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The Rory Matthews Head
The first Litho printings appeared in 1980 and were produced
by Questa and Waddington (the first time Royal Mail had used these printers
for Postage Stamps). Questa originally used just one plate for their printings
while Waddington used two. The resultant images were a poorer standard to their
Harrison counterparts, typically, they lacked contrast
and gave a washed out appearance. For these early printings, Harrison was the
source of the images used - Questa reproductions being a close match while the
Waddington versions were the subject of various degrees of retouching in many
instances (see Fact09 page).
The original artwork of the Rory Matthews rendered Head
was a pencil drawing made in May 1982 (this was first reported by Don Staddon
in a Stamp Magazine article May 2002 Page 47-49). Its unclear what source he
used for the artwork ~ the Head has the two curves in the Queens hair and the
base of the dress is flat and clearly delineated against the background; a possible
contender could be the 10½p Country (Regional) definitive that appeared in 1978
(S.G do not highlight this and provide a separate classification code ~ only
designating it as a Head A).
The exact circumstance for producing this artwork is
unclear. One story has it that Harrison had mislaid the image, while this may
be true it does not explain why this would have affected both Questa and Waddington
who were already producing printings. Another possibility was to produce a new
image that would improve on the prevailing quality of reproduction.
The Rory Matthews Head has only been used for Litho printings
- with Questa producing the bulk of these printings. The first versions of the
Head started to appear in 1984 and continued to be used until 1997. The following
printers have used this Head :-
The Head can be found on the three differing backgrounds
namely - dark, gradated and light.
Harrison did not use the Litho process for Machin definitives
but when Mark III window booklets were introduced a version of the Rory Matthews
Head was used for the stamp facsimile on booklet covers. This closely matches
the Questa version including the shaded area on the chin / jawline (see image
in Questa section below).
The Questa version of the head may exhibit a shaded area
along the chin / jawline. This does not necessarily appear on all printings
and is not apparent on the reduced head size used for the country (regionals)
National Definitives (with S.G numbers)
Country (Regional) Definitives
Generally, the head has fairly close matches through
the value range, however, some variations can be
identified. For example, from 1988 a change started to appear on the Country
definitives with the dark background which effects the central cross of the
diadem (this did not occur on the corresponding National definitives). This
takes the form of the background colour showing through the upper segments of
the cross (to 1988) and then being shaded subsequently (1988 onwards including
Northern Ireland Country (Regionals) Definitives
Scotland Country (Regional) Definitives
Wales Country (Regional) Definitives
The Waddington version of the head only appears on one
value - the 12p Scotland (Perf 13¾ x 14).
Walsall have also used the Rory Matthews head, but only
for the National definitives for which two variants occur. The original version
used by Walsall differs from the Questa version, however, from 1993 a revised
version was used which is closer to the Questa counterpart.
Walsall Head - Original Version (S.G Head G)
The original version of the Head by Walsall has various
retouched features within the diadem area - notably on the front and rear jewels
(see comparisons above). The values in this group include :-
Interestingly, the NVI values were never changed to revised
version of the head and so the 2nd Bright blue and 1st Flame values ran concurrently
with the revised version.
This Walsall version of the head is a closer match to
that of its Questa counterpart and started to appear in 1993. The values to
be found for this group include :-
The reintroduction of Litho printings primarily in Prestige
Booklets (from 2008) saw a change to using a digitally remastered Head. This,
in conjunction with using a very fine screen produces an image curing the previous
weakness of the litho process