Well, much fewer if you are thinking of the Christmas issue from Royal Mail, which will be issued on 5 November 2013.
This year the theme reverts to Religious with the stamps depicting again the art of the Madonna and Child as seen across the centuries. One of these is a brand new design especially commissioned for Royal Mail. The designers are once again Robert Maude and Sarah Davies, who designed the Auto Legends Workhorses miniature sheet.
The Christmas stamps from now on will be larger than the Definitive size used in recent years with each stamp both standard and large letter being 4mm wider and taller than recent years at 24 x 28 mm for the standard size and 34 x 28 mm for the Large stamps.
As usual there will be separate sheets of stamps for each value, the miniature sheet shown above, at least one generic sheet, 1st and 2nd class retail booklets, stamp cards, first day covers, and a presentation pack.
Given that the stamps will be taller than the Machin definitives it will be interesting to see how they are supplied in booklets and the generic sheet. Although larger stamps could fit onto the sheet, with smaller decorated margins, the standard size booklets would be too small for 12 stamps, as have been issued in previous years.
UPDATE 23 October
Pictures of the individual stamps and the generic sheet have now been added to the webpage, along with special postmarks for the day of issue. Royal Mail have also provided the following technical details:
Miniature Sheet Printed by De La Rue - Gravure
Retail Books Printed by International Security Printers - Gravure
Generic Sheet Printed by International Security Printers – Litho
Retail Book dimensions: W 89mm; H 65mm
As well as the stamps shown above, Royal Mail organised a competition for school-children to design festive images for a second set of 1st and 2nd Class Christmas stamps. These will be issued on the same date, and there will be an official first day cover and further presentation pack. Some designs are shown on the page linked above, the short-listed designs are shown here; the winners of the competition will be announced in the autumn.
Update 25 September:
The Generic sheet will contain 8 each 2nd and 1st class stamps, 2 x 88p, and one each of the £1.28 and £1.88 which means that there will only be one set of stamps in the sheet. The £1.88 will not be available for personalisation in the Smilers service.
Royal Mail have advised that the new 2nd and 1st class stamps will be reissued in subsequent years, replacing the ones issued in 2007.
The Machin Stamp - As today marks the deadline for posting items using second class stamps before Christmas, we thought this would be an opportune moment to explore the lifes...