Saturday, 18 February 2017

QUESTION: Whodunit?

A few days ago I received an email asking me whether I could possibly identify which engraver was responsible for this beauty here:

It is a die proof which was sold to the correspondent attributing it to Bradbury Wilkinson and Hong Kong. Which is strange as the Hong Kong definitive set utilising the Annigoni portrait is not engraved, nor recess-printed. My correspondent had already compared the proof to engraved Annigoni stamps from the British Commonwealth but found no obvious match.

Unfortunately I have not been able to find out anything, so that's why I'm posing the question here, hoping that maybe someone somewhere may recognise this item. Seeing that the size is definitely stamp-size (a mock up Hong Kong proof shown here shows that the engraving is of small-format definitive size), I think we may exclude any banknote usage.

Maybe, just maybe, it was a preliminary proof for a new Hong Kong definitive set after all? Only to be discarded in favour of cheaper and quicker printing methods? But that would have been slightly odd, seeing that as far as I remember no definitives from Hong Kong were ever recess-printed.

Anyway, any help would be hugely appreciated!



  1. Hi Adrian
    This is not quite the same as theBradbury Wilkinson die that was used for a lot of Commonwealth issues such as Fiji, Gambia Barbados, etc.The shading on the collar is in the opposite direction and the background shading is different. The eyes look different to me as well. You can see the Fiji one here
    Having said that, it could be a rejected proof. The Bradbury stamps were engraved by Nigel Alan Dow and he was a perfectionist who may not have been happy with this one. I can't see any reason why this would have been associated with Hong Kong unless as already mentioned, it was a sample sent to them before they went with gravure.

  2. Add to the above. Yves Baril also did an Annigoni portrait but full length. His collar shading is the same as this proof but the facial expression is very different so this is not a cut down version of that.

  3. Back again. It seems that Bradbury Wilkinson did have two different dies for Annigoni. The Fiji stamp I mentioned above was from 1957 but in 1958 they released high values for Sarawak with an Annigoni portrait very much like the proof shown. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy to show. Gibbons has no details for this stamp.

  4. The Norfolk Island stamps engraved by Peter Morriss have the collar engraved in the same way but the portrait engraving is coarser than the proof, which is superb, by the way, and I wish I owned it.

  5. Thanks for all your efforts, John. I looked at Sarawak stamps on google but they seem to me to be different.

    1. Yes, I finally got hold of a Sarawak stamp and it is the standard Bradbury die. They must have made two dies but chosen only one.