ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS. The Record Reign - Queen Victoria & Queen Elizabeth II. London: Illustrated London News, 2015.
Folio. 2 vols, bound in red cloth, all edges gilt, presented in a red clothbound slipcase; pp.68; pp. 54 , profusely illustrated throughout using a bespoke printing process to replicate the original chromolithography, printed on specialist premium quality paper to accurately recreate the feel of the original; new.
Published to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday, whilst simultaneously acknowledging her becoming the longest reigning monarch since her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria.
The Queen herself, in the leadup to the celebrations, had made it clear that she did not want to encourage festivity concerning her tenure, out of deference to her ancestor. It was obvious, therefore, that when the palace became aware of the intent to produce this set, the publication should strike the right tone. ILN did some research, and uncovered the lavish Record Number for a Record Reign, published by ILN in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria's longevity and Diamond Jubilee. A proposal was put to the Palace, that a dual set might be published, containing a reproduction of the Record Number for a Record Reign, and also including a The Record Reign of Her Majesty The Queen. The two volume set would mark the reigns of both monarchs, side by side. This met with approval, and the project was begun in earnest.
With the support and guidance of The Royal Warrant Holder's Association, ILN commissioned an original portrait of the Queen, painted by Alistair Barford (selected the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust artists). In addition, a new portrait of Queen Victoria was produced by ILN staff artist Amedee Forestier. Further images for the book were sourced primarily from the archives of The Illustrated London News and the Great Eight publications, with later images (1994 onwards) sourced externally.
Physical production of the books was a challenge, as the original printing methods for A Record Number… used a combination of inks and colours that are difficult to replicate using the standard 4 colour ink method. A bespoke printing curve with a wider colour gamut was used. Further, to avoid the use of coating, which undermines colour vibrancy, hard drying inks were employed. In some cases, a 5th colour was used to augment the image further.
Both volumes contain a wealth of information on royal history, associations and cultural context. A few examples from The Record Reign of Her Majesty the Queen are highlighted below:
- A foreword by the Prime Minister [David Cameron] summarising the great changes and accomplishments under Elizabeth II.
- The Queen as Stateswoman - An analysis of the Queen as a stateswoman; her education in the act of ruling (gives parliament authority but abides by its decisions and remains politically neutral), her interactions with prime ministers, her neutral political stance during troubled times, and position as Defender of the Faith.
- Elizabethan age of Technology – A brief study of technological innovations, 1952 to present, starting with the internationally televised coronation event to an estimated 20 million people, moving through the discovery of DNA structure, the Festival of Britain, architectural advances (the Gherkin) and into recent days with the monarchy twitter account.