Royal Mail released a set of stamps and a miniature sheet on August 18 on the theme of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.

Although hailed as a celebration of ‘Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes’, the issue was entitled simply Sherlock, and the six counter sheet stamps depict characters and scenes from the BBC television series, Sherlock.

Each stamp portrays a character and reproduces scenes from an episode of the series, which was aired from 2010-17 and features modern interpretations of the mysteries, written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, with a more irreverent tone and the inclusion of 21st century technology.

Only the miniature sheet namechecks the original author and pays homage to his original storylines, illustrating four of his personal favourites in a more traditional style.

Conan Doyle published his first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study In Scarlet, in 1887. He would go on to write 56 short stories based on the character, and four full-length novels. Holmes has become one of the best-loved fictional heroes of all time, and the stories frequently adapted for cinema and television.

The counter sheet stamps were designed by So, and the miniature sheet by NB Studio, from illustrations by Karolis Strautniekas. The whole issue was printed in litho by International Security Printers, the sheet stamps being available in vertically se-tenant pairs.

1st class The Reichenbach Fall 

The devious villain James Moriarty manipulates the public into believing that Holmes is a fraud who carries out crimes only to ‘solve’ them himself. A face-to-face showdown between the two on the roof of a hospital culminates in Sherlock apparently plummeting to his death. The stamp portrays Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes.

1st class A Study in Pink 

Injured army medic Dr John Watson is on the hunt for a flatmate when he is introduced to Holmes, and the pair move into shared lodgings at 221B Baker Street. He soon finds himself assisting Holmes in investigating a series of bizarre ‘serial suicides’ that have the police baffled. The stamp portrays Martin Freeman as Dr John Watson.

£1.42 The Great Game 

When a woman is taken hostage and strapped to a bomb, Holmes and Watson are drawn into a cat-and-mouse game with Moriarty, working against the clock to solve a series of crimes, each more fiendish and challenging than the last, before the criminal mastermind reveals his true identity. The stamp portrays Andrew Scott as James Moriarty.

£1.42 The Empty Hearse 

Two years after his faked suicide, Sherlock returns to London having eliminated the last vestiges of Moriarty’s criminal empire. Holmes and Watson are soon embroiled in a new case which leads to a bomb plot against the Houses of Parliament, and the revelation that there is a new master villain in town. The stamp portrays Amanda Abbington as Mary Watson.

£1.68 A Scandal in Belgravia 

The notorious but alluring Irene Adler is believed to have compromising photographs of a member of the royal family on her mobile phone, and Holmes and Watson attempt to retrieve the device. Their investigaton uncovers a gang of terrorists who plan to bomb a transatlantic flight. The stamp portrays Lara Pulver as Irene Adler.

£1.68 The Final Problem

Holmes discovers that, in addition to his brother Mycroft, he has a sister, Eurus, who is a criminal genius. Eurus is being held in a secret maximum-security prison, and Holmes and Watson travel confront her, only to find that she has take over the prison, bending the staff and fellow prisoners to her will. The stamp portrays Mark Gatiss as Mycroft Holmes.

 

MINIATURE SHEET

1st class The Adventure of the Speckled Band

First published in 1892, this short story concerns a young woman who suspects that her stepfather is trying to kill her.

1st class The Red-Headed League

First published in 1891, this is the case of a suspiciously pointless job offer which hides a major crime.

£1.68 The Adventure of the Second Stain

First published in 1904, this short story sees the Prime Minister asking Holmes to investigate the disappearance of a compromising document.

£1.68 The Adventure of the Dancing Men

First published in 1903, this case requires Holmes to crack a secret code in order to explain the death of his client.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

The presentation pack studies the making of the television series, with a summary of each of the featured episodes.

A range of first day covers are available, along with stamp cards and range of souvenir products.

 

PRICES

Set of 6 stamps   £7.72

Miniature sheet   £4.88

Presentation pack   £13.50

Stamp cards   £4.95

First day cover (stamps)   £9.90

First day cover (mini sheet)   £6.50

Medal covers   from £19.99

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   1/5

The inspiration is a modern television series, not the classic Conan Doyle adventure stories

QUALITY OF DESIGN   3/5

The individual stamps are slick but lacking in drama, while the miniature sheet is a classy afterthought

WOW FACTOR   1/5

You would have to be a big fan of the modern small-screen adaptations to get very excited