Queen Elizabeth, Wilding stamps

Great Britain
Wilding Postage stamps issued 1952-1967 during
the reign of Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II succeeded to the throne after the death of her father, King George VI in 1952, however the first definitive stamps bearing her portrait did not appear until just before the Coronation, in 1953.

First, why were these stamps known as the Wilding issues? Because the portrait used in the stamp design was taken from a photograph by Dorothy Wilding. The following information was taken from the entry on 'Wikipedia', the on-line encyclopedia.

“Dorothy, who was born in 1893 and died in 1976 was a noted English society photographer from Gloucester. She wanted to become an actress or artist but this career was disallowed by her uncle, in whose family she lived, so she chose the art of photography which she started to learn from the age of sixteen.

By 1929 she had already moved studio a few times and in her Bond Street, London, studio she attracted theatrical stars and shot her first British Royal Family portrait of the 17-year-old Prince George (later Duke of Kent). This sitting was eventually followed by the famous Wilding portrait of the new Queen Elizabeth II that was used for a series of definitive postage stamps of Great Britain used between 1953 and 1967, and a series of Canadian stamps in use from 1954 to 1962.

Appearing on magazine covers, banknotes, stamps and coins in slightly different forms, photos taken during that session became some of the most frequently reproduced images in the world. (In the above photo, the Queen was wearing the George IV State Diadem and the necklace presented for her wedding by Nizam of Hyderabad).

A previous portrait sitting of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon Queen Consort of King George VI had turned into a double portrait of the royal couple and was adapted for the 1937 Coronation issue stamp. That portrait led to her being the first woman awarded a Royal Warrant to be the official photographer to a King and Queen at their coronation. She opened a second photo studio in New York in 1937.”

The stamps cover an interesting time in the British postal service because of the introduction of mechanisation in handling the mail. This resulted in experimental substances being applied to allow recognition by the machinery. The stamps also had three different watermarks, and those watermarks can be upright, inverted or sideways. There were NO Wilding stamps issued on unwatermarked paper.

Tudor crown,   St. Edwards Crown,   multiple crowns

The stamps were issued in sheet form, in booklets - including se-tenant panes - and in different types of coils for sale from machines. They had substances added to aid mechanisation in the form of graphite lines, phosphor bands with graphite lines, and then phosphor bands - in three different forms - and some were even used abroad overprinted.

The first definitives issued were the most commonly used values of ½d, 1d and 2½d. The paper was watermarked with the Tudor Crown & E 2 R.

The remaining values of the 'low-value' set were issued at later intervals.

We have a page on the website showing how the 3d changed in this Wilding series of stamps click here.

To follow the story click on the links listed below.

The first years 1952-1955
1955-1960 definitives and commemoratives
1961-1966 commemoratives & postage dues
Definitive stamps inverted watermarks
Coil stamps and leaders
Sheet markings
Stamps in booklets
Overprinted stamps
Return to Introduction

Copyright 2005 By EARS Leisurewrite
References : Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Volume 3 Q E II Pre-decimal issues catalogue,
Stoneham catalogue
Stanley Gibbons Elizabethan Specialised Catalogue of Modern British Commonwealth Stamps, 1976 edition.

The Wilding portrait and associated text adapted from Iconic Photos by aaholmes.

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