Tag Archives: watercolour

Mail Coach Guard Moses Nobbs is ready for his close-up

Our conservation team is very busy getting objects ready to be moved and, in some cases, displayed in The Postal Museum and Mail Rail galleries. Conservators Jackie and Barbara need the best equipment to help repair and preserve objects, such as a long overdue microscope.

Today we received a very nice surprise – the delivery of a brand new microscope! We wanted to replace the old machine that had been in service in the studio since the iron-age with a modern machine and thanks to a lot of gently persuasive requests our wish was finally granted.

The machine was immediately put to good use on an object that had been in the studio awaiting treatment.

The object is a painting of Moses James Nobbs, ‘The Last of the Mail Coach Guards’ painted c.1890 by H.E.Brown and is described as a watercolour on paper. The image shows a man with white beard and whiskers wearing a black top hat, a red coat with gold double buttons and black collar and cuffs.

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Undergoing treatment using our new micrscope

When we first received this painting and assessed it, no particular damage to the paint layer was detected. Once the surface had been put under the magnifying lens of the microscope we were able to discover an area of micro-cracks that could potentially lead to the paint layer flacking off. Indeed this had already happened in some small parts of the painting.

Armed with this new knowledge we decided to proceed with a treatment of the paint layer to be performed under magnification, an operation that was made possible thanks to the real-time video feed of the microscope.

Close-up showing the cracks in the painting

Close-up showing the cracks in the painting

The new microscope proved popular with other members of staff at BPMA too, with many coming over to the studio to check things like dirt on their fingers, what hair really looks like and what creatures live on common surfaces… The youngest visitor, a 9 years old with lots of probing scientific questions really enjoyed the close up inspection of the bench surface!

As we move closer to opening The Postal Museum look out for more conservation updates from Jackie and Barbara, giving you a sneak peek at the objects that will be going on display and the preparations taking place in the galleries themselves.

-Barbara Borghese, Conservator

80th Anniversary of Greetings Telegrams

Earlier this month, you met Abi, our work placement student, who helped out around the BPMA, getting a taste of what it’s like to work in a museum and archive. While she was here she did some research for us into greetings telegrams, which were introduced 80 years ago this month. To celebrate we’re offering free shipping on a beautifully illustrated book of telegrams, which Abi gives us a sneak peak of in today’s blog.

Featuring images showing the progression of postal delivery transportation methods through the ages along the top. Artist: Bouttell, C J. Media: Gouache

Featuring images showing the progression of postal delivery transportation methods through the ages along the top. Artist: Bouttell, C J. Media: Gouache

This month marks the 80th anniversary of the introduction of Greetings Telegrams, and having been quite taken with their striking designs I thought it was rather appropriate to read into their history. Ruth Artmonsky’s book, ‘Bringers of Good Tidings’, very eye-catching in itself, combines  beautiful examples of Greetings Telegrams with stories of their controversial history,  which really gave me an insight into why they became so popular.

Artwork for a poster. Subject: Greetings Telegram service. Artist: Henrion, Frederic Henri Kay. Media: Not known.

Artwork for a poster. Subject: Greetings Telegram service. Artist: Henrion, Frederic Henri Kay. Media: Not known.

Within the book we are introduced not only to the background of these, at the time revolutionary, telegrams, but also to the people behind them, including their champions, designers and the ‘Telegram Messenger Boy’. Whilst reading I also came to understand the need that was felt to dispel the negativity attached to receiving telegrams, which had gained a reputation as bringers of bad news during the First World War. I have to say that these decorated telegrams could not be mistaken for being anything other than positive, a lot of them were altogether too brightly coloured!

Featuring a floral border and a wedding scene. Artist: Corsellis, Elizabeth. Media: Watercolour, ink, board, poster paint.

Featuring a floral border and a wedding scene. Artist: Corsellis, Elizabeth. Media: Watercolour, ink, board, poster paint.

Flicking back through the copy of the book in front of me I’m struck by how special it would be to receive one of the beautiful messages in their gold envelopes, a feeling that birthday texts just don’t create, however well-meaning they are. Perhaps I need to put a little extra effort into my Christmas cards this year!

Featuring a border with roses and stars. Artist: Freedman, Claudia. Media: Watercolour, ink, paper.

Featuring a border with roses and stars. Artist: Freedman, Claudia. Media: Watercolour, ink, paper.

Get free delivery on ‘Bringer of Good Tidings: Greetings Telegrams 1935-1982’ when you enter code TELEGRAM80 at the checkout.

Featuring a village wedding scene. Artist: Atkins, Kathleen. Media: Watercolour, ink, paper.

Featuring a village wedding scene. Artist: Atkins, Kathleen. Media: Watercolour, ink, paper.

David Gentleman’s Kew Gardens stamps

On Tuesday Royal Mail released a third set of stamps in the Action for Species series, on Endangered Plants, as well as a miniature sheet commemorating the 250th Anniversary of Kew Gardens (both of which can be seen here). However, this is not the first time Kew Gardens has appeared on stamps.

A commemorative set released in 1990 marked the 150th anniversary of Kew Gardens being adopted as a national botanical garden. The stamps were designed by Paul Leith and showed four pairs of notable trees and buildings in the gardens.

Paul Leiths Kew Gardens stamps (1990)

Paul Leith’s Kew Gardens stamps (1990)

The BPMA holds Leith’s original artwork for these stamps as well as a number of unadopted designs by Leith and the other artists who were invited to submit ideas for the set: Jane Human, Siobhan Russell, graphic designer company Silk Pearce and David Gentleman. A retrospective exhibition of stamp design work by David Gentleman is currently on display at the BPMA and includes a number of unadopted designs, but none are from the 1990 Kew Gardens set.

David Gentleman submitted 5 sets of designs and four alternative designs for the Kew Gardens set. Below is a list of these designs accompanied by the artist’s descriptions, and some (low quality) scans of selected artworks.

Set A
4 watercolour paintings, dated 01/11/88
A1 – Spring: Sophora japonica (Pagoda tree) planted 1760.
A2 – Summer: Robinia pseud acacia (false acacia), planted 1762.
A3 – Autumn: Platanus orientalis (Oriental plane), planted c.1762.
A4 – Winter: Quercus hispanica lucombeaua (Lucombe’s oak), planted 1760.

A2 - David Gentlemans unadopted False Acacia design

A2 – David Gentleman’s unadopted False Acacia design

Set B
4 watercolour paintings, dated 01/11/88
B1 – Encephelartos longifolia; the oldest glasshouse plant in Kew; with the Palm House to which it will shortly return.
B2 – The Pagoda Tree (sophora japonica), part of the original planting of c.1760 with the Orangery, designed by Sir William Chambers and built in 1761.
B3 – Platanus orientalis (Oriental plane) – original planting of c.1762; with Kew Palace.
B4 – Robina pseudacacia or false acacia, (original planting, c.1762) with the Aroid House, by John Nash; moved to Kew from Buckingham Palace, 1836.

B1 - David Gentlemans unadopted Encephelartos longifolia design

B1 – David Gentleman’s unadopted Encephelartos longifolia design

Set C
4 watercolour paintings, dated 01/11/88
C1 – Encephelartos longifolia; the oldest glasshouse plant in Kew; with the Palm House to which it will shortly return.
C2 – Platanus orientalis (Oriental plane) – original planting of c.1762; with Kew Palace.
C3 – Quercus Lucombeaua (Lucombe’s oak), original planting of the 1760s; with the Avoid House.
C4 – Robina pseudacacia; original planting of c1762; with Orangery, designed by Sir William Chambers and built in 1761.

C2 - David Gentlemans unadopted Oriental Plane design

C2 – David Gentleman’s unadopted Oriental Plane design

Alternates:
C1 (ii) – Encephelartos longifolia; the oldest glasshouse plant in Kew; with the Palm House to which it will shortly return.
C1 (iii) – Encephelartos longifolia; the oldest glasshouse plant in Kew; with the Palm House to which it will shortly return.

C1 (ii) - David Gentlemans unadopted Encephelartos longifolia design (alternate)

C1 (ii) – David Gentleman’s unadopted Encephelartos longifolia design (alternate)

Set D
3 watercolour paintings (D1-3) and 1 illustration (D4), dated 15/03/89
D1 – Spring: Robinia pseudacacia (false acacia). Planted in 1762 as part of the original planting.
D2 – Summer: Quercus hisparica lucombeaua (Oriental Plane). Part of the original 1760s planting. (sic)
D3: Autumn: Plantanus orientalis (Oriental Plane). Part of the original 1760s planting.
D4: Winter: Sophora japonica (Pagoda Tree). Planted c1760 as part of the original planting.

D4 - David Gentlemans unadopted Pagoda Tree design

D4 – David Gentleman’s unadopted Pagoda Tree design

Set E
4 illustrations, dated 15/03/89
E1 – Spring: Robina pseudacacia (false acacia). Planted in 1762, as part of the original planting. In the background, the Orangery, designed by Sir William Chambers and built in 1761.
E2 – Summer: Quercus hispanica lucombeaua (Lucombe’s oak). Part of the original planting of in 1760s. In the distance, the Pagoda. (sic)
E3 – Autumn: Plantanus orientalis (Oriental plane). Part of the original 1760s planting. In the background, the Temperate House.
E4 – Winter: Sophora japonica (Pagoda Tree). Planted c1760 as part of the original planting. The Palm House.

E4 - David Gentlemans unadopted Pagoda Tree design (winter)

E4 – David Gentleman’s unadopted Pagoda Tree design (winter)

Additional designs
There is no artist’s description for these designs; they are described on the reverse as presentation visuals.
1 – Oak Tree (green illustration).
2 – Oak Tree (computer image).

Additional design 2 - David Gentlemans unadopted Oak Tree design

Additional design 2 – David Gentleman’s unadopted Oak Tree design

For more previously unseen stamp artwork by David Gentleman, please see our online exhibition Gentleman on Stamps. Some of the heritage trees which appeared in Gentleman’s designs can be seen on the Kew Gardens website; False Acacia, Lucombe Oak, Oriental Pane, Pagoda Tree.