Thursday 7 February 2019

Leonardo da Vinci: 500th Anniversary of Death

Royal Mail will issue a set of 12 stamps and a Prestige Stamp Book on 13 February 2019, coinciding with London's Spring Stampex.

Leonardo da Vinci is a world subject and one of the greatest collections of his work is owned by Her Majesty the Queen within the Royal Collection Trust, housed in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle and some of his finest works housed within the Royal Collection will be reproduced on stamps.

On the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci 144 of his finest drawings from Royal Collection Trust are being displayed during 2019 at 12 museums and galleries across the United Kingdom. Each of 12 locations will have an exhibition of 12 of these drawings from 1 Feb – 6 May 2019, before all coming together for an exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, London. The twelve Special Stamps in this set feature a selection of his drawings from the collection acquired for the Royal Collection by King Charles II around 1670.

Royal Collection Trust is a registered charity which looks after the Royal Collection and manages the public opening of the official residences of Her Majesty The Queen.  The full collection of around 600 of his drawings housed in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle is among the most important in the world, and has been pre-eminent in the study of Leonardo for centuries.

The stamps depict:

The skull sectioned;  A sprig of guelder-rose;   Studies of cats;  A star-of-Bethlehem and other plants;  The anatomy of the shoulder and foot;  The head of Leda;
The head of a bearded man;  The skeleton;  The head of St Philip;  A woman in a landscape;  A design for an equestrian monument;  The fall of light on a face.

More detail about each of the sketches on the stamps on the Post Office website.

Technical details:
The stamps are designed by Kate Stephens
All images by Leonardo da Vinci: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019.
Printed by International Security Printers in lithography the 35 mm square stamps are printed in two sheets of 30/60 each containing 5 columns of 6 designs.
Other products available from Royal Mail: presentation pack, stamp cards, first day covers, press sheet.
The original issue date of 12 February 2019 is printed in the margin, but the correct date is 13th. No reprints were made and all stocks have the 'wrong' date.

Prestige Stamp Book.  This PSB marks a new premium charged by Royal Mail, being £1.46 over the face value of the stamps, at a price of £13.10 against £11.64.  With 12 stamps the need to make unusual arrangements on the panes is unnecessary, the stamps being spread over the three panes as shown below.  


As always, click on the images to see then enlarged.

The arrangement of the stamps in the panes is, of course, different to that in the two counter sheets, thus permitting collection - should one so wish - of multiple combinations of se-tenant stamps.

The definitive pane contains two each of the 5p, 10p and £1.55 values with source code MPIL and year code M18L.  These are listed in our shop as 4155P.8 for the set of 3.

We also have a few first day covers (same product code on our shop) cancelled with a Windsor postmark showing a portrait of the artist.

I also found an earlier Royal Mail (or GPO) commemoration of a Leonardo exibition, from 1962.

The postmark slogan, from Battersea SW11, 14 July 1962 reads

UPDATE 14 February
Comment from Malcolm: I received my PSB from the Bureau yesterday and it has 2 copies of the 1st commemorative pane of 4 included.



  1. I received my PSB from the Bureau yesterday and it has 2 copies of the 1st commemorative pane of 4 included.All other panes present and correct
    Malcolm Brown....Norwich

    1. I would be pleased to have a photo of that Malcolm, if you can produce one. Please email to ian [at], thanks.


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