Great Britain

Sort By:  Post Date TitlePublish Date
Jeff Dugdale  |  Jun 01, 2016  |  0 comments

Another of the stunning photographic essays used for the Millennium series, this one takes as its subject the heart-shaped face of the common barn owl.

Owls always seem inscrutable, but this one from the World Owl Trust sanctuary at Muncaster seems to be looking into the lens with complete disdain.

Alternative nicknames for the species, such as ‘demon owl’, ‘ghost owl’ or ‘hobgoblin owl’, seem very apt when you are confronted by such a stare.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 31, 2016  |  0 comments

If the picture concealed in the hide of the cow in the Patients’ Tale stamp (see No23) was subtle, the optical illusion here is even more so.

The eye is drawn by the iconic image of the Supermarine Spitfire banking against a cloudy sky.

But look closer and you realise that the clouds are not just random shapes, but form the profile of the great aeronautical engineer who designed the plane, Reginald J Mitchell.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 30, 2016  |  0 comments

The appearance of Halley’s Comet in the night sky, hailed as a ‘maybe twice in a lifetime’ event, was celebrated internationally on stamps, but nowhere in such an original way as in Britain.

Not for Royal Mail the unimaginative approach of showing a portrait of Edmond Halley, historical illustrations of the comet or photographs of the probes sent to study it.

Instead, a caricaturist was commissioned to design four colourful but crazy images.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 30, 2016  |  0 comments

Using photography might be a ‘lazy’ approach to design, but a stunning photo can still make a great stamp.

A fine example is the lower left of the quartet in the Astronomy miniature sheet.

It depicts the Ant Nebula, a young bipolar planetary nebula in the constellation of Norma in the southern Milky Way, with its stupendous glowing spherical shells of gas and plasma, the residue of dead stars.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 29, 2016  |  0 comments

No stamp issue of the 1960s was as spectacular and controversial as the set marking the 25th anniversary of the conflict in which so much was owed by so many to so few.

For the first time, six different designs were combined in the same sheet.

Even more amazingly, four of them had silhouettes of Germany’s defeated aircraft alongside Britain’s victorious fighters and the Queen’s head.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 28, 2016  |  0 comments

Following the lead given by the Beatles stamps (see No28), the Charles Darwin set took further advantage of the versatility of die-cutting by way of jigsaw-shaped designs, alluding to the great naturalist’s thinking as he tried to work out how all life fits together.

Particular amusement can be had by juxtaposing the portrait on the 1st class stamp with the 81p value’s depiction of an orang-utan from the same angle.

Their similarly grizzled, similarly hairy faces remind us of the fun caricaturists had in Victorian times, when the idea that humans were descended from apes was shocking.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 27, 2016  |  0 comments

Eye-catching in every sense of the word, this stamp celebrated the Year of the Artist by showing nothing more than an amazing close-up of the one organ which is absolutely necessary for an observational artist.

It caused great excitement in some circles when it was suggested the centre of the eye had a tiny image of the starship Enterprise (from the cult science fiction series Star Trek) orbiting the Earth.

And with a little imagination you can easily see why that was suggested.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 26, 2016  |  0 comments

Although it was based on a simple photographic treatment, the Cathedrals issue was a stunning set.

As with all its fellows, the stamp of Gloucester Cathedral looks down the nave to give a wonderful sense of the dimensions of this impressive Gothic building.

The decision to eschew full colour in favour of monochrome was inspired.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 25, 2016  |  0 comments

Commemorating Dr Edward Jenner’s invention of a defence against smallpox in the 18th century, this stamp cleverly alludes to a folkloric tale and involves a very subtle optical illusion.

It was from the knowledge that milkmaids did not contract smallpox if they had previously suffered from cowpox that Jenner developed his ‘vaccine’ (the word comes from the Latin for ‘cow’) containing material from cowpox sores.

Accordingly, the design shows a caricature of a Friesian cow, whose black and white markings contain a silhouette of the doctor vaccinating a child.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 24, 2016  |  0 comments

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Queen’s Awards for Export and Technology, were four very bold stamps realised in dark blue and yellow, in similar format and available in se-tenant pairs.

At the heart of this stamp is the Export award’s crowned insignia, with an ‘E’ at the centre of four arrows growing out of the cogwheels of industry.

This casts a shadow over a stylised globe symbolic of international trade.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 23, 2016  |  0 comments

This arresting illustration is the work of Wildscreen at-Bristol, an educational charity which became a Millennium Project, working to promote our appreciation of biodiversity through wildlife imagery.

It looks like something out of a science fiction film, but is simply a beautifully lit photograph of the head of an ant, at huge magnification, showing its eyes, antennae, mouth and ‘whiskers’ in the finest detail.

Most eye-catching of all is the smile the ant appears to have as it glares into the lens! Design: GettyOne Stone.

Julia Lee  |  May 22, 2016  |  0 comments

One of two stamps celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, from a set on the theme of peace, this design uses simple imagery to make a telling point.

Two open hands, suggesting no malice, with fingers of different colours, representing all mankind, emerge from the globe in supplication to the background of heat and flames, alluding to conflict.

It looks like a thought-provoking piece of modern art, rather than merely a postage stamp.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 21, 2016  |  0 comments

A set of six aimed at stamp collectors and Beatles aficionados alike used album covers as its artwork, which could be considered the lazy option.

However, making it a self-adhesive issue allowed Royal Mail to experiment with asymmetric perforations, which it cleverly used to suggest a pile of LPs casually arranged.

And on top in this case is the revered Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, whose sleeve design is iconic in its own right, with its montage of celebrity faces, including those of writers, musicians, film stars and Indian gurus.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 21, 2016  |  0 comments

The most elegant of all the early Queen Elizabeth II commemoratives was created by a French-born artist who remains one of the most famous stamp designers ever.

Strikingly, it was the only stamp in the Coronation set of four, and indeed the only postage stamp of the reign until 1966, which did not adopt the Wilding portrait.

Instead, it defied convention by showing the Queen full-face, in Coronation robes with the orb and sceptre, against the background of a Tudor tapestry containing symbols of the nations of the United Kingdom.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 20, 2016  |  0 comments

From one of the most detailed sets ever, celebrating Harrison as the inventor of the marine chronometer, the 28p shows the escapement, remontoire and fusée of his marine timekeeper No4 in all its intricate glory.

Made in 1759, this allowed navigators to work out their longitude wherever they were, boosting global exploration and thus the British Empire.

Clearly, it was also a thing of beauty.