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archival snapshots

>From the national philatelic collection

Famous Women ISSUED 6 AUGUST 1975

& International Women’s Year ISSUED 8 MARCH 1975 Until 1975 only three Australian stamps had been issued to honour particular women (year of stamp issue in brackets): Dame Nellie Melba (opera singer, 1961); Caroline Chisholm (social reformer, 1968); and Dame Mary Gilmore (writer and poet, 1973). This was the background to the decision in 1973 to develop a Famous Women stamp series for issue during 1975, the year designated by the United Nations as International Women’s Year.

1968 1961

1973


archival snapshots

>From the National Philatelic Collection

In June 1973, six subjects were chosen for the Famous Women stamp issue; these being recommended by Elizabeth Reid, the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Women’s Affairs: Daisy Bates (1863–1951), welfare worker among Aboriginals and anthropologist. Edith Cowan (1861–1932), first woman elected to an Australian parliament. Louisa Lawson (1848–1920), suffragette and journalist. Henry Handel Richardson (1870–1946), novelist Constance Stone (1856–1902), first Australian woman to qualify as a doctor. Catherine Spence (1825–1910), writer, social worker and campaigner for voting reform.

D Bates

E Cowan

L Lawson

HH Richardson

Following calls for a stamp honouring Tasmanian Aborigine, Truganini (1812?–1876), it was decided to substitute Truganini for Daisy Bates in the Famous Women stamp issue. C Stone

C Spence

Truganini

In December 1974, a decision was made to issue a single commemorative stamp to mark International Women’s Year. This was issued on 12 March 1975, the date being as close as practicable to International Women’s Day on 8 March.


archival snapshots

>From the national philatelic collection

Early development of Famous Women designs In November 1973, three women artists were commissioned to prepare designs for the Famous Women stamps, each artist being allocated two stamp subjects: Elizabeth Durack of Perth (1915–2000): Daisy Bates and Edith Cowan. Elizabeth Cummings of Sydney (b. 1934): Louisa Lawson and Henry Handel Richardson. Wendy Tamlyn of Sydney (b. 1940): Catherine Spence and Constance Stone. During 1974, the Stamp Advisory Committee considered the work submitted by the three artists. Ultimately, the designs of Elizabeth Durack and of Elizabeth Cummings were not favoured by the Committee, leaving Wendy Tamlyn’s designs as the Committee’s preferred approach.

Designs by Elizabeth Durack D Bates

L Lawson

E Cowen

HH Richardson

Designs by Elizabeth Cummings

Designs by Wendy Tamlyn C Stone

C Spence


archival snapshots

>From the national philatelic collection

Rejection of recommended Famous Women designs By mid-1974, Wendy Tamlyn had emerged as the preferred designer for the Famous Women stamp series and she was commissioned to prepare designs for all six stamp subjects. In October 1974, Wendy Tamlyn’s completed designs were recommended by the Stamp Advisory Committee for adoption. However, when the six designs were submitted to the Postmaster-General (Senator Reg Bishop) for approval they were all rejected. Elizabeth Reid, the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Women’s Affairs, had been involved in the process and explained that the designs featured too much similarity in facial features and they presented the subjects in “too glamorous and feminine way”.

C Spence

C Stone

E Cowen

L Lawson

HH Richardson

D Bates


archival snapshots

>From the national philatelic collection

New Famous Women designs prepared Following the rejection of Wendy Tamlyn’s Famous Women designs, new designs needed to be prepared quickly. Elizabeth Reid agreed to brief the new designers involved in the task. Stamp Advisory Committee member, Arthur Leydin, prepared a basic layout and the typography to serve for the six stamp designs. Artists Brian Dunlop (1938–2009), and Des and Jackie O’Brien, were commissioned to prepare illustrations of the Famous Women subjects. In February 1975, the Stamp Advisory Committee considered the submissions from the two commissions, favouring the work of Des and Jackie O’Brien over that of Brian Dunlop. The O’Briens were commissioned to do all six stamp subjects, including a stamp for Trugannini who had now been chosen to replace the Daisy Bates stamp. The six designs were submitted to the Postmaster-General, Senator Reg Bishop, who approved them during March-April 1975.

Designs by Des and Jackie O’Brien C Stone

Truganini

C Spence

HH Richardson

Designs by Brian Dunlop


archival snapshots

>From the national philatelic collection

Famous Women Photogravure Separation drawings At the time the Famous Women stamps were issued, the Note Printing Branch, Melbourne, produced Australian stamps using the multicolour photogravure process. For this process, the artist prepared separation drawings for each colour used in the stamp design. The Famous Women designs involved three printing colours (Lawson); four colours (Cowan, Spence, Stone and Truganini); and five colours (Richardson). The separation drawings were in black and white, with the black areas representing full colour in the design; white areas for no colour and various shades of grey for tones of colour. Usually, the separation drawings were prepared by hand; the artist judging the abutment and relative strengths of the colours. Each separation drawing was reproduced on an individual printing cylinder; the image being photographically reduced to stamp size and replicated on a “step and repeat� machine to obtain layout in the same format as the stamps appeared in a printed sheet.

Separation drawing for the black colour

Separation drawing for the grey tint

Separation drawing for the deep mauve tint

Separation drawing for the esh tint


archival snapshots

>From the national philatelic collection

1975 International Women’s Year design The design of the International Women’s Year stamp was prepared by Leonara Howlett, who had also designed the symbol used by the Australian Secretariat of the International Women’s Year. The symbol embodies the Earth and the Moon surrounding a woman with arms outstretched in an embrace. The symbol’s colours of green and purple are those of the suffragette movement’s banner. The IWY stamp was prepared in several versions, the one at top left being recommended by the Stamp Advisory Committee in December 1974 and subsequently approved by the Postmaster-General, Senator Reg Bishop. The design was slightly amended by dropping the “c” and enlarging the “10” in the denomination.


Famous Women & 1975 International Women's Year  

This archival snapshot details the two stamp issues focused on women in 1975.

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