Britain’s beloved bear turns 100, arrives on new stamps
By Molly Goad
Great Britain’s Royal Mail has issued eight stamps Sept. 3 for the 100th anniversary of the revered Rupert Bear comic, which first appeared in the Daily Express in 1920.
Created and initially illustrated by Mary Tourtel (1874-1948), Rupert Bear is Britain’s longest continually published comic strip. Additionally, a Rupert annual has been released every year starting in 1936.
According to the Royal Mail, the character was so popular “...that even in paper rationing during the Second World War, the government sanctioned sufficient paper for the annuals to be printed, to help boost the morale of the public.”
The cuddly character lives in the town of Nutwood with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bear, and now appears in many forms of media, including books, movies and TV.
The stamp illustrations were created by Alfred Bestall (1892-1986), who wrote and illustrated more than 270 Rupert stories beginning in 1935.
The eight stamps are situated in four se-tenant (side-by-side) pairs. Each pair features two illustrations from one of Rupert’s adventures and includes rhyming lines of verse from the tale. For example, one of the stamps illustrating Rupert’s Christmas Tree contains the verse: “The tree is such a lovely sight / That Rupert’s chums gaze with delight.”
The bear’s chums include Podgy Pig, Willie Mouse, Bill Badger, Algy Pug (a dog), twins Reggie and Rex Rabbit, and an elephant named Edward Trunk.
The pair of nondenominated second-class stamps (currently 65 pence) show scenes from Rupert’s Rainy Adventure (1944).
Rupert and the Mare’s Nest (1952) is featured on the pair of nondenominated first-class stamps (currently 76 pence)
Rupert and the Lost Cuckoo (1963) is displayed on the pair of £1.45 stamps paying the rate for mail to Europe weighing up to 20 grams and the worldwide rate for letters up to 10 grams.
The £1.70 pair features Rupert’s Christmas Tree (1947). This denomination is the rate for mail to Europe weighing up to 100 grams and the worldwide rate for letters up to 20 grams.
The design firm Rose designed the stamps, using Bestall’s artwork. International Security Printers printed the stamps by lithography.
Each stamp is 35 millimeters by 37mm and perforated gauge 14.5 by 14.
Other products offered by Royal Mail in conjunction with the Rupert Bear issue include postmarks, first-day covers, a presentation pack and eight postcards featuring enlargements of each stamp in the set. The presentation pack includes the stamps and an illustrated informative foldout detailing the 100-year history of the beloved character.
In addition to the set of all eight designs, each pair is available in full sheets (60 stamps) and half sheets (30 stamps).
To order the stamps and related products, visit Royal Mail online, www.royalmail.com.
Ordering information also is available from Royal Mail, Tallents House, 21 S. Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB, Scotland. Royal Mail’s agency in the United States is Interpost, Box 400, Hewlett, NY 11557.
Guernsey Post is also celebrating Rupert’s 100 years with seven colorful stamps issued July 21.
Rupert appears on the new 50p and £1.02 stamps. Four other stamps show some his pals: Podgy Pig (68p); Edward Trunk (70p); Bill Badger, Rupert’s best friend (85p); and Algy Pug (98p). All are in the forefront on a bright yellow background, and each stamp was issued in its own pane of 10.
The seventh stamp is in souvenir sheet on one. This £3 stamp shows Rupert seated.
The island has a direct connection to the comic; Rupert’s creator, Mary Tourtel, was married to Guernseyman Herbert Tourtel.
For more information on the stamps and related products, visit. www.guernseystamps.com.
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