the postage stamps of Herm in the Channel Islands
Articles on Herm stamps
article originally appeared in the
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forms of popular entertainment involve stories.
Think of the 'soap' on television this afternoon.
Think of the successful movie which is rated by the critics as
having a 'fast-moving plot'. There
is something in human nature that makes the following of a sequence of
events through to an ending a generally satisfying and enjoyable
experience. In many ways we
try to maximize our enjoyment of our collections by similar means - 'the
story behind the stamp' or 'the story behind the cover' is a theme
common to many successful philatelic articles and the knowledge of some
such story may be the reasoning behind the favoured positions many of
our private treasures hold in our hearts.
I was certainly very pleased when, a few months ago, I realised
that a chance purchase had filled a gap in my collection and so had let
me illustrate the story of the creation of a stamp from its conception
as someone's 'brainchild' to its issue over the post office counter.
The items which form the chapters of this story do not relate to
one particular stamp but instead to a range of Channel Islands issues,
mostly those of
ideas for stamp issues come from various places.
Some owe their existence to the bright ideas of highly-placed
postal or other officials. On
the other hand the post offices of most stamp-issuing authorities are
bombarded with requests from pressure groups who hope for a place in
some future stamp issue programme. Philatelic
agents, committees, monarchs, dictators and anticipated collector demand
may also have their part to play.
one, albeit rather tenuous, claim to philatelic immortality lies in this
area for as I mentioned in my article "Well, Almost . . . "
('The Channel Islands Reporter', August 1984) it was my suggestion to
Sue Faed, then Tenant of Jethou, that she should react to the
suppression of Jethou's postal service under the Post Office (Guernsey)
Law of 1969 by 'going down fighting' with the issue of a final set of
stamps, which led to Jethou's issue of 4 overprinted stamps on 30
September 1969. I have in my
collection Mrs. Faed's letter accepting this proposition but, as I
rarely bother to take a copy of any letter I write, do not have the
tangible evidence of this first spark - this first stage in the story of
an issue. This is a pity for
in this case it was truly the first spark, the very thought which gave
birth to an issue and it would have got this story off to a fine start.
But I am to blame and so we will move on quickly to the next
are going to have an issue; what should the designs be?
This question is usually answered by the same people who made the
initial decision that there should be an issue and it is only rarely
that the artist has a more or less free hand but this seems to have been
the case when the Tenant of Herm wanted a new definitive set in 1958 for
on the back page of artist Rigby Graham's sketchbook is a roughly
pencilled list of possible subjects:
aspects of buoys
of Herm with Jethou
by the evidence in the sketchbook the first and second of these
suggestions were not pursued. The
final idea, that of a view from Herm with Sark in the distance, was
roughly sketched but did not materialize as a stamp - instead it is the
third, fourth and fifth suggestions that, with some development,
produced stamp designs in the form of the 1s 6d, 3d and 6d values of
Herm's 1959 definitive issue. This
aide memoire is then the tangible form of the mental sparks which were
the very first stages in the conception of these designs.
a number of occasions (three to my knowledge) our mutual friend the
Jersey Post Office has obtained designs for its stamps by that most
democratic of methods, a public competition.
Although no artist I enter these for the sake of seeing what form
the letter of rejection will take for these, too, form part of the
designing process - albeit a negative aspect.
Letter of rejection of an entry in a
artist needs material on which to base his designs.
Sometimes this material is supplied by the issuing authority in
the form of photographs, postcards, books or other items.
On the other hand, one of the 'perks' of being a stamp designer
is that it is frequently necessary to visit the territory to prepare
material 'in situ'. Often
the finished designs are a product of a combination of these methods.
the design can claim a longer history.
An earlier version of the Jersey Tourist Board's literature
utilised a very successful design by British poster artist Abram Games.
This was adapted by an unknown hand for some of the island's
holiday publicity slogan of the 1960's and finally by Mr. Games himself
for the 10p value of the 1975 Tourism issue.
'Herm Island Prospect' and the view of 'Alderney Cliffs', shown on the
7p and 13p values of Guernsey's 1976 Bailiwick Views, were both taken
from postcards published for sale on those islands.
The delightful view of 'Sark Cliffs' (in fact Grande Greve Bay)
on the 11p has been in the Guernsey Tourist Board's Guide and
Accommodation List for a number of years.
material can have its pitfalls however.
Presumably Richard Granger-Barrett has learned to study such
source material very carefully after his error in transcribing the
figures of latitude on British Admiralty Hydrographic Chart 2669 'The
Channel Islands and Adjacent Coast of France' which formed the basis of
the 1d and 1s 6d values of Guernsey's first definitive issue.
return to my own collection I am able to illustrate these on and off
site designing activities by reference, once again, to Rigby Graham's
Herm definitive set of 1959. Mr.
Graham spent some time on Herm in August 1958 and his industry during
that time is recorded in a variety of pencil, indian ink and ballpoint
sketches and two watercolours in his sketchbook, some of them made under
very rough conditions as, for instance, when he tried to sketch the
island mailboat MV Arrowhead whilst himself travelling on another small
boat in very heavy seas! Fortunately
I now have a photograph taken from Mr. Graham's rather wet viewpoint to
illustrate this important stage in the designing process - the artist
undertaking preliminary research (Figure 3a).
Mr Graham was also supplied with a photograph of the
‘Arrowhead’ for use when making his final design (Figure 3b)
convenience of work artists usually prepare their designs in a larger
than stamp size format and this is often photographically reduced to
stamp size or thereabouts before submission to the client authority.
These are often known as 'bromides'.
the collections of Dr Bob Forrester and David Ackroyd
Scanning and editing
by Peter Hewitt