If anyone needs my thoughts on any hand engraving issues then I’m happy to chat. Can’t promise to respond immediately but will drop in now and again. I engraved for the Bank of England back in the day.
In light of your work with the Bank of England, and in the interest of showing engravers have a sense of humor, can you shine any light on the accuracy of the following:
In 1952, George Gundersen, letter and picture engraver, (and Art Director) at the British American Bank Note Company in Ottawa, prepared the original plates for Canadian paper currency printed in 1954. The notes had values from one to one-thousand dollars.
Shortly after the notes were issued, there was an outcry from a citizen, (or citizens), claiming the engraving of Queen Elizabeth II, showed a ‘Devil’s Face,’ behind her left ear. For the record, Mr. Gundersen’s engraving was created using a photograph taken by Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh. The engraving is faithful to the photograph, down to the details of the Queen’s hair.
When the anomaly on the notes became widely known, conspiracy theories abounded. According to one account, a British politician named H. L. Hogg wrote to the High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom about the “Devils Face” banknote conspiracy. Reportedly, in his letter, he enclosed one of the notes which featured the “Devils Face.”
Following this, the bank of Canada commissioned the British American Bank Note Company (BABN), to resolve the issue. In 1956 the BABN engraver Yves Baril was commissioned to darken the highlights on the queen’s hair. The result of this engraving work created a “modified design” on the Canadian banknotes released into circulation in late 1956.
And in tribute to the engraver:
George Arthur Gundersen (1910-1975) was born in Canada, trained at the Ottawa College of Art, and studied printing techniques at Enschéde in the Netherlands. At 17 he became an apprentice engraver at American Bank Note Company and remained there designing and engraving until his retirement. He also designed some stamps. His first Canadian stamp design (Jacques Cartier) was issued in 1934 and his last (UPU Centenary) in 1974, a year before his passing.