Britain's most spectacular commemoratives, No59: 1992 Gilbert & Sullivan Operas 28p

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Arthur Sullivan, the riot of fun and nonsense that epitomises Gilbert & Sullivan operas was brilliantly captured in a set of five stamps.

Most colourful of all is the 28p value for The Mikado, arguably the greatest and certainly the most popular of the Savoy operas.

It depicts Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner of Japan, in his ceremonial costume adorned with axe logos, holding the large axe which he has never used! Knowing touches are the tilting of Ko-Ko’s head and the partial obscuring of his face with a fan, which allude to his cunning duplicity.

Design: Lynda Gray.
Printing: photogravure by Harrisons.