This year’s Royal Mail’s Christmas stamps, released on November 4, feature outdoor scenes of a secular family Christmas by illustrator Andrew Bannecker.

Charming and colourful images depict British family Christmas traditions, from carol singing and ice skating to posting cards and buying trees, all taking place in light snowfall.

As usual they come in a set of seven, available in self-adhesive counter sheets and a gummed miniature sheet, with the 2nd Large and 1st Large designs being expanded versions of the standard 2nd class and 1st class designs.

The stamps were designed by True North from work commissioned from Bannecker, and printed by De La Rue.

 

2nd class Collecting the Christmas tree

A father and son return home in the snow dragging a modest-sized tree, their breath condensing in the cold air as they walk.

 

2nd Large Collecting the Christmas tree

An enlarged version of the same design shows a daughter trailing behind and holding the tip of the tree.

 

1st class Posting Christmas cards

A mother and her son post Christmas cards, apparently stamped with 1st class definitives, in a Royal Mail postbox topped by snow and a robin.

 

1st Large Posting Christmas cards

An enlarged version of the same design shows a daughter watching on.

 

£1.28 Building a snowman

A boy adds the finishing touches to a large-as-life snowman with buttons for eyes, a carrot for a nose, twigs for arms and a top hat and scarf.

 

£1.47 Carol singing

Children of varying ages sing carols from their hymnbooks, under the illumination of a street light.

 

£2.15 Ice skating

A mother and daughter skate together on a frozen lake as darkness descends but it just keeps on snowing.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

The first day envelope illustrates a skating pond in a way that complements the stamps. The Tallents House special handstamp shows a Christmas tree, while the alternative handstamp from Bethlehem, Llandeilo, features a robin.

The presentation pack opens up to reveal a scene from a snowy village Christmas Fair, with activities such as Santa’s grotto, a Christmas jumper competition and a tug-of-war involving a giant cracker.

Stamp cards are available in a set of eight, and the stamps also come in retail booklets and Smilers sheets (see pages 22- 23).

 

PRICES

Set of 7 stamps          £7.71

Miniature sheet          £7.71

Presentation pack      £8.25

Stamp cards               £3.60

First day cover  (set)  £9.73

First day cover (MS)   £9.73

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH           

Christmas stamp issues are a tradition stretching back nearly half a century, so they are part of the furniture

QUALITY OF DESIGN          

The illustrations are charming and paint a suitable vision of family fun, even if they are a little twee

WOW FACTOR           

There is nothing very original about the nature of the designs, which mirror those of many previous years