Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cyril Bouda's Mercury

Many old shares certificates show vignettes of concepts such as a locomotive, a coat-of-arms, an allegorical figure or a ship. These vignettes are mostly shaped in a technical, meaningless way. By all means, this bond is an exception to that rule.

Czechoslovak bond certificate designed by Cyril Bouda
3% bond of 10000 Czechoslovak Koruna
state loan of the Republic of Czechoslovakia
1936, printed by Melantrich
double-click to enlarge
Look at that Mercury !
The bond shown here, is designed by Cyril Bouda. Your attention is immediately drawn to this giant Mercury depicted along almost the full length of the certificate (35 cm). Just look at it.
This is not the usual cheerful, speeding, half-naked Mercury that we see so often on old shares. What we see here is a modern Mercury, standing, dressed like an industrial worker and carrying a sledge-hammer instead of a mythical caduceus. Bouda’s Mercury is looking preoccupied and even weary at the coat-of-arms of Czechoslavakia.

Czechoslovakia, founded in 1918, initially reached a higher level of development than its neighbouring countries. This bond was issued in 1936 in a period when Czechoslovakia had to face difficult economical and political developments :
  • unemployment during the Great Depression
  • a growing Slovak nationalist movement
  • Nazi Germany eagerly looking at Sudetenland
I think Bouda’s Mercury personifies the condition of the Czechoslovakian state.

signed C. Bouda

Cyril Bouda
After finishing his studies at the Uprum art school in Prague, Cyril Bouda (14 Nov 1901 - 29 Aug 1984) further developed his skills and talents at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts (AVU). There he was taught by wonderful artists like Max Švabinský (1923-26) and Tavik Frantisek Šimon (1926-1935). Bouda soon became Šimon's assistant. During his life, many new artistic movements succeeded one another, but all of these left little impact on Bouda's style : Prague and its environment were a popular topic and his drawings showed stretched but graceful figures. In his early career he especially created paintings, later he produced many drawings and engravings.

Queen of Wine, aquarelle
Bohemia and Moravia brutally oppressed during World War II
The bond discussed is red-stamped Protectorat Böhmen und Mähren (Czech: Protektorát Čechy a Morava). In 1938 Hitler annexed the German speaking part Sudetenland. Immediately after the independence declaration of the Slovak Republic, a puppet state, Nazi Germany, gained control of the remainder of Bohemia and Moravia on March 15 1939. After widespread demonstrations, Czech politicians, students and teachers were arrested in large numbers, some of them executed and many of them sent to concentration camps. All universities and colleges were closed, also the Prague Academy of Fine Arts. After the war, Cyril Bouda became art professor at the Academy until 1976.

Cyril Bouda

In 1927 Bouda became a member of the Hollar Association of Czech Graphic Artists founded in 1917 by Švabinský and some of his students. Hollar gave support to artists by providing space for exhibits and publishing a quarterly. During the Nazi occupation, secret gatherings were organized. Later, under the communist period, the archives of the association were largely destroyed.

Scripophily and philately too
Cyril Bouda  mastered several techniques : engravings, woodcuts, etchings, lithographs, color lithographs. Several examples can be admired here,, and here . But Bouda was also a designer of stamps.

stamp designed by Bouda
Cyril Bouda was a wonderful artist but he is probably most remembered by his numerous book illustrations of fairy tales and children stories. 

If you know of other certificates or even of banknotes, I’d be happy to add your image to it.


Update 11 July 2012:
I came across more images of bond certificates designed by Cyril Bouda. Double-click to enlarge ! 

detail from Czechoslovak bond designed by Cyril Bouda

5% Bond of 200 Czechoslovak Koruna
state loan of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, 1933
Source Jiří Jaroš Security Printing

detail of Czechoslovak state loan bond 1936 designed by Cyril Bouda 

3,75% Bond of 1000 Czechoslovak Koruna
state loan of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, 1936
Source Jiří Jaroš Security Printing

No comments:

Post a Comment