Friday, 7 April 2017

Australia 1927 - Opening of Parliament House

A "provisional" building that became somewhat of an iconic Australian landmark. Improbable as it seems, it is all too true... 

Opened on 9 May 1927 Parliament House in Canberra (now known as Old Parliament House), was never meant to last for more than fifty years, just enough time, I guess, for the politicians to decide what they really wanted. Designed by John Smith Murdoch in the "Simplified Classical" style, popular for governmental buildings at the time, it is now a landmark, and serves as a museum of political history. But not everyone has always admired the building. Walter Burley Griffin, the man responsible for the city layout of Canberra, said that placing the building in that location was akin to...  'filling the front yard with outhouses'. Not a ringing endorsement! But whether loved or loathed, it has firmly established its place in the annals of Australian history. And considering it did not close its doors until 1988, some sixty-one years later, it seems to have served its purpose well.


On 9 May 1927 Australia's issued its first commemorative stamp on the occasion of the opening of Parliament House in Canberra (in A.C.T Australian Capital Territory). Since this was to be Australia's very first commemorative, the design needed to be memorable. Accordingly, a competition was held for the best design. There were over 1,000 entries. The winning design was composed by Mr Ronald A. Harrison, an artist at the Note Printing Branch of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. This design was engraved by J.A.C Harrison. And the resultant stamp is simply stunning. 

Dominating the left side of the stamp we see a seated female figure representing Australia. She is holding in her right hand a shield bearing the southern cross. In her left hand she is carrying a palm branch, which is extended as a greeting to the new Parliament House, the building in the middle ground. The composition has been nicely seated in a simple yet tasteful and elegant frame.


Below are a couple of the design entries from the competition. The first depicts the chair of the Speaker of the House (House of Representatives)...



The second example is in portrait format and it bears the head of George V at the top. I don't mind this one. With some tweaking it could have worked. But the final choice was definitely the best in the end.

Which do you like best?

Until next time...

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