Tuesday 17 December 2013

Special Slogan Postmarks for 'Christmas Carol', First Christmas Card, and Last Posting Dates

From a Royal Mail Press Release 16 December 2013


In the run up to festive period, Royal Mail will be printing special postmarks on letters and parcels (sic) to commemorate the 170th anniversaries of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens and the first Christmas card ever sent.   The first postmark will read

1843 – 2013 Celebrating 170 years of A Christmas Carol’.

‘A Christmas Carol’ was first published on Tuesday 17th December 1843. Set in Victorian London during the 19th Century and telling the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the book initially sold six thousand copies when it was first released.

This slogan will be used on mail delivered from 17 December, ie postmarked 16 December onwards.  Examples are now to hand:

1. The test print shown by Royal Mail via twitter

2. Chester + N Wales 16 December, and Bath Bristol Taunton 17 December

3. SE Wales 16 December, North + West Yorkshire 17 December (they've stopped using the Christmas competition finalist at last!)

Used on a square card at South East Anglia, in reverse format:

A second slogan postmark will mark the 170th anniversary of the first Christmas Card.

The postmark, which will be printed on postmarked mail delivered from December 21st to December 24th, will read

1843-2013 Celebrating 170th anniversary of the first Christmas card sent’.

(Image from British Postal Museum and Archive ©)

In 1843, Sir Henry Cole, a lifelong civil servant, commissioned the first Christmas card. Three years earlier, he 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 within the means of the working class.

Royal Mail will also be helping customers to post in time for Christmas with postmarks featuring this year’s last recommended posting dates. They are:

Second Class – Wednesday 18th December
First Class - Friday 20th December
Special Delivery - Monday 23rd December

Update 20 December: This one used at South East Anglia Mail Centre (12.12.13) shows 1st and 2nd class dates - 

Later ones showed only 1st class date (Romford Mail Centre 18 December) -

But they were busy at SE Anglia as they also pressed this old machine and slogan into service:     A card makes everyones Christmas (3 XII 2013)


  1. Just to confuse matters, the 'Christmas Carol' slogan was in fact used on 16 December, the day before the anniversary! It continued in use on 17 December, as the programming of IMPs usually changes during the morning, but by the evening the 'Latest Posting Dates' slogan, now mentioning only 1st Class and Special Delivery, was in use at IMP Mail Centres

    John Enfield

    1. I believe the plan is that postmarks of this kind will be used on post to be *delivered* on a particular day (plus the following week, often). This is the terminology usually used in their press release. Of course they can't be absolutely sure that all mail posted on 16th will be delivered on 17th but that's the idea.

      I got two examples this morning and will be adding them later.


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