Preparation of the First Queen Elizabeth High Values
IntroductionOn the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952 new high values were required.
High values had only been issued less than a year earlier on 3 May 1951 during the reign of King George VI. They became unofficially known as the Festival High Values because the issue coincided with the Festival of Britain held that year.
The Director of Postal Services, R Locke, prepared a paper regarding stamps for the new reign, submitting it to the Post Office Advisory Council in April 1952. It was proposed to concentrate on the low values which had a higher postal usage and were more often seen by the public before producing the high values, considering the Festival High Values had only been recently issued.
Following the issue of the low value definitives K S Hind, Director of GPO Postal Services Department, wrote to Supplies Department on 20 December 1952 for comments on the high values. Preparations were made to obtain acceptable designs. There were two stages in the preparation of the designs.
In the first stage the Council of Industrial Design advised the GPO on the selection of artists. They were given a wide remit, limited only by the size of the designs and the Queen's portrait. The artists were only to use the 2s6d and £1 values in their designs. Four of the artists involved are included in the collection: Enid Marx, M C Farrar-Bell, De La Rue and Mary Adshead. The development of their ideas is examined by drawings and essays from their archives.
The Postmaster General was disappointed with the general level of the designs and considered none to be acceptable.
In the second stage the Postmaster General's Advisory Panel decided to include a castle from each region of the United Kingdom. Eight artists were selected because of their special aptitude in small landscape drawings. Each artist was given a specific value to design and all four values were included. Their proposals are examined by essays of their designs.
The proposal submitted by Waterlows for the £1 was initially considered to be the most suitable design. Eventually the accepted design was based on the submission by Lynton Lamb which was extended to all values. The collection includes some of the essays nearing the final design stage and essays at the final design stage.
Due to delays in preparing the final designs the stamps were not issued until 1955 and the first printings are included.