It's not often that there is a local interest in GB stamp issues, which is why I felt compelled to inform readers of the recent Dudley postmark in a previous blog. A not so obvious local connection appeared in one of the recent Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubillee sheetlet stamps which should also afford a mention.
Harry Ecclestone (1923 - 2010) was the Bank of England's first full time banknote designer - a position that was created for him in 1967. He was born in Coseley and spent his early years living in a house less than 200 metres from my own. From the age of 11 he began to take classes at Bilston, studying under the master etchers Raymond Cowern and Andrew Freeth. He later enrolled at the Birmingham college of art, but his promising start was interrupted by four years' service in the Royal Navy during the second world war. He returned to study at the engraving school of the Royal College of Art from 1947 to 1951. Harry designed the first fully pictorial banknotes, which featured the Queen on one side and notable historic figures on the reverse, a trend borrowed from foreign notes. His design for the £5 series D note (featuring the Duke of Wellington on the reverse) is featured on one of the first class stamps in the sheet.
Queen Elizabeth II engraved by Harry Ecclestone
I took the opportunity to produce my own cover for the Newcomen stamp from recent Great Britons series, employing the Dudley postmark. This features a view of the working replica of a Newcomen steam engine at the Black Country Living Museum. It may be a long tome before we see another Dudley pictorial postmark.