Collectors of early Canadian (and British colonies) will recognise the phrase “Chalon head”. There is only one – the famous Queen Victoria Chalon depicting a very young QV. Vance Auctions has an intriguing ephemera offering in next week’s sale (Jan 30, 2019) :

Queen Victoria Chalon head vignette (engraving)

7909 – Engraved b/w 19th Century vignette depicting the QUEEN VICTORIA CHALON HEAD oval portrait sunk directly on to card (60 x 78mm). VF, Scarce. Would make a perfect opening page item for an early Canada collection. Ex Highland ….Est 500.00+ from the Vance catalogue

It’s about 2.3” x 3” in size (for those who don’t speak metric) so, yea, it’d make a great faceplate for any Chalon collection.  Usually, we see the image in a squished down format (Chalons aren’t terribly large) so it’s nice to see it in a (slightly) larger format.

The oval portrait appears on a number of early stamps from Canada, New Zealand, Tasmania, Bahamas, Queensland, Natal and Grenada, comprising some of the most collectable stamps I know of. I’ve met people who go gaga over them and dedicate a hefty portion of their collections to Chalons.  They are alluring little beauties to chase.  Although I’m more a Small Queens fan, I do appreciate the odd time a Chalon passes my desk, even if it’s a Jubilee edition.

Scan of an 1887 Queen Victoria Jubilee 1/2c stamp

I’ve had a few low quality Chalons in my collection, but have to confess to swapping them years ago for some early airmail stamps. Push comes to shove, I’ll sacrifice my Queen for airmails. So about the only ones I have are the few Jubilees, which really aren’t Chalons in the strictest sense in my opinion. 

The Chalon image is from an Alfred Edward Chalon painting, c 1837, of Queen Victoria in full robes shortly after she came to the throne.  I tried to find out where the original painting hangs, but pretty much every article I read looped to Chalon stamps. It’ll take a trip to the library to find out, so next time I’m at the reference library, I’ll pop into the art section and see if I can find an answer. If you know, drop a note in the comments section.

Portrait of young Queen Victoria, painted by Chalon

Queen Victoria, portrait by Alfred Edward Chalon c 1837 | [Public domain]

An engraving of Victoria’s head from this portrait, by Samuel Cousins, was distributed to the public as souvenirs on coronation day.  It was later the basis for the famous Chalon stamps.

So, back to the topic, the engraving, if your interested, wander over to Vance and check it out.  It’s auction item #7909, listed under ephemera.  http://www.vanceauctions.com/searchsetter.asp  Don’t forget to search for Chalons stamps as well. There are a couple of bargains, including a New Zealand lot (#7381).

If you’re looking for a bit of fun, check out the mystery novel The Chalon Heads by Barry Maitland. I read it a few years ago and found it thoroughly enjoyable. I mean, how many murder mysteries are centred around stamp collecting? This one has it all – murder, forgery, Scotland Yard, stamp collecting, Chalon heads, what more do you want?  Check out Good Reads.

A short bio on Alfred Chalon: Archives Canada 

For information on engraver Samuel Cousins: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Cousins
A kickass article on New Zealand Chalons can be found at Ashford Stamps Limited: http://www.stampsale.com/Chalons.html

 

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