On paper the Goaman’s marriage was made in heaven. They both lived together and worked together, but that’s not the good bit. They also designed stamps together and better still, a large number of those had a botanical theme. Is there a more pleasurable activity you could possibly do with your partner? Michael and Sylvia Goaman met at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, and their subsequent union meant the merging of their complementary talents – design and surface for her, typography and painting for him. Their stamp partnership was launched when they submitted a design for the proposed 4d stamp to celebrate the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. Sylvia’s design, painted by Michael was the winning entry (see below). From then until 1980, the couple produced stamps not only for Britain but over 40 other countries worldwide.
David Scott writes in his obituary of Michael Goaman for The Guardian in 2009:
“Bringing together Michael’s technical skills and understanding of how shapes and masses work, and Sylvia’s extraordinary flair for colour and texture, Goaman stamps contrive to produce images that work on both a scientific and aesthetic level. In this way they fulfil the ultimate aim of philatelic design, which is to produce icons that are both informative and memorable.”
Either separately or together they produced a number of botanical sets often inspired by the native plants of countries they designed for. In 1968, Sylvia designed 14 stamps for the Falkland Islands each with a different flowering plant. In 1969, she created a set of indigenous orchids for Belize. Together they did the Coronation stamp, that included the floral emblems of the UK, plus a set of plants for the Tenth International Botanical Congress in 1964. Additionally, plant elements appeared in many other stamps they designed. See below.
Queen’s Coronation 1953 – Featured four national flowers: rose, daffodil, thistle and shamrock
Tenth International Botanical Congress, Edinburgh 1964 – Featured plants: Spring gentian, Dog rose, Honeysuckle, Fringed Water Lily
1968 Falkland Islands 1968 Flowers set: Line 1: Gunners magellanica (Pig Vine), Primula decipiens (Sisyrinchium sp.), Codonorchis lessoni (Dog Orchid), Senecio candicans (Sea Cabbage); Line 2: Leucenia suaveoiens (Vanilla daisy), Caltha sagitatta (Arrowleaf Marigold) Empetrum rubrum (Diddle Dee), Scurvy Grass (Oxalis enneaphylla), Chiliotrichum diffusum (Fachine); Line 3: Acaena magellanica (Prickly Burr), Prezia recurvata (Lavender), Calendrinia feltonii (Felton’s flower) Gravilia macroptera (Yellow Orchid)
1969 Orchids of Belize: Rhyncholaelia digbyana, Cattleya bowringiana, Lycaste cochleata, Coryanthes speciosa