|Reference Number:-||Sprake Number:-||Godden Number:-|
Woven on silk:-
Printed at top of card-mount:-
THE "LONDON & YORK" ROYAL MAIL COACH,
Printed at bottom of card-mount:-
FROM THE "BLACK SWAN" HOLBORN, LONDON,
cm deep by cm wide
by Austin Sprake:
STG186 "The 'London and York' Royal Mail Coach commenced running in the year 1706" printed above the silk picture and below it the words "From the Black Swan Holborn London to the Black Swan Coney Street York". This picture, with no rural background, was woven in the York Exhibition of 1879, which fact is often printed on the lower left corner, with Stevens' identification often printed in the lower right corner.
by Geoffrey Godden:
The picture shows the London to York coach drawn by four horses. Within a few months the same picture was reissued under the title THE GOOD OLD DAYS [st260 in this site]. As such, it continued as a popular Stevengraph into the twentieth century.
The point about the change of title is that, at the time of the introduction of these new silks at the York Exhibition, subjects having a local association were chosen - i.e. DICK TURPIN'S RIDE TO YORK [st144] and THE LONDON & YORK ROYAL MAIL COACH [above]. But once the local exhibition was over, titles with a wider appeal were needed; or at least, ones not directly associated with one city. Consequently, the same silk pictures were continued under the unlocalised titles TURPIN'S LAST RIDE [st156] and THE GOOD OLD DAYS [st260].
The basic difference is that the mounts are termed 'Stage Coach' (as described in the Yorkshire Gazette of 14 June 1879), whereas all other mounts describe it as the 'Royal Mail Coach'.
The wording at the bottom left-hand corner of the mount in the first example [st420] reads 'Manufactured in York Exhibition, 1879', whereas later versions have the standard wording 'Woven in the York Exhibition' (as above).
The second example [st424] differs from that in st420 in that the wording 'Manufactured in York Exhibition, 1879' does not appear at the bottom left-hand corner of the card-mount but the word 'Registered' is printed there. This version may be a very early example made at the Coventry works rather than at the York Exhibition, for general sale to the public.
It is apparent that these two very rare card-mounts are also the earliest issued, for the size of the silk picture is smaller than this later Royal Mail Coach York Exhibition specimen and smaller than the even later runs of the same subject issued under the title THE GOOD OLD DAYS [st260].
Measuring the extreme size of the woven decoration, we find the length of the very early ones to be 4 4/5inches (with a small window-size of approximately 5 inches by 2 inches), whereas the slightly later silk picture of the same subject measures over 5 1/2inches, nearly filling the standard size 6 inches by 2 inches window. The rare first version is therefore nearly an inch shorter in length than the later version.
The main difference can be seen in the appearance of the leading horses - short and tubby in the first case, longer and slimmer in the later, standard, version.
An early version with the standard description 'Royal Mail Coach' and also the 1879 York Exhibition credit is illustrated above, still with the shorter panel and tubby horses.
Some rare double silks have this LONDON & YORK ROYAL MAIL COACH in combination with STEPHENSON'S 'TRIUMPH' [st564] or DICK TURPIN'S RIDE TO YORK [st116]. The double pictures bear the York Exhibition credit [see st4 on this site]. They are rarely found today.
The title of the image shown in [st415] is not mentioned by Godden, and as a result, to some extent there has to be conjecture as to the order in which these early titles appeared.
However, from Godden's description above, and the discovery of the title of st415, the order of the different titles would seem to be: