Tag Archives: Pat Keely

The Commonwealth Games on stamps

The 19th Commonwealth Games opens tomorrow in New Delhi, with more than 70 nations fielding a team. The Commonwealth Games takes place every four years and is the third largest multi-sport event in the world.

Teams from member states of the Commonwealth of Nations (countries who were formerly part of the British Empire) are eligible to compete. In the Commonwealth Games the United Kingdom does not compete as one nation, but splits into England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

Host countries of the Commonwealth Games generally celebrate the Games philatelically, as do some of the competing nations. According to Thaindian News India Post has issued five stamps to mark the New Delhi Games, and there is even a Post Office in the Games village.

England, Wales and Scotland have all previously hosted the Commonwealth Games, with Glasgow due to host in 2014. Since 2000 a Youth Commonwealth Games has also been staged. Edinburgh was the inaugural host and The Isle of Man will host next year. Most of these Games have (or probably will be) commemorated on stamps, here’s a brief look at preview British Commonwealth Games issues:

1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Cardiff

1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Cardiff commemorative stamps

The Postmaster General initially rejected the request for a stamp issue to commemorate the 1958 Games on the grounds that it would break the GPO policy of strictly limiting commemorative issues. Following further discussion and external pressure this policy was changed; special stamp issues would now appear every two years or so, “selecting for the purpose current events of outstanding national or international importance”.

The artists invited to submit designs for the 1958 Commonwealth Games issue were asked to include themes symbolic of the Games as well as the Welsh Dragon, or some other symbol which would indicate the association of the Games with Wales. The selected designs by Reynolds Stone, W.H. Brown and Pat Keely all feature the dragon, with Brown’s also including the then symbol of the Commonwealth, the Crown surrounded by a chain.

1970 Ninth British Commonwealth Games, Edinburgh

1970 Ninth British Commonwealth Games, Edinburgh commemorative stamps

The stamps commemorating the Ninth Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh were designed by Andrew Restall and showed progressive action shots of athletes competing in running, swimming and cycling events. This issue divided opinion; one critic compared the designs to “a load of ectoplasm emerging from a sewer”, whilst others praised Restall for his contemporary approach.

1986 Thirteenth Commonwealth Games, Edinburgh and World Hockey Cup for Men, London

13th Commonwealth Games, Edinburgh & World Hockey Cup for Men, London stamps (1986)

Artist Nick Cudworth, known for his work in oil and pastel, designed five stamps to commemorate the 13th Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and the World Hockey Cup for Men in London. Cudworth took a more traditional design approach than Andrew Restall, but still managed to capture the action and excitement of elite sport.

2002 17th Commonwealth Games Manchester

2002 17th Commonwealth Games Manchester

The designer of the Manchester Commonwealth Games stamps, Madeline Bennett, wanted to capture the speed and excitement of competition as sportsmen and women raced to the finish line – so she stretched the stamps to make the point. Bennett had previously worked on the Barcelona Olympics, winning a Designers’ and Art Directors’ Association award for the most outstanding graphics poster campaign. After her work on the Commonwealth Games stamps, Bennett was commissioned to design the stamp issues celebrating the 21st Birthday of Prince William, and the 2006 World Cup.

100 years of the Girl Guides

At a Boy Scout rally at Crystal Palace in 1909 a group of girls turned up and demanded something for them; luckily Scouting founder Lord Baden Powell was thinking along the same lines, and the Girl Guide movement was formed. A century on, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts has 10 million members in more than 140 countries, and in the UK the Guides are the largest youth organisation in the country, with 550,000 members. Today Royal Mail has released a colourful miniature sheet commemorating 100 years of the Girlguiding UK, a nice follow on to 2007’s issue celebrating 100 years of the Scouts.

Girlguiding miniature sheet, 2010

Girlguiding miniature sheet, 2010

As you might expect, this is not the first time that the Girl Guides have appeared on stamps. In 1982 Royal Mail celebrated Youth Organisations. The stamps designed by Brian Sanders featured the Boy’s Brigade and the Girl’s Brigade, along with the Scouts and Guides.

Youth Organisations Commemoratives, 1982

Youth Organisations Commemoratives, 1982

The Boy Scouts, however, have made one other appearance on British stamps. In 1957 three stamps were released to commemorate the World Scout Jubilee Jamboree, a 50th anniversary celebration of the movement held at Sutton Coldfield in August of that year.

World Scout Jubilee Jamboree commemoratives, 1957

World Scout Jubilee Jamboree commemoratives, 1957

The commemorative stamps were designed by three artists, Mary Adshead (2½d value), Pat Keely (4d value) and William Henry Brown (1s 3d value) and printed by Harrisons onto sheets and rolls. The rolls of stamps were used with experimental automatic stamp-fixing equipment designed to produce first day covers, which was and built and housed in a portion of the Birmingham Postal Customs Depot adjoining Sutton Coldfield Sorting Office. Twelve different types of cover were produced by the Mayflower Stamp Co. and they cost 6s 6d each (which included a set of all three stamps). The covers were cancelled with the special postmark slogan “Jubilee Jamboree – Sutton Coldfield” and posted from the Jamboree Camp Post Office.

Also notable about the World Scout Jubilee Jamboree stamps was that the Boy Scout Association had to lobby hard to get them. In 1955 the Association contacted the Post Office Advisory Council to suggest the release of stamps to celebrate the centenary of Lord Baden Powell’s birth on 22 February 1957. This was rejected as it was the policy of the Post Office to restrict the issue of special stamps to events of greatest importance to the nation or major postal significance.

Later in 1955 the Boy Scout Association requested an issue to commemorate the Jubilee Jamboree. This was considered and rejected on the same grounds, but following a campaign organised through Stamp Collector magazine, which urged its readers to write to their MPs, a parliamentary question was put by J V Woollam (Conservative MP for Liverpool West Derby and a philatelist) with the support of several other Members of Parliament.

Pressure continued for special issues to celebrate both the Jubilee Jamboree and the British Empire Games (to be held in Cardiff in 1958). Finally in early March 1956 a memo was circulated which reconsidered the case for special issues commemorating both events and concluded by suggesting regular special issues at intervals of every two years or so. The memo advised that special issues should feature “current events of outstanding national or international importance”. With this change of policy the Post Office Advisory Council reversed its earlier rejection and it was announced in the House of Commons on 13 June 1956 that the Post Office would be issuing a set to commemorate the Jubilee Jamboree.

The Girlguiding miniature sheet is available from the Royal Mail Shop.

If philately is the new black, GPO posters are the rock ‘n’ roll!

Royal Mail’s Classic Album Covers stamp issue isn’t the first time that the Post Office has gone ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ – it also happened back in the 1930s when the Post Office began a wide-ranging artist-commissioning programme to drive its public information campaigns. This led to some of the most exciting work produced in what is now known as ‘mid-century modern’ poster design.

The BPMA is fortunate in holding a treasure trove of Twentieth-Century poster design, a small portion of which was the subject of our recent exhibition, Designs on Delivery: GPO Posters 1930-1960. The exhibition included many excellent examples of public information campaign posters produced by the Post Office and we were delighted with the positive response to it. The Guardian online included a slideshow version of highlights from the exhibition and the winter issue of Illustration Magazine featured an article on our poster collection.

A GPO poster encouraging people to pack parcels carefully is illustrated by a shattered cow-shaped milk jug. The cow has a tear in its eye.

Please Pack Parcels Very Carefully by Tom Eckersley

Also smitten were the designers at ‘poptastic’ greetings card producer Umpen Editions who have developed ‘Post Modern’, a new range of cards based on eight posters from our collection. This includes several featured in the exhibition. The ever-popular, if heart-rending (please somebody put him back together!!!) ‘please pack parcels very carefully’ broken dog design by Tom Eckersley is included, making this design now available in greetings card, print-on-demand poster, fridge magnet, and fridge magnet with virtual gift formats.  A cow design from the same campaign is featured, as is Pat Keely’s poster artwork for the GPO film, Night Mail. Lesser known, but equally visually appealing work by artists Harry Stevens and Robert Broomfield are in the range, along with a wartime poster image from artist Hans Schleger (aka Zero). We are delighted with the new cards – everyone in the office has their own personal favourite.

The poster for Night Mail shows a railway track and railway signals at night.

Pat Keely's poster for Night Mail

Poster campaigns, public information films, and documentary photography emerged from the Post Office during the 1930’s under the auspices of its first Public Relations Officer, Sir Stephen Tallents, who joined the department in 1933 towards the end of George V’s reign. Indeed it was the social change, coupled with developments in mass communications techniques and processes which had occurred earlier during the King’s reign which enabled production not only of some of philately’s now most loved stamp issues (‘British Empire Exhibition’, ‘Seahorses’ and ‘PUC Pound’ issues for example) but that also laid the basis for a subsequent ‘heyday’ of GPO poster design.

The events and innovations of this extraordinary period in philatelic design history will be the focus of the BPMA’s major exhibition for 2010: Empire Mail: George V and the GPO at London’s Guildhall Art Gallery. The exhibition, part of the London 2010 Festival of Stamps, will look at the passions of King George V, the ‘philatelist king’, alongside an extraordinary period of innovation in the General Post Office which took place during his reign.

The Post Modern card range will be available shortly from the BPMA’s webshop.

GPO publicity: ‘Post early in the day’

by Vanessa Bell, Archivist (Cataloguing)

In 1925 a national campaign was launched, encouraging the public to ‘Post early in the day’.  The idea was to alleviate pressure on the postal work force by avoiding a rush on letter boxes at the end of the working day. After an initial interest, the campaign proved largely unsuccessful. 

POST 122/11087: Please Post Early In The Day

POST 122/11087: Please Post Early In The Day

It wasn’t until the early 1930s that another national scheme to spread the ‘Post early’ message was considered; with two of the earliest publicity posters commissioned by Public Relations Officer: Stephen Tallents, being on this theme.

These posters, produced in 1934 and depicting postmen on their rounds: PRD 0086 (POST 110/4340) and PRD 0087 (POST 110/1439) are the only two in the collection designed by Graham Sutherland, a then up and coming artist.

POST 110/1439: Post Early

POST 110/1439: Post Early

This initial push was followed a few years later by an all out national campaign targeting businesses in particular; this was officially launched by the Assistant Postmaster General in a speech to the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce in February 1937.

A leaflet entitled ‘Post during the lunch hour’ (which became the slogan of the campaign) was published in the same month.

POST 122/10941: Post During The Lunch-Hour leaflet

POST 122/10941: Post During The Lunch-Hour leaflet

This was followed up by two posters. The first, PRD 0155 was entitled: ‘Post during lunch hour’ (POST 110/2491), it was designed by Edward McKnight Kauffer, who went on to produce a set of GPO posters for use in schools entitled ‘Outposts of Britain’ later that same year.

PRD 0155: Post during lunch hour

PRD 0155: Post during lunch hour

The second poster, PRD 0173 was entitled: ‘Post early in the day’ (POST 110/1159); it was designed by Pat Keely, who went on to produce a number of posters for the GPO throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

PRD 0173: Post early in the day

PRD 0173: Post early in the day

The campaign gathered momentum throughout the early years of the Second World War, when it was particularly important to get the message across due to extra pressure on the postal workforce brought about by conscription.  Some key artists of the era were called in to produce posters; these included Hans Schleger (Zero), who produced a set of posters (PRD 0250-0252) featuring a running chef, encouraging the public to ‘Post before lunch’ In order to achieve the best war time delivery (see POST 110/4150, POST 110/2966 and POST 110/1173). The posters were used both in post offices and on mail vans in an attempt to reach the widest possible audience.

PRD 0251: Post before lunch

PRD 0251: Post before lunch

PRD 0252: Posting before lunch enables the Post Office to give your letters the best possible war-time delivery

PRD 0252: Posting before lunch enables the Post Office to give your letters the best possible war-time delivery

Other war time artists included Jan LeWitt and George Him, who worked together on a number of inspirational poster designs between 1933 and 1954 when their partnership dissolved.  They produced some memorable posters for the ‘Post Early’ campaign, each involving the image of a cartoon postman dragging a large letter over his shoulder (PRD 0238 and PRD 0241 (POST 110/3184 and POST 110/2502)).

PRD 0238: Post your letters before noon for first delivery next morning in

PRD 0238: Post your letters before noon for first delivery next morning in

PRD 0242: Post early - And dont miss the Noon post

PRD 0242: Post early - And don't miss the "Noon" post

‘Post early’ was not the only publicity campaign to be pursued during the Second World War; posters were also produced on themes such as: ‘Save for national security’; ‘Don’t telephone or telegraph if a letter or postcard will do’ and ‘Airgraphs get priority’. I will be exploring some of these posters in my next blog.