Royal Mail Honors David Bowie on a Set of 10 Stamps

Songwriter, performer, and music innovator David Bowie will be honored on a set of 10 commemorative stamps to be issued March 14 by Royal Mail of Great Britain.

Bowie — considered by many critics, music historians, and fans as one of the most influential musicians and performing artists of the modern era — would have been 70 on January 8, but died from cancer a year ago on January 10.

Six stamps will feature album covers: Hunky Dory; Aladdin Sane; “Heroes”; Let’s Dance; Earthling and ★ [Blackstar], which was released on the singer’s birthday, two days before he died. The arc of the vinyl album protrudes from the right hand side of each stamp.

Another four stamps will show Bowie performing on tours across four decades: The Ziggy Stardust Tour (1972); The Stage Tour (1978);The Serious Moonlight Tour (1983); and A Reality Tour (2004).

Endlessly innovative and pioneering, Bowie is widely regarded as having elevated his music to an art form. He also was a music composer and producer, writer, and actor, performing in movies (The Man Who Fell to Earth) and on Broadway (Elephant Man).

In its appreciation of Bowie after his death, USA Today used such phrases as “transformative,” “enduring chameleon,” “charismatic,” and “shape-shifter” to describe him.

This is the first time Royal Mail has dedicated an entire stamp issue to an individual music artist or cultural figure. Royal Mail has honored two other rock-era musical groups with stamps: The Beatles (2010) and Pink Floyd (2015). In addition to Bowie’s 70th birthday, the stamps coincide with the 50th anniversary of the singer’s first album.

Alongside the special stamps, first-day covers and a presentation pack, Royal Mail will offer several limited edition David Bowie souvenirs, some of which have an edition limit of just 950. Advance orders are being accepted on the Royal Mail website (royalmail.com/davidbowie). The set of six album stamps (£6.48) and four-stamp performance minisheet (£4.32) will cost approximately $13.60.

Royal Mail Issues Ancient Britain Stamps

Royal Mail issued eight new stamps January 17 titled “Ancient Britain.” The postal administration described the stamp subject inspiration as follows:

“How people lived in prehistoric times fascinates the public and this stamp issue explores this subject. The stamps show famous iconic sites as well as some of the most exceptional artifacts, and overlays illustrations to show how people lived and worked at these sites and used the objects. Overall, the stamps give a timeline across thousands of years of history, from a glimpse of Stone Age ritual of 11,000 years ago, to the Iron Age of some 300 BC.”

The two 1st class stamps show a Battersea Shield and Skara Brae village, the £1.05 stamps show a Star Carr headdress and the Maiden Castle Hillfort, the £1.33 stamps have the Averbury Stone Circles and Drumbest Horns, and the £1.52 stamps show the Grimes Graves and a Mold cape.

 

Royal Mail Announces Special 2017 Stamps

Royal Mail has announced its schedule for its “special stamp program” for 2017. Stamps to be issued include castles, birds, windmills, and more. A tentative issuance schedule is found below the press release. Additional stamp issues are anticipated to be announced at a future date.

[Royal Mail January 2, 2017 Press Release]

ROYAL MAIL REVEALS ITS SPECIAL STAMP PROGRAM FOR 2017
•    Royal Mail’s Special Stamp program commemorates anniversaries and celebrates events relevant to UK heritage and life
•    Windsor Castle, the world’s oldest and largest occupied castle and an official residence of HM The Queen, will be celebrated with a set of 10 stamps launched in February
•    The 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Desert ‘Dessie’ Orchid is included in Racehorse Legends. The stamp set features original artwork of eight champion horses achieving their greatest wins on UK race courses over six decades
•    The Wren, the most common UK breeding bird, is included in the  Songbirds issue – featuring 10 beautiful birds that herald spring and summer

Royal Mail’s 2017 Special Stamp program is set to showcase the “Best of British” in a range of subjects from some of the greatest racehorses from the past six decades to beautiful birds that herald spring and summer in the UK.

Windsor Castle, the oldest inhabited castle in world and an official residence of HM The Queen, is celebrated with iconic views of both the interior and exterior of the castle. Featured in the set is an image of the world-famous Round Tower that has dominated the Berkshire skyline for over 800 years.

Racehorse Legends will feature eight champion horses that achieved their greatest wins on UK race courses over the last six decades. The stamp issue features original artwork commissioned by Royal Mail of four flat racers and four national hunt horses captured in action during the course of their iconic wins. Included in the stamp issue is Desert ‘Dessie’ Orchid winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989.

The Songbirds issue in May will present 10 beautiful birds that herald spring and summer in the UK.

2017 Special Stamp Program
January                       Ancient Britain
February                     Windsor Castle
April                            Racehorse Legends
May                             Songbirds
June                             Windmills and Watermills
July                              First World War: 1917
July                              Landmark Buildings
August                         Classic Toys
November                    Christmas

The Nativity — The Manger

Not many nations — even those with a strong Christian base — put an image of the Nativity on their stamps much before the 1970s. As we saw in our Christmas Firsts blog, Hungary first put Nativity imagery on a stamp in 1943. (For argument’s sake, we’re calling the Nativity as depicting the Holy Family — Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus in a manger-like setting.)

The 2016 stamp with a silhouette design was just the third U.S. stamp showing a manger scene.
The 2016 stamp with a silhouette design was just the third U.S. stamp showing a manger scene.

The United States has rarely put an image of a manger scene or Holy Family on a stamp, instead for a religious motif at Christmas opting for master artworks of the Madonna and Child, along with the occasional angel. The first full Madonna and Child stamp was in 1966, followed quickly by a second in 1967. Two more were issued in 1973 and 1975, and in 1978, the Postal Service started a run of 22 consecutive years showing a Madonna and Child master artwork. No Christmas stamps were issued in 2000, and although it’s been more sporadic, the Madonna and Child imagery has appeared on 10 more stamps.

In 1970, the religious U.S. stamp showed a manger scene, presenting Nativity (1523), by Lorenzo Lotto, and in 1971, the stamp showed a detail from Adoration of the Shepherds (c. 1505) by Giorgione, followed in 1976 by Nativity (c. 1777), by John Singleton Copley. Not until this year, did another manger/Nativity scene show up on a U.S. Christmas stamp. Interestingly, this year also saw a new Madonna and Child stamp.

It’s interesting to see how other nations present the Madonna and Child, some in traditional forms, sometimes in modernized images, and some depicting the Holy Family in that country’s traditional stylings.

Christmas Stamps by Children in Great Britain

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.

4-great-britain-4794-great-britain-478The 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.

4-great-britain-960In 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.

4-molly-2013The 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.