Britain's most spectacular commemoratives, No1: 1980 International Stamp Exhibition 50p

It’s the biggest commemorative stamp ever issued by Great Britain, and we think it’s also the best!

The 50p value issued for the London 1980 international stamp exhibition (whose logo appears in the top left corner) had an unusually large format, one which has never been used again. And it made full use of this by offering an impressive montage of London landmarks, engraved in superb detail and attractively recess-printed in dark brown on white.

Below wispy clouds and an unusual reproduction of the Queen’s head in a cartouche, rising above the Thames we can clearly see (from left to right) Westminster Abbey, Nelson’s Column, the Shaftesbury Memorial fountain (statue of Eros) at Piccadilly Circus, the Post Office Tower, the Houses of Parliament’s Big Ben clocktower, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the   Tower of London.

For all that, it does not seem a busy stamp. But it is a wonderful, uplifting celebration of the history and grandeur of the capital, rewarding every collector who takes the time to look closer.

Available from counter sheets and also within a miniature sheet (sold at a premium to raise funds for the exhibition), this is not an expensive stamp. So its glory can be enjoyed by collectors working to any budget.

Design: Jeffery Matthews.

Engraving: G Holt.

Printing: recess by Harrisons.