This year’s Christmas stamp issue, released on November 3, features stained-glass nativity scenes from town and village churches around England.

The nativity was a popular subject in stained-glass art from the 13th century onwards, often focusing on the relationship between the Virgin Mary and the new-born Jesus.

Each of the stamps shows a detail of a window from an Anglican church, showcasing the extraordinary craftmanship of the artists working in this highly specialised genre, and encompassing a range of styles, techniques and eras.

Stained-glass windows have previously inspired Christmas issues in 1971, 1992 and 2009.

As usual in recent years, the issue comprises eight self-adhesive counter sheet values, printed in gravure (in sheets of 50 divided into panes of 25), and the same designs in a perforated miniature sheet, printed in litho.

The design is credited jointly to Royal Mail Group and Up, and the printing was by International Security Printers.

 

2nd class

Detail of Adoration of the Magi from St Andrews Church, East Lexham, Norfolk.

2nd Large

The same design as the 2nd class stamp, but in a wider view, including the Magi.

1st class

Detail of Virgin and Child from St Andrew’s Church, Coln Rogers, Gloucestershire.

1st Large

The same design as the 2nd class stamp, but in a wider view.

£1.45

Detail of Virgin and Child from the Church of St James, Hollowell, Northamptonshire.

£1.70

Detail of Virgin and Child from All Saints’ Church, Otley, West Yorkshire.

£2.50

Detail of The Holy Family from St Columba’s Church, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire.

£2.55

Detail of Virgin and Child from Christ Church, Coalville, Leicestershire.

 

MINIATURE SHEET

The miniature sheet features all eight stamps, including six different values se-tenant. The border shows light reflecting from a stained-glass window in St Grada & Holy Cross Church in Grade, Cornwall.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

Written by Dr Jasmine Allen, Curator of the Stained Glass Museum at Ely Cathedral, the presentation pack explains the history of stained-glass windows, the techniques involved in making them and the significance of nativity scenes in Christian art.

First day covers and stamp cards are available as usual.

 

PRICES

Set of 8 stamps   £11.64

Miniature sheet   £11.64

Presentation pack   £12.55

Stamp cards   £4.05

First day cover (stamps)   £14.65

First day cover (mini sheet)   £14.65

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   4/5

Christmas stamps have half a century of tradition behind them, even if Britain seems less religious than ever

QUALITY OF DESIGN   3/5

All the credit is due to medieval craftsmen, although some of these images are more appealing than others

WOW FACTOR   2/5

Let’s hope they strike a chord, because Christmas stamps are the special issues which see the most postal use