Children, of course, are synonymous with Christmas. Great Britain has embraced the holiday joy of youth by sponsoring stamp-design contests resulting in three seasons of Christmas stamps — which are considered “special” stamps by Royal Mail — designed by young people.
The first contest was held in 1966 resulted in two stamps created by artwork from two 6-year-olds. Eight professional designers judged the 5,000 entries and awarded the honors to Tasveer Shemza and James Berry. Shemza’s design features King Wenceslas, while Berry’s shows a snowman. Nine-year-old Ann Belshaw’s design of Santa Claus on a rooftop by a chimney was used on an official cachet.
In 1981, Royal Mail sponsored a second contest, which resulted in five stamps, four of a religious nature and one showing a picture of Santa Claus. A stamp designed by Samantha Brown, 5, shows Santa with a rather charming smile. The contest was sponsored by the BBC and drew 74,000 entries. Artwork for the other stamps was created by Tracy Jenkins, Lucinda Blackmore, Stephen Moore, and Sophie Sharp.
The third children’s stamp-design competition led to two Christmas stamps in 2013. This time, 239,374 schoolchildren between the ages of 4 and 11 responded visually to the question “What does Christmas mean to you?” The two national winners, whose designs are on first- and second-class stamps, were selected by a panel led by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and that included Shemza, one of the winners of the 1966 contest.
The 2013 winners were Father Christmas, designed by Molly Robson, 7, and Singing Angels, by Rosie Hargreaves, 10.
At the time of the contest, news reports quoted Prince Charles as stating: “I am delighted to be helping judge this wonderful competition which gives children from across the United Kingdom the amazing opportunity to share their creativity and have their designs on this year’s Christmas stamps.
The children’s names appear on all the stamps, though the 1966 stamps include just their last names and first initial. The winning designs for all the contests needed the approval the prince’s mum, the queen.