Royal Mail Stamp Guide: Royal Mail 500 - 17 February 2016

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17 February 2016
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160117_RM500_152-62519.jpg The stamps feature a variety of postal delivery methods, including ship and mail coach
This month, Royal Mail celebrates a landmark anniversary of 500 years of a regular, organised postal service in Britain. Six new stamps tell the story of how a formal postal network was established and expanded over five centuries in a fast-changing world.

This month, Royal Mail celebrates a landmark anniversary of 500 years of a regular, organised postal service in Britain. Six new stamps tell the story of how a formal postal network was established and expanded over five centuries in a fast-changing world.

Royal Mail has taken the knighthood of Sir Brian Tuke, Henry VIII’s Master of the Posts, in 1516 as the starting point for its 500-year journey through postal history. From the high-risk ocean trips of packet ships to the establishment of the mail coach, a favourite target of highwaymen, we are taken on a visual journey through the growth of Britain’s mail service.

Once a regular land-based postal system had been established, the next major landmark was the creation of the packetship post, which allowed mail to be sent overseas to the farthest outposts of the burgeoning British Empire. The 1st class stamp shows the painting Mail Packet off Eastbourne by Captain Victor Howes, a clipper ship captain who painted ships after his retirement from a life at sea.

The third stamp, another 1st class value, takes us into the era of a postal system accessible to all with the creation of the pillar box, bringing the post to the streets of Britain. The pillar box shown on the stamp is a Penfold Pillar Box, named after its creator J W Penfold. This distinctive hexagonal postbox was manufactured in three different sizes beginning in 1866, and remained in production for fifteen years.

The River Thames has long been at the centre of Britain’s history, and the next stamp (£1.52) recognises this waterway’s importance as a means of communication. The stamp features a photograph of a Riverpost Girl at work, with the smiling worker rowing a boat which is carrying a bundle of mail.

Perhaps one of the most recognisable symbols of postal history is the mail coach (shown on a £1.52 stamp), established by businessman John Palmer in 1784. The final stamp (£1.52), brings the story of the mail bang up to date. The image featured is a photo of the new Medway Mail Centre which opened in 2012.

Stamp details

Issue date: 17 February, 2016

Design: Atelier Works

Format: Over-square portrait

Size: 35mm (w) x 37mm (h)

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Printer: Cartor

Process: Lithography

Perforations: 14.5 x 14

Phosphor: Bars as appropriate

Gum: PVA

1st: Sir Brian Tuke

1st: Packetship

1st: Penfold Pillar Box

£1.52: Riverpost girl

£1.52 Mailcoach

£1.52: Medway Mail Centre