Monday 2 September 2019

Music GIants III - 3 September 2019

Royal Mail is issuing a set of stamps and Miniature Sheet to celebrate one of the UK’s greatest music legends on the 50th anniversary of his first album and as he continues his final tour – Farewell Yellow Brick Road. 

Total sales of Elton John’s records worldwide are estimated between £275m and £300m which makes him one of the biggest selling artists of all time. A re-written and re-recorded version of ‘Candle in the Wind’ released in 1997 remains the biggest-selling single since the charts began in the 1950s and he is the most successful artist of all time in the US charts after the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

Elton John has achieved 38 gold and 27 platinum albums and has been awarded 12 Ivor Novellos, 5 Grammys, 4 BRITS and an Oscar. He has also written the award-winning and much acclaimed soundtracks to the Lion King and Billy Eliot. In recognition of his contribution to music and for his charity work he was knighted in 1998, having been awarded a CBE two years previously.

The issue consists of a set of 8 stamps, 4 x 1st class and 4 x £1.55 (total £9), and a miniature sheet of four stamps (£4.50).  There will also be a retail booklet containing two of the 1st class stamps and 4 x 1st class definitives (£4.20).


1st class se-tenant strip - Honky Château, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou, and Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy
£1.55 se-tenant strip - Sleeping with The Past, The One, Made in England, and Songs from The West Coast

The retail booklet contains the Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantsatsic stamps; these will be self-adhesive and so have separate catalogue numbers from the gummed stamps shown above. The definitive stamps will be coded M19L MCIL, and the booklet is printed on SBP2.


Minisheet:  1st Class Madison Square Garden 2018, 1st Class Buckingham Palace 2012;
£1.55 Hammersmith Odeon 1973, £1.55 Dodger Stadium 1975.
Background Image Elton John Peacock based costume from 1974.

The album stamps in detail
1st Class Honky Château: Recorded in the Château d'Hérouville near Paris, Honky Château was Elton John’s breakthrough pop album, home to ‘Rocket Man’ – one of three songs he composed on the morning of the first day of recording.

1st Class Goodbye Yellow Brick Road:
A double album that perhaps represents the artistic
pinnacle of Elton’s 1970s’ career, a teeming, eclectic song writing masterclass that features ‘Candle in The Wind’, ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’ and ‘Bennie and the Jets’.

1st Class Caribou:
His fourth consecutive US number one album, Caribou, is best-known for ‘The Bitch Is Back’ and the epic ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’, but its most striking moment might be ‘Ticking’, the eerie saga of an armed siege in a bar.

1st Class Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy: A concept album on which lyricist Bernie Taupin recounts the early days of his and Elton’s career, complete with a vivid depiction of Elton’s 1968 suicide attempt, ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’.

£1.55 Sleeping with The Past:
The last album Elton John made before going into rehab was intended as a homage to the soul and R ‘n’ B music that had inspired him in the 1960s: in ‘Sacrifice’, it produced his first UK solo number one single.

£1.55 The One:
The cover designed by Gianni Versace, its lyrics haunted by the unfolding AIDS
crisis and Elton’s battle with drug addiction, The One re-established the now clean and sober Elton John.

£1.55 Made in England:
Largely recorded live in the studio, Made in England’s upbeat title track – a hit single in 1995 – masks the rest of the album’s mature mood, which features reflections on ageing both positive and negative.

£1.55 Songs from The West Coast:
“Going backwards to go forwards”, as Elton put it, Songs from The West Coast returned to the warm sound of his early 1970s’ albums and offered his and Taupin’s strongest collection of songs in years. A latter-day triumph.

Designs and acknowledgements
Set: Royal Mail Group Ltd, based on an original design by Studio Dempsey Photography of album covers by John Ross; all album covers © Mercury Records Limited

MS: Royal Mail Group Ltd.  Background image – Elton John performing in 1974 © Sam Emerson,
courtesy of Rocket Entertainment; Christmas show at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, 1973 © Michael Putland/Getty Images; Dodger Stadium concert, Los Angeles, 1975 © Terry O’Neill/Iconic Images; Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace, London, 2012 © Dan Kitwood/Staff/Getty Images; Madison Square Garden concert, New York, 2018 by Ben Gibson © HST Global

Technical details
Printed by International Security Printers, size 38mm(w) x 31mm(h) in sheets of 48, 12 se-tenant strips of four per sheet.  Litho, PVA Gummed, Perforations 14 x 14

Miniature Sheet Size 146mm x 74mm, with stamps 41mm(w) x 30mm(h), perforated 14.5 x 14.

Postmarking arrangements.
Music Giants III Stamp Issue – Postmarking Extension
In order to give customers sufficient time to prepare their covers and postcards as well as submit sponsored postmark requests Royal Mail is extending the availability of all postmarks relating to the Music Giants III stamp issue by 28 days from the First Day of Issue (3 September). All items requiring a Music Giants IIII related postmark should be received by Royal Mail Special Handstamp Centres by 8th October. 

Any sponsored postmarks received after publication of this [September] Postmark Bulletin will appear in the October edition and customers will be able to have these postmarks applied to covers up to and including 5th November.

Official first day Postmarks.

Other products
Presentation pack with set and MS (£14.30); two first day covers; Stamp Cards; Press sheet of 15 miniature sheets, an edition limited to only 300 and priced at  £74.25.

Products not aimed at the philatelic market include 'Fan sheets' containing four identical stamps in a surround of the same design.  (The similar David Bowie sheets contained five stamps.)  The stamps are "the same as those in the ordinary set" according to Royal Mail and whether the phosphor is different we don't know.  But these sheets do enable se-tenant horizontal pairs and strips of the designs.

There are also many other souvenirs and framed print and stamp combinations all of which are on Royal Mail's website

Fan sheets will be available for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy stamps, with a third one having all 8 stamps in the set against a montage of the album covers.   The individual sheets are £7.50 and the sheet showing the set is £10.20 (the last is a small mark-up on face value but still not guaranteed to get a full catalogue listing).

As usual, we shall not be stocking these.


  1. The sub post-office at East Finchley (London N2) reports not having received any stocks of this issue... They did have counter sheets of Forests and Curious Customs still in use though.

    1. Update: Today there was an advertising card propped up on the counter and counter sheets available (although the purist would object that both the first class and £1.55 values were in the same page of the book). Bought a strip of 1st class for the EJ fan in my life.

    2. Would it surprise you if they sold each of the stamps at 70p? Not me - there is so much confusion with the plethora of stamps now issued that this would not be surprising.

      I've seen the higher values of the 2013 Merchant Navy issue used as first class. Expect the same for the Royal Navy stamps later this month as they are also paintings. Most of them stand out well, white against the sky, but mistakes could still be made.

    3. I would guess that it depends on which counter clerk you got... at this particular PO there seems to be one knowledgeable and two trainees who have to refer to the first for a lot of questions. Not philatelically knowledgeable but that's a lot to ask for a PO at the back of a stationery shop.

  2. Greed again - the Bowie set was 3 x 1st Class and 3 x £1.55 which wasn't *too* bad. Now they've added another one of each stamp?
    And let's be honest, no-one ever uses or gets offered a £1.55 stamp for actual use on anything these days (with apologies to the few Postcrossers out there who are in the minority) - so why not make it 10 x 1st Class and be done with it?

  3. The issue for those that are wondering is Sir Elton John's 50th year in showbiz

  4. The issue with this was why the launch date the actual date of release, I thought I was going to lose out of purchasing a first day cover. Let's hope RM think twice of using this strategy.

  5. Strange how it is cheaper to buy the record albums rather than the stamps ! That wasn't the case 50 years ago.

  6. I just had my order advice note for the issue in October:- a set of stamps no details & a mini sheet total cost £11.85

  7. Just received my Advice Note from RM for the October Issue - 10/10/2019. Obviously no details of subject. Yet consists of Set of Stamps, Pres Pack, Postcards and a Mini Sheet. No Booklets.

  8. Here’s a story. Our local post office has recently been redesigned and new management taken over with all new staff - helpful and pleasant but clearly inexperienced. On the first day of issue I tried to buy a set and miniature sheet of the Elton John stamps. The post office was closing at 3PM and I was told “Oh yes we do have them but they’re in the safe and no-one can open it till the lady in charge is around but I’ll arrange for them to to be ready for you tomorrow”.
    I returned the next day to find the post office closing even earlier at 2PM and the young lady I had spoken to previously told me that they did have the stamps but as no-one had asked for them the manager had “sent them back”. “But,” I said, “I came on the day of issue”. “Oh, we’ve had them for a while and we didn’t know about any day of issue”.
    So there we have it. How could anyone ask to buy them if, because of Royal Mail’s not-till-day of issue publicity, they didn’t know what they should ask for. And why doesn’t the Post Office or Royal Mail, whichever is appropriate, make sure that managers and staff at small ordinary post offices know what they are supposed to do with new stamps and when they are actually expected to put them on sale? You can’t make a profit from a product if your customers can’t get hold of it.

  9. Off subject but newsworthy £2.00 counter sheet stamp now available on e bay ref :- 264455497449


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