The Stamp Classics miniature sheet, to be issued on January 15, is billed as a celebration of Royal Mail’s history, and of organised philately, on the occasion of 150th anniversary of the Royal Philatelic Society London and the 50th anniversary of the opening of the original Postal Museum by the Queen.

Its three 1st class and three £1.55 values are all simple stamp-on-stamp designs, each highlighting a key issue from a different reign. These are presented in their original sizes, meaning that the formats vary, and way the sheet is perforated creates a non-postal label holding its title.

The RPSL is the oldest philatelic society in the world, formed in April 1869 as the Philatelic Society London. The future King George V became its patron in 1896, and King Edward VII granted it royal status in 1906.

It promotes the study of philately through holding regular meetings and exhibitions, giving awards, publishing new research, maintaining a huge library and a growing museum, and offering an expertisation service. 

The National Postal Museum opened to the public in 1969, as part of the General Post Office complex in the city of London, housing the superb Reginald Phillips collection of 19th-century stamps, and the Royal Mail archives. It closed in 1998 when the building was sold, but was re-established near the Mount Pleasant sorting office in 2017.

Designed by Hat-Trick Design, the miniature sheet is printed in litho by International Security Printers.

1st class Queen Victoria 1891 £1 green

Originally issued in brown-lilac in 1884, in a unique horizontal format, the £1 value was reissued in green on January 28, 1891, surface-printed by De La Rue. Its ornate style and its corner letters, different for each stamp in the sheet, were typical of the stamps of the reign, designed to deter forgers.

1st class King Edward VII 1910 2d Tyrian plum

A newly designed 2d stamp, surface-printed by De La Rue in a new colour, had been distributed to post offices and was about to be issued when the King died, on 6 May 1910. Its released was cancelled and almost all the stock was destroyed, but a few examples survived, making this the greatest rarity in British philately. Only one was used on cover, addressed to the Prince of Wales and received on the day he became King George V.

1st class King George V 1913 2s 6d brown

Designed by Bertram Mackennal and recess-printed initially by Waterlow, the high value definitives of King George V are regarded by many as Britain’s finest stamps. Known as the ‘Seahorses’, they depict Britannia ruling the waves in her sea chariot. The 2s 6d and 5d were issued on June 30, 1913, and 10s and £1 values a month later.

£1.55 King Edward VIII 1936 1½d red brown

Ambitious plans were made for Accession, Coronation and definitive issues for King Edward VIII, but only four values of the Accession set were issued before his abdication. Designed by Hubert Brown, a 17-year-old student, and printed in gravure by Harrison, the ½d, 1½d and 2½d were realeased on September 1, 1936, and the 1d two weeks later.

£1.55 King George VI 1940 Penny Black Centenary ½d green

The centenary of adhesive postage stamps was celebrated with a double-head design by Harold Palmer, portraying the King alongside Queen Victoria in a brand new format. Six values ranging from ½d to 3d, printed in gravure by Harrison, were issued on May 6, 1940.

£1.55 Queen Elizabeth II 1953 Coronation 2½d red

From more than 75 ideas submitted, four designs by different artists were chosen to celebrate the Coronation, the 2½d being the work of Edgar Fuller. Printed in gravure by Harrison, it was issued on June 3, 1953, the day after the ceremony, along with 4d, 1s 3d and 1s 6d values.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

The presentation pack celebrates the history of stamps in Great Britain across the reigns of the six monarchs, and a press sheet of 10 uncut miniature sheets is offered in a limited edition of 300.

The miniature sheet will be available with a special commemorative overprint at Spring Stampex only, from February 13-16, in limited edition of 6,000.

 

PRICES

Miniature sheet   £6.66

Presentation pack   £7.40

Press sheet   £73.26

Stamp cards   £3.15

First day cover   £8.55

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   4/5

It’s always nice to see stamps marking a philatelic landmark, or two

QUALITY OF DESIGN   2/5

The design concept is as simple as it could be, yet the sheet layout is rather inelegant

WOW FACTOR   3/5

Collectors will love to use these stamps on their mail, and some will attract wider attention as a result