World Stamps

The children’s book characters that are on Royal Mail’s new stamps

Apr 28, 2021, 7 AM

By Denise McCarty

Ten characters from the Mr. Men and Little Miss series of children’s books appear on stamps issued Oct. 20 by Great Britain’s Royal Mail.

The book series is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year.

An Oct. 20 Royal Mail press release announcing the stamps said: “Launched 45 years ago, the idea for the first character arose when eight-year-old Adam Hargreaves asked his father, Roger, ‘What does a tickle look like?’

“The advertising copywriter went on to visualise a tickle in the shape of a small orange man with incredibly long arms, and Mr. Tickle was born.”

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Published in 1971 by Thurman Publishing Ltd., Mr. Tickle sold more than a million copies within the first three years, according to the website It also became the first in the series of more than 80 Mr. Men and Little Miss books written and illustrated by Roger Hargreaves (1935-1988), and later by his son, Adam.

The characters also have been featured in comic strips and in television cartoons.

In addition to Mr. Tickle, the stamps picture Mr. Happy (introduced in 1971), Little Miss Naughty (1981), Mr. Bump (1971), Little Miss Sunshine (1981), Mr. Grumpy (1978), Little Miss Princess (2011), Mr. Strong (1976), Little Miss Christmas (2005), and Mr. Messy (1972). The designs are se-tenant (side-by-side).

Each design includes a silhouette of Queen Elizabeth II in the upper right and “1st” in the lower right. The “1st” stands for first-class, and these nondenominated stamps are always valid for the domestic first-class rate, currently 64 pence.

Royal Mail also issued a stamp booklet and special panes of the Mr. Men and Little Miss stamps.

The booklet contains the Mr. Happy and Mr. Tickle stamps, plus four nondenominated first-class Queen Elizabeth definitive stamps. 

Six of the stamps — Little Miss Princess, Little Miss Sunshine, Mr. Bump, Mr. Grumpy, Mr. Happy, and Mr. Messy — are available in panes of 10 with se-tenant labels that can be personalized. Royal Mail calls such panes “Smilers.”

Another product, which Royal Mail calls a “collector’s sheet” includes all 10 stamps with se-tenant labels showing scenes from the relevant stories.

Supple Studio, a branding and design agency based in Bath, England, designed the stamps. 

International Security Printers printed them by lithography in panes of 10 (two se-tenant strips of five stamps each).

The stamps are square, 35 millimeters by 35mm, and are perforated gauge 14.5. 

Royal Mail’s other products for the Mr. Men and Little Miss set include first-day covers, 10 postcards reproducing the designs of the stamps, and a presentation pack.

The pack includes a mint set of the stamps and features illustrations and text by Adam Hargreaves, providing background information on his father and the book series.

Hargreaves wrote: “I have often been asked why these little books have been so successful, and I think that one of the main reasons is that the stories are each based on human characteristics which we can all identify with and recognise in ourselves. I also believe that a large part of it is due to my father’s sense of humour. I am sure his favourite character is Mr. Silly, as variations on this human trait crop up often in his stories!” 

Ordering information is available from Royal Mail, Tallents House, 21 S. Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB, Scotland. You can also find it online.

Royal Mail’s two agencies in the United States are Interpost, Box 420, Hewlett, NY 11557; and the British Stamp Service in North America, 1 Unicover Center, Cheyenne, WY 82008. 

Great Britain was not the first to offer Mr. Men and Little Miss stamps. Guernsey issued six stamps May 15, 2009, showing Mr. Happy, Mr. Bump, Little Miss Naughty, Mr. Greedy, Mr. Strong, and Mr. Tickle (Scott 985-990).