This year’s Christmas set, issued on November 8, celebrates some of the key secular traditions of the season: decorating the Christmas tree, lighting a lantern, hanging out a stocking, eating a Christmas pudding and making a snowman.

It also illustrates one of the old favourites of seasonal stamp issues, a robin, whose popularity on greetings cards is said to have been inspired by the red coats worn by Victorian postmen.

For the second year in succession, the set comprises six different designs for eight stamps, with the two values for large letters using enlarged versions of the standard 2nd class and 1st class designs.

The illustrations are based on elaborate paper-cut artworks by Helen Musselwhite, with the careful use of light and shade emphasising their three-dimensional effect. Although ornate, with the frames incorporating motifs such as snowflakes, holly and baubles, they are largely white, to symbolise snowy weather, with bold splashes of colour applied to the central image, denomination and Queen’s head only.

Designed by The Chase, from photography by Jonathan Beer, the issue was printed in gravure by De La Rue. As usual, the sheet stamps are self-adhesive while their equivalents in the accompanying miniature sheet are gummed.

2nd class

A snowman with top hat, scarf and a carrot nose.

2nd class Large

Expanded version of the snowman design.

1st class

A robin with with a bright red breast, standing on a tree stump.

1st class Large

Expanded version of the robin design.

£1.05

A Christmas tree decorated with a star and coloured baubles.

£1.33

A golden Christmas lantern with a lit candle inside it.

£1.52

A Christmas stocking full to the brim with children’s presents.

£2.25

An iced Christmas pudding with a sprig of holly on top.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

The presentation pack, written by well-known philatelist John Holman, includes a fully illustrated summary of the 50-year history of Christmas stamps from Royal Mail, an annual tradition which was started in 1966.

The stamps also come in booklets and Smilers sheets (see page 23), and stamp cards are available as usual.

In keeping with recent practice, 2nd class and 1st class stamps with Madonna & Child designs from previous Christmas issues will also be available from post offices, for customers who prefer religious imagery.

 

PRICES

Set of 8 stamps   £9.05

Miniature sheet   £9.05

Presentation pack   £9.55

Stamp cards   £4.05

First day cover (stamps)   £11.28

First day cover (mini sheet)   £11.28

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   4/5

Now in its 50th year, the Christmas special issue is itself a British tradition

QUALITY OF DESIGN   4/5

A lot of care has gone into a set which will see more postal use than any other this year

WOW FACTOR   3/5

The contrast between white frames and colour motifs is eyecatching