Great Britain

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Jeff Dugdale  |  Nov 07, 2021  |  First Published: Nov 08, 2021  |  0 comments

It’s the biggest commemorative stamp ever issued by Great Britain, and we think it’s also the best! The 50p value issued for the London 1980 international stamp exhibition (whose logo appears in the top left corner) had an unusually large format, one which has never been used again.

And it made full use of this by offering an impressive montage of London landmarks, engraved in superb detail and attractively recess-printed in dark brown on white.

Below wispy clouds and an unusual reproduction of the Queen’s head in a cartouche, rising above the Thames we can clearly see (from left to right) Westminster Abbey, Nelson’s Column, the Shaftesbury Memorial fountain (statue of Eros) at Piccadilly Circus, the Post Office Tower, the Houses of Parliament’s Big Ben clocktower, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Nov 07, 2021  |  0 comments

The first ever British stamp which could be called spectacular was the top value in a set of five issued to coincide with the ninth Congress of the Universal Postal Union in London.

It is still worshipped by collectors.

At the centre, engraved with amazing finess, is the figure of St George killing the dragon.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Nov 06, 2021  |  0 comments

This wonder of elegance was the fifth essay produced by the designer to this particular remit, but it was well worth waiting for.

With its narrow frame and bevelled border, the high-value from the Royal Silver Wedding set of two is a stunningly handsome stamp.

A bold but distinguished design, based on a regal photograph by Dorothy Wilding, it resembles the photo-portraits of the King and Queen that many British families had on the walls of their lounges during the war years, in order to assert their national pride and keep up their spirits.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Nov 05, 2021  |  0 comments

A stamp marking the development of the astronomical telescope as an achievement of the millennium, and name-checking Isaac Newton as a pioneer of the science, carried a very simple and yet absolutely breathtaking image.

It’s a photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, presenting false-colour imagery of the gas giant Saturn, the most visibly dramatic planet in our solar system, against the backness of space.

The planet’s mysterious and fantastically complicated ring system, first observed by Galileo in 1610, is made up of ice, rock debris and dust, with the darker Encke gap caused by the presence of the tiny moon Pan between the inner and outer elements.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Nov 04, 2021  |  0 comments

This stamp depicts a magnificent piece of regalia worn only once in any monarch’s lifetime: the solid gold St Edward’s Crown first used for the coronation of King Charles II, who had it made to replace the one destroyed by Oliver Cromwell.

Reproduced in gold and a very regal shade of red, the image is classier than it would have been if it had attempted to show the emeralds, rubies, sapphires and pearls which adorn the crown in full colour.

The glorious detail remains, including the cross pattées and fleurs-de-lis above the ermine border, the gold monde at the intersection of the arches and the jewelled cross atop it.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Nov 03, 2021  |  First Published: Nov 02, 2021  |  0 comments

One of the most joyous Christmas issues ever took as its theme that beloved personality of the British winter, the robin redbreast.

Whilst four of the stamps were akin to Christmas card images, the lowest value was a gem.

Its simple beauty lies partly in the contrasts between the red of the postbox and that of the bird’s plumage, and between the silvery white of the smattering of snow and the silver of the Queen’s head.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Nov 03, 2021  |  First Published: Nov 02, 2021  |  0 comments

The set of six marking the centenary of Nobel Prizes broke new ground in that each used a different printing technology.

The 40p, for example, was a scratch-and-sniff stamp and the 2nd class changed colour when exposed to heat.

But the star was the 65p, Britain’s first holographic issue.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Nov 03, 2021  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2021  |  0 comments

In an attempt to plug the hole it had punched in its traditional issuing policy, the GPO insisted this was not an issue honouring Shakespeare himself, whose 400th birthday it was, but one commemorating the Shakespeare Festival as an event.

Nevertheless, this was a ground-breaking and controversial issue, the first to depict a commoner.

In a multi-coloured set of five showing scenes from plays, the only recess-printed stamp, and the only one to name the play in question, was the monotone top value in deep slate purple illustrating the hapless Hamlet contemplating mortality.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Oct 31, 2021  |  0 comments

The only joint entry in our countdown is the the oddest se-tenant pair ever.

Not having much to boast about for the Europe in Space theme of 1991, Britain commissioned a France artist to come up with an imaginative angle.

Accompanying a lower value pair entitled Man Looking At Space, the 37p stamps purported to show Space Looking At Man.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Dec 22, 2016  |  0 comments

Until the Millennium series a decade later, few British issues were as revolutionary in design as this one addressing 1989’s Europa theme.

The design of each of the four stamps is bold, colourful and primitive, in this case depicting a number of traditional play objects including a doll’s house, a rigged yacht and a crude robot made out of a cardboard box.

The style is appropriately that of illustrations in a children’s book.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Dec 21, 2016  |  0 comments

The Christmas issue of 1985 took the great British institution of pantomime as its theme, with the 22p presenting that jolliest of characters, the dame.

All the typical characteristics of the role are included: the ridiculous highly coloured wig, the rosy cheeks and nose, the flouncy padded dress, the fan behind which ‘she’ (the dame is traditionally played by a man) will make mildly rude asides to the audience, and the assertive attitude suggested by the left arm akimbo.

Dusted with stars and sparkle, this design sums up the fun of going to the panto.

Julia Lee  |  Dec 21, 2016  |  0 comments

Amongst the most magnificent of all Christmas issues was the 1989 set of five celebrating important architectural features of Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire, on its 800th anniversary.

Stunning in gold and silver, it was also unusual in having a charity surcharge of 1p on four of the five values.

The 37+1p shows the Triple Arch from the West Front of the cathedral, in silver, within which is a golden figure with exaggerated features, possibly inspired by the carvings on misericords inside the building.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Jul 27, 2016  |  0 comments

This set of 10 self-adhesive stamps illustrated popular fruits and vegetables (most eye-catchingly a strawberry), with two twists.

Firstly, the designs extended beyond the rectangular frame of the stamps.

Secondly, they came with an interactive element, by way of stick-on facial features such as eyes, lips, bow-ties, hats and feet.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Jul 07, 2016  |  0 comments

Showing scenes from the Bayeaux Tapestry, the stamps marking the 900th anniversary of the battle that secured the Norman Conquest were truly astonishing in their day.

The 4d values provided Great Britain’s first ever se-tenant strip of six, but arguably the stars of the show were the two higher values, both of which had the new cameo Queen’s head embossed in gold.

The 1s 3d top value was also of extra-wide format, allowing one scene of combat to be presented on a single stamp in all its primitive energy.

Jeff Dugdale  |  Jul 06, 2016  |  0 comments

The second of a series of three poppy designs in the Lest We Forget series, from a miniature sheet commemorating the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, is dominated by the intense red of the flower, almost like a spreading pool of blood.

A closer look at the black stamen reveals a group of soldiers going over the top, advancing through what was a once a grove of trees, now reduced to broken stumps.

This is a very potent image indeed, as we realise that, like half a million men in the bloody battle, they are leaving us, never to return.

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