Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Royal Mail 2019 Stamps Programme

In it's usual, "let's get this news out while everybody is preoccupied because that is the best time for the national and local press and other media to pick it up and report on it" manner, Royal Mail issued a press release on 27 December.  As usual it was limited, in that it started with the April issue, and had too many TBAs, and initially it had very little newspaper coverage in the first couple of days.  But all that changed quite quickly.

Royal Mail today announces a preview of its 2019 Special Stamp programme.
Showcasing the “Best of British” the programme features a range of subjects: from a celebration of the UK’s Birds of Prey to the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
2019 marks the bicentenaries of the birth of both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She is the second longest reigning monarch in British history, and six stamps will chart her life in period paintings, from childhood and marriage to Prince Albert, to marking her long reign.
The accompanying stamps in the mini-sheet will pay tribute to her husband, Prince Albert.
The 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings will be marked by a set of 11 Special Stamps. The stamp issue will be a timely commemoration of all those who participated and will use images from the day itself.
The images in the Birds of Prey stamp issue have all been photographed especially for Royal Mail by photographer, Tim Flach. The birds featured all breed in the UK and are captured in characteristic poses of flight or in close up to show their features.
Species include: the Red Kite; the Sparrowhawk; the Merlin; the Golden Eagle and the Kestrel.
The British Engineering stamp issue is a celebration of UK excellence in engineering over the past 50 years and conveys the wide range of engineering disciplines where the UK continues to make its mark.
Other stamp issues to be released during 2019 include: Curious Customs; Forests; and Royal Navy Ships.
Although we knew the outline of the programme to June in September, we couldn't release any of it, not even in a draft blog post that we could publish on 27 December, because we didn't know which images they would release.  As it is they released one young Queen Victoria portrait, the Red Kite stamp from the Birds of Prey issue, and just one of 11 stamps that will be issued to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

As it turns out they chose to show absolutely the best stamp they could have for D-Day, because had they waited until closer to June they may well have already printed the stamps, and would have had to scrap this one.

Fortunately once they published this on social media, and a few newspapers had picked it up, they were quickly told that this picture of Allied troops is a "US Coast Guard photograph which shows 'USS LCI(L)-30 landing troops carrying stretchers on to a beach' at Sarmi, Dutch New Guinea, May 1944, several weeks before the D-day landings took place in Europe."

Obviously this is not so much a Royal Mail error as one by the design agency charged with finding appropriate photos.  I think they are fortunate that the detail caption is right, and they didn't actually say that they were British troops.

Director of Royal Mail Letters Division, Setphen Agar, quickly issued an apology and reassurance:
I am sincerely sorry for this mistake and the hurt it has caused, in particular to veterans and those who lost loved ones. I would like to reassure them, our people and our customers that this stamp will not be part of our set to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
We are asking veterans’ associations to share this message with their members. I hope to work with some of them to ensure the final stamps reflect the significance of the D-Day landings and the courage and sacrifice of those who took part.

So the programme is (updated 23 January from RM website, and this won't be the last change):

15 January:  Stamp Classics MS for the 150th Anniversary of the RPSL  (Details here)
13 February: Leonardo Da Vinci set of 12 plus PSB with M18L Machins
March: TBA
4 April: Birds of Prey
2 May: British Engineering
24 May: Queen Victoria Bicentenary
6 June: D-Day
9 July: Curious Customs
13 Aug: Forests
19 Sept: Royal Navy Ships
October - TBC
5 Nov: Christmas
November - TBC

There is no mention of new Post and Go stamps, and although the Year of the Pig is mentioned as the last in the sequence of 12, that is only in the calendar. Royal Mail started with the Dragon in 2012, so have only issued 7 so far.  We can expect another one this year, I think.  Within this programme there will be miniature sheets and prestige books, and almost certainly a selection of retail booklets.

We understand that the full programme (probably only as shown above plus the February issue) will be published in the February Philatelic Bulletin and Postmark Bulletin on 22 February. 


  1. I'm guessing that the March issue will be the big popular culture issue to which we've become accustomed as you predict that the already announced subjects plus the February issue will be announced in the February Postmark Bulletin but the March issue will remain unrevealed rather melodramatically. Does this mean that there will be only 11 sets during 2019 or is that too much to hope for? Interestingly there are no TBAs in the latter part of the year. And if there really are to be no new Post and Gos dare we believe that sanity is beginning to return to Royal Mail's approach to stamp issues.

    1. A sleeping Norwegian Blue? One of the options from the poll RM had a couple of years ago was Monty Python's Flying Circus. Another option was The Italian Job. Both have 50th anniversaries this year.

  2. D-day and the Queen vVictori bicentenary I saw that coming to be honest. Forests and Bird's of prey looks interesting. Noticed October issue there isn't a set. February or March there could be a set commerating Concorde as it's the 50th anniversary of its first flight. I was hoping there be something around author Terry Pratchett's work.

    1. Concorde might be included in British Engineering perhaps?

    2. I love PTerry. I still have a couple of Rincewind and Nanny Ogg stamps from the Magical Realms issue, I didn't realise June Whitfield had played Nanny Ogg. That same issue had Harry Potter stamps.

  3. Not content with embargoes and the like we now have a list of subjects but only a rough approximation of an issue date. Surely they must know when they plan to release them and if so - why not say so?

    1. I could tell you the dates that we have been told, but I don't know whether that will match the dates in the Bulletins when they appear.

      Tiresome, isn't it?

  4. Actually the Forests stamp set is stamps featuring Trees, its to mark the Forestry Commission of 100 years, it was founded in 1919, now that makes more sense, so basically going to be a strip of 10 British Trees.

    I'm actually curious, pardon the pun about the July issue "Curious Customs" goodness know what that set entails. And the March issue could be the second set of 4 which is something to do with that Medieval Britain we had 2 years ago, which somehow RM haven't managed to continue, I know we where due for a set called "Roman Britain" the second of 4 sets, this could be our February or March issue.

    I also remember a ballot of stamp subjects to be used for 2019 on 2 years ago, actually I still got the article as I printed that off, and it does feature 5 sets in the 2019 collection that are on the release schedule for this year. Trees (Forests), D-Day, British Engineering, Queen Victoria Bicentenary and the 150 Anniversary of RPSL,

  5. Hi
    I do't understand our Stamp Issues from Royal Mail,they keep every Issue a Secrete, I had a Leaflet for Overseas & Mainland Stamp Order Service.
    which lists all the Stamps to be Issued by Hong Kong Post, back in Oct/November showing every Stamp Release up till next December with a Colour picture and Stamp details and prices,why can't Royal Mail do something like that?

  6. Thank you for the info Ian, I was hoping for the full details in the January Philatelic Bulletin. These details used to be published in September/October if I recall. Prince Albert deserves a set for the things he did during the short time he was around. His wife treated her children in an appalling manner and then went into a 40 year sulk after he died. What a contrast to the wonderful lady whose image has graced our stamps for the last 67 years. I think that there will be quite a fuss in Manchester, and elsewhere, that an event which took place there 200 years ago is not being commemorated. An important event in the democratic history of our country. I will be putting in a complaint. When oh when is there going to be a stamp celebrating William Blake, the author of 'Jerusalem' ?

  7. Star Wars Episode 9 released in December, that might be the end of year 'blockbuster' issue perhaps.

    1. Sounds more than likely, based on past performance.

  8. It seems we can get at least one EUROPA stamp from Great Britain this year.

    1. Not from the Birds of Prey stamp set: Britain's National Bird (if we have one) is not a bird of prey.

      My understanding is that there will be no Europa stamps from Great Britain this year.

    2. Its the Robin!

      Perhaps we can finally have a reissue of the P&G version for Xmas this year, we've done Winter Greenery to death!

  9. So the Philatelic Bulletin (Jan 2019) reveals the stamp issue for 13/02/2019 - Leonardo da Vinci. This includes a PSB of which the Definitive pane is made up of 2x 5p, 4x 10p and 2x £1.55. All M18L printings I would presume.

    1. Yes, but we can't be sure that they are 18. They ought to be, on past performance, but they could be 19s.

  10. What bugs me now RM have got no stamps to be issued in March so after the Leonardo da Vinci you have to wait until the 4 April for Birds of Prey stamp set unless they are going to drop something that we don't know off in March, with 2 stamp releases in May, September and November, how about moving the goalposts a bit surely they could have moved a set to March, what's so special about the November TBC after the Xmas set (it could be the new Star Wars movie). Usually the Xmas set is the last stamp issue of the year.