Friday 16 November 2012

Olympic Gold Medal Stamps - production numbers

Royal Mail no longer publicises the number of stamps printed or sold, which is a pity, because those details would help us to understand the relative scarcity of some modern stamps. 

For the Olympic Gold Medal winners stamps, six regional printers added the medalists' images to the base sheets.  It is probable that different quantities were printed by each printer, with the greatest number being printed in Swindon for the national Post Office Supplies Depot to distribute to branches nationwide, while the 518 'next-day' branches received their supplies from the regional printers.

We now know that the Attleborough printer, serving the eastern region from mid-Lincolnshire, south to the London Area, west into the east Midlands, and the whole of East Anglia produced 126,720 of each of the Olympic stamps, being 1,320 press sheets for each medalist. The press sheets contained 4 A4 sheets each containing 4 miniature sheets of 6 stamps.

Because of the overnight and standby working - printers were working late every night to take account of medals won up to 10pm - the cost to Royal Mail for the 'next day' offices was higher than for regular stamp issues.


  1. This prompts me to raise the following point. These stamps were promoted as the UK's first 'next day stamps.' Now consider that the demand for the stamps was overwhelming and further printings would have been necessary. Does this mean some of the stamps are the genuine ones in the sense that these were the ones printed on the day the medal was won? Graham (must change from anonymous)

    1. As far as I know there has never been any secret about the fact that some of the stamps - for distribution to the remaining PO branches - must have been printed for several days after the medals were won.

      Indeed if I was to go back to the timeline of the late night ones, I think I would find that we didn't get the images from Royal Mail until close to midnight, so ALL those would have been printed the day after the win at the earliest.

    2. I've checked the emails: Olympic medals 12, 13 & 14 were announced at just after midnight. The presses may have been rolling earlier as Royal Mail sometimes had the stamp designs on Facebook before the media gallery had all the images (MS & FDC), but that must give an idea.


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