Home Up QE II Definitives QE II Commemoratives Chambons Olympics Antarctica COILS



1956 Olympics

1956 Olympics

The genesis of photogravure printing began with the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Competitive tenders occurred for the printing equipment. The 1/-  Harrison, UK and the 2/- from Courvoiser, Suisse. The 2/- was printed by the Helio process, and although a superior stamp, lost out. Probably due to Xenophobia.


Empire Games Empire Games

Six years later, a second set of photogravures, the Empire Games, was produced by Harrison's and put on sale on 1st November 1962. These, and the Olympics, are the only instances of Australian pre-decimal postage stamps being printed off-shore.


Inland Mission 5th September 1962

The first Australian produced photogravure was issued. The date is interesting because, theoretically, there was no reason to produce the Empire Games stamps overseas. It could be, that there was doubt that the Chambon press would be ready in time to do so, and a pre-emptive order had taken place.

The Chambon press, from which photogravure stamps were produced, went on to become the mainstay of Australian (and Oceanic) stamp production. It had as much impact on production as the Hoe Rotary Recess machines when they were introduced in 1932. Chambons rapidly replaced recess printing for nearly all commemoratives.

5d and 5c Red However, while the method of creating new Commemorative issues became almost painless, being as it did a simple enough photograph followed by almost automatic production via continuous paper roll, the economies of scale simply weren't there. The printing process was expensive to operate, much more so than recess. For nearly a decade after it's introduction, the definitive series remained firmly with the QE2 Red. The Chambon press, producing as it did, 60 stamps per sheet , could not compete with the massive small format 640-on recess printings.

Layout, paper and perforations.

Individual stamps are not listed with perforation or layout since all were the same and are stated below. The paper used was always unwatermarked but varied between initial Wiggins Teape Cream paper, followed by Harrison White which produced far better results, and finally Helecon treated paper.

Only one perforator gauge was used for all Chambon printings, irrespective of size Perf 13x13 Portrait, and (obviously) Perf 13x13 Landscape. For simplicity, since it makes little difference, individual listings are stated to be Perf 13.5.

Only two sizes were used on the Chambon press in the pre-decimal era, Medium and Long. Both in portrait aspect.

See Chambon Layout for a more detailed description of the printing technique.

Back Home Up Next