Paintings Hall of Asiago’s Municipal Palace where the award ceremony of the 2019 Asiago International Award for Philatelic Art was held on 7 July.
Sven Beham, author of the top award winning stamps issued in 2018 by Liechtenstein receiving the Giò Pomodoro trophy from Asiago’s Mayor, Roberto Rigoni Stern (at right).
The awards and prizes winners (from left to right): Isabel Fonseca (Portugal); Damjan Lah (Slovenia); Sven Beham (Liechtenstein); Roman Goriajnov (Ukraine); Vojko Volk (Slovenia); Gioia Giardi (San Marino).

By Giorgio Migliavacca

Liechtenstein is the winner of the 49th Asiago International Award for Philatelic Art for its set of “Photographic Art” depicting Sven Beham’s photographs of the eyes of three different birds: Grey Heron, Great Crested Grebe and Cormoran. The jury of the Oscar of Philatelic Art pointed out that photography can be a sublime form of art and unanimously bestowed the top and well deserved award “for the idea, skill, and fascinating and colourful composition” that “take us well beyond the best photographic techniques”.

The jury members were Franco Filanci, Walter Forte, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Mario Andrea Rigoni, Gian Antonio Stella, Maurizio Stella e Gaetano Thiene.

The best tourism stamp award was bestowed on Portugal for its miniature sheet included in the “2018 Europa” omnibus series focusing on “Bridges” – a most timely theme aimed at uniting humanity rather than dividing it. The two stamps designed by André Chiote depict the Trajan’s Bridge on the river Taamega, at Chaves, built at the end of the first century A.D.; and Lisbon’s Vasco da Gama Bridge inaugurated in 1998 on the Tagus River: the longest bridge in Europe after the Crimean Bridge. The jury noted that the Chiote adopted a very “original conceptual and graphic style”. Attending the awards ceremony was Portugal Posts high official Ms. Isabel Fonseca who was delighted for the coveted prize that “rewards our constant efforts to issue stamps that are increasingly able to communicate their message”.

Asiago’s 2019 Best Environmental Stamp prize went to Ukraine for its 2018 eye-catching miniature sheet  featuring seven indigenous insects that play an often underestimated role in preserving their natural habitat. The miniature sheet was created by S. and O. Kharuk. The prize was presented to  Roman Goriajnov, Consul General of Ukraine and Consul Yevhen Shkvyra.

Asiago’s Mayor, Roberto Rigoni Stern expressed his delight at the fact that the Municipal Hall of Paintings hosted an event that emphasized the great eloquence and significance of stamps as an “international language that is not solely confined to the discharge of its duty but can also reach great heights in the realm of visual arts”.

The special award of the prestigious Olympic Academy, established in 1555, went to a set of three San Marino stamps designed by illustrator Riccardo Guasco to salute the International Families Day. This was Guasco’s debut in philatelic design and he was both surprised and grateful for the honour bestowed on him. President of the Olympic Academy and Chairman of the Asiago International Philatelic Art Award Gaetano Thiene pointed out that the set projects a truly positive and “highly symbolic value of the family” at a time when the world witnesses “a drop in births, an increase of separations of married couple” and other complex problems.

Love is the leitmotiv of life and the 2018 Valentines’ stamp designed by Barbara Kocjančič for Slovenia Post is a child of the new philatelic millennium, a clear departure from tradition and a welcome update.  Yes, we have two hearts depicted on the stamp, but the young woman is the one serenading her sweetheart standing on a virtual balcony popping out at a “click” from a cellphone. The Italian Academy of Philately and Postal History bestowed its special prize on this captivating stamp; jury member and president of the Academy, Franco Filanci presented the prize to Slovenia’s Consul General Vojko Volk and to Slovenia’s Post high official Damiah Lah. Filanci thanked the recipients of the awards and prizes for “having understood the importance of stamps as a means of communication by modernizing them in such a way that they become attention getters”.  

The traditional special postmarks were used by temporary post offices stationed at the event; San Marino’s pictorial postmark was signed by renowned stamp artist Marco Ventura; the Italian Posts postmark depicted a chaffinch designed by Pino Barolo.

The  “Circolo Filatelico Numismatico Sette Comuni Asiago” (Numismatic and Philatelic Club of the Seven Asiago Municipalities) has been awarding the prize for the best designed postage stamp of the year since 1971 when the winners were Cuba and Austria.

Located on a plateau in northeastern Italy, Asiago is famous for its delicious cheese and as a popular tourist attraction all year round.