Earlier this year we announced our 3D scanning project with UCL to capture objects from our philatelic collection. Over the past month, the Philatelic team has been selected just a few objects from its vast collection to scan. Joanna Espin, our Philatelic Assistant, introduces the objects in this post.
We have a large collection of three dimensional objects to do with the production of postage stamps; ranging from metal dies and transfer rollers, to printing plates. There are also three dimensional objects to do with the design of stamps and other aspects of postal operations. We have chosen a range of objects, of various sizes and materials, which are important to understanding postal history.
The objects selected are some of the most treasured in the Philatelic collection, and concern the history of the Penny Black, Machin Head and letterpress printing.
Wyon Medal, 1838
The Wyon Medal was the inspiration behind the engraving of Queen Victoria featured on the Penny Black.
‘Old Original’ Penny Black Die, 1840
The ‘Old Original’ Penny Black die, from which all Penny Black plates and most Penny Red plates were made.
Elizabeth II Machin head plaster cast, 1966
Arnold Machin intended his portrait of Queen Elizabeth to allude to the Penny Black: both were designed from a relief portrait and both monarchs are wearing the George IV State Diadem.
Machin Stamp roller, 1968
This object’s shiny surface has prohibited successful digital rendering. 3D scans would, in connection with the Machin curved plate, explain recess printing.
Machin curved plate, 1968
The 1968 high value Machin £1 stamp recess printing plate.
Edward VII Die, 2d Tyrian Plum, 1910
Almost 200,000 sheets of this iconic stamp were printed yet only one was ever used, as King Edward VII died before the stamp was issued. We plan to scan the die and box.
George V Die for striking leads. 1½d postage British Empire Exhibition, 1925
This object incorporates interesting shape, detail and colour. It connects with the 1924 Wembley slogan die and letterpress printing.
Downey Head ½d Skin, 1911
The first definitive stamps of King George V’s reign were based on a photograph taken in 1910 by W. & D. Downey. The Downey Head skin we plan to scan is an important part of the history of letterpress printing.
Edward VII embossing punch, 1902
Successfully capturing the detail and embossing on the punch would enable effective demonstrations of embossing technique.
Flintlock Pistol, 1816 – 1841
This object demonstrates the diversity of the BPMA Philatelic collection. A 3D rendering of the pistol will highlight the engravings on the end of the barrel, which state that the gun was for official GPO mail coach use.
Aerial Handstamp, 1911
The world’s first scheduled airmail service began in 1911 as part of the celebrations for the coronation of King George V. This handstamp, commemorating the event, has wide historical appeal. The object’s shape and material make it ideal for 3D scanning, as reflective surfaces are notoriously difficult to capture.
Slogan Die, Wembley, 1925
Issued as part of the celebrations marking the British Empire Exhibition, this slogan die has wide historical appeal and, due to its shape and material, is another interesting object on which to experiment 3D scanning techniques.
We will initially test various techniques, a process expected to take several hours for each object, and compare the results to existing two dimensional photographs. The processes to be employed are highly experimental and will shape recommendations for a standardised approach to 3D imaging. The results will enable ground-breaking access to treasured objects in the Philatelic collection and, ultimately, audiences will virtually handle important postal history objects.
Stay tuned next week to find out about the different techniques we will be using!
– Joanna Espin, Philatelic Assistant