His supporters always claimed that he had experience in designing stamps. In particular, they claim that he designed a set of Canadian stamps.
Well, here are the stamps so you can judge for yourself. The first stamp is one of Queen Victoria. I'm not sure who designed it – the Stanley Gibbons catalogue only mentions that is from a photograph taken by W and D Downey – who were the official court photographers for some years.
The second stamp of Edward Vll was issued in 1903. Officially, it is described as designed by George V, when Prince of Wales, and JA Tilleard. In fact there is almost no difference between the two designs. Obviously, the picture has been changed. And they have also substituted a crown for the maple leaves in the top corner and added two leaves in each bottom corner. But it hardly represents a masterpiece of re-design. Primarily, they swapped one photo for another.
However George V liked to think that he was an expert in this particular field. So everyone maintained the fiction that he designed the stamps himself. So who was JA Tilleard? Tilleard, as many readers will know, was a distinguished philatelist who helped look after George V's collection and became the first curator of the collection when George became king. He wasn't a designer either. He was very pleasant man – a clever philatelist, who made a good living as a City solicitor.
So does it matter that George flattered himself with his design skills? In 1910, when he came to throne, he took it upon himself to ignore the advice of the Post Office and he insisted on having a major imput into the design of the new stamps and insisted that a photo by Downey should be the basis of the new stamps. He made a complete hash of things, and the stamps were delayed by two years.
The full story of the Downey Heads can be found in my book – George V's Obsession – a King and his stamps.