Four stamp issues dominate 1999 Narbut Prize balloting
by Ingert Kuzych
Thanks in large part to the illustrated ballot that appeared in The Ukrainian Weekly last May, participation in this year's voting for best 1998 stamp design rose to record levels. Despite the hundreds of ballots received, it soon became evident that four stamp issues stood out from among the 27 possible selections, garnering over 40 percent of all the votes among themselves.
Less than a dozen ballots separated these four issues, any one of which would have been a worthy winner of the annual Narbut Prize. A brief description of each of these releases follows.
In fourth place with 9 percent of the vote was the single stamp issue honoring the 2,500th Year Anniversary of the Founding of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi (Figure A); this city was first established as the ancient Greek colony of Tyras. Shown on the stamp is the massive Bilhorod fortress as it looked in the 15th century. The generous use of red in the design created a very dramatic, unusual and pleasing effect. (This issue won my personal vote as best-designed stamp.)
In third place with 10 percent of all the ballots was the colorful Renowned Women of Ukraine issue honoring Anna Yaroslavna (Figure B). The daughter of Yaroslav the Wise (often referred to as the "Father-in-Law of Europe" because so many of his children married into European nobility), Anna (circa 1024-circal 1075) became queen of France in 1049 and ruled as regent for her son Philip I from 1060-1062. The stamp shows her holding a model of a church she sponsored as well as the royal scepter; it is a fitting addition to the series begun in 1997 (with St. Olha and Roksolana) that last year also finished third in the Narbut balloting.
The issue receiving the second highest number of votes, 11 percent, was a two-stamp-and-label combination prepared for the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, which featured two works by the self-taught folk painter Kateryna Bilokur (1900-1961), along with a self-portrait of the artist reproduced on the middle label (Figure C). Bilokur's oeuvre continues to be very popular in Ukraine and it is altogether appropriate that her amazing talent was showcased in such a prominent manner.
The issue amassing the most votes, almost 13 percent was the striking souvenir sheet commemorating the 350th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Ukrainian Struggle for Freedom under Bohdan Khmelnytsky (Figure D). (A description of the sheet may be found in the accompanying philatelic column on page 8.) This release is the most spectacular of the recent issues honoring Ukraine's Kozak heritage.
The design of this elaborate release was a joint effort among four artists: V. Taran, O. Kharuk, S. Kharuk and V. Kozachenko. This is the second year in a row that the first two artists have won. In 1997 Messrs. Taran and Kharuk collaborated on the splendid Europa souvenir sheet depicting the legendary founding of Kyiv. Despite the fact that the $250 prize money will be split four ways, the artists still will receive substantially more than the approximately $25 (100 hrv) they were first paid for their design work. (Even the best of Ukraine's artists/designers receive miserly remuneration for their creations.)
Awarded since 1993
The Narbut Prize has been awarded annually since 1993 for the best-designed stamp(s) or souvenir sheet of the previous year (Ukraine resumed stamp production only in 1992). The award is named after Heorhii Narbut, Ukraine's famous graphic artist of the early 20th century who designed many of Ukraine's first stamps and banknotes. Below are the winners of the Narbut Prize since its inception:
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, September 12, 1999, No. 37, Vol. LXVII
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