Pigeons and Doves Stamp Issue: a tribute to William T Cooper
Artist and naturalist, William T Cooper AO (1934–2015) began his career as a landscape and seascape artist, then turned his talents to his first love, birds. He painted professionally from 1964 until his death in May 2015.
Throughout his illustrious career, William (also known as Bill) collaborated with close friend Joseph (Joe) Forshaw on many beautifully illustrated ornithological books, including Parrots of the World, The Birds of Paradise and Bower Birds, Australian Parrots, and Pigeons and Doves in Australia.
“Bill was a master craftsman, who always aspired to the best,” explains Joe Forshaw about his friend and collaborator. “He was never satisfied ‘to rest on his laurels’, but always sought to ensure that his next painting be better than his previous painting.”
“He had a remarkable eye for detail, which is reflected in the scientific accuracy of his paintings. I knew that I could always rely on that accuracy being there,” tells Joe.
The idea to approach Australia Post about a tribute to Bill, came to Joe and Bill’s widow Wendy Cooper from a couple of sources.
“In the 1970s, Bill produced a set of stamps for the Papua New Guinea Post Office, featuring birds of paradise and another set featuring pigeons and doves, both of which were very successful. Then in 2018, Australia Post issued a set of stamps featuring reproductions of lithographs of Christmas Island birds by J G Keulemans from A Monograph of the Birds of Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) published in 1900.”
This 2018 release by Australia Post encouraged Joe and Wendy to explore the idea of a series of stamps based on a book Joe and Bill had worked on together.
“Native pigeons and doves is one of the very few major groups of Australian birds not depicted on postage stamps from Australia, so I thought that it would be a good idea, as a tribute to Bill, to reproduce some of his paintings from our book Pigeons and Doves in Australia – fortunately the team at Australia Post agreed”.
This special stamp issue depicts just four of the more than 20 species of pigeons and doves native to Australia. These images were originally published in Pigeons and Doves in Australia, and the superb artwork gives readers a visual appreciation of the birds in their natural habitats.
CSIRO Publishing would like to congratulate Joe Forshaw, and Wendy Cooper on initiating this wonderful tribute to William T Cooper, and thank Australia Post for commemorating his beautiful work.
The Pigeons and Doves stamp issue is released June 2021. More information about themed stamp issues can be found on the Australia Post website.
The book Pigeons and Doves in Australia from which the stamps were reproduced, is available to order from the CSIRO Publishing website. More information about the life and talents of Willam T Cooper is available on this website.