The "Artists' Charity Set" of 1924

The Charity stamps of 1924 came as a complete surprise, since they totally broke with tradition. The design of this set was entrusted, not as with all the previous issues to an artist who had produced stamps in imperial days, but to a younger man not yet 40 years old! This was Karl Sterrer who was born in Vienna on 4 December 1885, the son of the sculptor Karl Sterrer. He had attended the Vienna Academy as a pupil and had won the Rome Prize in 1908 and the Reichel Prize in 1919. In 1921 he became a teacher at the Academy and was made a Professor there in 1922. This was the 'sombre artist' who produced the designs for this 1924 Charity issue.

442100Kr + 300Kr"Art as Comforter" symbolised by a man dying in a strange land.124,608
443300Kr + 900Kr"Agriculture and Handicraft" - depicted as a standing and a seated figure.119,809
444500Kr + 1500Kr"Mother Love" is depicted with a seated mother with three semi-naked children.119,642
445600Kr + 1800Kr"Charity" symbolised by a woman giving a drink to a seated old man.118,558
4461000Kr + 3000Kr"Fruitful Nature" symbolised with a semi-naked female figure floating above a house.118,681

The book "100 Jahre Österreichische Briefmarke" notes that this was the first Austrian stamp issue to be produced by photogravure on a hand-fed copper-plate printing press. A total of 118,558 sets were sold for the benefit of children's charities and the tuberculosis fund, and the remainders were burned. Unlike the previous sets, this one was not sold at a multiple of face value, but had its surcharge incorporated into the stamp design.

The set was issued on 6 September 1924 and was invalidated on 31 December 1924. Even during its short life the designs created animated discussion and Sterrer was only invited to design one other set of Austrian stamps (the Airmail Set of 1 August 1925) although later he became the Rector of the Vienna Academy.

As for the previous set, imperfs, Japan-paper, and plate-numbered stamps exist. These were the last Austrian stamps to appear in the currency of 100 heller to the Krone. Perhaps with an eye to inflation, a stamp with face value 50,000Kr was considered!