Friday, 22 March 2013

QEII Coronation Issue Part 1

Where did the Omnibus design come from?

With the 60th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation just around the corner, I thought it might be interesting to roll back the clock to have a look at the Coronation Omnibus Issue and its origins.

The date of the Queen’s Coronation was 2 June 1953, and it was expected of the Crown agents to produce stamps for 62 territories of the Commonwealth. It is this issue that will be the primary focus of this article.
Of course not all territories utilized this issue. Many simply didn't bother to produce Coronation stamps. Four territories - Bahrain, Eastern Arabia, Tangier and Kuwait – overprinted the British Coronation stamps. Eleven other territories including Australia and Canada used their own Coronation designs. Indeed Great Britain chose its own designs, but more on this later.
Sixty two territories of the Commonwealth issued Coronation stamps that were designed by Bradbury Wilkinson & Co. The giant ask of printing this vast number of stamps fell on the shoulders of De La Rue.  
So where did this design come from? 
Before we answer that question let us break down this lovely stamp into its constituent parts. It was decided that this stamp be dual coloured, therefore two plates were required. The ‘key plate’ design which was the centre-piece of the stamp was based on a portrait of the Queen by Dorothy Wilding. Another Wilding portrait was used for the early Great Britain QEII definitives. This 'key plate' was uniformly printed in black.
Close-up of 'Key Plate' design

The second plate, known as the ‘Duty Plate’ created the frame of the stamp. The ‘Duty Plate’ contained the name of the territory and the denomination of the stamp, therefore 62 different sets of ‘Duty Plates’ were required. Also, within the sixty-two territories thirty different colours were used for printing.
Arrows point to the 'Duty Plate' 

So let us now return to the question: Where did this design come from? To answer that we need to look towards Grenada, particularly the definitive issue of 1953. The designers at Bradbury Wilkinson & Co. used this beautiful design as the basis for the Coronation Omnibus issue...

But it doesn't stop there. The Grenada 1953, indeed also the KGVI 1951, issues were based on an earlier, and lovely, design from the reign of Queen Victoria. In 1861 Grenada issued its first postage stamps bearing the colony name. The issue was stunning!

I mentioned earlier that some territories chose to issue their own designs. One of these being Great Britain herself. In Part 2 I shall study Great Britain's Coronation issue along with a few others. So until then...
Stay Stamp Crazy!!

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