Royal Mail today reveals the images of its 2018 Christmas Special Stamps
The six stamp designs celebrate one of the UK’s best-loved Christmas traditions – sending festive greetings in the post to friends and family far and wide.
Available in 1st Class, 2nd Class, Large letter and overseas values, the images on the stamps were illustrated by Gloucestershire-based artist, Andrew Davidson.
Whilst creating the images, Andrew discovered, that, in just over one hundred years, there have been six Monarchs, as such, each of the postboxes on the stamps features a Monarch’s cypher.
The postboxes vary in design – from the early hexagonal ‘Penfold’ design of the 19th century to contemporary postboxes and ‘lamp’ boxes (those affixed to posts) – all still in use today.
Andrew said: “Knowing my illustrations on the 2018 Christmas stamps will be winging their way around the world delivering Season’s Greetings to friends and family, gives me a real sense of festive joy.”
Since 1982, Andrew has worked on over 12 stamp issues for Royal Mail.
As is usual, religious Christmas stamps of the Madonna and Child in 1st Class and 2nd Class rates will also be available from Post Offices.
The History of Christmas Cards
The tradition of sending Christmas cards was established in 1843, with the introduction of the world’s first commercially produced Christmas cards. The cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole, who just three years earlier had played a key role in helping introducing Royal Mail’s Penny Post service. Only 1,000 of these cards were printed and sold for a shilling each. This meant that they were a luxury item and were not affordable for most people.
One of the original 1,000 cards sent is also the most valuable in the world, according to Guinness World Records. The card, which was originally sent by Sir Henry Cole to his grandmother in 1843, was sold at an auction in Devizes, Wiltshire for £20,000 on 24 November 2001.
Christmas cards still remain hugely popular today. In 2005, for example, Royal Mail delivered a staggering 744 million Christmas cards.
Royal Mail’s postmen and women were also responsible for the ever popular robin gracing the front of cards. During the mid-1800s the postman’s uniform included a bright red waistcoat to match the official red of pillar boxes. The striking uniform resulted in postmen being referred to as ‘robin redbreasts’ and the robin being introduced to Christmas cards as a symbol of the postmen who delivered the cards.
Post Early for Christmas
Royal Mail is encouraging customers to post their festive greetings early, and order their online gifts and shopping well in advance, to help its postmen and women deliver the bumper festive mailbag.