By Molly Goad
Great Britain’s Christmas stamps issued Nov. 1 by Royal Mail feature scenes familiar to many during the holiday season. Illustrated by Andrew Davidson, the stamps show vibrant red public mailboxes outlined in snow to convey a warm feeling in the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle.
The set contains six different scenes on eight stamps. In addition, each mailbox includes a cipher from one of the six monarchs of the last 100 years.
Both the nondenominated first-class stamps for standard mail and large mail show a postal worker emptying a mailbox in the foreground with a busy town square in the background decorated with Christmas trees and lights.
A scene of an elderly gentleman assisting a young girl with her letters at the mailbox is depicted on the nondenominated second-class stamps for standard mail and for large mail.
The stamps for large mail are physically larger than those for standard mail and also include the word “large” on them. The stamps for standard-size mail measure 24 millimeters by 28mm, and those for large mail are 34mm by 28mm.
Royal Mail defines standard-size mail as letters not exceeding 24 centimeters in length, 16.5cm in width and 0.5cm in thickness with a weight limit of 100 grams. Large letters can be up to 35.3cm in length, 25cm in width and 2.5cm thick with a weight limit of 750 grams.
The current rates are 58p for standard-size second-class letters, 67p for standard-size first-class letters, 79p for second-class large letters, and £1.01 for first-class large letters.
The other four stamps in the set are denominated.
Pictured on the £1.25 stamp is a snow-covered mailbox in the foreground and people approaching with mail in the background. A robin is standing on top of the mailbox.
A holiday shopper with a tree on his shoulder is shown approaching a mailbox on the design of the £1.45 denomination.
The £1.55 stamp pictures a woman accompanied by her dog as she posts her holiday mail in a snowy residential neighborhood.
Illustrated on the £2.25 high denomination of the set is an altar server running from church toward the mailbox.
The denominated stamps meet the following rates: £1.25, letters to Europe up to 20 grams and international letters up to 10 grams; £1.45, international letters weighing up to 20 grams or international economy letters up to 100 grams; £1.55, letters to Europe up to 100 grams; and £2.25, international letters up to 100 grams.
Royal Mail Group Ltd. designed the stamps using Davidson’s illustrations. International Security Printers printed the stamps in various formats.
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The self-adhesive stamps in sheets of 50 were printed by gravure. Royal Mail divides its sheets of 50 into panes of 25 for sale to customers.
The nondenominated stamps are offered in two different sheets of 50 (one sheet for standard-size first-class mail, one for second-class standard-size mail). In addition, the standard-size first-class and second-class stamps were issued in two separate booklets of 12.
A souvenir sheet features all eight stamps printed by lithography and with moisture-activated gum. The illustration in the selvage shows a woman and child walking to the mailbox with the church and other buildings of a village in the background.
The souvenir sheet measures 179mm by 74mm, and the stamps are perforated gauge 14.5 by 15.
Royal Mail also is offering a sheet of 20 (eight first-class, eight second-class and one of each of the £1.25, £1.45, £1.55 and £2.25 stamps) with an allover nighttime scene in the selvage and on labels that are se-tenant with the stamps. Sheep, children with sleds, a train on a viaduct, postal vans, a church, a small town and a city are all pictured in the wintry scene.
Other products offered include first-day covers, a set of nine postcards reproducing the designs of the stamps and the souvenir sheet, and a presentation pack with all eight stamps.
The presentation pack is fully illustrated and includes a poem from an anonymous Christmas card (circa 1860-90) courtesy of the Postal Museum: “How doth the little Pillar-Box / At every corner stand, And gathers letters all the day / From every sort of hand.”
To order the Christmas stamps and related products, visit Royal Mail’s internet shop. 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 420, Hewlett, NY 11557.