1882 - I
1891 - II
1895 - III
1901 - IV
1907 - V
1912 - VI
1920 - Local Events
1920 - VII
1926 - VIII

and Poster Stamps

1912 - VI - Prague

(Click on any image to view an enlarged version)

Two of the posters for the VI Slet, 1912.
The one on the left is by Alphonse Mucha, famous Art Nouveau painter,
who returned to his homeland around this time to take up the cause of Czech independence,
and was asked to produce a poster for the event. He was already world-famous,
and too busy to deliver the poster as soon as it was needed, so a competition was held to select another artist.
Mucha's design was painted in August, 1911, and published January, 1912.
The one on the right is by František Hornik, and was the winner of a design
competition held in April, 1911 by the Slet organizers. It was published in April 1912.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sokol, and occurring at a time shortly before the horrors and disruptions of WWI, the sixth festival celebrated a new sense of Slavic identity and independence. It lasted five weeks. More than 30,000 Sokols participated, including teams from the USA, France and other Slavic countries, as 300,000 spectators watched. 22,000 uniformed Sokols took part in the grand parade. A special Ancient Olympic theme, "Marathon," was adopted for the festival, with a grand spectacle performed by 1,500 athletes. Over 1,200 special trains had to be arranged to carry the thousands of foreign visitors to the event. Several of the cards below show photos or paintings of the events, and give some idea of the enormous stadium, and the huge crowds in attendance.

Below, a Poster stamp for the jubilee, issued in Jicin. This was also the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Sokol chapter in that town. Štefan Šuták informs me that this label was issued in six different colors - red, brown, blue, ultramarine, green-blue, and green-gray!

From the Jicin Sokol website:

TJ Sokol Jicín is the oldest organization in our town. It was founded November 5, 1862 and was the fourth Sokol unity, following the example of the Sokol of Prague. Followed by Jaromer, Nová Paka, Kutná Hora and Jicín. The Sokol thought was brought to Jicin by college students who arrived home in Prague in 1862 for holidays. The idea was taken up, the committee was appointed and the trainers selected. The beginnings were very difficult, practicing outdoors, but with dedication to patriotic consciousness and enthusiasm.


Below, a postcard with one of the official images for the event. The artist is František Hornik. Note the similarity to the poster design (top of page). The artist preferred this version, and it was the one given preference on the post cards - note number on back - "1" - the other version was also issued as as postcard, it has number "22" - see below.

There were over 40 "official" postcards issued for this event - 11 were published in October, 1911, as part of the advance publicity, and then 30 festive colored cards plus 5 monochrome cards were published in July, 1912, during the festival. Official cards can be identified by the medallion trademark printed in the upper left corner of the address side, and by the printer's credit at bottom left - "Minerva" Praha.


And the same image on poster stamps.

Someone on the promotion committee for this Slet was a huge fan of poster stamps, as there are more different official varieties for the 1912 celebration than for any other Slet - two primary designs, both of them in several different sizes, and with multiple variations in text. Above, the first design. Each of the five varieties shown was printed in a rainbow of colors.

12/31/18 - Štefan Šuták sent the image below, which shows that there are two sub-varieties of the second one above, differing in the tiny decorations in the corners - Madness!

He provides some statistics about the number of colors used for each, as well. Thanks, Štefan!


Below, another postcard by Hornik, with design very similar to the one above.
This is the one used on the "official" poster - see top of page.




Above, six of the most sought-after of ALL Sokol postcards, a set reproducing paintings by noted Czech painter Kamil Vladislav Muttich, and depicting scenes related to the festival's Marathon theme.

Below, a great recent find: The envelope in which sets of the Muttich postcards were sold!


Images from the games

Photographs of the Marathon presentations.



Below, the design that won second prize in the poster contest,
and was produced as a poster as well, published in October, 1911.
Another example of a design used in multiple formats.
This was common at the time - advertising images for a large event would be printed in as many formats as possible - on large and small posters, on flyers, on postcards, and on stamps, to maximize the possibilities for communicating the news.
But why two versions? (look at the flag!) See below.


The artist for this card was František Urban (1868-1919), who placed second in the competition for the official poster, won by F. Hornik. Note that Urban reversed the colors of the Czech flag in the card on the left (the first card, which was the design he submitted for the poster competition) - the red stripe should be on the bottom - but he did not want the white stripe at the edge, it offended his artistic sensibilities (!) - earlier postcards have the error, some later ones have the error fixed. His poster was used as advance publicity, issued in October, 1911, and then the Hornik poster was issued in April, 1912.

Above, the second poster stamp design, this time based on the runner-up poster, and this time in three varieties - shown below. As with the other official poster stamps at the top of this page, these were issued in many colors (Štefan Šuták estimates 18 colors for each variety). And the placement of the flag's stripe is correct on these.

The first two varieties differ only in the dashes separating the text at the bottom - double vs. single.


L: Artist: J. Hlavin; this design won sixth place in the poster competition
R: Václav Malý (1874-1935)

L: Artist - K.V.Muttich
R: Emil Holárek (1867-1919)

Artists: L - Karel Rašek (1861-1918) /// R - František Urban - this design won fifth place in the poster competition

Artist: František Cína Jelínek

Below, an American (New York) travel agency card advertising the event,
a Czech card showing an American flag,
and another Czech card celebrating the many national Sokol groups that participated.




Below, photos of teams and a famous competitor:

Members of the team from the "Spojenych statech Severo Americkych" - United States of America


Card showing Bulgarian group (Yunak) on parade at the VI. Slet; postally used locally in Prague.


Unused card produced for the VI. Slet, showing Serbian Sokols on parade, wearing fluffy plumes placed centrally on their caps which helps to clearly identify them.



Photos of the Athletic demonstrations.



Miscellaneous cards with symbolic imagery

The card on the left is by T. Šramek
The two cards on the right are both by František Hornik, who also did the poster for this Slet - he was a busy guy!

Artists: L - unknown; R - František Urban


Artist: Bedřich Wachsmann (1871-1944)

A controversy about Poster Stamps

Štefan Šuták sent the image above, showing five Cinderellas with images of Miroslav Tyrš and Jindřich Fügner, that caused a bit of controversy at this Slet. As I mentioned near the top of this page, there were more official poster stamps issued for these Games than any other all-Sokol Slet.

But the stamps shown here were issued "without permission," and caused quite a fuss. I've no idea who produced them, or what the money was intended for, but they did not ask the Slet organization group, they just printed these stamps. The Sokol organisation warned its supporters not to buy them.


Above, a large gummed label, about 2" x 3"


Local Slet members at Melenci (Serbia), 1912


1932 - IX
1938 - X
1943 - London
1948 - XI
1948 - Rudé Právo labels
1994 - XII

Slovak Catholic Sokol




All text Copyright © 2005, 2018, William M. Senkus

Send feedback to the author: CLICK HERE

Created -- 10/25/2005
Revised -- 04/22/2022