World Stamps

Isle of Man’s Christmas stamps feature beloved childhood character

Nov 22, 2021, 9 AM
On Oct. 27 the Isle of Man Post Office issued six Christmas stamps featuring illustrations of Thomas the Tank Engine and friends imposed on real-life images from the Isle of Man’s railway system. The year 2021 marks the 75th anniversary of this beloved childhood character, and Thomas the Tank Engine has a long history of connections, philatelic and otherwise, with the Isle of Man.

By David Hartwig

A new stamp issue from the Isle of Man called “Thomas & Friends at Christmas” features illustrations of Thomas the Tank Engine and friends imposed on real-life images from the Isle of Man’s railway system.

The Isle of Man Post Office issued these six stamps Oct. 27.

Thomas the Tank Engine first appeared in the Rev. Wilbert Awdry’s second book of The Railway Series in 1946, making 2021 the 75th anniversary of this beloved childhood character. The books later inspired a television show in 1984, and Thomas the Tank Engine has been a staple of children’s television ever since.

The press release about the new stamps discussed the connection between the Isle of Man and the series and said that Awdry “openly credited the Isle of Man as inspiration” for the setting of his stories.

In fact, the Isle of Man issued a set of six Thomas the Tank Engine stamps once before in 1995 (Scott 656-661). Five years later, the feature film Thomas and the Magic Railroad used the island as the location for some of its scenes.

“The Isle of Man has a strong connection with Thomas,” said Maxine Cannon, the stamps and coins general manager of the Isle of Man Post Office, “and here at the Isle of Man Post Office we share some fond memories of past stamp issues.”

The designs for the new stamps came from EJC Design. The Belgian security printer bPost printed the stamps by offset lithography in sheets of 20.

The stamps are nondenominated with the following inscriptions in place of the value: “1st” for the first-class local rate, “EU” for mail to European countries, “L” for local large letters, “ROW” for rest of the world, “USA” for the United States, and “EU Large” for large letters to European countries.

The Isle of Man Post Office also plans to have the six stamp designs available as variable-rate self-adhesive labels. These labels will be sold with the standard £0.67 postage rate as a set for collectors.

Other related products include a presentation pack and first-day covers. More information is available at the Isle of Man Post Office website.

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