From Churchill to Doctor Who
January 4, 2015 9:01 PM   Subscribe

Royal Mail 'special stamps' have been produced in the UK for fifty years since 1965, when the new postmaster general, Tony Benn, expanded the criteria for commemorative stamps to include representations of British life and culture.
posted by carter (12 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Some of my favourites are the technology/architecture/history stamps from the 60s and 70s, with some lovely examples of design.
posted by carter at 9:03 PM on January 4, 2015

I was gifted the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who stamps last year and they are wonderful. They also got me on the Royal Mail mailing list, which gets me their wonderful catalogs.

(that I will probably never order from)

I love the ones you recommended, carter. In fact almost all of them from the 1960s and 1970s appeal to me.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:46 PM on January 4, 2015

I heart the art on so many of these.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:30 AM on January 5, 2015

It's kind of crazy to modern sensibilities that one of 1965 stamps celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Britain has a swastika (on a plane's tail) as pretty much the largest design element.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:29 AM on January 5, 2015

Have you seen the adds for Spitfire Kentish Ale? The British are a lot more stoic, or maybe matter-of-fact about fighting the Nazis, like its just something you do like mow the lawn or go get groceries. From the USAian PoV, where we really really fixate on WWII (and our involvement therein), yeah, it seems kind of crazy, but, well, I think we might be the crazy ones.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:59 AM on January 5, 2015

Stamps as both art and politics has always been a fascinating subject to me. In most countries there are so many rules as to who or what can be on a stamp which can start to look a little bizarre to an outsider.

I could probably never be a stamp collector because my perfectionism would demand I have "full sets" - so, like, expanding the rules of what can be on a stamp would be torture for me because, well, there's another stamp I have to get. When it comes to stamp collecting, the countries with a wide range of stamps are actually the least desired - supply and demand and all that. Great Britain's commemorative stamps aren't really this kind of problem though - the main issue is countries who put out stamps with non-native flowers or non-descript landscapes, things that have nothing to do with the country itself. In stamp collecting terms, that just devalues the worth of the stamp.

Slightly tangential to this FPP, but anyone really interested in stamps should check out the book Miniature Messages: The Semiotics and Politics of Latin American Postage Stamps. It was written by (the late, great) Jack Child; although it focuses on Latin America, it gets into a lot of stamp-collecting-minutae that I never knew before. Also, I was one of the last copy editors, so my name is in the Acknowledgements! Basically the only time my name gas been in print.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:05 AM on January 5, 2015

Quick derail to say that some of the Spitfire Kentish Ale advertising is hilarious. Thanks for the tip!
posted by freakazoid at 4:14 AM on January 5, 2015

matter-of-fact about fighting the Nazis, like its just something you do like mow the lawn or go get groceries

I always try to give Fritz what-for on a Wednesday morning just after I've put the recycling bins out for collection. It's easiest if you get into a routine with such things.
posted by sobarel at 4:42 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

The Queen is not amused.
posted by srboisvert at 5:49 AM on January 5, 2015

If you like those Spitfire Ale Ads, the pilots are taken from characters in Armstrong And Miller's BBC sketch show, which is by far the best 'traditional' straight-up UK sketch comedy show of the last 10 years.

Or you might like the inappropriate dentist.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 8:40 AM on January 5, 2015

I purchased a few sets of the Royal Mail's Magical Realms set for friends and family, and spent a quiet afternoon listening to a Terry Pratchett audiobook while framing each set. That was a few years ago, and each lucky recipient still displays them in their libraries, or in my mother's case, directly on top of the kitchen counter.
posted by endotoxin at 8:37 AM on January 6, 2015

I remember a documentary mentioning when arch-leftie Tony Benn was Postmaster General there was lot of fuss over him wanting Oliver Cromwell on a stamp
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:36 AM on January 6, 2015

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