04 January 2019
Royal Mail launches its 2019 programme with an issue dedicated to notable stamps from the reigns of six monarchs, covering 150 years of British stamps.
In the last 150 years, Britain has had six monarchs, beginning with Queen Victoria, during whose reign the Penny Black was issued, through to Elizabeth II, who in 1969 officially opened the Postal Museum. This philatelic history forms the basis of the six stamps in Stamp Classics, an issue celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Royal Philatelic Society and the fiftieth anniversary of the Queen opening the Postal Museum.
Stamp Classics stamps
We begin with a first class stamp featuring a green £1 stamp of 1891, a design originally issued in a brown-lilac colour in 1884. This horizontal stamp replaced a £1 released in 1878.
Next we move to the reign of Edward VII, with a first class stamp featuring a 2d Tyrian plum of 1910. This stamp is known to have been used only once, on an envelope addressed to the Prince of Wales that arrived on 6 May 1910, the day the prince became King George V.
The reign of George V, the ‘collector king’, saw the release of some of what would prove to be Britain’s best-loved stamps, including the ‘Seahorses’ 2s 6d shown on the final first class value of Stamp Classics.
In the year of three kings (George V, Edward VIII and George VI), Edward VIII reigned from 20 January to 11 December, following the death of his father. Edward’s abdication was a landmark in the history of the royal family, and resulted in his younger brother becoming George VI on the day of that Edward gave up the throne. Ambitious plans had been made for the accession, coronation and permanent stamps for Edward VIII, although only four values of the Accession set were released before events overtook the issuing schedule. These were the ½d, 1½d and 2½d on 1 September 1936, and the 1d on 14 September, based on designs by seventeen-year-old student Hubert J Brown.
The penultimate stamp, a £1.55 value, features a ½d of 1940, part of plans to mark the centenary of the Penny Black in 1940. On the outbreak of the Second World War, the centenary issue had been hastily cancelled, only to be reinstated after consultation with George VI. The design, by Harold Palmer, was issued in six values.
A stamp chosen from submissions by 75 designers form the centrepiece of the final stamp (£1.55), a 2 ½d of 1953 issued to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Read more about the Stamp Classics issue in the February issue of Stamp Collector, available now.
QUICK LINK: Spotlight on the Edward VII Penny Red