyPikey
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02 Jul 2016
11:16:40am
re: Greek Mystery

Colnect improved their listings within hours:

http://colnect.com/en/stamps/stamp/67542-Resistance_fighters_in_Kaisariani_Athens-National_Resistance-Greece

http://colnect.com/en/stamps/stamp/67543-Execution_of_Greek_activists_by_the_Nazi_May_1_1944-National_Resistance-Greece

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey


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malcolm197

06 Jul 2016
07:38:24am
re: Greek Mystery

Ian

P.Gravalas is shown in the Gibbons Balkans catalogue as a prolific designer of Greek stamps from the 60s onwards - and he is shown as "designer" of these stamps - so presumably the format and overall look of the stamps is his, and the 9d shows it to be his original artwork. Two of the other stamps show "A. Tassos" as the artist - and he is another regular Greece stamp designer.

It seems therefore that P. Gravalas has taken a selection of works,including one of his own,and worked them into a "family" of images. My opinion is that his artwork and those of A.Tassos were made purely for use on these stamps, but the others may or may not have been specially produced ( or they may have been pre-existing images). A quick, but not thorough glance of the Balkan catalogue does not turn up any other designs by the other "artists".

Without access to extensive contemporary material it is difficult to throw any more light on this, I suggest.

Malcolm

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Guthrum
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07 Jul 2016
06:10:25am
re: Greek Mystery

Thanks, Malcolm, for that.

I wrote originally, that

"...I have traced the identities of all the artists of this set except the mysterious "P.Gravalos", listed by both Scott and Gibbons. No Greek artist of that name has any internet presence, although a publisher of woodcuts (mainly Japanese in this case) frequently comes up as "Gravalos and Pulin"."


A second hour of internet research reveals a single mention of Panagiotis Gravalos (1933-2015) in last year's run of the Journal of Hellenic Philotelic (sic, and you can't argue with them since it's a Greek word!) Society. It's apparently an obituary.

Once you have the given name, Google is far more forthcoming. 'Gravalos' revealed nothing. 'Panagiotis Gravalos' reveals 802 things, although woodcuts were evidently not his specialism.

However, we are no nearer the original problem, which is that these two stamps are misidentified, not by the catalogues, but by the designer himself. If I am the first person ever to have stated this as a bald fact, let it be known henceforth as 'The Guthrum Identity'. Or, in the event of a better explanation, 'The Guthrum Fallacy'.

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ikeyPikey
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07 Jul 2016
08:07:37am
re: Greek Mystery

"... It seems that the stamp designer, or the person tasked with matching the woodcut to the required commemoration, has simply confused the final two ..."



Re-reading your original post, and checking with a Greek friend, I see less 'confusion'.

Both the 30d & 50d stamp have the same vague core description. Vague is vague.

The 30d shows a barricade and adds "Athens". Yes, the shooting resistance was mainly in the hills, but the Greeks would not be the first nationality to 'extend' their resistance mythology to meet their own domestic cultural & political needs.

The 50d shows what I agree is an execution scene and adds "Northern Greece" ... but were there no executions of partisans in Northern Greece?

The WikiGod is extensive, but it is not exhaustive.

And what is 'northern' to a Greek? There are two major land masses in Greece, and Distomo (scene of a mass execution) is in the more northern of the two ... I am thinking of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, even the far southern bits of which are still Upper.

Were it not for the falling bodies, the 50d would also serve to commemorate the round-up of seven thousand male Jews in the town square of Thessaloniki (very much in very northeastern Greece); an artist blending more than one event into one design is hardly unheard of.

All in all, I'd say "well-spotted" but, perhaps, a little over-spotted.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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Author/Postings
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Guthrum

01 Jul 2016
09:07:44am

Have we got a Greek expert on our team? I hope so, because I can't work out this anomaly:

Here we have the two top values in a set of eight, issued in 1982 to commemorate the Greek resistance in WW2. Each has a couple of words of description at the top - the problem is that they do not match the illustration - in fact they seem to be reversed.

Image Not Found

On the 30d. we have the inscription "Greek Resistance 1941-44 - Athens".

Gibbons elaborates: "Kaisariani, Athens", G.Sikeliotis (the artist)

Colnect elaborates even more: "Execution of Greek activists by the Nazi (sic), 1 May 1944.
Two hundred Greek political activists were executed at the Kaisariani Rifle Range by the German occupation forces in retaliation for the death of a German General."

Is that what you see in the image above? It's not what I see.

Now let's look at the 50d. stamp.

Image Not Found

To me, that's a picture of people being lined up for execution in batches; at the top, one batch meets their end. Bottom right, their womenfolk look on, powerless.

The inscription reads: "Greek Resistance 1941-44 - Northern Greece"

Gibbons states: "The Struggle in Northern Greece", V.Katraki
Colnect has "Resistance in Northern Greece"

That's a fairly non-specific description, matching others in the series which refer similarly to Thrace and Crete. It could apply, in my view, to the illustration on the 30d., but not to that on the 50d.

Is this a mistake on the part of the Greek Post Office, well-known to all Greek collectors, which has accidentally switched the illustrations? Is there any detail in the 30d. illustration that would place it in Northern Greece (as opposed to any other part)?

What do you know about this?

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ikeyPikey

02 Jul 2016
12:17:29am

re: Greek Mystery

This would not be the first time that the explanations for two stamps were swapped.

Unlike Gibbons, Colnect will correct their listings in one day or two.

Scott 2005 got one right, and one not wrong:

Image Not Found

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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"I collect stamps today precisely the way I collected stamps when I was ten years old."
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Guthrum

02 Jul 2016
05:32:30am

re: Greek Mystery

Thanks, Michael, for posting the Scott perspective on this one, though as you say it doesn't exactly solve the problem.

Internet research is also inconclusive. The execution scene is definitely the work of Vasso Katraki - it appears under her name on a Greek Art website, where it is entitled, not very helpfully, as 'Blockade During the Occupation'.

Scott's 'Fighters at a Barricade' seems a good description of Giorgos Sikeliotis' design for the 30d.

The error (if such it be) is for once not down to the cataloguers. It seems that the stamp designer, or the person tasked with matching the woodcut to the required commemoration, has simply confused the final two. Katraki's woodcut is indisputably that of an execution in batches by firing squad, such as we know occurred at the Kaisariani Rifle Range in Athens, 1 May 1944. She may not have intended to illustrate that precise event, but the anonymous stamp designer has selected a good image to reflect it. Then he has muddied the waters by inserting the wrong label at the top of the stamp.

I would be surprised if no-one had noticed this in the thirty-odd years since the release of the issue, but, as is too often the case with stamps and their origins, the actual facts are virtually impossible to come by.

On a related tack, I have traced the identities of all the artists of this set except the mysterious "P.Gravalos", listed by both Scott and Gibbons. No Greek artist of that name has any internet presence, although a publisher of woodcuts (mainly Japanese in this case) frequently comes up as "Gravalos and Pulin". The relevant images (one of which Scott illustrates) are striking enough, but again seem to have no other internet presence than in stamp catalogues.

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SWH

02 Jul 2016
07:01:37am

re: Greek Mystery

Interesting issue. I checked Michel and Yvert & Tellier. They don't help much as they both basically follow the description on the stamps.

Michel: Partisans at Kaisariani/Athens - Fighting in northern Greece.
Y&T: Partisans at Kaisariani - Fighting in northern Greece.

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www.stampworldhistor ...
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ikeyPikey

02 Jul 2016
11:16:40am

re: Greek Mystery

Colnect improved their listings within hours:

http://colnect.com/en/stamps/stamp/67542-Resistance_fighters_in_Kaisariani_Athens-National_Resistance-Greece

http://colnect.com/en/stamps/stamp/67543-Execution_of_Greek_activists_by_the_Nazi_May_1_1944-National_Resistance-Greece

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey


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"I collect stamps today precisely the way I collected stamps when I was ten years old."
malcolm197

06 Jul 2016
07:38:24am

re: Greek Mystery

Ian

P.Gravalas is shown in the Gibbons Balkans catalogue as a prolific designer of Greek stamps from the 60s onwards - and he is shown as "designer" of these stamps - so presumably the format and overall look of the stamps is his, and the 9d shows it to be his original artwork. Two of the other stamps show "A. Tassos" as the artist - and he is another regular Greece stamp designer.

It seems therefore that P. Gravalas has taken a selection of works,including one of his own,and worked them into a "family" of images. My opinion is that his artwork and those of A.Tassos were made purely for use on these stamps, but the others may or may not have been specially produced ( or they may have been pre-existing images). A quick, but not thorough glance of the Balkan catalogue does not turn up any other designs by the other "artists".

Without access to extensive contemporary material it is difficult to throw any more light on this, I suggest.

Malcolm

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Guthrum

07 Jul 2016
06:10:25am

re: Greek Mystery

Thanks, Malcolm, for that.

I wrote originally, that

"...I have traced the identities of all the artists of this set except the mysterious "P.Gravalos", listed by both Scott and Gibbons. No Greek artist of that name has any internet presence, although a publisher of woodcuts (mainly Japanese in this case) frequently comes up as "Gravalos and Pulin"."


A second hour of internet research reveals a single mention of Panagiotis Gravalos (1933-2015) in last year's run of the Journal of Hellenic Philotelic (sic, and you can't argue with them since it's a Greek word!) Society. It's apparently an obituary.

Once you have the given name, Google is far more forthcoming. 'Gravalos' revealed nothing. 'Panagiotis Gravalos' reveals 802 things, although woodcuts were evidently not his specialism.

However, we are no nearer the original problem, which is that these two stamps are misidentified, not by the catalogues, but by the designer himself. If I am the first person ever to have stated this as a bald fact, let it be known henceforth as 'The Guthrum Identity'. Or, in the event of a better explanation, 'The Guthrum Fallacy'.

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ikeyPikey

07 Jul 2016
08:07:37am

re: Greek Mystery

"... It seems that the stamp designer, or the person tasked with matching the woodcut to the required commemoration, has simply confused the final two ..."



Re-reading your original post, and checking with a Greek friend, I see less 'confusion'.

Both the 30d & 50d stamp have the same vague core description. Vague is vague.

The 30d shows a barricade and adds "Athens". Yes, the shooting resistance was mainly in the hills, but the Greeks would not be the first nationality to 'extend' their resistance mythology to meet their own domestic cultural & political needs.

The 50d shows what I agree is an execution scene and adds "Northern Greece" ... but were there no executions of partisans in Northern Greece?

The WikiGod is extensive, but it is not exhaustive.

And what is 'northern' to a Greek? There are two major land masses in Greece, and Distomo (scene of a mass execution) is in the more northern of the two ... I am thinking of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, even the far southern bits of which are still Upper.

Were it not for the falling bodies, the 50d would also serve to commemorate the round-up of seven thousand male Jews in the town square of Thessaloniki (very much in very northeastern Greece); an artist blending more than one event into one design is hardly unheard of.

All in all, I'd say "well-spotted" but, perhaps, a little over-spotted.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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"I collect stamps today precisely the way I collected stamps when I was ten years old."
        

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