It is often touted as the best album of all time, and has become so ingrained as part of popular culture that it’s hard to believe that the concept for Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon cover was actually born out of a simple textbook illustration.
We were lucky enough to have the album’s original illustrator, George Hardie, visit us at our offices where we chatted about the album.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the iconic design has its routes in a chance 1968 meeting in a photographic darkroom at the Royal College of Art in London. It was then that George first met Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell – the creative minds behind now legendary design studio, Hipgnosis.
Over the year, Hipgnosis produced artwork for some of the most influential bands of the era including Led Zeppelin, Genesis and Black Sabbath, but it was the bold graphic design for The Dark Side of the Moon which thrust the studio’s work into the public eye when it hit record stores in March 1973.
Until this point, much of Hipgnosis’ work had been photographic. But under the direction of Pink Floyd’s keyboardist Richard Wright to produce something “simple, clinical and precise” their ideas took on a new dimension. The breakthrough moment was provided by Storm Thorgerson who remembered an illustration from a photography book showing the process of light refraction through a glass prism; “An inspirational image in itself” as George recalls. The concept seemed particularly fitting for Pink Floyd who were famous for their use of light shows.
“Slightly re-arranging the illustration, I drew a line artwork and indicated colours using percentages of magenta, cyan, yellow and black from a printer’s chart – the simplest way of making this kind of line artwork where the lines act as the edges of each colour and the printer fills in the colours.” explains Hardie. The prism was airbrushed, black on white, and reversed out of a mechanical printer’s black background to produce the final effect.
After its release, The Dark Side of the Moon went to number one on the US Billboard chart for one week, but it ended up staying in the charts for a consecutive 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988 – longer than any other album in history.
The band were suddenly propelled from the underground into the mainstream. With an estimated 45 million copies sold, it became Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest rock albums of all time. The white beam of light passing through a prism to form the bright colours of the spectrum against a stunning black background invited listeners to discover the music inside, and it still does today.
Own the Dark Side of the Moon Framed Edition
Now you can own this definitive piece of Pink Floyd memorabilia – a remastered copy of The Dark Side of the Moon vinyl professionally framed and signed by the original album artist, George Hardie himself.
Royal Mail have revealed 10 new David Bowie stamps, which will mark a tribute to one of the most influential music and cultural figures of all time.
The stamps are Royal Mail’s second dedicated music artist stamp issue, following on from the popular Pink Floyd release in the summer of last year.
Scheduled for release on 14th March 2017, the stamps will feature iconic album covers and live performances from 1971 right up to his final studio album Blackstar.
Here’s your first look at the new stamps alongside a bit of info about each one…
1st Class – Hunky Dory:
His fourth album and released in December 1971. Time magazine chose it as part of their “100 best albums of all time” list in January 2010.
1st Class – Aladdin Sane:
His sixth album and released in April 1973. The album was among six Bowie entries in Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
1st Class – “Heroes”:
His twelfth studio album and released in October 1977. This was the second instalment of his “Berlin Trilogy” recorded with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti. The title track remains one of Bowie’s best known and acclaimed songs.
£1.52 – Let’s Dance:
His fifteenth studio album and released in April 1983. Co-produced by Nile Rodgers, and featured three of the most successful singles “Let’s Dance”, “Modern Love” and “China Girl”. Let’s Dance is Bowie’s bestselling album.
£1.52 – Earthling:
His twentieth studio album and released in February 1997, this was the first album Bowie had self-produced since Diamond Dogs.
£1.52 – Blackstar:
Bowie’s final studio album, released on 8th January 2016 to coincide with his 69th birthday. Bowie died two days after its release.
The Miniature Sheet
1st Class – The Ziggy Stardust Tour, 1972: The tour promoted The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars studio album and took in the UK, North America, and Japan.
1st Class – The Serious Moonlight Tour, 1983: The tour was designed to support the Let’s Dance album and was Bowie’s longest, largest and most successful concert tour.
£1.52 – The Stage Tour, 1978: Also known as Isolar II – The 1978 World Tour and The Low/Heroes World Tour because it was staged to promote the Low and Heroes albums.
£1.52 – A Reality Tour, 2004: Staged to promote the Reality album this tour was to be Bowie’s last tour.
Background Image – The Glass Spider Tour, 1987: launched to promote the album Never Let Me Down.
A First Class Tribute to a Music Legend
These stamps are sure to be sought after by anyone looking for a really collectable piece of Bowie memorabilia. And there are even due to be limited edition ‘fan sheets’ issued for the those who want to keep something truly special.
I wasn’t sure Royal Mail could top last year’s Pink Floyd issue, but these stamps are so well executed and poignant in my opinion they will go down as some of the most important musical stamps ever to grace our postage.
You can reserve all of the new David Bowie stamps right now on a limited edition Collector Card – professionally framed and ready to hang. Click here for details.
This year Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Sapphire Jubilee – the first ever British monarch in history to do so. To mark the occasion, a brand new British Isles £5 Proof coin has been issued featuring a sparkling sapphire crystal as a truly fitting tribute to Her Majesty’s record-breaking reign.
In light of its release, I thought I’d take a look at the history and timeless designs of previous British Jubilee commemorative coins issued during the Queen’s reign…
The 1953 Coronation UK Crown
The 1953 crown was issued to celebrate Her Majesty’s Coronation and was the very first UK commemorative coin to be issued during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Unusually, the obverse portrait features an engraving of the Queen riding on horseback at the Trooping of the Colour ceremony in 1953 with an edge inscription which reads ‘Faith and Truth I will bear Unto You’, taken from the Coronation Oath. The Coronation crown was to form the basis of future Jubilee commemorative crown designs and still remains one of the most sought-after by collectors. It is often the starting point for many great collections.
The Silver Jubilee UK Crown
In 1977, Her Majesty celebrated 25 years on the throne – her Silver Jubilee and the first of her reign. To celebrate the occasion, a new commemorative crown was issued by the Royal Mint designed by renowned sculptor and designer of the Queen’s portrait on the UK’s stamps, Arnold Machin. The coin’s reverse design is focused upon the Coronation theme and features the Ampulla and anointing spoon from the Royal regalia surrounded by a heraldic floral pattern and the Crown.
The coin’s obverse takes inspiration from the 1953 Coronation Crown, showing a newly designed image of the Queen on horseback. Unusually, this is the only crown in British history not to feature an edge inscription or date on its reverse and is one of the last crowns to be issued with a face value of 25 pence (commemorative crowns issued after 1990 have a face value of £5), which makes it continually sought-after among collectors.
The Golden Jubilee UK Crown
2002 saw the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, marking her 50th year on the throne and the release of a new commemorative, this time, issued with a face value of £5 . The coin was designed and sculpted by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS, who created the fourth portrait of the Queen on the obverse of our UK circulating coins. The reverse design once again, features a newly designed image of Her Majesty on horseback inspired by the original Coronation crown design. The reverse features a specially designed portrait of the Queen.
The Diamond Jubilee UK Crown
In 2012, the nation witnessed the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Sixty years on the throne is a landmark milestone and one that has only been reached by one other monarch – Queen Victoria in 1897. This is the first ever coin to be struck to mark a Diamond Jubilee because there were no special coins issued for Queen Victoria’s.
Special one-off portrait designs
To mark such a momentous occasion, Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS was once again commissioned to design the coin. The obverse features a portrait of Her Majesty crowned and wearing the robes of the Order of the Garter, inspired by the sculpture that appears in the entrance of the Supreme Court building in Parliament Square. The reverse design shows a portrait of the Young Queen inspired by Mary Gillick’s portrait of Her Majesty, the very first to feature on the obverse of the UK coins in 1953.
The Sapphire Jubilee £5 Guernsey Coin
2017 marks Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 65th year on the throne, the first ever British Monarch in British history to do so. To mark such a landmark, historic occasion, this brand new limited edition £5 Proof coin has been issued by the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
Fully approved by Her Majesty the Queen, the design by ex-Royal Mint engraver, Michael Guilfoyle features the Sovereign’s crossed sceptres from the Coronation regalia with the number 65 marking the years Her Majesty has been on the throne with a stunning crystal inset into the design representing a blue sapphire.
You can now own the new Guernsey Sapphire Jubilee Proof £5 Coin today.
With a low edition limit of just 4,950 worldwide in such a landmark year, demand for this limited edition special Proof coin is expected to be high.