The artist behind world-famous children’s book The Gruffalo has illustrated this year’s Christmas stamps, issued on November 6.

Design agency Webb & Webb was commissioned by Royal Mail to devise the issue, and suggested Axel Scheffler as the illustrator. In his distinctive style, he drew a range of seasonal, secular scenes including Father Christmas and various animals.

Born in Germany but resident in Britain for 30 years, Scheffler has illustrated many children’s books, but most famously The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, which has sold 3.5 million copies worldwide, and its sequel The Gruffalo’s Child.

Philip Parker of Royal Mail Stamps said: ‘Axel’s innocent and charming style sets the perfect tone for this year’s stamps.’

The self-adhesive set of seven includes 1st class Large and 2nd class Large values, as is usual for the Christmas issue. The same designs are also available in a gummed miniature sheet.

All the stamps were printed in gravure by De La Rue.

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH 
Whether you prefer a religious or secular approach, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a set of stamps

QUALITY OF DESIGN  
Scheffler’s simplistic style is engaging, even if his characters always look slightly nervous

WOW FACTOR  
The bold, colourful images are sure to grab the attention of children and adults alike

2nd class reindeer
A reindeer under falling snow has its antlers decorated like a Christmas tree, with a candle, star and bauble.

2nd class Large reindeer
A wider-format version of the same design adds some snow-topped fir trees.

1st class Father Christmas
A Christmas robin perches on Father Christmas’s peppermint-striped mitten under falling snow.

1st class Large Father Christmas
A wider-format version of the same design again adds a background fir tree.

87p Snowman & Penguin
A snowman meets a penguin in a snowscape.

£1.28 Robin
A robin sits on a holly branch carrying a star decoration in his beak.

£1.90 Christmas Tree with Cat & Mouse
Setting aside their traditional differences, a cat and a mouse decorate a Christmas tree together.

OTHER PRODUCTS
In the presentation pack, Scheffler illustrates a story by children’s poet Tony Mitton featuring all of the characters shown on the stamps.

The first day cover envelope also features further illustrations of the cat and mouse by Scheffler, and has a filler card with short poems by Mitton.

Retail booklets containing 12 x 1st class and 12 x 2nd class stamps are also available, as are generic and personalised Smilers sheets (see page 23) and the usual stamp cards. 

PRICES

Set of 7 stamps £6.74
Miniature sheet £6.74
Stamp cards £3.60
Presentation pack  £7.25
First day envelope  £0.30
First day cover (set)  £8.56
First day cover (miniature sheet) £8.56
1st class retail stamp book £7.20
2nd class retail stamp book £6.00
Smilers generic sheet  £13.10
TOTAL  £67.60