Friday 16 August 2013

Christmas is coming - only 130 collecting days to go!

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.


  1. This year, there will be the two Christmas stamps designed by children, probably with secular themes I suspect. Might this be a pattern for future years? - the Madonna stamps when Royal Mail have a secular theme, and vice versa?

    1. No reason why they should be secular; in fact I suspect the judges will choose one secular and one religious. But I doubt very much whether this means the same again next year. It's 30 years since we had children's designs on Christmas stamps and unless the designs are very good I think a similar gap would be a good idea!

  2. A very nice set of Christmas stamps, and I actually prefer the size format of the actual stamps, I've always hated those tiny stamps with passion.

    3 first day covers all together, actually its not bad one of those covers will only cost £1.10. I'm actually looking forward to these.

    1. I think definitive-sized stamps are adequate for Christmas use, but it's a matter of personal choice. The cheapest FDC will cost £1.40 including the cost of the cove (unless you put them on plain envelopes?)

  3. Is it too early to say Merry Christmas (perhaps not for stuff sent surface mail to far away/awkward to get to places...)

  4. While the stamps are nice, there are aspects of the religious side that are always ignored. This set closely resembles the 2005 set. Have Royal Mail run out of ideas? A religious theme could easily depict "Images of the Nativity". The First Class stamp could show the three gifts from the wise men, the second class could simply show a bright star. Another could simply show the manger with infant Jesus. I am getting a bit bored with the religious stamps. There are limitations to what you can put on them. In 2015 I am going to suggest they use Christmas carols! Glad the Christmas stamps are going to be larger from now on. Not sure about the kiddie designs. 1981's Christmas stamps were awful. Especially the one with an adult Christ! (Steve)


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