Great Britain

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Jeff Dugdale  |  May 19, 2016  |  0 comments

This was the first of a series of three ‘poppy’ designs commemorating events in World War I (in this case the Battle of the Somme), initially available only within a miniature sheet but later re-released in counter sheets.

Seven beautiful tall red poppies seem to weave their way plaintively into the sky, and then we notice that their stems are made of barbed wire, a moving metaphor which requires no further explanation.

Design: Hat-Trick Design.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 18, 2016  |  0 comments

In stark contrast to the preceeding sets devoted to the other three seasons, all five values in the 1995 Springtime issue were designed to puzzle the viewer on first appearance.

In that, the highest value succeeds especially well! Is it a representation of the Sun in computer-altered colours? A black hole? Part of an eye? Some psychedelic vision induced by drugs? Not quite, but it is grass! It’s a very effective photographic essay showing hundreds of fresh green blades, with white stems, laid around a central void in a starburst pattern to suggest the growing season exploding into action.

It takes the breath away, as no simple lawn could ever hope to do.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 17, 2016  |  0 comments

A remarkably masculine stamp, and the most warlike ever issued by Great Britain, depicts Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, at the place where he changed the history of his nation, Bannockburn in 1314.

The image, which seems to have been inspired by C Pilkington Jackson’s equestrian statue at the battle site, is of a king ready for war, resolute in expression, resplendent in helmet and chainmail and with axe in hand.

In the background, silhouetted infantry wielding pikes and cavalry bearing standards prepare to see off the English foe under a darkening sky.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 15, 2016  |  0 comments

The centenary of the international conference which met in 1884 to decide a universal system of longitude was marked by four classy stamps, each with the 0° meridian shown dramatically by a bold red line across the design.

On the best of the four, it is superimposed on a historical but very detailed sepia map of the south of England and north-west of France.

Even the most basic of inscriptions seems superfluous, because the illustration says it all.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 14, 2016  |  0 comments

Celebrating immigration to Britain, this stamp is a veritable riot of colour, if not easily understood until you take a closer look.

Its main icon is a glorious hummingbird, typically associated with tropical regions such as the Caribbean.

Within the bird’s multi-coloured breast you can make out an immigrant’s face, whilst in the background is a naval chart and compass rose.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 13, 2016  |  0 comments

A set commemorating traditional seaside postcard artwork could never be anything other than light-hearted, and the top value is a real fun stamp.

Filling most of the frame is a portly middle-aged gent with a beer belly and a large backside, in the style of bathing suit which suggests he should really know better.

The expression on his face makes it clear that he has been caught out obtaining chocolate when he shouldn’t, and he seems to be on a roll, with bars simply tumbling out of the machine.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 13, 2016  |  0 comments

Another successful approach to suggesting frenetic activity can be seen in a set of four stamps on the theme of racket sports.

None has more energy than the design showing squash, which would give even the uninitiated a good idea of what the sport is about.

Two silhouetted players are shown part-way through a rally, and stretching every sinew to win the point, with the route the ball has taken shown by a maze of sharply angled dotted lines.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 12, 2016  |  0 comments

One of a set of four marking the anniversaries of various sporting bodies, this stamp takes an original approach to the problem of suggesting power and motion, the sine qua non of sporting issues.

In glorious colour, redolent of a British summer, it depicts an anonymous female tennis player about to play a backhand shot on a cinder court.

With racket at shoulder height, and the impression of tensions in her legs and body, the energy of her movement is further suggested by a swirling background.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 12, 2016  |  0 comments

Some of the most stunning stamps are the simplest, and here is a case in point.

It takes the classic image of a gas flame, very well known to millions of homes in the late 1970s, and places it on the calm surface of a stylised North Sea.

Beneath the surface lie the strata of sediment which contain the crude oil from which the gas will be refined.

Julia Lee  |  May 11, 2016  |  0 comments

In the first of the Millennium series, the highest value took as its subject the development of computers, commemorating in particular the work of Alan Turing.

A cross-section of a human head has various pieces of computing hardware laid out as if inside a machine, reminding us that the brain itself is a very complex computer, which it had to be to invent the computer! Design: Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.

Printing: offset lithography by De La Rue.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 10, 2016  |  0 comments

An eye-catching set used helping hands to convey the ethos of the National Health Service on its 50th anniversary.

Other designs showed hands forming a heart, taking a pulse and reassuring a child, all realised simply in sepia and white.

But the 43p is most emotive, as the hands form a cradle which suggests care and protection.

Jeff Dugdale  |  May 10, 2016  |  0 comments

Organised only half a dozen years after the end of World War II, the Festival of Britain was intended to mark the centenary of the Great Exhibition of 1851, but also a dawning optimism about the country’s future as it struggled to recover from the ravages of war.

Pavilions were erected along the South Bank of the Thames to put the whole country on show to the world, and two stamps were issued.

The higher value has the official logo of the Festival, comprising a compass rose with a stylised Britannia’s head, adorned with bunting in the form of suspended flags and a string of pennants.

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.