Jane Goes Postal: Part Four

Image of British Mint Stamps Jane Austen Cover (1975)




 Part four



On June 5th (1974), Barbara Brown’s four stamp illustrations were revealed to the Stamp Advisory Committee and approved. The final details such as variations on the amount of information (Austen’s name and dates, book titles, names of characters) were still under discussion, and the committee requested a combination of variations from the artist.

          Illustration by Barbara Brown, Emma & Mr. Woodhouse, Bicentenary Stamp (1975)                     Illustration by Barbara Brown, Catherine Morland, Bicentenary Stamp (1975)         

The finished designs were received on 29 July, and finally seen by the SAC on 12 September. The meeting decided in favour of right-aligned captions in italics with the names of the depicted characters rather than the novels from which they were taken. The following order of values was agreed: 4½p, Emma and Mr Woodhouse; 5½p, Catherine Morland; 8p, Mr Darcy; 10p, Mary and Henry Crawford. It was felt apt that the paired figures should be at either end of the value range and the single portraits in the middle.

Image of Mr. Darcy, British Commemorative Stamp, (1975)                       Illustration by Barbara Brown, Mary & Henry Crawford, Bicentenary Stamp (1975)

The printers Harrison and Sons were contracted to print the stamps, and would also create essays (test runs) from the artwork. Interestingly, there were delays in the essay production caused by the uncertainty within Marketing department over the correct spelling of ‘Morland’ and the mis-spelling of ‘D’Arcy’!

The first essays were finally approved as they stood at the following meeting on 16 January 1975. By this time postage rates were being revised, and the new values were provisionally set at 7p, 8p, 10p and 12p.

The projected postal increase from economic inflation would cause several delays and revisions in the designs until June, 1975 when the final essays were presented to the Queen and approved on the July 1st.

Well…, to quote American baseball great Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over, until it’s over.”

Please join us tomorrow for part five and the conclusion of the story of Jane Goes Postal: The Jane Austen Bicentenary Commemorative Stamps, and read about the publicity build up and the public’s reaction to the set.

Source: Special Stamp History 105, Birth Bicentenary of Jane Austen, 22 October, 1975, by Giles Allen, 9 January 1997, The British Postal Museum & Archive, London

*Image of Jane Austen Bicentenary Commemorative First Day Presentation Pack, designed by Jeffery Matthews, 22 October 1975

*Illustrations by Barbara G. Brown of the Jane Austen Bicentenary Commemorative Stamps, first row left to right, Emma & Mr. Woodhouse, Catherine Morland; second row left to right, Mr. Darcy, Mary & Henry Crawford 

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