Heras and De Oro: A right royal pair

Having two or even more engravers working on a single stamp is nothing new. Just take a look at the American catalogue for example, which is riddled with vignette engravers, frame engravers and letter engravers. However, having two engravers working on a single vignette is a different matter altogether and to be honest, I only know of a few other ones and even there, the parts they were working on were decidedly separate from each other.

But here we have a stamp, issued in Spain in 2004, which includes the portaits of the then King and Queen of Spain. It forms part of a miniature sheet celebrating the monarchy (top centre). A little research done some time ago revealed that there were two engravers involved: Juan Carlos Heras Vicario and Alfredo de Oro Sanz. Heras engraved the queen's portrait and De Oro that of the king.

There was a special souvenir sheetlet issued which only includes the engraved stamp of the standard miniature sheet and an extra print of the engraved parts only. For us the perfect way to compare the two gentlemen's work.

While I suppose the style is very much alike, I noticed that De Oro used the time-honoured technique of cross-hatching with dots in the diamonds on the king's cheek. I would also dare to say that the king's facial features such as his eyes and mouth are way more pronounced than that of the queen. However, I much prefer the queen's forehead to that of the king, not being sure of those hard lines at the top, though you don't really notice that when just looking at the stamp. And I quite like the way the light shines on the queen's hair. All in all I would call it a draw!

Final point: the two portraits are so close to each other and fit so well, that I would presume the engravers have been working on the same master die, rather than each engraving his own die, which would undoubtedly have yielded printing headaches.

What do you think?



  1. Hello.
    If both engravers worked on one master die only, they and the Spanish State Printing Plant must have told it in the medias at the time.

    Don't forget engraving assisted by computer (gravure assistée par ordinateur, GAO in French). Perhaps, 2 dies were engraved by the artists, one for each portrait. Then, put together digitally by the designers at the printing plant, before the industrial process of creating the printing rolls (sorry, my English for the printing industry is very weak).

    I think GAO began at the French Post Printer late 1990s-early 2000s.

  2. That's an interesting point, Sébastien. I'll see if I can find out some more, but unfortunately, the Spanish are not half as forthcoming as the French when it comes to information regarding their engravers.
    The engraving does look extremely clean which may indeed point towards a computer generated printing cylinder.


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