Illustrated Machin Decimal Stamp Booklets. .

Mix and Match — Part 6.

by Walter Owen.

This months article features the work of Edmund Dulac, famous for his illustrations of books and for some british stamp designs. This was prompted by the cover of a £1.43 pictorial stamp booklet issued in 1982.

On May 6th 1982 the British Post Office issued the fourth in a series of folded stamp booklets with illustrated covers on the theme of Postal History. The cover on this edition featured the work of Edmund Dulac.(Fig. 1.)

The stamp content is a pane of 10, being 6 x 15½p, (First class) and 4 x 12½p (Second class) Machin definitive stamps. (Fig. 2.)

The 15½p stamps have two phosphor bands and the 12½p are alternate 1 band left and 1 band right. The rates panel on the inside was effective from February 1982.

The cover design was by John Gibbs and the printing was by Harrison & Sons Limited. Also featured on the outer back cover is the National Stamp Day Logo and 'National Stamp Day 6 May 1982'.

Edmund Dulac.

Born in Toulouse, France in 1882, he was artistic from an early age and many of his earlier drawings were watercolours and he favoured this medium for most of his life. Winning a prize at the Ecole des Beaux Arts showed him his future direction in life. He enrolled at the Ecole and won the 1901 and 1903 Grand Prix annual competitions with his paintings. Winning a scholarship, he went to Paris and the Academie Julien, staying there for three weeks.

He moved to England in that year, 1904, becoming a naturalised British Subject 8 years later.

His first book commission was for colour illustrations for J.M. Dent's collected works of the Bronte sisters.

Hodder and Stoughton had Dulac illustrate 'The Arabian Nights' for 1907. In 1915 he created 'Edmund Dulac's Picture Book for the French Red Cross' and that was released in 1916.

Apart from his book illustrations Dulac was also a clever caricaturist and during 1919-20 he subscribed drawings to a weekly newspaper, 'The Outlook'. He was a portrait painter, he also designed banknotes, playing cards, medals, chocolate boxes and sets and costumes for theatres.

In 1935 his design for the King's Poetry Medal was well received and this led to him being commissioned to design the 1937 Coronation stamp (Fig. 3.)


This was a single 1½d value, maroon colour stamp showing King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

The King George VI ½d — 1/- definitive issues of 1937 — 1947 featured a profile head by Dulac with frame and lettering by E. Gill on the values from ½d to 6d. The values from 7d to 1/- were designed solely by Dulac. (Fig. 4.).

He also designed the 2/6d brown, 2/6d yellow green and 5/- red stamps of the 1939/48 high value series. (Fig. 5).

The two 10s. and the £1 values of that series were designed by Hon. George R Bellew, M.V.O. These high values were recess printed by Waterlow & Sons.

On July 29th, 1948 a set of four stamps, 2½d, 3d, 6d, and 1/- were issued to commemorate the Olympic Games and Dulac was responsible for the design of the 1/- value. (Fig. 6.).

The Festival of Britain was commemorated on May 3rd 1951 by the issue of a set of two stamps, 2½d scarlet and 4d ultramarine and Dulac designed the 2½d value. (Fig. 7.)

The first definitive series of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II was issued in 1952/54 with values from ½d to 1/6 and Edmund Dulac designed the 1/-, 1/3d and 1/6d values, (issued in 1953) (Fig. 8)

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The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was marked by a set of four stamps, 2½d, 4d, 1/3 and 1/6, issued on June 3rd 1953 and Dulac designed the 1/3d stamp. (Fig. 9.)

It is interesting to note that although each stamp had a different designer the portraits were all by Dorothy Wilding, except that on Dulac's 1/3d.

Fate was unkind to Edmund Dulac and he died in 1953, before the issue of any of his Elizabethan stamps.


This article was first published in 'Stamp News' September 2001

Copyright EARS Leisurewrite 1999.

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