Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Big Fuss Over No Big Deal - It's the Gruffalo on 10 October..

This year's worst kept stamp secret is now officially revealed to be a bumper package of stamps and other material marking the 20th - yes, just the twentieth - anniversary of the first publication of Julia Donaldson's The Gruffalo, a children's picture book.

My headline is one reader's reaction, but it echos the thoughts of many, including fellow-blogger White Knight who wrote on his Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog, "A pleasant if inconsequential issue."


Technical Details
The stamps and miniature sheet are designed by Rose Design, with illustrations by Axel Sheffler.

Stamps are 50 x 30 mm in se-tenant strips of 3, 60 stamps per sheet.  The MS is 115 x 89 mm, with stamps 35 mm square.  All are printed by ISP in lithography with PVA gum.

UPDATE 10 October: I am reminded that there is also a generic sheet which utilises the four square stamps from the miniature sheet.  Royal Mail didn't send us a decent picture of this so I have copied the one from their website.  Also, they didn't tell us that it was self-adhesive (thanks Chris), therefore although the stamps will not be catalogued separately by Stanley Gibbons they probably will be other catalogue publishers and there may be spaces in some of the pre-printed albums that I know some people can still afford.  There are two sets of four stamps and a couple spare.

Printed in litho A4 sheet as usual, and almost certainly by ISP Cartor, although Royal Mail were silent on this as well.  The labels bear 'familiar phrases from the story'.


The Gruffalo word mark and logo are trademarks of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and used under licence. Licensed by Magic Light Pictures Ltd. www.magiclightpictures.com


Sponsored postmarks
This explains why there are no sponsored postmarks for use on first day covers which show the characters or even the name of the subject.  I don't know what licensing fee Magic Light would be asking from Cover Producers: all I know is that this has been a problem for so long that they have found ingenious, or just bland, ways round the problem rather than spending their own time and money in discussions with rights holders.

When you are dealing with the likes of Warner Brothers, and the like.  Even a month before the date of issue Royal Mail were still in discussions over licensing more of their own postmarks!   This is the selection available as alternatives to Royal Mail's two Gruffalo offerings:



There is also the last one which RM will use for their coin cover, but which is also available for collectors to use on their FDCs. 




The illustrations are, of course, by Axel Scheffler recently much interviewed on radio and TV about his work, in conjunction with the 20th anniversary.  He was commissioned to produce Royal Mail's 2012 Christmas stamps.  (Click on any image if you wish to see larger versions.)


These reinforce Scheffler's statement that he cannot draw faces (including the Gruffalo) head on, only from the side.

All products - including those aimed at non-collectors - are available on Royal Mail's website.


18 comments:

  1. Well that's decided that, will no longer collect any form of GB stamps, another miniature sheet why? another presentation pack with another miniature sheet Why? and the Christmas 2019 issue will have the same set up as well as Apollo (i know embargo) but it isn't. There is no incentive to collect GB and if I am one of the few who does collect everything (because I don't want more holes than a sieve in my collection) then Royal Mail lose out. Account closed. Nothing will change no matter how many people complain to Tallents House as Royal Mail's mindset is the more the merrier.

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    1. Absolutely agree. I stopped lining the pockets of Royal Mail a few years ago. I only collect Machins now

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    2. Like it or not, I can see why RM do it. The numbers of people who obsessively collect everything they issue must be declining rapidly. So it makes more sense for them to release larger numbers of more varied themes in the hope of attracting customers who aren't "stamp collectors" per se, but are fans of the subject or are looking for a gift for such a person. Let's face it, stamps are an anachronism in 2019 - the days of personal physical mail are almost over, and most postage is paid electronically.

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  2. Another Miniature Sheet cover, seriously, that's doubled compared to last year.

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    1. At least, this is a 'proper' miniature sheet - with the stamps forming part of a larger image - rather than the too-often policy of surrounding stamps with an unconnected and unsympathetic bacjkground.

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  3. So much for Royal Mail listening to customers complaints about the absurd number of stamps being issued on a monthly basis. Bring back the 80's when sets consisted mainly of 4 stamps.

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  4. Just to contrast the greed of Royal Mail, I recently sent for a set of Leonard Cohen stamps (3 stamps) to the Canadian Post Office. Inside a lovely presentation folder are 4 first day covers. One with a set of 3 stamps and one stamp on each of 3 covers, all with different postmarks and all the covers have different illustrations. There was no charge for postage. The total cost for this lovely set was £7.37.

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  5. I gave up on GB commemoratives for that very reason after the Dr who stamps and paraphernalia in 2013. Royal Mail will be the main cause of the demise of our wonderful hobby. A pastime that 30 years ago was vying with Angling to be the most popular in the UK. How can Children take up the hobby when a new issue of stamps costs over £12?

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    1. Just received my October Philatelic Bulletin book today and on the back page New Issues & Withdrawals is 5th November Issue Christmas again with a miniature sheet and miniature sheet FDC and all the other associated products, so why as Ian has posted on a previous comment that stamps are a small fraction of Royal Mails earnings why do they need to produce so many issues, not that I care now because of having cancelled my account just curious to know the answer, presumably next years issues have already been decided so normal service will resume in January 2020.

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  6. And whilst more and more stamps are issued, fewer and fewer are actually seen used for postage purposes.

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    1. This is likely to be a self-perpetuating state of affairs: as the usage of postage stamps diminishes, Royal Mail will increase the number (or value) of issues as an exercise in 'revenue protection'.

      In time, RM will either have to accept that supporting philatelists may cease to be a licence to print money, or go down the Íslandspóstur route and abandon the issuance of (increasingly undeserving of the appelation) 'special' stamps altogether.

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  7. Is there a good reason why the three individual stamps are £1.60, but the two in the miniature sheet are £1.55?

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  8. It is a shame RM didn't want to produce an issue of stamps commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Postcard.

    Also, Gruffalo wasn't mentioned in the arts section of the survey RM carried out to see what people wanted to see on stamps for this year. Would Monty Python or The Italian Job been better choices?

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  9. I would think that these stamps would be used for Birthday cards sent to children. Why therefore are there no 2nd class stamps as these are the stamps mainly used for such items of postage.

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  10. Today is 50 years of Monty Phython, this would have been a nice stamp set to cover instead of 20 years of The Guffalo, whoever though of covering The Guffalo at RM, should have went to specsavers.

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  11. These stamps are good: the pictures are pleasant, in strong colours (remember the da Vinci ones) and the books are popular and modern. This is a nice change from endless world war commemoratives; sometimes showing British victories illustrated by American troops invading a Dutch colony to seize it from Japan, or the anachronistic royal family. they make a nice thematic addition to the Marvel or Dr Who issues. The miniature sheet is prettier with more useful values for birthday cards &c.

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  12. But the miniature sheet does not add anything new. It is simply a rehash of the same characters as on the other six stamps. Just an excuse to multiply the number of stamps. The Deutsche Post stamp issued in March (Axel Scheffler was born in Hamburg)told the whole story with just one stamp!

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  13. Not mentioned in the First, but the Collector's Sheet (£11.50) is Self-Adhesive. Therefore this produces a further 4 stamps, though they will never be listed separately, so 14 in total.

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