Saturday, 23 September 2017

CHAT: The US Newspaper Stamps, or: The Headaches of a Philatelist (part 4)

3 August 2017
Things are hotting up tremendously! I wake up to another email from D. He sent me a clipping from the 'United States Specialist' which lists the engravers of the 1875 issue! I've seen that Braceland name before and gather he is quite the expert in this field.

Not only do I now have the names, the snippet also confirms that the frame and lettering of the 1875 was done by a single engraver, even though not all of those are known yet. But the list yields yet another problem to sort. As frame/letter engraver for the two lowest dollar values, we find the name C A Kochler. His name is not yet in my database so I grab my trusted Hessler book, only to find that he spells the name as Kohler! Another spell on the world wide web is needed, in search of an engraver named either Kohler or Kochler.

Luck seems to be on my side today for within minutes I find an old auction lot which includes various ABNC items, among which Happy New Year cards by C A Kochler! So that settles it, as far as I'm concerned, and I can continue adding this new engraver to my database, together with James S King, Charles H Smith and Atwood Porter.

I start adding the engravers to my research cum want list, I bump into Charles Skinner's name again, on the $24 value. I had put him there after finding the EPJ snippet with the proof. Today's list names King as the engraver, so the image shown in the EPJ must have been of a drawn essay after all, with Skinner signing as one of the designers rather than the engraver. So that's another minor point sorted.

4 August 2017
The sun shines on the righteous! Or is it The devil looks after his own? Whatever way, yet another email arrives from D with what seems to be the final piece of the puzzle. That wonderful Essay Proof Journal, which should never have been allowed to be discontinued, is disclosing another of it splendours: a two part feature on the engravers of the 1895 issue! With in-depth information on how the dies were engraved, how the original 1875 dies were used, and transformed into the new 1895 issue. With loads of progressive proofs to illustrate. Too wonderful for words!

The feature states that Smillie did indeed engrave and or upgrade all the vignettes, whereas both Ellis and Kennedy are known to have done some of the lettering and frames. Not all frame and lettering engravers were known at that time (1957), but the feature is so authoritative that I'll gladly accept I'll never get to know this. But at least I now know all the vignette engravers, which is what I had hoped for.

So in that way my quest rather abruptly ends, with 99% of my questions answered! And all that while realising that most of the hard work had already been done by others! All I need to do now is actually collect all these beautiful items and keep my eyes peeled for (progressive) proofs to come up in auctions. For at the moment of writing I still do not own a single stamp or proof from this issue, and I can't wait to see them in real life!


Saturday, 16 September 2017

BIOGRAPHY: Sophie Beaujard

On 10 March 2017, Sophie Beaujard's first engraved French stamp was issued; a stamp portraying Germaine Ribière who, during World War Two, helped bring Jewish children to safety. Beaujard was no newcomer to the philatelic scene as such. She has been designing stamps ever since 2012, but this is her first outing as a stamp engraver.

Sophie's father, the engraver Yves Beaujard, was very much at the root of her enthusiasm for the arts. She received her training at the Ecole Estienne in Paris from 1982 to 1988, and finished it under the tutelage of her father. From 1990, Sophie has been an independent artist, working for the French Post, whilst also being known for her children's book illustrations.

After Sophie submitted two stamp designs, the French Post were interested in working with her, but initially asked her to create date stamps. Soon after, though, she was asked to design the stamps for the 2012 booklet of Romanesque art. She has since designed dozens of stamps, for both France and Andorra. Initially, she was paired with her father, but later she collaborated with the other engravers as well.

In 2013, Beaujard submitted designs for the new Marianne of France. Her design was made with an eventual engraving very much already in mind. Having considered various modern styles, she settled on a classic figure, soft and yet full of energy in both expression and movement. Her design made it to the initial shortlist of fifteen of which three were to be chosen by various students throughout France. Beaujard's design managed to end up on that final shortlist as well, but was eventually pipped to the post by the Ciappa/Kawana design.

After her father showed her how to engrave, it has always been her aim to become an engraver herself. She kept on training for this, and created several preliminary drawings for engravings, in order to hone her talent.

Her favourite subject is the portrait. Sophie has said that she enjoys capturing a certain expression, mastering the many facial features. Her dream has finally come true in 2017, with the issue of the Ribière stamp.

It followed hot on the heels of another engraving she made, for the Art du Timbre Gravé, of which she became joint Vice-President in 2016. The design was based on the Netherlands, the country which was the 'Guest Country' at the autumn stamp show in Paris. The design brings together various well-known Dutch symbols, such as tulips and windmills and wide horizons, but in a non-touristy way. With regard to her engraving style, Sophie was inspired by the works in ink of Vincent van Gogh. She used a combination of lines and dots for the water and the various items, whereas the sky is made up of more freely curving lines. That way, she hoped to capture the soft light of that vast land.

More stamps followed in 2017, such as issues for Monaco and French Andorra, all promising a bright future.

You will find Sophie Beaujard's database HERE.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

CHAT: The US Newspaper Stamps, or: The Headaches of a Philatelist (part 3)

(If you'd like to start reading from the beginning, then click HERE!)

1 August 2017
My task for the day is to go through the Essay Proof Journals I have, and see if I can find anything of interest. Now, I have PDFs and hard copies, but I'm doing this after having worked in front of a computer all morning, so I don't feel like reading all the PDFs on a computer screen, and therefore opt for the hard copies.

Needless to say I do find two references which are important to developing the story. The EPJ of July 1947 includes a paragraph stating that the dies were sent by the ABNC to the BEP. These were used as the foundation for the new 1895 issue. The vignettes of the original issues were transferred to a new die. This was done by taking them up on a transfer roll and then cutting away the frame and lettering. So this would imply that all the new vignettes have the old engraving as their foundation, which corroborates the theory that GFC Smillie 'worked over' the die of the old $3 vignette.

The second find dates from the EPJ of January 1952. It deals with a then forthcoming auction of unique newspaper stamp material, including the die essay of the $24, which is signed by Charles Skinner. Now, Skinner was a vignette engraver, so it would make sense that even though he is mentioned here as one of the designers, he will also have engraved the vignette of this particular value. So that's another name added to the list.

I also found an intriguing and maybe slightly worrying feature on GFC Smillie. The feature includes what is claimed to be an exhaustive list of Smillie's engravings, based on his own meticulous records. And they do not include the newspaper stamps! But my theory is that since he 'only' worked over the old dies, he may not have regarded them as proper engravings. But his signature would imply his involvement, so I'm still soldiering on with him on the list.

2 August 2017
In wades my philatelic buddy G, with a range of mentions in various philatelic publications. They're all interesting with regard to the general story, especially giving background to why they were issued, which may come in handy if I decide to try and write a full-length feature on these stamps for one of the magazines. But of particular interest is John N Luff's The Postage Stamps of the United States, published in 1902.

Whilst it gives no information on individual engravers, it does clarify the transitional phase. Apparently, it had always been the idea that the BEP would come with a new series, but because of teething problems they had to print a few of the old stamps because stock was running low. The 1894 printings were done from the old plates of the ABNC. They were re-entered, which makes for clear and sharp impressions, but that all means that the engravings were still the original. So they can be grouped under the engravers of the original dies.

To be continued!

Friday, 8 September 2017

BIOGRAPHY: Harry P. Dawson

Harold P Dawson joined the ABNC at the beginning of the twentieth century. Before then, he had worked for a number of small firms.

During his career he worked for the BEP, for which he engraved the first airmail stamps of the United States, the Republican Bank Note Company, who specialised in banknotes and bonds, the British American Bank Note Company of Canada, and once again for the ABNC.

You will find Harry P. Dawson's database HERE.

BIOGRAPHY: Louis Delnoce Jr

Louis Delnoce Jr was born in New York in 1872, as the son of stamp engraver Louis (Luigi) Delnoce Sr. The family had emigrated from Italy in the middle of the nineteenth century.

During his lifetime Louis Jr engraved for companies such as the BEP and the Canadian Bank Note Co.

Louis Jr passed away on 13 April 1943, in his office.

Louis Delnoce Jr's database can be found HERE.

BIOGRAPHY: William J. Brown

William Brown joined the American Banknote Company in 1882 and stayed with them until the end of 1920. He was a picture engraver who specialised in buildings, monuments and urban scenes. He engraved mainly for banknotes and bonds, etc, but he has engraved a few stamp issues as well.

You will find William J Brown's database HERE.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

BIOGRAPHY: Robert Cami

Robert Cami was born in Bordeaux, France, on 1 January 1900. He started out taking evening lessons at the School of Fine Arts in Bordeaux until 1918. When that school gave him a study grant he could go to the School of Fine Arts in Paris, where he started to specialise in graphic arts. His design teacher was Lucien Simon and his engraver teacher was Waltner.

In 1926, he won the Blumenthal award and in 1928 the best prize of all: the Prix de Rome. From then on, he would leave etching behind and become engrossed in engraving only.

From 1932 to 1942, he taught at the School of Fine Arts in Bordeaux. It was he who founded the engraving studio at that school.

At the same time he held many high profile exhibitions of his work, which consisted mainly of landscapes, city views and nudes. His work can still be seen in the modern art museums of France, but also abroad, for example in Chicago in the United States. Cami also became renowned for the engravings he made for various books, among which a popular edition of Shakespeare’s Othello.

From 1945, Cami was Professor of Engraving at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris. There, he headed the intaglio workshop. One of his pupils who went on to become a stamp engraver himself, was René Quillivic. Together with another teacher, Galani, who specialised in woodcuts, Cami left a lasting impression on Quillivic's work, teaching him the precise and rigorous composition needed when engraving the more sensual of materials.

Robert Cami only began working on stamps in the early 1950s, for the French postal authorities. His first engraved stamp issued was the 18f Hernani de Victor Hugo stamp of the 1953 National Industries and Literary Figures set. Although he did design and engrave separate issues, most of his work can be found in long-running sets which were made by a whole team of famous French engravers. 

One of the first series he became involved in was the 'Heroes of the Resistance' series which was introduced in 1957. Furthermore he cooperated in engraving various Red Cross stamps and, from 1962 onwards, a number of annual Stamp Day issues.

But the best known series Cami worked on is without doubt the Tourist Publicity series. France has always been proud to show off its country on its stamps and Cami, having often featured land and cityscapes in his other work, was the perfect candidate for the series. His first stamp on the theme was the 1957 25f stamp depicting the Château de Valençay. The progressive die proofs which can be found on the market, show how he built up the design. Cami remained involved in this series for a whole decade, with the 1960 Laon Cathedral being a very popular highlight, with over 30 million copies printed. 

Cami remained active until his very last breath, and in his later years often produced the annual Nature Conservation sets, with the 1975 70c, showing little egrets, being his final work. It was issued just weeks after his death in January 1975. 

Engravers working for the French postal authorities usually worked on stamps for the French territories as well, and so did Cami. His work for these territories was mainly done in the 1950s. Apart from the odd issue or stamp in a larger set, Cami designed and engraved two stamps which form mini omnibus series. The first is the 1958 issue marking the Tenth Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, which was issued in nine countries, and the second the 1960 issue to mark the Tenth Anniversary of the African Technical Co-operation Commission, which was issued in twelve countries.

Cami was never was given the chance to work on France’s definitive sets, but did contribute the odd design and engraving for various definitive stamps in the French territories. The 1956 air mail stamp design for the French Southern and Antarctic Territories is among the most outstanding of those.

But it was a country outside the direct French sphere of influence that gave Cami the great honour of engraving a whole definitive set. In April 1965, Luxembourg introduced a definitive set depicting the Grand Duke Jean. The stamp was designed by E. Kutter jnr, but engraved by Robert Cami. New values were added to the set with any regularity, with the final ones not being issued until 1991, making this set a long-lasting tribute to Cami’s engraving talents.

Robert Cami passed away on 12 January 1975. From December 1978 to January 1979 there was a large Cami Retrospective exposition held in his hometown of Bordeaux. It was accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, listing over 350 of his works, among which are private engravings, book illustrations, stamps of course, and ex libris bookplates, his favourite art form.

You will find Robert Cami's database HERE.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

CHAT: The US Newspaper Stamps, or: The Headaches of a Philatelist (part 2)

(If you'd like to start reading from the beginning, then click HERE!)

29 July 2017
Heard back from D. While he thought he couldn't help me much, he did say that he believed that the BEP could make use of dies / plates from the ABNC. But then he started beating me around the ears with PR numbers, so I was at a complete loss. Until I remembered I had this old Scott catalogue (from 1957!), and yes there they were: the Newspaper stamps in all their glory and with all their PR catalogue numbers. So I figured that I had better first study the general issues, before delving in at the deep end. I spent a lovely evening making lists, reading catalogues and dreaming of wonderful collections...

What helped a lot was that I was able to identify three main sections within the 25 years of issues. There are loads of special printings but they do not really impinge on my collecting habits, so for me the main themes would be:

Phase 1: 1875/1893: eleven designs engraved for the CBNC, later called the ABNC. This will be rather straightforward and I just need to patiently await any signed proofs to pass me by.

Phase 2: 1894: four ABNC designs printed by the BEP. This is trickier for I need to find out whether the ABNC engravings were used or whether the BEP had them re-engraved or modified in any way.

Phase 3: 1895 onwards: eight BEP designs. Again, a slightly tricky area where I will need to determine whether these are new engravings or (like that $2) modifications of existing ABNC engravings.

31 July 2017
Another email from D. He sent some scans of items from auction catalogues and what have you. They're stunning! Of special interest was a die proof of the BEP $20 value, which was signed by Smillie.

Whilst his signature does not particularly look like the one on the $2 proof, there is a G hidden in the S, and other Smillies don't seem to fit time-wise, so I'm still confident that this is the GFC Smillie we've been talking about and will continue to be so until I get proof showing otherwise.

The other important item was a progressive proof of the BEP 10c value, which is signed by Lyman F Ellis, who, as we know by now, has also done the frame of the $2. This immediately gives rise to the following question: if Ellis did the frame/lettering of the 10c, and James Kennedy that of the 1c, which parts may then be identical and may we indeed have the beginnings of proof here that maybe frame and lettering were done by different people? Again, I'll need to get copies in so I can compare the frames more closely.

Another Ellis item was a progressive proof of the frame of the $2, which does not yield any new information, but is lovely anyway.

The final scan was that of a die proof of the BEP 1894 $6. This is interesting because it covers the phase 2 printings of the BEP. My Scott catalogue joyfully lists proofs for almost every newspaper stamp around, but it mentions no proof at all for any 1894 issue whatsoever. This proof here, dated December 15, 1894, must be of the 1894 set, because the 1895 set no longer includes a $6 value. So die proofs of the 1894 issue do exist! Pity it isn't signed. And it still does not answer the question whether the BEP used ABNC material or whether they had new dies made...

To be continued. Click HERE for part 3.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

BIOGRAPHY: Harold J. Bard

In 1938, Harold Bard's first known stamp engravings were issued. They consisted of the definitive set issued in the Cayman Islands. For this set, he engraved the profile head of King George VI. The engraved die, for Waterlow & Sons, was numbered 15656 and dated 14 May 1937.

There is another profile head of the king, also engraved by Bard for Waterlow & Sons, but no further details are known about either year or issue. The die number, 16523, would suggest though, that the engraving dates from around 1939 or 1940.

Harold Bard engraved the dies for the British Castle definitives of 1955. The engravings were based on the Dorothy Wilding photograph of the Queen and the watercolour designs of Lynton Lamb. As early as the Spring of 1953 it was clear that the high values would be recess-printed and include the Wilding portait of the Queen. Bard finished his die of the portrait that summer. He had to wait a long time before he could engrave the rest of the design for it was only at the end of 1954 that the final designs were chosen.

While Bard was working on the master dies of the four stamps, the designer Lynton Lamb is said to have been rather pleased with Bard's work. He has been recorded saying that Bard  had 'made a beautiful job' of the 2s6d and 5s dies, and later commented that the master die for the £1 value 'makes a very beautiful stamp'.

In 2005, the 50th anniversary of the British Wilding castles definitives was marked with a miniature sheet. The stamps reproduced on that sheet were made with the original dies engraved by Harold Bard. The castles were reproduced from their original dies. The only exception was the design for Windsor Castle. The original die was lost so the artwork for this particular value was computer-made, based on the original £1 stamp. The 'grotto' borders of all four values were all reproduced using the original die of the 2s6d value.

Sometime during his career (date unknown), Harold Bard engraved a test note for De La Rue / Giori. As luck would have it, it was a case of Bard doing The Bard, for the test note included a portrait of William Shakespeare! Bard 'hid' his signature on Shakespeare's left shoulder, next to the Bard's name.

You will find Harold J Bard's database HERE.

Friday, 18 August 2017

DATABASE: Gayfield Shaw


New Zealand, Congress of British Empire Chambers of Commerce, 2.5d (with FD Manley) (1)

1) The Australian Philatelist