Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Philatelic Art : More designs

Adding to the prior post, here are a few other designs inspired by Philately. These are called "Cutsquares", after the old method of collecting envelope stamps by literally cutting them out of the envelope (cringe!) leaving a quarter-inch margin all around them. If anyone out there still collects postal stationery, please please please leave the whole postal card or envelope intact! They will be far more interesting and the value will be maximised. And most of all, you will be preserving a bit more of a quickly disappearing history!

These "essays" are based on the designs of George Reay, namesake of his publishing firm that won the contract to produce postal stationery for the United States Post Office Department for four years, 1870 - 74. He hired the most skilled engravers he could find internationally, and the designs executed were so precision and so marvellous to behold that the Reay covers are called "Cameos". George lost the contract in 1875 to the Plimpton Publishing Company, who for several years could only print poor imitations of the Reay stamps. It got so bad that the USPOD ordered George to turn over his dies to Plimpton. He feigned in so doing, but actually gave the real dies to his wife with instructions to crack each plate and toss them overboard from the Staten Island Ferry. George died soon thereafter. It took Plimpton almost 12 years, three consecutive contracts, to catch up to Reay's quality and precision. Has anyone ever recovered those dies? No. They were copper, and more than likely gone to the elements.

The top photo was intended for Radio QSL Card stationery. These are aimed at Amateurs who like vintage, still use old style Radiograms typed from Remingtons and pound brass from a Bug. They like old style QSL cards and B&W photos of their stations equipped with racks of "Boat Anchors". Design adapted from the Reay 2c issue, 1871. Washington's silhouette is not embossed in detail. Just the white outline is seen. The idea is to suggest, not perfectly reproduce. Besides, George is probably already doing three-sixties at me borrowing his designs at all!

The second design is an adaptation of a Reay frame and "Columbia", redrawn from the 1875 Post Card design. She's Columbia, although her tiara says "Liberty". She borrowed it.

The third photo shows the Reay frame with an ATF cut of Athena (I think) in reversal. She was vectored directly from the 1915 ATF specimen book.

That's it for now. Believe it or not, there's more. I have some multi-colour Christmas Seals adapted from the 1933 designs on the drawing board, too. That's for another time.

Good Providence in all your Letterpress Endeavours!

-gary / Q5.

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