The first Royal Mail stamp issue of 2015 is the 10-stamp Alice in Wonderland set, released on January 6 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s tale.

The book, properly titled Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, has its origins in a ‘golden afternoon’ in a rowing boat on the River Thames in Oxford in July 1862, when Charles Lutwidge Dodgson told the 10-year-old Alice Liddell and her sisters an outlandish fantasy tale about a young girl who fell down a rabbit hole and found a world inhabited by strange  anthropomorphic characters and in which very little made sense.

Under the pen-name Lewis Carroll, he published it three years later as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and it has become a classic of the nonsense literature genre, republished in myriad editions and adapted for theatre, cinema and television.

Grahame Baker-Smith was commissioned to illustrate 10 key scenes from the book, offering a fresh interpretation of its many popular characters, and the stamps were designed by Godfrey Design and printed in litho by International Security Printers.

Unusually, the stamps are available in vertically se-tenant pairs, intended to suit the topsy-turvy nature of the story.

2nd class The White Rabbit

While sitting by the riverbank, Alice sees a white rabbit rush past, talking to himself and consulting a pocket watch. She follows him.

2nd class Down the Rabbit Hole

Alice falls down a rabbit hole, which turns out to be very deep, and finds herself in a hall surrounded by locked doors.

1st class Drink Me

Alice finds a bottle labelled ‘Drink me’, which causes he to shrink to the size of a tiny door, the only one for which she can find a key

1st class The White Rabbit’s House

After the White Rabbit mistakes her for his maid, Alice grows so big inside his house that she fills it, until eating little cakes reduces her size once again.

81p The Cheshire Cat

The Cheshire Cat, sitting in a tree with its permanent grin, directs Alice to the March Hare’s house.

81p A Mad Tea-Party

Alice becomes a guest at a tea party attended by the March Hare, the Dormouse and the Hatter (often referred to as the Mad Hatter, although not in the book).

£1.28 The Queen of Hearts

Alice meets the Queen of Hearts, a foul-tempered personification of a playing card, who invites her to take part a game of croquet.

£1.28 The Game of Croquet

Famingoes serve as mallets and hedgehogs as balls in a croquet game which descends into chaos.

£1.47 Alice’s Evidence

Alice attends a trial at which the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts, and she is called to give evidence.

£1.47 A Pack of Cards

After arguing with the King and Queen of Hearts, Alice decries them as just a pack of cards. As they start to swarm all around her, she awakes from her dream.

OTHER PRODUCTS

The presentation pack, written by Professor Hugh Haughton, tells the story of the genesis and publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It includes a photograph of Alice Liddell taken by Dodgson, as well as reproductions of his first hand-written manuscript.

Associated products available from Royal Mail include pin badges, a pop-up book, a medal cover and a framed set of stamps.

 

PRICES

Set of 10 stamps        £9.42

Presentation pack      £9.95

Stamp cards      £4.50

First day cover  £11.78

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH                  4/5

This is a significant anniversary of an extremely popular piece of British literature

QUALITY OF DESIGN           3/5

Not everyone will like the illustrations, but original artwork always makes for a more impressive issue

WOW FACTOR            3/5

The stamps are very colourful, and some will really catch the eye when used on cover