The four designs issued on the day of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London do not sit well as a set, but the 3d violet was the most dynamic and original.

The aptly named designer adopted a poster art approach, showing an athlete’s head pushing ahead out of a globe, apparently straining for the finish line. The parallel lines trailing behind him also suggest speed, and variations in the background shade suggest the transition from day to night in what was the first global sports festival since the end of World War II.

Although the model for the head was unidentifiable, this was the first time the face of an ordinary human, neither royal or allegorical, had appeared on a British stamp.

Design: Abram Games.

Printing: gravure by Harrisons.