Thursday 19 September 2019

Royal Navy Ships stamp issue 19 September 2019

The latest stamp issue shows eight Royal Navy Ships, old and new.  The details were embargoed until 12 September, but as we were on holiday we couldn't show them then.  The set consists of se-tenant pairs of 1st class, £1.35, £1.55 and £1.60 stamps and a self-adhesive retail booklet containing four 1st class Machins and the two 1st class ship stamps.

Royal Mail write-up on this issue
The oldest of Britain’s armed forces, the Navy is known as the ‘senior service’. As an island nation, Britain’s prowess in ship design innovation and navigation has been instrumental in its history. Royal Mail is paying tribute to the Royal Navy by featuring eight ships from its illustrious history including the Mary Rose launched in 1511 and the most recently commissioned ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched in 2014.

British naval power truly began with the Tudor monarchs. In 1509, the newly-crowned King Henry VIII ordered a rearmament of the fleet and in this era great ships of 600 tonnes and more were built including the Mary Rose.  In the 17th century, King Charles I undertook the next major programme of warship building, with his fund-raising contributing to the outbreak of the Civil War. The Navy expanded further to become the most powerful in the world. Under Charles II the Navy became an independent national entity with the title of ‘Royal Navy’. By the end of the 18th century, the French Revolutionary War followed by Napoleonic War challenged the service as it faced the combined forces of the French, Spanish and Dutch fleets in locations as far away as the Caribbean. A series of victories culminating at Trafalgar (1805) led to the UK Navy becoming the dominant power in the world.

In the early years of the 20th century tactics changed with the introduction of the powerful Dreadnought ships, which with their speed and firepower, made other vessels redundant. By this time the German Navy was rapidly growing and was the only challenge to British naval superiority as the First World War commenced. The principle battle in the war was the Battle of Jutland in 1916 where, despite heavy losses, British numerical advantage was insurmountable, leading the German Fleet to abandon any attempt to challenge British dominance.

At the start of the Second World War the Navy was still the largest in the world with 1400 vessels. In the first years of the War, however, the Navy suffered heavy losses of battleships and troopships, but also managed to carry out major evacuations of troops from Dunkirk and Crete. The vital Atlantic supply lines were vulnerable to submarine attack and the Navy’s role in keeping the supply lines open was critical to success in the war.

Following the war and the decline of the British Empire, the size and capability of the navy was reduced and the best condition ships refitted. One of the most important operations by the Navy after the Second World War was the 1982 Falklands Islands War, which provided a reprieve in proposed cutbacks and proved a need for the Royal Navy to regain an expeditionary capability. The Royal Navy also took part in the Gulf War, the Kosovo conflict, the Afghanistan Campaign and the 2003 Iraq War.

Resourcing the Navy remains a controversial subject but the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers are a significant investment in Navy capability – these 65,000-tonne vessels are the biggest Royal Navy ships of all time and represent a radical new design for aircraft carriers.

The stamps in detail
1st Class Mary Rose: Launched in 1511, the Mary Rose famously took part in the Battle of the Solent against one of the largest enemy fleets in English naval history. It was during this battle on 19th July 1545 that the ship sank, with hundreds of sailors drowning and only around 34 of the crew surviving. It is not clear why she sank but an eye witness recalled that the Mary Rose had just fired all of her guns on one side and was in the process of turning around when she sank.
About the painting; Painted by Geoff Hunt © The Mary Rose Trust/Geoff Hunt PPRSMA

1st Class HMS Queen Elizabeth: One of two new Queen Elizabeth-Class aircraft carriers, the ship was launched in 2014 and is the largest and most powerful warship ever built for the Royal Navy. Capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft, its flight deck spans an area of four acres.
About the painting; painted by Robert G Lloyd specially commissioned by Royal Mail ©. Robert is a marine artist who is renowned worldwide within the maritime industry and amongst private collectors for his visually stunning and technically accurate maritime paintings.

£1.35 HMS Victory: Launched on 7th May 1765, HMS Victory had an unusually long service, leading fleets in the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic War. It was in the latter that she gained ever-lasting fame as the flagship of Vice-Admiral Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar, arguably Britain’s greatest naval victory in which the French and Spanish were defeated. HMS Victory is now located at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and as the Flagship of the First Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. 
HMS Victory is shown broadside to port, from windward, in the English Channel with Rudyerd's Eddystone Lighthouse distantly visible beyond her stern. She is shown flying the flag of Lord Hood as Vice-Admiral of the Red (red at the fore), as she heads outward-bound with her squadron in 1793 for the Mediterranean, where she was Hood's flagship at the Siege of Toulon and the invasion of Corsica. During this period the Navy used different coloured ensigns to show the seniority of squadrons, with the red ensign being the most senior squadron. From the 1860s, the Navy revised this policy and just flew the white ensign.
The Victory was floated out of dock at Chatham and the picture shows her as built except that she has been coppered. 
About the painting: the painting is by Monamy Swaine © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

£1.35 HMS Dreadnought: Launched on 10th February 1906, the ship’s revolutionary ‘big gun’ design rendered all other warships obsolete and dominated the First World War era. Powered by Parsons Turbines she was two and a half knots faster than her rivals and carried twice the firepower of earlier battleships. At the start of the First World War, HMS Dreadnought was despatched to Scapa Flow as flagship of the Fourth Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet and in March 1915 she became the only battleship to sink a submarine in the First World War.
About the painting: painted by H. J. Morgan and used with the permission of The Trustees of the Royal Navy Trophy Fund.

£1.55 HMS Warrior: The first ocean-going iron-hulled warship, HMS Warrior was launched on 29th December 1860 and was the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet. Powered by steam and sail, she was the biggest, fastest and most powerful warship of her day, proving to be the ultimate deterrent. Having been painstakingly restored, HMS Warrior returned home to Portsmouth in 1987 where she serves as a museum ship.
About the painting; painted by Thomas Goldsworth Dutton, painting © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

£1.55 Sovereign of the Seas: Commissioned by Charles I in 1634 and was launched in 1637. She was regarded at the time as the largest ship in the world and was popularly known as the Golden Devil because of her heavy armament and gold ornamentation. In 1652 she sank a Dutch warship with a single broadside. Later renamed Sovereign and then Royal Sovereign, the ship was accidentally destroyed in a fire at Chatham dockyard.
About the painting: painted by Paul Garnett, painting © Paul Garnett.

£1.60 HMS King George V: HMS King George V was launched by King George VI on 21st February 1939 and was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 1st October 1940. She was originally going to be named King George VI in line with the tradition of naming the first capital ship of a new reign after the monarch but King George VI requested that she bear the name King George V in honour of his late father. She was assigned to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow, which remained its principal base until 1944. As flagship of the Home Fleet she took part in several North Atlantic operations, protecting the Arctic convoys and acting as a deterrent against the threat of the German capital ships, Bismarck, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Prinz Eugen and Tirpitz. In 1941, she led the fleet in the attack and sinking of the Bismarck in the North Atlantic. HMS King George V was also involved in the invasion of Sicily and was later redeployed to the new British Pacific Fleet as its flagship.
About the painting: painted by Robert G Lloyd specially commissioned by Royal Mail ©

£1.60 HMS Beagle: Launched at Woolwich Dockyard, London on 11th May 1820, HMS Beagle is famed for taking renowned naturalist Charles Darwin on his first expedition around the world between 1831 and 1836, his five-year trip being documented in his travel memoir, The Voyage of the Beagle. She was initially equipped with a 10-gun brig sloop but was refitted and assigned as a surveying vessel because there was no immediate requirement for her as a warship.
About the painting; painted by John Chancellor depicting her on her second voyage © Gordon Chancellor.

Note: Royal Mail has carried out extensive research on the flags depicted on each of the ships to check that they are correct, consulting experts in the National Maritime Museum, the Mary Rose Trust and the Royal Navy. In the case of the earlier ships it is impossible to verify whether or not the flags on the paintings accurately depict what was actually flown on the ships at the time.

Technical Details (as provided by Royal Mail)

Designed by Hat trick design, printed in lithography by International Security Printers (Cartor) on ordinary gum.  Size 40 x 30 mm (not the 37 x 35 mm stated by RM), in guttered sheets of 60, perforated 14 x 14.5.

Products available from Royal Mail
Set of stamps, retail booklet, presentation pack, first day cover, stampcards.
Other products aimed at the general market rather than philatelic: Six Stamp Frame (The frame features all eight Special Stamps from the stamp set individually mounted together with a Certificate of Authenticity incorporating a MOD hologram.)  Framed Mary Rose Print Enlargement and Stamp; framed HMS Victory Print Enlargement and Stamp.


  1. This is a follow-up to a comment I made in response to your post of 2 September about the Elton John stamps.
    Yesterday I walked down to my local sub-post office to buy the Royal Navy stamps. As I reported before the little post office has been recently refurbished and it appears also down-graded in status. I asked the lovely and helpful lady now working there for a set of the stamps, which she had in stock, but when she looked up the price on her computer system there was no price on the system and she asked me to return today after she had phoned her managers.
    I duly returned and the lady said that she had indeed phoned the managers but they had told her that the post office’s status had been downgraded and she was not allowed to sell special stamps and that was why she could not find them listed on her computer system. The stock she had received was apparently sent to her in error. She was thus unable to sell me the new stamps and she had to advise that I should travel the 2 miles to our nearest main post office, as she termed it.
    Am I missing something? Is it not wholly absurd that a business has a product to sell, the retailer is keen to sell it and there is a buyer keen to buy it?
    I would not make a complaint about this because I fear that a management which makes such decisions is probably the sort to act spitefully against the charming lady who runs our little post office.
    What does this reduced availability of Royal Mail stamps say about the status of the products? And what does it say about the relationship of Royal Mail with the Post Office when the latter will not sell some of the former’s straightforward products in some of its outlets?

  2. It is about time either Royal Mail drastically reduce the number of stamp issued,as we don't really need special issues anymore as the definitive stamp would do the job just as well, or Stanley Gibbons don't list GB stamps anymore because you Rarely see a special stamp on post these days, post offices/ shop counters can't wait to print out a label as the queue is to long, not enough staff, franked post is declining at such a rate we don't need all these issues. As my late uncle said when he collected stamps from the 60's up to 2000 (then stopped, to many issues, no fun anymore) " there was a few issues a year of 3 or 4 stamps, lots of letters, interesting post marks, now very few letters, cards etc because of mobile phones, email and computers, personnel touch long gone. But now new stamps stamps like confetti, so big and so expensive. A stamp should be for the posting of mail not to make up the shortfall of RM's coffers, ie a miniature sheet that is never used on franked mail apart from a FDC mark. So Royal Mail or Stanley Gibbons your move.

    1. The very few special stamps sold by Royal Mail these days makes very little difference to Royal Mail's coffers - their turnover is by an order of magnitude greater than the sales of stamps.

      As for stamps not being available or used, I KNOW this is 6 years ago (the source has dried up due to data protection regulations) and I KNOW they are ll 1st class inland, that's all you would expect to see at home, but this link shows full many commemoratives commercially used and not to me.

    2. I am a sender of nice mail. Do you, Anonymous, send greetings cards and letters and postcards to your late uncle or even other friends/family?

    3. As a family we do birthdays, anniversaries and christmas every year, and where possible using the latest first class commen stamp, except christmas its the 2nd class. Nice stamps for the October as I have tried to say,but another Miniature sheet!!! See Commwonweath Stamps Opinion for details.

  3. The story continues. I have visited our area’s main p.o., as advised, to buy the RN stamps. The post office is the centre of a constituency of 100,000 people. I asked to buy the stamps and was asked whether I wanted the presentation pack or stamps from the sheets on the counter. As I do not collect presentation packs and like to save money where I can, I chose to buy the counter stamps but only 2 - 2 se-tenant pairs - of the 4 values were offered and when I pointed out that there should be 8 values I was told that these were the only stamps sent to them for sale over the counter. I was therefore forced (if I wish to buy from a local p.o.) to buy the pack.
    Naturally, the self-adhesive counter booklet was not available.
    This experience again raises the question of the status of current Royal Mail commemoratives and makes me wonder what on earth the Post Office is up to.

    1. Can you repeat that on SB here

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3. I find the post by White Knight almost unbelievable regarding his Post Office being unable to sell the Royal Navy Ships new issue but sadly this does happen. I wonder why this stock was sent to a Post Office that did not sell this type of material in the first place?
A few years ago I worked for Post Office Ltd on the counters and whenever any new stock came in it all had to be booked in and entered on to the system. Now I don't know if this is still the case but I'm sure there is something similar in place as all stock has to be accounted for. So I wonder why these stamps could not just be sold as basic 1st class, £1.35, £1.55 and so on. I think this is what I would done when I worked for the Post Office.
I have a new small Post Office near me which has just opened so on the first day of it opening I went in and brought a book of each of the values 6x1st 12x1st and 12x2nd but when I asked for a book of the 4x1st and 4x2nd class large I was told they did not have these books and were not allowed to sell them anyway but I could have four single stamps from a counter sheet. I declined the offer as I was only interested to see what books they had as some of these brand new offices get very current stock. I then asked why they did not sell the large stamps in booklets and was told this office was classed as a 'Local' and as such did not sell this type of material which also included the 1st and 2nd class large business sheets of 50 stamps.
I have been back to this office again to post a letter which I had already stamped just to get a proof of posting and was told by the lady on the counter that she could not do this as I had not brought a stamp from her. I think she misunderstood me and thought I wanted a proof of postage. I'm sure they will get better.

    4. Note, Brian asked me to edit his post as it could have been misunderstood as originally posted; sadly when I did this it lost the paragraph line spacing; I shall have to find a better way to do this in future!

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    1. "to get a proof of posting and was told by the lady on the counter that she could not do this as I had not brought a stamp from her."
      She could have, but may not have known how, as it would normally be linked to purchase. I print my own POPs but when I left one 10-line one on the printer the staff at my Crown office willingly gave me a Horizon POP for each one; they rarely sell me any stamps anyway unless I can't get them from Edinburgh as with the variant of the Harry Potter booklet.

    2. My local PO willingly gives me a Receipt of Posting whether I buy the postage there or affix stamps myself (I do lots of both).

    3. I must have been really lucky to have had a lovely little small post office to go to a few miles away. The sub-postmaster was very much a philatelic person, having worked for SG and others in London. The little post office had 3 counters, although usually only 2 were manned. They had the photo curtained thing for the driving licence. They also sold some stationery, some very nice postcards, wool and knitting/crochet patterns. They had a soft drinks chiller, and a few little sweets/chocolates. And they had an ATM.

      I would ring him up a day or so before the stamp issue came out, just to remind him, and check when he would be available on the day. His health isn't that great, nor is his wife's. They have retired and had to close the shop almost 5 years ago. In his early years as a sub-postmaster, his post office won one of the lovely little post office awards, a few times (can't recall category).

      I really miss going there. He'd regale stories of stamps if he wasn't busy. One philatelic company offered him a job, but when he turned up, there wasn't a desk for him.

      My local main post office wasn't very good for the new stamps (but they have improved). I went to the next town and waited at the back of WHS in the queue. I usually had to then wait further as the stamps were still in the safe. One occasion, they said that the stamps had not been issued to the counter and could I come back tomorrow (NO!). The next issue after that, I went elsewhere. But have used them since to sort out my son's passport application, check & send.

      I found two more nice little post offices, but then the sub-postmasters retired and the counters both moved to two convenience stores.

      A third little post office is in a card shop over on an island connected by a bridge depicted on a relatively recent stamp issue! However, circumstances have meant I've not been able to get there of late. So, my main post office is where I go now. I do top up on make-up value stamps from a small sub-post office in the local newsagent. They have no problem with me handing post over to put in the mail bag (I do this when it is raining, or go to one of the two big supermarkets around town as they both have a postbox indoors). They often comment on the nice stamps. I believe they'll only be getting the first/second and large stamps of the Christmas issue.

      I miss the days of seeing the big posters in the post office announcing stamps. When was the last one I saw? I think it might have been the classic album covers in 2010, but am uncertain.

    4. I think you are most likely correct Ian. This 'local' PO had only been open a few days and I think this type of transaction had not been done before.

  5. "So I wonder why these stamps could not just be sold as basic 1st class, £1.35, £1.55 and so on."

    Exactly my thoughts Brian, but if this is a new PO Local they may not want to bend the rule even if it is logical. I'm sure my (long established and ex-Crown) SPM would have done just that but he also has two very oft-used fingers when it comes to management idiocy.

  6. Let us be grateful for the Royal Navy stamps because they are the first this year that are pretty. My local main post office has just closed & been 'replaced' by a pair of counters in WHS. This is inadequate but I was able to buy all the navy stamps there; near a large board advertising the previous issue of Music Giants.


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