Great Britain

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Jeff Dugdale  |  May 09, 2016  |  0 comments

This is a stunning image, apparently bisected diagonally with half of the pictured crop harvested and the combine harvester centred perfectly.

But there’s a remarkable utility behind it too.

An orbiting satellite produced the awesome, golden image, and this ‘remote sensing technology’ helps modern farmers to learn how productive different parts of their land are, so they can respond with appropriate use of chemicals, keeping their approach as environmentally friendly as possible.

Julia Lee  |  May 08, 2016  |  0 comments

This beautiful stamp for European Music Year celebrates one of the greatest pieces of British music, Gustav Holst’s seven-part orchestral Planets Suite, by trying to capture the beauty of the heavens.

Like the music, the design has real depth.

In the centre are Jupiter, the unmistakable ringed Saturn and the small red orb of Mars.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 07, 2016  |  0 comments

This oblong format was in vogue early in the 21st century, and proved particularly appropriate for the set issued to mark Manchester’s hosting of the 17th Commonwealth Games in 2002.

Its success lies in the way it provides extra scope for evoking a sense of speed in each of the five events illustrated.

On the athletics stamp we see three slightly burred female sprinters heading for the finish line.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 06, 2016  |  0 comments

Whilst other postal authorities cashed in on the series of feature films, Royal Mail came up with something much more tasteful to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of the first two novels in J R R Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Its stamps were created from original designs by the revered author himself, and his son Christopher.

Every one of the 10 designs is a treasure, but the loveliest is that showing Rivendell, the serene Elven outpost in Middle Earth.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 05, 2016  |  0 comments

The 250th anniversary of the British Museum was celebrated by a striking set of five amazing photographs of statues or masks, all with one eye staring starkly out from a shadowy background.

Most menacingly, the 47p value has the 600-year-old Mixtec-Aztec regalia mask of Xiuhtecuhtli, the Mexican firegod.

The shining turquoise of its mosaic pattern makes it visually stunning, and the white eye and teeth contrast with this to complete a face you won’t forget in a hurry.

Julia Lee  |  May 04, 2016  |  0 comments

There is no doubting which was the most arresting stamp in the set of five commemorating 50 years of passenger jet aviation.

A beautifully lit photo-essay features the ‘face’ of a contemporary Airbus A340-600, staring back at the viewer like some benevolent monster.

The bulk of the aircraft, which can carry almost 400 people, is not illustrated but is clearly suggested by its massive head, standing out magnificently against an indigo clear sky.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 03, 2016  |  0 comments

Like No50 in our countdown, this stamp was issued as a result of a competition run by television’s Blue Peter programme.

But in this case the design brief was much more complicated: children were asked for ideas with an environmental message.

Alice Newton-Mold, aged 12, painted the Bird of Hope, ingeniously showing shining modern homes and green trees apparently being regenerated from grey industrial wasteland as the bird flies over them.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 02, 2016  |  0 comments

The 1990 set of four which set out to tell the story of astronomy featured arguably the most intricate designs ever issued by Royal Mail.

The 31p, concentrating on advances in observation, is a veritable feast for the eyes.

At the bottom centre it depicts the old Royal Observatory with the Greenwich Meridian running through it.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 01, 2016  |  0 comments

Have you ever seen a jollier Father Christmas than the one realised by five-year-old Samantha Brown, the youngest ever designer of a British stamp? One result of a competition on BBC Television’s Blue Peter programme, which attracted a staggering 74,000 entries and resulted in a set of five very different designs, Samantha’s glorious Santa beams at us with beady eyes, holding his arms wide with presents falling all around him.

Unencumbered by any other design detail, he is the total focus of our attention, and is he not the epitome of a toddler’s idea of Father Christmas: happy, cuddly, brightly coloured and full of surprises? Design: Samantha Brown.

Printing: photogravure by Harrisons.

Julia Lee  |  Apr 30, 2016  |  0 comments

In a year dominated by modern-looking issues, one that stood out was a more traditional one marking the 150th anniversary of the pillar box by showing its development through the years.

The star of this very elegant set of five, based on engravings by the celebrated Czeslaw Slania, was the 2nd class NVI depicting a light green Victorian box with a fantastic array of golden decoration.

Apparently this embellishment was exclusive to the capital cities of England, Scotland and Ireland, in contrast to the plain ‘economy’ version seen everywhere else.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Apr 29, 2016  |  0 comments

With parliamentarians representing the thousand million people in the British Commonwealth meeting to promote democracy at Westminster Hall in London, the single stamp issued to mark the event was wonderfully symbolic and elegant.

Central to the design is a ballot-paper X, rendered in a particularly clever way that suggests the integration of representatives from many different countries, with many strands of opinion.

The patronage of the Queen is acknowledged through the use of regal silver, and the activity of the conference through vibrant red and blue.

Julia Lee  |  Mar 23, 2016  |  0 comments

The set of five marking the centenary of the Magic Circle might have been gimmicky, but it was also clever and highly original.

Each stamp sought to bring a very simple magic trick to life.

In two cases this was done by way of optical illusions, and in three cases by inviting us to rub a coin or finger on it.

Julia Lee  |  Mar 16, 2016  |  0 comments

The 2002 Europa theme of the circus must have given designers all over the continent great fun, and was certainly a spectacular series to collect.

Britain’s predominantly greenish set of five stamps concentrated on stereotypical elements of the big top, and our favourite is the Trick Tricyclists design, with its three identical and rather po-faced monocyclists.

One curiosity, immediately beneath the Queen’s head, is the value ‘E’ (for the European letter rate) represented as ‘€’.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Mar 16, 2016  |  0 comments

Britain’s very memorable first Christmas stamps were the result of a ground-breaking design competition limited to children under 16.

Six-year-old James Berry of Beckenham painted a jolly snowman in a blizzard, and his 1s 6d stamp, with the Queen’s head die-stamped in gold foil, remains one of the most recognisable ever.

When we first saw the stamps, many of us were appalled.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Mar 16, 2016  |  0 comments

The four values in the Weather set are designed to be viewed as a group, completing the circular face of a barometer, and this is best seen in the format of the miniature sheet, which is itself circular.

The set is a veritable riot of colour and amusement, with many intriguing design elements which repay closer study, such as cats and dogs falling from the sky in the 19p.

But most striking of all is the 27p value, hinting at fair weather by way of a smiley-faced sun, with the value denominator doubling as a pressure gauge.

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