Saturday, 1 November 2008

Hedgecoe, Interesting Replies

Several very interesting replies by e-mail, Re: The hedgecoe story.

Now I do not know how true any of them are, so I will leave it to you the reader to decide.

From P. W
It was Lord Snowdon who, It was said " was first to have become involved in a row over whose photograph inspired the head of the Queen on British stamps".

The dispute developed following claims by John Hedgecoe, in a new book, that his work was the basis for the sculptured head that has featured on stamps for 35 years. Hedgecoe's book, called Portraits, was the subject of an exhibition at the Royal College of Art and the National Portrait Gallery. Lord Snowdon is said "to have written to the Norfolk-based professor of photography insisting that he took the original photographs"

What actually occurred was Machin initially created a plaster-cast of the Queen based on photographs by Lord Snowdon, ( Machin had been successfully working on the head for the new, as yet unissued, decimal coinage) Photographs taken by Lord Snowdon were the source for the head on the new coins, and were first used for the new stamp profile.

With this done Machin "then proceeded to simplify it, refine it down, make it simpler and simpler – the idea being to hark back to the classic simplicity of the Penny Black. Eventually after various changes – such as the diadem head replacing the tiara, this was based on photographs by John Hedgecoe"
We have a three way split here? Snowdons Head, Hedgecoe's Diadem (and hair) and lastly Machins final Plaster Cast.

Again from Dave F

The Stamp Advisory Committee preferred Machin's work, and he worked to refine his designs. By October 1966 he had produced a very simple design taken from a plaster cast of The Queen wearing a tiara.

Other photographs were taken by John Hedgecoe featuring the diadem worn by Victoria on the Penny Black. This made a strong statement about the iconic significance of the new design, and Machin revised his sculpture to include the diadem.

I have another e-mail from someone who did some work at Garmelow Manor, he has sent me some interesting information confirming that he actually saw the Hedgecoe Photograph (which was on a card backing) and several others. I am waiting for a second e-mail from him and will add his story to this post when it arrives.

Lastly another account from my good self.

How would you like to own the camera that Hedgecoe used to take his Diadem photograph?

Left: The Camera used by Professor John Hedgecoe to take the worlds most familiar image & most reproduced photograph. The portrait of Queen Elizabeth ll that appears on UK & Commonwealth postage stamps.

The camera is up for Auction by Keys Fine Art Auctioneers of Norwich
Est. £1200 - £1800


Anonymous said...

Amazing! I did not know that there was so much to learn about what most call "just a simple postage stamp"

Will visit again and again

Daz from Wales

larry said...

To design the stamp, Machin worked from Lord Snowdon's photographs. However, a couple of years earlier, when he was working on the coin, Machin had four sittings with the Queen, so he was very familiar with her in person. I've not seen any indication that he used those sketches when designing the stamp, but assuming he kept them, it would make sense that he did so.

It's pretty clear, for example in Muir's book, that Hedgecoe's photos were used for the diadem.

Hedgecoe has also claimed that he took the final photograph of the cast that was used by Harrison's to print the stamps. I've not seen any confirmation of this.

Thanks for these informative posts, Roy.