Author Topic: Edmund Dulac: a seahorse for Edward VIII?  (Read 3382 times)

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Offline <k>

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Edmund Dulac: a seahorse for Edward VIII?
« on: October 28, 2011, 01:26:14 AM »
Edmund Dulac was a Parisian artist who adopted British citizenship in 1912. He designed stamps for the UK in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. What I didn't know was that he almost designed some coins too, according to this scanned cutting from "The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser" of the 18th February 1937. In particular I have never heard of his seahorse half-crown design intended for Edward VIII's proposed coinage.

There are quite a few Royal Mint files on the coinage of Edward VIII in the National Archives that will not be opened until 2014 at the earliest. Maybe Dulac's design is languishing in one of them.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2019, 03:23:14 PM by <k> »

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Edmund Dulac: a seahorse for Edward VIII?
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2011, 01:27:21 PM »
Quote
neither sufficiently British nor sufficiently heraldic

This almost a decade after the introduction of the Irish barnyard series. The judgement says more about their stuffinesses, the members of the advisory committee than about the design.

In the booklet "The proposed coinage of King Edward VIII" (London 1973, SBN 117001937) is a phrase obliquely describing the event: "The sea was thought to provide possibilities for the coinage of a maritime nation but in the event the Committee took a dislike to sea horses, tridents and anchors" The framework for this sentence is:

"The initial view of the Advisory Committee at its first meeting after the accession of King Edward VIII was that not even the silver coins required a great deal of modification"
"(The king), showing the Deputy Master some foreign coins on his watch chain, asked if a more modern coinage could be designed."
"The search for modern designs began with no great hope of succes..."
"It was felt that the king had not intended the Mint to commission avant-garde artists such as the cubists, nor, indeed, that he had necessarily ruled out the use of heraldry"
"The composition of the Advisory Committee also required consideration, for it could be assumed that the Committee's advice would almost certainly reflect the classical and traditional instincts of the majority of its members."

Dulac's design may or may not have pleased the king, but never the advisory committee.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline <k>

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Re: Edmund Dulac: a seahorse for Edward VIII?
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2011, 01:50:52 PM »
"It was felt that the king had not intended the Mint to commission avant-garde artists such as the cubists..."

Sarcastic!  ;D

Dulac's design may or may not have pleased the king, but never the advisory committee.

It's a strange fact that the eventual set the advisory committee chose was a mixture of representational designs (wren, ship) and heraldry. Click on the link below to see the set where the wren came from:

UK Royal Animals: Rejected Designs of 1936

Thanks for quoting that book for me, Figleaf.  ;) Maybe one day I'll be lucky enough to find an illustration of Dulac's seahorse design.


Offline Figleaf

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Re: Edmund Dulac: a seahorse for Edward VIII?
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2011, 02:15:55 PM »
It's a strange fact that the eventual set the advisory committee chose was a mixture of representational designs (wren, ship) and heraldry.

That's part of another story. From the same booklet:

"the Deputy Master made arrangements in April for the appointment of three additional members, purposely chosen because they seemed in sympathy with modern style"
"Also in April Mr Alfed Turner, R.A. was appointed to the Committee to represent the Royal Academy"
"It was of at the beginning of May that the Deputy Master was approached by Mr. Wilson Parker..."

I have no doubt that one of the new members of the committee introduced Wilson Parker to the deputy master. The wren design was a direct consequence of the dilution of the committee. Turner was instrumental in the design of the bronze coins, so I think he rescued Paget's Golden Hind from the archives. The decision to use these two designs came after the dilution of the advisory committee.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline <k>

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Re: Edmund Dulac: a seahorse for Edward VIII?
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2011, 02:23:24 PM »
Politics is everything, and individuals can change history. Until midway through the the 1990s, the design of the UK's commemorative coins was very conservative, then something happened and it became a lot more innovative. But in 2008 the adoption of Matthew Dent's heraldic "jigsaw" designs for the UK standard circulation set was a huge and unexpected step backwards, in my opinion.

Thanks for the quotes again. I'm still chuckling at the idea of a cubist coin design. Maybe Metcalfe came closest with some of his art deco designs.