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King Edward VII Essays and Proofs

Introduction

(Notes taken from a report by Dave Willmer on the display of this collection given to the GBPS at Worcester, 14th July 2012.)

It is no exaggeration to say that this collection is one of the finest, if not (in the opinion of many) the finest collection of this reign. Graham states that the proofs were items that he particularly enjoyed collecting; their proliferation throughout the collection is more than adequate testament to this.

A particular thread developed within the display is that the stamps of Edward VII should not be seen in isolation. Many of the designs for the low values were taken, sometimes with only little modification, from the Queen Victoria Jubilee issue, although the d, 1d, 2d and 6d were completely redesigned, the 4d value dropped, and a new value (7d) introduced.

The authorities consulted Thomas De La Rue & Co. Ltd about the new issue of stamps soon after Edward VII came to the throne. In response, De La Rue produced several sets of composite, or paste-up, essays, in which the frames for the Jubilee set and the 1881 1d lilac were used, with Victorias head being replaced by appropriately-coloured three-quarter (termed Type A) or quarter (Type B) face proofs of the King. So confident were they with the designs, which many people consider handsome and less austere than the eventual adopted designs, that they engraved the head.

Unfortunately, their optimism proved unfounded, as the King rejected it. The controversial decision was taken to commission the Austrian artist Emil Fuchs to redesign the head. There are a number of essays in the collection of the Fuchs design (two of which are in red, though the authorities preferred lilac), some signed by the artist. Two essays for the 1d displaying Type A and Type B heads are shown in Fig. 2. There are also later head dies, one of which is initialled by Austen Chamberlain, the then Postmaster General.

In addition to redesigning the head, Fuchs prepared the design for the d, 1d, 2d and 6d values. For all of these values the same frame and head design were used, the head being a larger version of that used for the other low values. A particular problem with the initial design of the 2d arose from the fact that its colour clashed with that of the d green, especially in poor light, and this at a time when the difference in value 2d was significant. The Post Office was not satisfied by the initially adopted purple printing on blue paper, the combination used in the Jubilee issue, and almost at the last minute changed the stamp to a blue design on white paper, destroying more than 17,000 sheets in the old colours in the process, though a few examples survived.

The other low values, in which the small Fuchs head was used together with modified Victorian frame designs are, as expected, very well represented in the collection. There is a further extensive collection of die proofs and essays for the initial designs. This includes a postal notice for the new d and 1s Jubilees, altered to meet UPU requirements, and Victorian colour trials for the 1s with the new approved colour.

Inasmuch as the Edward VII low values owe much in their design to the Jubilee issue, the high values from 2s 6d to 1 also mimic, to an extent, their Victorian counterparts. In fact, essays for values from 2s 6d to 5 were submitted initially but the 5 design was subsequently dropped. The designs were based upon the corresponding stamps of the issues of 18821884, though corner letters were omitted and the composition of all the frames was different, especially in the case of the 10s. An initial essay for the 1 in the Victorian design was aborted in favour of one which was more practical, both essays being present in the collection. Designs for a 5 value were submitted, and die proofs struck. Unfortunately, demand for a 5 stamp had rapidly declined owing to a reduction in telegraphic charges, and no Edwardian stamps of this denomination were ever issued.

In 1909, the Post Office requested monocoloured trials of the 1d, 2d and 4d values, with a view to economy, and also a design change for the 2d. Accordingly, De La Rue submitted three designs for this value, of which the third was selected: these are displayed here. There is a lot of speculation regarding the withdrawal of this 'Tyrian Plum'. As Graham himself points out, it may have been due to a colour clash with the 6d, to a faulty die, or to a faulty plate. Whatever the reason, the death of Edward VII prompted the Inland Revenue to inform De La Rue that the issue was to be cancelled, and that the 2d stamps were to be destroyed. As is well known, only a very few examples survived.

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Frame 1

  1. Title Page
VICTORIAN DESIGNS
  1. 'Stamp Committee' Page with 1887 Designs
  2. Essays in Victorian Frames with Quarter Head Portraits
  3. Essays in Victorian Frames with Three-Quarter Head Portraits
  4. Composite Essays with Large Head Images (11 Feb 1901)
  5. Composite Essays with Large Head Images (12 Mar 1901)
  6. Handpainted Essays for Unappropriated Dies (19 Feb 1901)
THE EMIL FUCHS HEAD AND ESSAYS
  1. Introduction
  2. Medallion Trials (Mar/Apr 1901)
  3. De La Rue Sketch Head (Early Apr 1901)
  4. Essays B and A with Photographic Head (19/22 Apr 1901)
  5. Paste-Up Essay with Photographic Frame (25 Apr 1901)
  6. Approved Essay with Photographic Frame (Apr/May 1901)
  7. Coloured One Penny Essays with Sketch Head (Apr/May 1901)
  8. Embossed Head Design Prepared by Emil Fuchs (1 May 1901)
The Twopence Halfpenny Value - Essays
  1. Paste-up Essay and De La Rue 'photo replica'
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Frame 2

THE EMIL FUCHS HEAD AND ESSAYS (cont)

The Twopence Halfpenny Value - Essays (cont)
  1. Essays of 10 July - B
  2. Essays of 10 July - C with photo replica
  3. Essays of 10 July - D with photo replica
  4. Essays of 10 July - E with photo replica
  5. Essays of 10 July - F with photo replica
  6. Essays of 10 July - G and H
THE STANDARD HEAD
  1. Progressive Die, Unapproved (6 Jun 1901)
  2. First Letterpress Edwardian Head Die (6/25 Jun 1901)
  3. Approved Die Proofs (27 Jun 1901)
  4. Master Die Proofs for d Value (Jul/Aug 1901)
  5. Master Die Proofs for d, 1d and 6d Values (Aug 1901)
The Halfpenny Value
  1. 1887 Victorian Issue with Die Proof
  2. 1901 Die Proofs
  3. Printing Registered 26 Sep 1901
  4. Striking Book Entry and After Striking Proof (28 Jan 1902)
  5. De La Rue Fugitive Ink Booklet
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Frame 3

THE STANDARD HEAD (cont)

The One Penny Value
  1. Victorian Penny 1d Lilac Proofs and Colour Trials
  2. Final and Approved Die Proofs (20 Aug 1901)
  3. Colour Trials in Doubly Fugitive Ink (4 Sep 1901)
  4. Colour Trials in Singly Fugitive Ink (4 Sep 1901)
  5. Striking Book Entries (Jul 1902 and Apr/Jun 1910)
The Twopence Halfpenny Value
  1. Die Proofs (Aug/Sep/Dec 1901)
  2. Essays in Purple on Blue Paper (Apr/May 1901)
  3. Trials for Proposed Change of Colour to Blue (9 Dec 1901)
  4. Colour Trials in Shades of Blue (9 Dec 1901)
  5. Coloured Proofs on Thin Card (Dec 1901)
The Sixpence Value
  1. Die Proofs (Aug 1901)
  2. Die Proof After Hardening (7 Sep 1901), Striking Book Entry (28 Feb 1902), Specimens
  3. Die Proof (7 Sep 1901), and Plate Proofs in Black
  4. Die Proof After Hardening (3 Dec 1901), Registration Sheef Imperf, Striking Book Entry (Apr 1902)
  5. Plate Proof in Black of Two Bottom Rows (5 Nov 1902)
  6. Imperforate Colour Trials on Unwatermarked Paper
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Frame 4

THE STANDARD HEAD (cont)

Miscellaneous
  1. Departmental Official Issues
  2. GPO Notice of Edward VII Stamp Issue
THE SMALL HEAD
  1. Unapproved Die and Approved Die (15 Jun/27 Jul 1901)
  2. Approved Dies for 2d and 5d Values with White Backgrounds (27 Jul/5 Sep 1901)
  3. Die Proofs of Small Head with Solid Background (Sep 1901)
The Three Halfpence Value
  1. Victorian Essays and Proofs and Edwardian Head Plate
  2. Die Proofs (1901/1902/1904)
  3. Imperforate from Registration Sheet (1905) and Striking Book Entries
The Twopence Value
  1. Victorian Essays and Proofs and Edwardian Head Plate
  2. Die Proofs of Duty Plates (1886), and Head Plate (15 Mar 1902)
The Threepence Value
  1. Victorian Essays and Proofs and Edwardian Die Proof
  2. Striking Book Entries and Die Proofs (1901/1902)
The Fourpence Value
  1. Victorian and Edwardian Die Proofs and EVII Specimen
  2. Die Proofs and Striking Book Entries (1901/1902)
The Fivepence Value
  1. Victorian and Edwardian Die Proofs
  2. Composite Essay (11 Feb 1901), Striking Book Entry and Die Proofs (27 Dec 1901/3 May 1902)
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Frame 5

THE SMALL HEAD (cont)

The Ninepence Value
  1. Victorian Essay and Victorian and Edwardian Die Proofs
  2. Die Proofs (10 Dec 1901/5 Apr 1902) and Striking Book Entries
The Tenpence Value
  1. Victorian Essays and Die Proofs
  2. Die Proofs (27 Nov 1901/28 Jun 1902), Striking Book Entries, Specimen and Cancelled Overprints
The One Shilling Value
  1. GPO Notice for Issue of Victorian Bicolour 1s, 1900
  2. Victorian Essays and Die Proofs
  3. Victorian Colour Trials - Heads in Purple Nos 1-6 (9 Nov 1899)
  4. Victorian Colour Trials - Heads in Purple Nos 7-9 and Green 1A-3A (9 Nov 1899)
  5. Victorian Colour Trials - Heads in Green 4A-9A (9 Nov 1899)
  6. Edwardian Combination Essay (11 Feb 1901) and Victorian Die Proofs
  7. Head and Border Plate Die Proofs (1901/1907)
  8. Striking Book Entries and Die Proof (25 Feb 1902)
Miscellaneous
  1. Overprint Die Proofs
  2. Madagascar UPU Specimens
  3. Colour Trials Nos 1-2 on Chalk-Surfaced Paper with 6d Value (1905 or later)
  4. Colour Trials Nos 3-7 on Chalk-Surfaced Paper with 6d Value (1905 or later)
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Frame 6

THE HIGH VALUES
  1. Notice Sent To Postmasters with Designs of New Stamps, 1884
2s 6d to 1 Values
  1. Die Proofs for 2s 6d, 5s, 10s (1901/1902)
  2. Die Proofs for 2s 6d Value (1901/1902)
  3. Die Proofs for 2s 6d, 5s, 10s Values (1901) and Specimens
  4. Striking Book Entries and Die Proofs for 2s 6d, 5s Values (1901)
  5. Striking Book Entries and Die Proofs for 10s, 1 Values (1901/1902)
  6. 1 Value - Die Proofs for Victorian Telegraph Issues, Unapproved Edwardian Die (1901)
  7. 1 Value - Essays and Die Proofs of Approved Design (1901) and Specimens
5 Value
  1. Specimens of Victorian Telegraph Stamps
  2. Die Proof and Specimens of Victorian Telegraph and Postage Stamps
  3. Die Proofs of Unissued Edwardian Stamp (1901/1902)
THE 'TRANSVAAL' AND 'CANADA HEAD' ESSAYS

'Transvaal' Essays
  1. Die Proofs of Transvaal Issue (1901)
  2. Plate Proof and Type 1 Essays in Transvaal Design
  3. Type 2 Essays in Transvaal Design (1)
  4. Type 2 Essays in Transvaal Design (2)
'Canada Head' Essays
  1. Unadopted Essays for 2d, 4d, 9d and 1s Values
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Frame 7

THE 'TRANSVAAL' AND 'CANADA HEAD' ESSAYS (cont)

'Canada Head' Essays (cont)
  1. Canada 1c Die Proof, and Essay and 'Sample' Stamp with Canada Head (1903)
  2. Canada 1c Die Proof, and 'Sample' Stamp Die Proofs with Canada Head (1903)
  3. Die 2 'Sample' Stamp Proofs in Various Colours
  4. Die 2 'Sample' Stamp Proofs of 1d and 4d
  5. Die 2 'Sample' Stamp Proofs and Watermark Sample
BOOKLET STAMPS
  1. GPO Notice for Issue of Booklets
  2. Striking Book Entry and 1d Tete-Beche Pair from Registration Sheet
  3. St. Andrew's Cross Proofs, Specimens, d Tete-Beche Pair from Registration Sheet
  4. Specimen Overprint Booklet and Panes
  5. Striking Book Entry and Specimen and Precancelled Booklets
  6. Advertisers' Voucher Copies
  7. Britannia Head Booklet Trials
COLOUR TRIALS
  1. Striking Book Entry and Control Blocks for d Colour Change (1904)
  2. Colour Trials for 1d Value, perf. 14 (1906)
  3. Colour Trials for 1d Value, imperf. (1906)
  4. Chemical Experiments - De La Rue Dummy Stamp Trial
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Frame 8

COLOUR TRIALS (cont)
  1. Chemical Experiments - Victoria Head Dummy Stamps Used for Cleaning Trials
  2. Colour Trials at Somerset House Using Edward VII Die Proofs (1911)
THE MONOCOLOUR ISSUES
  1. Colour Trials of 1d Value (1909)
  2. Colour Trials and Die Proof of 4d Value (1909)
  3. Die Proofs (1909) and Colour Trials (1910) of 4d Value
The Sevenpence Value (in Monocolour)
  1. Essays for Monocolour 7d Value
  2. Essays and Die Proofs of Rejected Designs for 7d (1909)
  3. Die Proof (1909) and Colour Trials (1910) of Approved Design
  4. Striking Book Entries, Die Proof (1910) and Specimens
  5. Madagascar UPU Specimens
The Monocolour Twopence Value
  1. Colour Trials in Old Design and Rejected Essay for New Design (1909)
  2. Unapproved and Approved Essays for New Design (1909)
  3. Die Proofs for New Design (1909)
  4. Imperforate Proofs and Colour Trials
  5. Colour Trial, Unissued Stamp and Specimen in Tyrian Plum
Somerset House Trial
  1. Somerset House Experimental Comparative Printing with Cancelled Overprint