Richard Monteiro, Founder of Zeboose.com shares his thoughts on the must have memorabilia for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.
Given the fanfare, and of course extra holiday, there’s no missing the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year. Unsurprisingly Royalty-related collectables, particularly those concerning the 1953 Coronation, are the must-have memorabilia of the moment. The enormous publicity surrounding the event has sparked fevered interest in the stamps and ephemera issued then and now. There’s certainly choice...
Some 80 territories issued stamps celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in London on 2 June 1953. An overwhelming 62 of them opting for the Crown Agents-commissioned design prepared by Bradbury Wilkinson’s Ernest Jackman. Astonishingly, given the stamps were printed by De La Rue and Bradbury Wilkinson and shipped to countless remote destinations, most territories released the commemoratives on the actual day of the coronation. Something which didn't happen in Britain as the day was a public holiday meaning post offices were closed. History repeats...
Great Britain plus Australia, Canada, Ceylon, New Zealand, South Africa, South West Africa, and Southern Rhodesia ignored the omnibus design on offer and did their own thing. All notable for different reasons.
Great Britain’s four-stamp set laboured to market going through an unprecedented approval process involving a palate-busting 76 essays by 28-odd different designers. Eventually the designs of Edgar Fuller (2½d), David Gentleman (4d), Edmund Dulac (1s3d), and Michael Farrar-Bell (1s6d) were selected. Edmund Dulac never got to see his work in printed form as he died days before the issue’s release.
Australia and New Zealand colluded to issue commemoratives simultaneously on 25 May 1953 before the rest of the pack. But that’s as far as any joint venture went. Australia’s three-value set was designed/engraved by Frank Davies Manley and printed locally. New Zealand’s five-value set involved two designers, James Berry and Leonard Mitchell, and three printers making Great Britain’s coronation commemoratives look positively cohesive
South Africa issued the tallest, Southern Rhodesia the highest value (2s6d), Canada the ugliest, and Ceylon the smallest (but arguably the most majestic).
Assembling the 106 stamps issued (mint and/or used) for the 1953 Coronation is the starting and ending point for many collectors. Positional pieces are more of a challenge. Relatively straightforward for many individual territories, but a life-long pursuit if completion is key. The omnibus printings are particularly tricky. Collating a complete run of plate sequences is probably impossible. For a start there is no consensus on all the sequences used or indeed those to have survived. Official records provide an inkling, but not the full picture. Some have been wrongly attributed. Some don’t appear to have been used. Happy hunting…
Exhibition-grade material like proofs and essays exist, are invariably in established collections and often unique. De La Rue proofs of the omnibus portrait turn up more often than anything else, but even they are extremely difficult. Presentation and publicity material is also highly collectable. Although not necessarily readily available. Much depends on the number produced. For instance, personalised presentation cards cancelled 2 June were awarded to the 39 exhibitors at the Pall Mall Coronation Exhibition. They are near impossible to find. More readily available are the Harrison-produced presentation cards featuring the Great Britain set. Although not available generally, the number of recipients was generous.
All official outlets (apart from East African Posts) missed a trick by failing to provide official first day covers for the 1953 Coronation. It was left to philatelic societies, publishers, businesses, dealers and anyone with a little nous to satisfy demand. Everyone who could became a cachet maker. The eruption of envelope art resulted in hundreds of first day cover designs from every corner of the globe. Mildred Hodson and Aleksander Stocki, based in Scotland and trading as Three Arrows, being responsible for a deluge of designs for every territory. The low numbers issued for specific territories combined with chaotic colour variations certainly make for a collecting challenge. Find out more at:
The closest to an official first day cover, purely because of the industry heavyweights involved, is the joint offering from the British Philatelic Association and Philatelic Traders’ Society (BPA/PTS) – and the revised design produced under licence in New Zealand. Some 500,000 examples of the all-pervasive design were produced by the BPA/PTS and offered blank to anyone anywhere who wished to service covers. Countless took up the call meaning the eponymous cachet exists used in all 80 territories – a feat no other cachet maker can boast. More here:
Attempting to collect all the cover designs for even a single territory is another life-long pursuit. Many are still being discovered by catalogue compliers given their small print runs and local distribution.
Alongside cover designs, postmarks offer great collecting potential. Not those serviced by the major philatelic suppliers as they exist in abundance. But those of limited local use, with unusual or pertinent place names, and of course pre-release and other cancel varieties. Many pertinent cancel place names like CORONATION, QUEEN STREET and WINDSOR have been philatelically mined, but there are plenty of gems out there. Postmarks with pre-release or inverted dates are scarce, but doubtless many remain to be discovered considering the enormous volume of mail processed at the time.
Whatever your philatelic preferences, there are countless 1953 Coronation collecting avenues. Costs and complexity of the challenge are your call.
For a free resource to the stamps and cachet designs:
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