Wilding Series- Royal Watermarks for Philately


Dec 18, 2014 Europe/London

The Wilding Series of stamps is actually a series of stamps that show the photographic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II that were printed and in wide circulation from 1952 to 1971. These stamps were rated for their intricate designs, including the use of graphite lines. Also, these stamps featured the phosphor bands that promoted automation. The Wilding Series is cited for its value and through the inclusion of regional emblems.

Intricate and royal designs on the Wilding Series stamps

The focal point of the stamps is the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II that was officially taken on February 26, 1952 by Dorothy Wilding. Miss Wilding has been a member of the Royal Court and authorized to take the portraits of the Queen. There were a number of designs that were considered for the postage stamps, and some of the designers who took part in the project include Michael Farrar- Bell, Edmund Dulac and Mary Adshead.  The postage stamps also included four symbolic flowers, each represent the country that was included in the United Kingdom.

In the portrait that was taken by Miss Wilding, the Queen was depicted wearing a diamond diadem, to be used with the Cap of Maintenance. This was the same diadem associated with Queen Victoria on postage stamps like the Penny Black. For this series of postage stamps, the image was re-touched to show off the diadem on the head of the Queen.

The planned replacement of the Wilding stamps was initiated by Faith Jacques and Michael Goaman.  A replacement was planned owing to the difficulty faced by the designers in including the Wilding portrait in the postage stamp designs since the image of the Queen was half-turned, and this design leaves much to be desired from the viewer’s perspective. By 1963, a replacement has been approved, and in 1967, a new design was adopted.
The postage stamps were issued in eighteen (18) values, printed in photogravure and perforated. For these stamps, watermarks were used including St. Edward’s crown, St. Edward’s crown + E2R and Tudor crown + E2R. For many followers of philately, these postage stamps were affectionately called the St. Edward Crowns, Tudor Crowns or Crowns. There were certain issues in these stamps due to a number of reasons, for example, due to cultural sensitivities since Elizabeth was the first to govern Scotland. Another interesting feature on the stamps was the use of upright watermark, and presence of inverted and sideways watermarks. Enthusiasts can also notice the change in paper, from cream paper previously used, to white paper that was used starting April 1962.