Heorhiy Narbut Prize

Record Vote Tabs 'King Danylo' as No. 1 for 2002 Narbut Prize

A record number of voters took part in this year’s Narbut Prize balloting that selected the King Danylo (Daniel) souvenir sheet as the best-designed philatelic release of 2001. Amazingly, more than 80% of the hundreds of votes this year came from Ukraine continuing a trend of heavy input from abroad begun last year.

S411S446-448In 2001, for the first time, voters could select their preferences online from the popular Ukrainian Electronic Stamp Album of Bohdan Hrynyshyn in Edmonton. This new opportunity also contributed to the splendid participation rate. In all, the Korol Danylo souvenir sheet nabbed 17% of the votes, three percentage points over the runner-up Ukrainian Folk Costume Issue. The strong preference for these two issues was exhibited by voters in both Ukraine and from the rest of the world. Although the choice was about evenly split among Ukrainian voters, participants from other countries pushed the Danylo sheet to the forefront.

S412-413S438Additional substantial votes went to the Hetmans of Ukraine stamps (12%) and the Tenth Anniversary of Independence souvenir sheet (9%). The Dmytro Bortniansky stamp received 7% of the vote, while the Black Sea Fauna and Beekeeping souvenir sheet issues claimed 6% and 5% respectively. Almost every stamp or souvenir sheet issue received some votes.

The Narbut Prize is now recognized as the premier philatelic art award in Ukraine. All of the past winners of the Prize were depicted in color on the cover of the March-April 2002 issue of Filatelia Ukrainy, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of Ukrainian stamp production. This government-sponsored journal, published by Ukraine Post, is the leading philatelic periodical in Ukraine.

Souvenir sheets continue to be very popular philatelic items in Ukraine. This was the fifth year in a row that such a sheet finished first in the competition, and four of these five sheets have depicted historical themes.

Readers wishing to examine all of last year’s stamps (or the issues from any year) in full color, may do so online at the Ukrainian Electronic Stamp Album. Click on 2001 or on any other year’s issues you may wish to check out.

The Winning Design

This year’s winning design depicted the famous King of Galicia (Halych) and Volyn (ruled 1238-64; King of Rus from 1253) riding a white charger at the head of his troops. A golden lion on a blue banner unfurls behind him, while in the background are the wooden walls of the newly built city of Lviv, named for Danylo’s son Lev (Leo) and founded about 1256.

Danylo, one of medieval Ukraine’s greatest rulers, was able to first unite the western Ukrainian lands (Galicia and Volyn) and eventually to rule over all of Rus from Kyiv. The pope himself sent him a crown recognizing him as king in 1253. It is this crown that is the most prominent and intriguing part of the souvenir sheet as it is embossed in gold foil and immediately draws the viewer's eye.

The crown has drawn a bit of mild criticism from a few who state that no ruler would march off to battle wearing his royal regalia. While this is certainly true, the depiction does not have to be interpreted in a warlike vein. Danylo could just as easily be leading his troops in a parade, where wearing a crown would be quite appropriate. Besides, it is certain the artist meant the portrait to be more of a symbolic rendering of this renowned ruler rather than an exact portrayal.

About the Designer

The designer of the Korol Danylo issue was Oleksiy Shtanko. His Yaroslav the Wise souvenir sheet won the Narbut Prize in 2000, while his St. Volodymyr sheet came in second last year. Mr. Shtanko was supposed to eventually complete an entire series on Ukrainian monarchs, but he died of cancer recently, leaving behind a wife and young son. It was Kateryna, his wife, who won last year’s Narbut Prize for her charming and unusual souvenir sheet portrayal of Ukrainian wildflowers. The $250 Prize honorarium was presented to her in lieu of her husband.

Oleksiy Shtanko had also been responsible for another very popular stamp series – that depicting Famous Ukrainian Women. In all he designed 30 stamps and souvenir sheets, most of which were portraits. His unique and attractive design style will be sorely missed.