BIOGRAPHY: Edward T. Dawson

From around 1935 to 1946, Dawson worked for Bradbury, Wilkinson. During that time he engraved stamps not only for the British Empire, but for many foreign countries as well, especially during the wartime period.

When Dawson received the design for the 1940 New Zealand Centennial 2.5d stamp, he asked for permission to alter it by making changes to the frame and the plaque shown on the stamp. He also questioned the historical accuracy of the Union Jack shown in the design. The latter proved to be accurate but Dawson was granted the other changes he had proposed.  

In 1941, Edward Dawson engraved the 5g value from the set issued by the polish exiled government in London. His design of the ruins of the American Embassy in Warsaw was based on a photograph taken by a member of the Polish underground that had been smuggled to England via a secret route. Die proofs of this value exist in black and greenish-black. The 55g was also engraved by Dawson. Of this value, die proofs exist in black only. Of his engraving of the 75g, finally, die proofs exist in olive.

In 1943, a second set was issued for the Polish exiled government in London. For this set, Edward Dawson engraved three values: the 10g, 75g and 80g. Of the 10g value die proofs exist in black. The approved colour trial (green) is dated 9 September 1943. The set was issued on 1 November of that year.

The die proofs for the 75g value were printed in yellow-brown, purple, claret, bright violet and black. Numbered proofs were printed in violet, bistre and red-brown, with the approved colour trial dated 9 September 1943.

The original design of the 80g showed parading Polish troops and a Polish flag being hoisted. It was changed into a design depicting General Sikorski inspecting Polish troops when that general was killed in a plane crash. Die proofs of that original design had already been made at the time. Of the new design, die proofs exist in rose-carmine, carmine, magenta and brown-carmine. Numbered proofs also exist in olive and magenta. The imperforate colour trials were made in deep scarlet, reddish purple and deep purple. These were dated 20 September 1943. The approved colour trial in magenta was dated 4 October 1943.

In 1944, Dawson engraved the portrait of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, whose government was exiled in London during the war. The stamps were originally meant for the Dutch merchant navy, but during the drawn-out liberation of the Netherlands, they were used as definitives in the liberated areas as well.

The stamps featured on a recent issue from the Netherlands, from 2015. The design not only featured one of the stamps, but also the actual steel engraving by Dawson. At the request of the Dutch, the original dies were eventually defaced with a large cross and sent to the Dutch Postal Museum, which can be clearly seen on the illustration used on this issue.

The die proof Dawson made for the 1947 New Zealand Life Insurance 1s was approved straightaway but his die proof for the 2d value needed a bit more work in that the top of the ray of light had to be straightened.

From 1946 to his retirement in around 1975, Dawson worked for De La Rue. Whilst no stamps can be attributed to him during this time, there is a die proof of the profile of Queen Elizabeth II, with his name on, dated 17 October 1966. 

You will find Edward T Dawson's database HERE.

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