Notes from the Past

Design and Engraving of the Penny Black

Henry Corbould was the artist commissioned by Perkins, Bacon and Petch to make the final drawings of the stamp that has become the famous Penny Black.  The basis of the now well known design is credited to Rowland Hill, Corbould doing only the proportioning and laying out of the head, labels, stars and engine turning.

The design of the head is from a medal by William Wyon, struck to commemorate the Queen's visit to the City of London on the Lord Mayor's Day, November 9, 1837.

The hand engraving of the head on the original die was confided to Charles Heath, engraver to the King, but is probably the work of his son and chief assistant, Frederick Heath, whose reputation for fine detail engraving excelled that of his father.

The method of reproduction -- die, roller, plate -- was, according to letters of patent granted, invented by  Jacob Perkins and actual production was carried out under his supervision by the firm of Perkins, Bacon and Petch.

The engine-turned background was produced from a stock roller, suggested by Joshua Butters Bacon of the firm.  The work was done on a "Rose" engine used by engravers of that time.

- Lon W. Kreicker and Major H. P. Burell
The Penny Black, Philately's Number One
The Stamp Specialist, Volume I, Part 3
H. L. Lindquist
Posted April 9, 2000

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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