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This commemorative block is an absolute novelty world-wide, the first time that crystals have been applied to a commemorative stamp. The Austrian company Swarovski enjoys a world-wide reputation, not only for its famous crystals and crystal products, but also its small sparkling works of art for collectors. Such a work of art is also shown on this valuable stamp block, the product of a collaboration between the Austrian Post and Swarovski. 

It was in 1892 that Daniel Swarovski applied for a patent for a machine that for the first time allowed crystal stones to be ground more quickly and more perfectly than by hand, an invention that revolutionized the processing of crystals. Together with his brother in law Franz Weis and Armand Kosmann, Daniel Swarovski founded today's Swarovski company in 1895, moving from his home in Bohemia to Tyrol. 

  • Austria 2004.  Swarovski's Crystal World.  Souvenir sheet of two stamps with Swarovski crystals affixed.  The block was issued on 20th September 2004 in a cooperation between Swarovski and Austrian Post.  Only 800,000 blocks are produced.  

From 1908 on, Daniel Swarovski and his two sons sought for the ideal recipe for the production of crystals, and built special smelting furnaces. In 1932, Swarovski was finally able to start production of his own crystals. These jewels were so brilliant and perfect that they immediately caused a stir around the world. Over the next few years, Swarovski extended his range of products by adding a number of high-quality items such as reflecting rear lights and optical precision appliances and crystal chandeliers. 

  • Austria 2004.  Close up of each of the stamps. An ice-cube with glittering crystals, in the rough shape as the Swarovski-logo, the Swan, also with glittering crystals. The stamps are not sold as singles, only together in the block.  

In 1995, Swarovski celebrated the 100th anniversary of the company's foundation, a highlight of the celebrations being the opening of the Swarovski Crystal Worlds at Wattens in Tyrol,: a 2000 m² underground labyrinth of rooms bathed in the light and colours of millions of sparkling and glittering crystals that entice the visitor into a fantasy world designed by the artist André Heller. It was under his direction that the Crystal Worlds were also rebuilt in 2003, and inspirational wonder chambers are now an addition to the Crystal Worlds. 

Two years later, on 22nd August 2006, Austria and Hong Kong have issued jointly two stamps, now on the theme of Fireworks, again featuring the Swarovski Crystals, In its introduction to this issue Hong Kong Post states for both the Hong Kong issue and the Austrian issue: :

Watching a fireworks display is a captivating experience shared by people from different cultures. Whether on New Year's Day, on national holidays or on other occasions, a fireworks extravaganza is always synonymous with celebration and exaltation. Hongkong Post and Austrian Post have jointly issued a set of two HK$5 stamps on fireworks, marking the seventh joint stamp issue released by Hongkong Post with other postal administrations. 

The stamp showing Hong Kong presents a panoramic view of Victoria Harbour, one of the most famous natural harbours in the world. Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula, on either side of the harbour, are glamorously lit. With the night sky splendidly illuminated by colourful fireworks, this dazzling city certainly lives up to its reputation as the "Pearl of the Orient". The stamp showing Austria features a fireworks display in the Vienna Prater, a hunting preserve for the aristocracy opened to the public in 1766. The stamp is dominated by a Giant Ferris Wheel, the most visible landmark in Vienna, erected in 1897 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I. The jolly mood of the park is perfectly reflected by the bursting fireworks. 

Hong Kong 2006. Fireworks interpreted in Swarovski Crystals.

  • Hong Kong 2006. Fireworks interpreted in Swarovski Crystals. 

The Austrian issue is similar, but of has a different background colour. "Crystal Fabric" has been applied to the two HK$50 stamps on the Stamp Sheetlet to highlight the gorgeous bursts of fireworks, as well as to the Austrian issue.  This unique material makes light refraction possible and produces a glittering effect that cannot be found in other ordinary stamps, a collectible not to be missed.

Austria 2006. Souvenir Sheet, Swarovski Crystals, Fireworks.

Austria 2006. Swarovski Crystals. Fireworks. Stamp #1 of two. Austria 2006. Swarovski Crystals. Fireworks. Stamp #2 of two.
  • Austria 2006. Sheet and close-ups of the Fireworks-stamps incorporated in the sheet. 

Curiosum 
The German stamp magazine Michel Rundschau has made an interesting discovery about the Austrian Sheet. The announcement of this is in German, and its essential content is freely translated by the webmaster. For those wanting to read the full announcement in German, please follow the link given below. The German spelling reform and orthographic rules make the German language one of the most difficult languages in the world, particularly what concerns orthography and grammar. 

As of late even the German-speaking Austria Post must acknowledge this. The inscription "Joint Issue Hong Kong, China, and Austria" leads to believe that Hong Kong is part of China, in the sense that Hong Kong has not maintained its right to issue its own stamps. 

It would therefore have been more correct, if the comma had been placed after the word "China", 

Michel Rundschau. Grammitacal Error in Austrian sheet (2006) of Fireworks by Swarovski Crystals.

Alternatively a grammatically correct inscription could have been "Hong Kong/China and Austria", or "Hong Kong, China - Austria". Given that the sheet is printed in 350,000 copies, this "orthographic disaster" will not be listed as a rarity, as only a few semantics would feel offended by such "abuse".  

Sources and links:

Many thanks to Mr. Rodney Cork (Australia),  Mr. Gerhard Reichert (Germany), and Mr. Ralph Ambrose (USA) for all help and advice. 


Revised 21 nov 2006 
Copyright © by Ann Mette Heindorff
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