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Guy Thomas  |  Mar 14, 2016  |  0 comments

The British Humanitarians issue on March 15 will commemorate the lives and achievements of six individuals who devoted their energies to helping and protecting other people, both in the UK and abroad.

The three men and three women, active in the 19th and 20th centuries, shared an innate concern for their fellow human beings struggling against illness, poverty, violence or hypocrisy, and a single-minded desire to help them in practical ways.

Unusually, the issue appears to be an example of people power heavily influencing Royal Mail’s stamp programme.

Guy Thomas  |  Feb 10, 2016  |  0 comments

Royal Mail’s 2016 celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of operating an organised postal service will get underway with a stamp issue on February 17.

Entitled Royal Mail 500, the issue comprises a set of six individual stamps giving a flavour of how a formal postal network was established and expanded, plus a four-stamp Classic GPO Posters miniature sheet reproducing advertising posters of the mid-20th century.

Royal Mail says it has chosen to celebrate its big anniversary this year because the importance of the office of Master of the Posts was recognised when its first holder, Brian Tuke, was knighted by King Henry VIII in 1516.

Guy Thomas  |  Jan 06, 2016  |  0 comments

Royal Mail’s first new issue of 2016, released on January 7, commemorates what Sir Edmund Hillary described as ‘The greatest survival story of all time’.

Entitled Shackleton & The Endurance Expedition, the eight-stamp set recalls the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton in 1914-17, which is regarded as the last expedition of the heroic age of polar exploration.

As an attempt to make the first land crossing of Antarctica via the South Pole, it was a dismal failure.

Guy Thomas  |  Nov 02, 2015  |  0 comments

Royal Mail’s 2015 Christmas stamps, issued on November 3, feature paintings which tell the traditional biblical story in an impressionistic style, from the Annunciation through to the Nativity and the journey of the Magi.

The 50th set of Christmas stamps (with one having been issued every year since 1966), they follow the recent policy of alternating between secular with religious designs.

As usual, the issue comprises self-adhesive counter sheet and booklet stamps, and the same designs in a gummed miniature sheet.

Guy Thomas  |  Oct 07, 2015  |  0 comments

Royal Mail will issue a set of 12 counter sheet stamps and a six-stamp miniature sheet on October 20 to celebrate the upcoming release of the new movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Printed in se-tenant strips of six, the gummed sheet stamps will depict nine classic characters from the earlier films in the series, along with three new characters from the forthcoming instalment, which is due to open in UK cinemas on December 17.

Illustrated by British artist Malcolm Tween, each stamp will also feature a secondary character or scene created specially for the issue.

Guy Thomas  |  Sep 16, 2015  |  0 comments

Royal Mail will issue a set of stamps celebrating the 8th Rugby World Cup on September 18, the day England face Fiji in the opening game of the tournament.

Wales, Scotland and Ireland are also among the 20 competing nations, in a competition which will comprise 48 matches played at 13 different venues (10 around England plus the Millennium Stadium in Wales), culminating in a final at Twickenham in London on October 31.

The eight 1st class stamps, available in four se-tenant pairs, convey the power and dynamism of rugby union in the context of the sport’s scoring moves and set pieces.

Guy Thomas  |  Sep 09, 2015  |  0 comments

Royal Mail issued a five-stamp miniature sheet entitled Long To Reign Over Us on September 9, the day Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history, surpassing Queen Victoria’s reign of 63 years and 216 days.

One of the stamps is the new-coloured 1st class Machin definitive (October issue, page 22), and the miniature sheet is the only source of this design in gummed form.

The other four are larger-format commemoratives featuring royal portraiture and insignia.

Guy Thomas  |  Aug 12, 2015  |  0 comments

Royal Mail will release a set of six sheet stamps and a miniature sheet devoted to Bees on August 18.

With the insects in decline in their numbers and their range, it says the aim of the issue is to highlight the huge variety of British species and their importance in the pollination of food crops as well as in helping parks and gardens thrive.

The species depicted on the individual stamps include both solitary and eusocial (community) bees, and represent different regions and habitats, each one being shown with an appropriate flower.

Guy Thomas  |  Jul 08, 2015  |  0 comments

Royal Mail will release a six-stamp miniature sheet commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain on July 16.

The first major battle in history fought entirely in the air was contested over southern England from July to October 1940.

It proved a key turning point in World War II, as the Royal Air Force denied Germany’s Luftwaffe the air superiority which was the prerequisite of an attempt to invade.

Guy Thomas  |  Jun 17, 2015  |  0 comments

Royal Mail will commemorate the 200th anniversary of one of the most famous and decisive battles in European history, the Battle of Waterloo, by issuing six stamps and a miniature sheet on June 18.

The culmination of two decades of conflict collectively known as the Napoleonic Wars, the single-day battle in what is now Belgium on June 18, 1815, saw the final defeat of the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, at the hands of an Allied army largely composed of British forces commanded by the Duke of Wellington and Prussian forces under Gebhard von Blücher The landscape-format counter sheet stamps, designed by Silk Pearce, illustrate some of the key exchanges in the battle in chronological order, based on paintings by 19th-century artists.

The portrait-format miniature sheet stamps, designed by Webb & Webb using modern illustrations by Chris Collingwood, depict rank-and-file infantrymen from the key nationalities who took part, emphasising the international nature of the conflict.

Guy Thomas  |  Jun 01, 2015  |  0 comments

The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, a foundation stone of the rule of law in England and around the world, is being marked by a special stamp issue on June 2.

Rather than concentrating solely on the treaty itself, the set of six stamps, subtitled ‘Magna Carta 1215: Foundation of Liberty’ also features five other key civil liberties and human rights documents which have been inspired by it.

Each design features a quote from the document in question alongside a simple woodcut image.

Guy Thomas  |  May 14, 2015  |  0 comments

The second issue in Royal Mail’s five-year First World War commemorative series, issued on May 14, focuses on the year 1915, with more poignant images hailing the stoic bravery of fighting men.

It follows the template set in the first issue, by exploring each year of the conflict though six key themes: poppies, poetry, portraits, art, memorials and artefacts.

Designed by Hat-Trick, the stamps are printed in litho by International Security Printers.

Guy Thomas  |  May 05, 2015  |  0 comments

Royal Mail is celebrating Britain’s invention of the adhesive postage stamp with a 175th Anniversary of the Penny Black miniature sheet to be issued on May 6, the precise anniversary of its issue.

It features stamp-on-stamp designs reproducing the 1840 Penny Black and its baby sister the Twopenny Blue, with superimposed 1st class values, each appearing twice in a chequer formation.

The 1d is shown with corner letters SC and the 2d with corner letters QB.

Guy Thomas  |  Apr 01, 2015  |  0 comments

The issue date of April 1 was carefully chosen for the Comedy Greats set, which celebrates 10 of Britain’s best loved funny acts of the past 60 years, including many whose work is considered a landmark in the history of entertainment.

Royal Mail says that part of the inspiration behind the issue is that a quirky sense of humour is a trait synonymous with British people.

There are also several linked anniversaries, including the centenary of the birth of Norman Wisdom and the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s television show Not Only…But Also.

Guy Thomas  |  Mar 05, 2015  |  0 comments

In the Bridges issue, to be released on March 5, Royal Mail celebrates the evolution of Britain’s river crossings from small-scale functional structures to dramatic architectural landmarks.

The 10 featured bridges were constructed over a period of five centuries from a range of different materials, from stone and timber to iron and steel, and in contrasting engineering styles, from clapper and stone arch to suspension and cantilever.

Based on photographs taken from similar angles, the stamps were designed by GBH, and printed in lithography by International Security Printers.