Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Modern, Illustrated History of the New Zealand Chalons

The centerpiece of New Zealand’s first stamp issues is a frontal view of Queen Victoria’s face from an oil portrait by Alfred Chalon. Accordingly, the issues are variously named the Full Face Queens (FFQs) or New Zealand Chalons.
It was a journey of many steps from portrait to stamp. Moreover, the passing of time and the fragmentary written history has manufactured a second journey - that of rediscovering the events of the first journey – and one which an interested reader can travel themselves. It is a gripping expedition full of twists and turns where each step might illuminate or mislead. The first journey lasted from 1837 to 1855. The second journey started in 1887, continues unabated to this day, and - if past is prologue - may yet continue into the future. Readers more interested in the second journey should jump ahead to The History of the History: from the Chalon Portrait to the New Zealand Chalons to avoid spoilers; otherwise read on.
In the following, we replay the first journey and, although inspired by [Lowe55], we hew closely to the broadened and refined description in [Smith91] and especially the incomparable [Dickson2000], with additional modern updates. Like Lowe and Dickson's work, an overview in flowchart form is presented at the end. 
The first character on the journey is of course the young Queen Victoria, who succeeded her uncle on 20 June 1837, a scant few weeks after her eighteenth birthday.
Victoria selected the second character, artist Alfred Chalon, to paint her a gift for her mother: a portrait of herself, wearing her State robes, the Garter sash and the George IV State Diadem [Auspost, p2], and standing on a terrace [Whitman04, p105], at the occasion of her first official act, namely the prorogation (closing) of the Parliamentary session on 17 July 1837. Chalon made an initial, contemporaneous sketch and full portrait of the Queen during five 30 minutes sittings [Millar95, p183] and a few more days of work, then, in Lowe's telling, he produced two additional copies, for three full portraits in all. The first full portrait was a watercolour. It was gifted to the Queen’s mother as planned a couple of days later on 17 August. Following Lowe, there were the other two copies which were gifted to the King of Prussian and the King of Portugal [TPSoNZ64v4, p2].

[Millar95, p142 and p183] reports that Chalon's first portrait of Victoria was later gifted to Leopold I, King of the Belgians, and is now held in the Belgian Royal Collection. A high resolution image for personal, private use is available for a nominal fee.
© KIK-IRPA, Brussels
Bust detail from Chalon's first portrait of Victoria (above)
The portrait was popularized as follows. Initially, the portrait given to Victoria's mother was made available to the third character of the journey, Samuel Cousins, a leading mezzotint engraver of his day. Cousins was further granted an interview with the Queen in order to add touches to his proof of the engraving and thereby produce a better likeness [Whitman04, p105]. He made several mixed-method engravings of the entire Chalon portrait over 1838 and 1839, first 75 x 50 cm, and then 60 x 40 cm, at different levels of progress (states). Over a thousand copies were printed within a few months and distributed widely around the world [Smith91, p5].
Hand coloured print of the larger engraving by Samuel Cousins (1 February 1838).
© The Trustees of the British Museum. Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence
Bust detail from hand coloured print of the larger engraving by Samuel Cousins (1 February 1838). The hand colouring is a mixed blessing in that it makes the artwork richer yet in places obscures the line engraving.
© The Trustees of the British Museum. Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence
Print of the smaller engraving by Samuel Cousins (1 May 1839)
© The Trustees of the British Museum. Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence
Bust detail from print of the smaller engraving by Samuel Cousins (1 May 1839). The brown flecks are found throughput the print including the unprinted border so some kind deterioration of the paper is presumed.
© The Trustees of the British Museum. Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence

The (British) Government Art Collection makes a moderate-resolution image of a Cousins print immediately available, and some copies of later publishings. High resolution images for personal, private use are available for a nominal fee.
The British Museum holds prints of the four earliest Cousins engravings. This author caused the two prints presented above to be photographed and presumes that the British Museum would make the underlying high resolution images available to others. Interested readers may also request photographs of the other two prints for a nominal fee. 
Charles Wagstaff also made a 40 x 30 cm three-quarter-length engraving, in 1839 [Smith91, p5].
The (British) Royal Collection Trust makes a high-resolution image of the Wagstaff print the immediately available. A very high resolution image for personal, private use is available for a nominal fee.
Meanwhile, various members of the Royal Academy made copies of the Chalon portraits between 1839 and 1851. These early copies were circulated, in the main, to British embassies and consulates. In 1851, the Prince Consort commissioned Charles Frederick Buckley to paint a further copy as insurance if the original was lost during its display at the 1851 Great Exhibition. [Millar95, p141-142]
The (British) Government Art Collection makes  a moderate-resolution image Chalon portrait immediately available, which might be an original Chalon portrait but which this author suspects is more likely another artist’s copy. A high resolution image for personal, private use is available for a nominal fee.

The RCT lists a water-colour copy by W. Warman, but presently does not publish an image of it[Millar95, p908].

Christies published both a shades-of-gray image [Christies86, p32] and a high resolution colour image of Chalon portraits by the studio of Alfred Edward Chalon .

Another portrait, whose provenance is unknown to this author, was used as the basis for a New Zealand 1988 minisheet and the frontispiece of [Odenweller2009].

Robson Lowe reports that he photographed the Buckley Chalon copy in a published article, and a medium resolution copy of the image is available online.
The earlier engravings inspired various banknotes and stamps, designed in North America and most notably from an enterprise first named Rawdon, Wright & Hatch (RW&H) then extended in 1847 to Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson (RWH&E) and finally, after a seven-way amalgamation in 1858, traded as the American Bank Note Co. (ABNC). In 1840 RW&H produced a celebratory Chalon engraving associated with a New York Fete, In Honour of the Marriage of Her Majesty Queen to His Royal Highness Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg Gotha [Lowe55, p343]. 
medium resolution copy of the celebratory Chalon engraving is available online in a published article.
RW&H / RWH&E / ABNC went on to use Chalon-inspired vignettes for over a dozen other banks in what is now Canada: a three-quarter length engraving and several busts, oftentimes in mirror image. One example of the most popular bust, in mirror image, is their 1849 $5 (and 25/-) bank-note for the Farmers’ Joint Stock Banking Co. of Toronto.
1849 banknote from the Farmer's Joint Stock Bank
Victoria vignette from the banknote above.
Note that the engraving lines over the nose follow the shape of an archway or inverted-U. 
The list of (first) bank-notes from RW&H / RWH&E / ABNC, often with low and medium resolution images immediately available, include:
·         the $10 and $5 bank-notes of Quebec Bank, 1849 and 1852 (¾ portrait)
·         the $5 (25/-) bank-note of the Farmers Joint Stock Bank, Green Bay and Toronto, 1849 (mirrored bust); see above
·         the $5 (£1 5/-) bank-note of the Bank of Upper Canada, York, 1849 (mirrored bust)
·         the $1 and $2 bank-notes of the City Bank, Toronto, 1850 and 1852 (¾ portrait)
o   plus a $2 proof for the City Bank, Quebec
o   and the $1 bank-note of the City Bank, Quebec, 1857 (small mirrored bust)
·         the $1 bank-note of the Westmorland Bank of New Brunswick, 1854 (mirrored bust)
·         the $2 (10/-) bank-note of the Niagara District Bank, 1855 (mirrored bust)
·         the £5 bank-note of the Bank of Prince Edward Island, 1856 (mirrored bust)
·         the $1 and $2 bank-notes of the Eastern Townships Bank, 1859 (mirrored bust)
·         the $1, $2, $4, $5 and $10 bank-notes of the Bank of Montreal, 1859 (mirrored bust)
·         the $1 bank-note of the Bank of Western Canada, 1859 (mirrored bust)
·         the $5 bank-note of St Stephens Bank, 1860 (bust)
·         the $1 bank-note for the Banque Jacques Cartier, 1862 (mirrored bust)
Other engraving companies provided Chalon engravings for their bank-note customers too:
·         Toppan, Carpenter, Casillear & Co.
o   the $2 (10/-) bank-note of the Molsons Bank, 1853 (small mirrored bust)
·         Danford, Wright & Co.
o   the $2 bank-note of the Provincial Bank of Canada, 1856 (mirrored bust)
o   the $1 bank-note of the International Bank of Canada, 1858 (mirrored ½ portrait)
§  also the $1 bank-note of the International Bank of Canada, 1858 (mirrored bust)
·         Continental Bank Note Co.
o   the $10 bank-note of the Royal Canadian Bank, 1865 (bust)
·         British-American Bank Note Co.
o   the $20 bank-note of the Bank of Prince Edward Island, 1872 (mirrored bust)
o   the $10 bank-note of the British Canadian Bank, 1884 (mirrored bust)
RWH&E / ABNC used the correct, non-mirrored, perspective in two Chalon stamps: for the Province of Canada (1851), engraved by Alfred Jones, and for New Brunswick (1860). A third Chalon stamp was prepared by the British-American Bank Note Co. for Prince Edward Island (1870). [Lowe55, p343-344] [Pick2005, p135-240]
North American Chalon stamps.
Note that the engraving lines over the nose follow the shape of an unbroken ocean wave or lower-case-w in the Province of Canada design, a pyramid or inverted-V in the New Brunswick design, and an archway or inverted-U in the Prince Edward design. 
Perkins, Bacon & Co. decided to make an engraving of Victoria, which was completed in 1846 [Stone69n915, p65]. With a high degree of certainty, the engraver is now known to be the fourth and principal character, William Humphreys
It is very clear that the stimulus for the three-quarter engraving of the full-faced Victoria is Chalon’s portrait, but which original, oil copy or engraved copy? By tradition [Mottram1895, p158] [Melville16, p64] [Lowe55, p349] and now by circumstantial evidence and certain artistic details in common, it was a Cousins engraving, and specifically his later,  smaller version printed May 1, 1839.
In what seems to be a new find, below is a very high resolution scan of a proof of the first known version of Humphrys engraving to bear the Victoria vignette, and complemented by ornamental ovals above and below upon a bed of greenery [Humphrys184x, item 134]
Proof of the what is most likely Humphrys’ earliest engraving of Victoria. 
Bust detail from proof of the what is most likely Humphrys’ earliest engraving of Victoria. 

This author caused the proof presented above to be photographed by The Library Company of Philadelphia and presumes that they would make available the underlying very high resolution image to others. [Humphrys184x, item 134]
An ever-present theme is that, despite the familial connection between the designs derived from this engraving, none are exactly the same. Stone writes "From evidence adduced later it seems that the original engraving was not deep enough to transfer satisfactorily and had on each occasion to be heavily touched up, giving rise to the slight variations which have frequently been commented upon." [Stone69n915, p65].
This engraving was embellished with a 20s value and used in the 1848 20/- banknote for the Province of Nova Scotia [Dickson2000, p7] [Pick2005, p139] [Pick2005, p139].

A proof of the left end of an engraving for a Province of Canada bank-note, from [TPSoNZ64v4, p2]
Copyright believed expired.
The Bank of Canada Museum makes available a moderate-resolution image of a defaced 1848 note. An image of an unsullied 1854 note is also provided. High resolution images for personal, private use are available for a very nominal fee. With such an image, although obscured by fold lines, it can be seen that the engraving lines over the nose follow the same shape as in the 1940 Stamp Centenary Exhibition impression.
Humphrys’ engraving would be put to good use in subsequent projects. The full three-quarter-length engraving was used on banknotes for the Bank of Victoria (Australia), with one specimen dated 26 April 1853 [Odenweller2009, p12].
A three-quarter-length engraved die remained in the Perkins, Bacon & Co material and was used to lay down four complete impressions for the Stamp Centenary Exhibition of 1940 [
Dickson2000, p8].
One of the four impressions of the blue design for the 1940 Stamp Centenary Exhibition
Bust detail from the single impression above.
Note that the engraving lines over the nose follow a cubic shape.
Returning to the nineteenth century, by the Perkins process, an impression could be taken from the original die on to a transfer roller and parts cut away to leave a reduced image [TPSoNZ38v1, p32-33]. In this way, cropped copies of Humphrys’ engraving could be made, then augmented with new backgrounds and text [TPSoNZ64v4, p3]. 
This technique was used in the 1852 banknote of British North America, which bears a half-length portrait in an oval frame. [Pick2005, p142]
The Bank of Canada Museum makes available a moderate-resolution image of an 1852 note. High resolution images for personal, private use are available for a very nominal fee.
This technique was also used on the Humphrys die to produce an engraving of a half-length portrait enclosed first by an ornamental wavy border and oftentimes enclosed in turn by a plain ring. Several of these have come to auction, and it is unclear where they fit into the chronology, since they might have been immediate preludes to the Union Bank of Australia’s second series of banknotes or earlier speculative designs for another client. 
Proof of a die reportedly endorsed with "Humphrys" on the reverse [TPSoNZ64v4, p2]. 
Copyright believed expired.
Perhaps an even more interesting example was published in [Anon87]. It is described as a die proof and specifically the printer’s record example, which was endorsed with the die number of the transfer every time it was used: "oval 1102, 1295, 1391, R1649, 2358, 2647, and also '16B' and 'See Vol 7 p181'". This is illustrated below right, with a die proof of an earlier state of the engraving illustrated below left.
Die proof, State 1
Scan kindly provided by Grant Clifford from his collection.
Printers record die proof, State 2
Scan kindly provided by Grant Clifford from his collection.

The half-length portrait was used successfully for the Union Bank of Australia’s second series of banknotes, printed 185- and available from 1854. These were followed by substantially similar notes printed with 186-  then 187-; and from c. 1878 they were marked with four-digit years. Each of these banknotes have, at top left, the half-length engraving of Victoria enclosed by the ornamental wavy border (but no ring), but the details evolved over time. Initially the border straddles "We Promise" and the W and P impinge on the border. For the notes with four-digit years, the "We Promise" is lower and more central, and the W merely approaches the border. At the same time, the earlier, rounded edges of the border are excised, leaving a jagged perimeter. [VortRonald82, p223-230] [Renniks2004, p155] 
Spink of London makes available available a moderate-resolution image of a 185x banknote proof on card for the Union Bank of Australia. 
Union Bank of Australia banknote, second series, printed with 187- 
Left: Victoria vignette from 185-, 186- or 187- Union Bank of Australia banknote.
Right: Victoria vignette from 1878-1903 Union Bank of Australia banknote.
Note that the engraving lines over the nose follow a cubic shape.
Bust detail from the right vignette above.
Note that the engraving lines over the nose follow a cubic shape.
That bank’s notes were first introduced to New Zealand at the Christchurch branch on 1 March 1859 [TPSoNZ64v4, p3]. The history of the Union Bank of Australia is closely connected with the history of New Zealand since the bank would open a branch in a colony at the same time that it was established by the New Zealand Company. The bank invested heavily in New Zealand; for instance, in 1857 even before the Otago gold-rush there were six Colonial Establishments in New Zealand, as against 11 in Australia. [CycloNZ1897]
The head and shoulders of Humphrys’ engraving was used for Nova Scotia’s and New Zealand’s first stamps. It is an interesting question whether the transfer was directly from an earlier three-quarter length engraving or from a later half-length engraving. The historical evidence appears limited yet [Stone69n915, p65] writes that the three-quarter length engraving was the source.  
The Nova Scotia’s stamp design is of the Crown and Emblems type, except that both the crown and the emblems are cleared. From outside in, the stamp comprises a square frame for text then a Nova Scotia Mayflower outline. For the 1d design, each of the four hollow petals enclose a simplified ornament. The ornaments are truncated by the superposition of a lozenge-shaped border containing an engine-tuned background and the Victoria vignette. The lines of engraving do not show well in this stamp, so the centre of a die proof taken from [PBR53, p9] is provided also.
Nova Scotia 1d
Bust detail from a Nova Scotia 1d die proof showing the Victoria vignette [PBR53].
Note that the engraving lines over the nose follow a cubic shape.
Copyright believed expired 
After an enquiry by Edward Barnard, the New Zealand government’s Agent-General in London, Perkins, Bacon & Co. provided a tender for 1d, 2d and 1/- stamp plates, initial printings and other material on 8 November 1853, and agreed to execute the order within 3 months.
The uncleared 1d die of March 3 1854
Copyright believed expired
States of 1d, 2d and 1/- dies were prepared in early March, April and May 1854 respectively. The Perkins, Bacon & Co. material includes a proof of the 1d die where the background inside NEW ZEALAND and around POSTAGE are yet to be cleared (the uncleared 1d die, above). However, due to pressure of other tasks, as was typical for Perkins, Bacon & Co., the deadline was missed and the plates were not dispatched to New Zealand until 23 September 1854.
 [TPSoNZ64v4, p3-4] describes that the New Zealand Chalon dies were created as follows:
·         The central Chalon vignette is derived from the portrait in the Humphrys’ original bank-note die [Stone69n915, p65]. Victoria’s facial expression differs slightly in each value which indicates that there was some touching up of the impression of the portrait on each subsidiary die.
·         The innermost background portion of the design, immediately around Victoria’s chin and neck, was used by Perkins, Bacon & Co in the ornamentation of bank-notes.
·         The engine-turned background in the middle, annular region of the background was used in the first stamps of Chile, New Zealand and South Australia. 
Early issues from South Australia and Chile showing the same engine turned mid-background as the New Zealand Chalons. The outermost background of Chile is also shared with New Zealand.
·         In 1822 Perkins and Heath, the forerunners of Perkins, Bacon & Co,  provided a suggested bank-note design that included a corner ornament which forms the outer background for both the first stamps of Chile and New Zealand. Different transfer rollers were used for each country’s designs.
·         The inscriptions NEW ZEALAND and POSTAGE, the value tablet for the 1d, the flanking ornamental squares, and the ornamentation in the top corners were engraved by hand on the die.
·         There was a transfer roller with the value tablet blank. This was used for the production of subsidiary dies on which the required value inscriptions would be hand engraved.
Plate proofs for New Zealand’s 1855 Full Face Queen issue.
Note that the engraving lines over the nose follow a cubic shape.
Bust from the 2d proof above.
Note that the engraving lines over the nose follow a cubic shape.
For the rest of the story of the New Zealand Chalons (the prints in England and New Zealand, the printers, the values, the colours, the papers, the bisects, the covers, the experimental perforations, the blocks, the sheets, and so much more), the reader is strongly encouraged to gain access to a copy of [Odenweller2009], which is a magnificent, thorough and exquisitely illustrated treatment. Meanwhile another, more accessible and quite lovely starting point is at virtualnewzealandstamps.
The fifth character is Edward Henry Corbould, a noted watercolourist, who first made a small sketch of Victoria for sizing purposes on 10 May 1854 then submitted a miniature water-colour drawing in 15 May 1854 [Bacon33, p76-77]. The reference for Corboulds artwork is unclear: one postulate is that it was the Cousins’ engraving [Lowe55, p349], but [Smith91, p8] proposes that instead it was a copy of Jones’ Province of Canada stamp. The third hypothesis is that it was drawn from a memory of the Chalon portrait, because the Garter sash is placed on the wrong shoulder of the Queen [Dickson2000, p13]. 
Corboult’s portrait was commissioned to guide the engraving of a second, larger Chalon head by Humphrys for Van Diemen’s Land (later Tasmania). Corbould’s miniature portrait was acquired and now resides in the (British) Royal Philatelic Collection [Bacon33, p76]. The miniature has been subsequently published several times, albeit subject to the printing limitations of the day, as described here.
Although the New Zealand Chalons are the more handsome stamps, some regard the left eye detail of Humphrys second engraving as more pleasing.
Humphrys certainly crafted a second engraving of Victoria, but likely based more on the Cousins engraving than the Corbould miniature [Smith91, p8]. This engraving is larger, and is confined to the face and neck of the young Queen. The head engraving, within a frame, would be used not only for the early stamps of Van Diemen’s Land as planned (and Tasmania after the name change), but also Queensland, Natal, Bahamas and Grenada.
Trio of Australian Chalon stamps, all using Humphrys' second Chalon die.
Jeens is the sixth character. A younger colleague of Humphrys at Perkins, Bacon & Co., many scholars eye Jeens as the engraver of the frames for the latter four issues and also important touch-up work of Humphrys’ head engraving. [Yardley30, p91-93] [Smith91, p11] [Dickson2000, p15-17

Trio of remaining Chalon stamps, all using Humphrys’ second Chalon die.
Bust from the Van Diemen’s Land stamp above.
Note that the engraving lines over the nose follow a gentle-U shape.
The seventh character is Herbert Bourne of Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co. , a master portrait engraver in line, who engraved various stamps including the high-value 1882 Queensland issue, via the pantographic method. [Lowe55, p346[Dickson2000, p23] 
Later Queensland Chalon stamp using Bourne’s engraving.
Note that the Queen’s right cheek (the left side of the image) is cross-hatched.
The eighth character is William Salter, the chief engraver at Perkins, Bacon & Co., who joined them in 1847 and retired in 1875. He was concerned in one way or another in all the dies produced during that period. However, his exact role in selecting and grouping of backgrounds and ornaments, and to what extent he influenced the engraver artists, can never be ascertained [PBR53, p-xxiii], albeit certainly he deferred to Humphrys’ artistic engraving skills [PBR53, p45].
Chalon family tree (the 3 original Chalons follows Lowe).

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  1. Hi Brian, fantastic research. I too was doing the same, but in a very infant stage.
    I have two of the NZ Chalon Vignettes ( stage 1 and stage 2 ) and also an later bank note 1878
    If you are happy to share your email I can email the scans to you.
    My email is
    Kind regards Grant

  2. Hi Brian,

    I concur with Grant. A superb account of the origins and makings of the design of our Chalons, "the Rembrandts of Philately"! I have learnt a lot!

    Klaus Moller