World Stamps

Great Britain’s Christmas set depicts the Nativity story

Nov 3, 2022, 10 AM
The Christmas souvenir sheet from Royal Mail presents all the stamps together in two rows. When viewed from left to right starting at the top row, the stamps highlight key moments of the biblical Christmas story in chronological order.

By David Hartwig

Six stamps issued Nov. 3 by Great Britain’s Royal Mail focus on key moments of the biblical Christmas story.

Artist Katie Ponder provided the illustrations for all six stamps. Royal Mail said Ponder’s style gives a fresh and contemporary feel, which, along with references to art deco, invokes a timeless quality to the classic Nativity story.

Ponder has illustrated a number of books, and her clients include publishing companies Penguin and Simon and Schuster, according to the artist’s website.

For the first time in a Royal Mail Christmas issue, each stamp has a barcode printed in one of the dominant colors of the stamp and separated by a simulated perforation line. The barcode can be scanned with a smartphone. Royal Mail says that the barcode “technology signifies a major leap in service flexibility.”

Each stamp features the silhouette of Queen Elizabeth II that has appeared on special stamp issues. Royal Mail said in a Sept. 27 announcement (Linn’s, Oct. 17) that it plans to exhaust existing stocks of stamps before issuing stamps with the image of King Charles III.

The Christmas set includes four nondenominated stamps: second-class for standard mail (currently 68 pence), second-class for large mail (£1.05), first-class for standard mail (95p), and first-class for large mail (£1.45).

Royal Mail defines standard-size mail as letters not exceeding 24 centimeters in length, 16.5 centimeters in width and 0.5 centimeters in thickness, with a weight limit of 100 grams. Large letters can be up to 35.3 centimeters in length, 25 centimeters in width and 2.5 centimeters thick, with a weight limit of 750 grams.

The other two stamps in the set are denominated: £1.85 (letters to Europe up to 100 grams and worldwide up to 20 grams) and £2.55 (international letters up to 100 grams).

A souvenir sheet, with a background also by Ponder, presents all the stamps together in two rows. When viewed from left to right starting at the top row, the stamps highlight key moments of the Christmas story in chronological order.

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