Humphrys' surname is written both with and without an e before the y. Apparently, he was originally called Humphreys but changed his name when he went to the USA.
When it was found that a deeper cut die was needed, Charles and Frederick Heath's portrait of Queen Victoria, in use on all British stamps since 1840, was retouched by William Humphrys in 1854. This die has become known as Die II.
Although New Zealand had set their sights on John Carmichael from New South Wales to engrave their first definitives, that plan fell through because Carmichael was engaged in work for New South Wales and instead it was Humphrys who engraved the Chalon portrait for the country's first definitives of 1855. To be precise it is a die made by Humphrys for banknotes which was used for the New Zealand Chalon stamps. Humphrys' portrait appeared on the Bank of British North America banknotes, the Union Bank of Australia £1 banknotes for Christchurch New Zealand, issued in 1859, and for Wellington New Zealand, issued in 1880 and on banknotes from the Bank of Western Australia.
The work Humphrys was doing for New South Wales was an engraving for their 1854 definitives, which has since become known as the Garter Type definitive. It is often regarded as the best example of his craftmanship.
The design of the 1856 St. Helena stamp was of tall proportions, resembling Humphrys' 1855 series for South Australia, but with greater elegance and clarity (Stamp Magazine June 2013).
Although the Stanley Gibbons catalogues credit Charles Henry Jeens with the engraving
of Grenada's first definitive of 1861, many philatelic heavyweights,
such as L.N. & M. Williams, Bertram Poole and John Easton, actually
think it was William Humphrys (Stamp Magazine October 2011).
STAMPS BY YEAR
United States, New York NY Postmasters provisional
Cape of Good Hope, Definitives
Nova Scotia, Definitive
New South Wales, Garter type definitives
Western Australia, Definitives
New Zealand, Chalon definitives
South Australia, Queen Victoria definitives
St. Helena, Queen Victoria definitive
Ceylon, Definitives in design of 1d and 10d
STAMP-RELATED ITEMS BY YEAR
New Zealand, Stamp Centenary Exhibition cinderella with Chalon portrait
- Bank of British North America banknote with Chalon portrait
- Union Bank of Australia
£1 banknote (Christchurch New Zealand 1859 and Wellington New Zealand 1880)
- Bank of
Western Australia banknote with Chalon portrait
South Australia 1855
2d posthumous uncleared die proof of the defaced die in black on wove
paper (67x81mm). A beautiful proof & exceptional exhibit item.
Several impressions were taken in in 1931. RPSofL Certificate (1982). [This die was rejected because of the "Knitting Needle" flaw through the Queen's Eye. Harry Lower's similar proof sold for AUD3220]
Sold by Prestige Philately on 7 February 2014 for AUD2900.
South Australia 1855
6d die proof in black on India paper, reduced to stamp-size with narrow
margins, affixed (many years ago) to a non-contemporary piece of glazed
card (37x49mm) apparently to disguise several quite significant faults
including a vertical crease & 6mm vertical scissor-cut at base. Rare
and desirable, despite the imperfections. Ex Harry Lower: acquired for AUD3450. [The only other example in the sales consulted was John Griffiths'
example similarly cut-down and affixed to a piece of card apparently of
the same origin, and also presumably with faults though none were
Sold by Prestige Philately on 7 February 2014 for AUD2400.
Perkins Bacon 4d die proof in deep blue on thin card (37x54mm)
with attractive "bleeding" of the colour on all four sides. Superb! A
delightful proof of great beauty & rarity, being the only Tasmanian Perkins Bacon die proof in colour that we have noted. Ex Richard Payne.
Coloured die proofs for the Chalon stamps are not mentioned by Arthur Basset-Hull, Robson Lowe or Gene Tinsley. As the dies were retained by Perkins Bacon,
this gorgeous item must have been produced by them in London. The
bleeding of the colour is reminiscent of the similar effect on the
coloured die proofs for New South Wales Diadems that Perkins Bacon are known to have prepared for display at the Kensington Exhibition of 1872. We expect that this is also the provenance of the Tasmanian die proof.
Sold by Prestige Philately on 7 February 2014 for AUD8500.
- Stamp Magazine
- Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Volume 1 Queen Victoria Specialised Stamp Catalogue, Eleventh edition (1997)
- The Postage Stamps of New Zealand, Volume IV, Edited by RJG Collins and CW Watts (1964)