First Day Covers (F.D.C.) are not usually interesting to me, but these three (of more than ten covers by the same artist) were of interest on account of the water colour illustrations by a South Australian artist, that they range from 1948 until 1971, and they were all self-addressed. The first was postmarked KAROONDA/ 9A 15 NO 48/ STH.AUST. on the 2½d red Scout stamp, and was addressed to Mr A.J. Peake, Karoonda, S. Australia (Figure 1).
The second F.D.C. was a more extensively illustrated of the four Melbourne 1956 XVI th Olympic Games were postmarked NAILSWORTH/ 31 OC 56/ SOUTH-AUST and addressed to Mr A.J. Peake, 4 Argyle Tce, Kleinzig (Figure 2).
The third F.D.C. was of the 6c Mirage Jets, but illustrated with early fighter planes, is postmarked at HINDMARSH/ -9 JUN 1971/ S. AUST 5007 and is addressed to A.J. Peake, 61 Seaforth Av., Somerton Park, S.A. 5044 (Figure 3).
The description that follows is a verbatim description of the illustrator “Jack” Peake by Andrew G. Peake (his nephew) in The New Australian Bookplate Society Newsletter No. 2 Septembet 2006:
John Peake, who has always been known as Jack, was born at Penola in the South-East of South Australia on 15 January 1917. He was the second son of Archibald Thomas Lyle Peake, a school-teacher, and his wife, Margaret, née Townsend. His father was one of the first wood-work teachers to be appointed in the South Australian Education Department and became the head teacher of the Gilbert Street Woodwork School, a purpose built school in the City of Adelaide. Margaret, his mother, had studied painting prior to her marriage, but with five children, her artistic temperament had to be put aside while she was fully committed to her domestic and family responsibilities. She did, however, pick up the paint-brush in her senior years, creating water colour Christmas and birthday cards for family and friends. Both parents were to influence Jack’s career and interest in art. Shortly after his birth, Jack’s parents moved to Adelaide, South Australia, where he still resides.
Jack entered the South Australian Education Department through the Adelaide Teachers’ College, which also involved study at Adelaide University and the South Australian School of Arts. On completing his studies he taught manual training at various country and metropolitan schools. He retired as Senior Lecturer in Technical and Industrial Art at the Torrens College of Advanced Education (now part of the University of South Australia). The 1940s and 1950s were a period of advancement in education in Australia. New area schools were being built in the country to replace small one-teacher schools, there were changes in curricula with the addition of courses such as art and manual training, the promotion of secondary education and technical schools. The school leaving age was slowly increased to 15 years in 1963.
Art was one aspect of this change, with teachers seeking alternative expression of the art theme, and designing bookplates was one such expression. The Department’s school library adviser, Ms Whittle, encouraged schools to design bookplates for the school library through the Education Department’s publication, The Children’s Hour. Jack helped his students design a plate for the Karoonda Area School. Many school libraries acquired their own bookplates, a subject in itself. Jack’s principal art form has been landscape art; however, he has also become an accomplished sketcher in pen and ink. He has had many trips into the Australian countryside and as a memento he has produced a diary which has been richly illustrated with his sketches. These have then been photocopied for distribution to those he has travelled with, as well as for members of his family. A number of these sketches have been adapted into calendars.
Local historians have used his talents to provide sketches for their published local histories. As a consequence his published artistic work is quite extensive. Jack is still painting and drawing in his retirement. He has acquired some fame with his hand painted First Day Philatelic Covers. He has illustrated a number of South Australian local histories, including several in the Rigby Sketchbook series of the 1970s. Four of his illustrations were used by Samoa as postage stamps in 1979. A 1995 plate is an armorial design for the artist’s own library. He had recently been granted armorial bearings from the College of Arms and this is a rendition in pen and ink of the arms granted. Jack Peake died as late as December 2006.
This article is well illustrated with pen and ink bookplates, which include Archibald John Peake’s design for his own bookplate in 1995, as well as a design produced for Leonard George Peake in 1947 (Figures 4 & 5).