Thursday 6 May 2021

Music Giants V: Paul McCartney - another bumper pack to be issued 28 May 2021

This will undoubtedly be another set that some like, some don't, and others would if it only had fewer stamps and/or other products.  As a singer and songwriter Paul McCartney has great talent: whether he still has all the talents or not is a matter of debate.  Live televised performances over the last few years suggest that his voice is not as good as it was, especially compared to others of his age and older.

According to Royal Mail:

Sir Paul McCartney is an icon of 20th century popular music and recognised by Guinness World Records as ‘The most successful songwriter of all time’ having written or co-written 188 charted records in the UK, of which 91 reached the top 10 and 33 to number one and having been awarded more than 60 gold discs.

In the USA he has composed 32 number-one singles and is a 21-time Grammy winner.

Over the course of nearly six decades, he has sold more records than any other artist.

2021 is the 50th anniversary of the formation of solo album RAM and the formation of the band Wings which achieved huge success as among the biggest selling acts of the 70s with 27 US top 40 hits (beating Elton John’s 25) and five consecutive no 1 albums. The 1977 Wings single, Mull of Kintyre, remains the UK’s biggest selling non-charity single.  

Half a century after The Beatles’ split, McCartney remains a vital figure at the centre of rock and pop, an artist whose legacy is immense but whose work continues to generate attention and acclaim.

In celebration of the UK’s most successful songwriter and greatest music legends, Royal Mail is releasing a new set of 8 stamps featuring some of the albums which spanned Paul McCartney’s career and a Miniature Sheet which reflects his passion for studio recording.

As is usual in this series, the issue consists of a set of 8 stamps (4 x 1st class and 4 x £1.70), a miniature sheet, a retail booklet, a prestige stamp book (PSB), and a 'smilers' type Collectors Sheet.  That's in addition to the first day covers (3), presentation pack, press sheet (of 16 MS) and stamp cards.

Then for the real fans, there are the medal covers (2), limited edition PSB, and two 'Fan sheets' in the same LP format as previously. 

The stamps

Set of 8 stamps featuring Paul McCartney Album Covers (Music Giants V 28 May 2021)

1st class: 
McCartney, RAM, Venus and Mars, McCartney II
£1.70: Tug of War, Flaming Pie, Egypt Station, McCartney III

Paul McCartney in the Studio miniature sheet of 4 stamps

Royal Mail's description of these suggests that they are studio photos taken during the production of certain albums, namely: 1st class McCartney, RAM; £1.70 McCartney II, Flaming Pie.  No details of the background image have been provided.

Technical details

The 38 x 31mm gummed stamps are printed in litho in sheets of 48 by International Security Printers (ISP).  On the 115 x 89mm gummed miniature sheet the 35mm square stamps are also printed by ISP in litho.  Images © MPL Communications Inc/Ltd 2021.  The stamps and miniature sheet were designed by Royal Mail and Baxter & Bailey.

Other products

Retail booklet:  containing self-adhesive versions of the McCartney and McCartney II stamps, along with 4 x 1st class Machin definitives (coded M21L MCIL) the booklet is gravure printed by ISP.

Music Giants V: Paul McCartney retail stamp booklet.

Prestige Stamp Book:
as usual this issue includes a PSB which contains all the sheet stamps, the miniature sheet with a different background, and a pane of Machin definitives.

Cover of Music Giants V: Paul McCartney prestige stamp book.

The stamps on the definitive pane are 2 each of 2p, 10p, 50p and an old-looking 1st class.  

Scan of actual definitive pane, McCartney PSB.

It's difficult to get the colours right on the scan: the red is darker, a good match for current 1st class stamps.  The 10p is dull, similar to the Leonardo 10p.  All the stamps are coded M21L MPIL.

There is also a £49.99 special edition limited to 1970 copies, in recognition of the release of McCartney in 1970 (51 years ago).  

UPDATE 11 May.  With apologies to the dealer who sent these pictures when he first received his stock. He has a PSB with a duplicate page - unfortunately not a page of stamps, but nonetheless unusual.

UPDATE 7 July.  We don't often see flaws which stand out quite as well as the one on this image sent from Jim P, who has a fishing website (OK, we don't normally advertise but on this occasion...).  I suspect this is transient as similar circular flaws on litho-printed stamps are well-known, but of late there has been nothing this eye-catching on a British stamp.  

On the lower 50p stamp, there is a large break at the foot of the '0'.  From the images supplied it doesn't look like a fault in the screening, more an ink bubble/blob.  But any collector would be pleased to find one of these.

Collector Sheet

McCartney Album Covers Collector Sheet

This is an A4 sheet containing 10 x of the Special Stamps from the set, with his first two albums; McCartney and RAM 1st Class stamps repeated. Set against a dramatic shot of Paul performing on the Freshen Up tour in 2019.  Price £13.00  (The stamps shown as £1.55 are actually £1.70 - Royal Mail should have updated the images before sending them to us.)
Print process; lithography printed on gummed paper, as are the ordinary sheet stamps.

Fan sheets
The usual assortment of additional stamp products including a numbered RAM sheet and McCartney (runs of 5,000) each containing just four of the relevant stamps (£7.50 each) and an Album Cover Collection sheet containing all 8 stamps, for £10.90 (also a numbered run of 5,000). The stamps shown as £1.55 are actually £1.70 - Royal Mail should have updated the images before sending them to us.

McCartney III Fan Sheet

Ram Fan Sheet

Album Cover Collection Fan Sheet

Other philatelic products

First day covers (3), presentation pack, stamp cards (14), press sheet of 16 miniature sheets (edition of only 200).

Other products

Albums medal cover; 'In the Studio' medal cover; stamp pack (set of 8), miniature sheet pack; Souvenir Folder containing 8 enlargements of the stamps also including the stamps and miniature sheet fixed to the card within the folder.  Framed products or similar but mounted only for personal framing.


  1. I wonder why the set of Beatles stamps issued in 2007 isn't considered part of Royal Mail's "Music Giants" series? Come to that, the Classic Album Covers from 2010 isn't included in the series either. I'm sure it won't be too long before we see a Rolling Stones issue either.

  2. I wonder if there was something to do with commission/royalties that their best album ever 'Band On The Run' wasn't included, with Michael Parkinson, Kenny Lynch, James Coburn, Clement Freud, Christopher Lee and John Conteh being on the cover.

    1. Very strange it wasn't included.

    2. The whole thing is a bit strange. The reason should be that Band On The Run is a Wings album not a Paul McCartney album, but the Royal Mail have chosen to include a Wings album (Venus & Mars), anyway, while there were other McCartney albums to choose from.

  3. I had a quick check to see if "Band on the Run" was included in Royal Mail's Classic Album Covers set from 2010. It's not there either.

  4. Most likely The Rolling Stones next year to mark their 60th Anniversary or to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Top 100 Singles Chart around November ish,

    As for the Paul McCartney stamp set, not really my thing, his best work is... Tug of War album

  5. One of these arrived on a letter on Thursday 27th. Not franked though so I don't have an unexpected curiosity. The postmark is actually on the back of the envelope timed at 1904 on Wed 26th so the stamp was probably sold Wed afternoon.

    1. A pity about the postmark being on the back. Of course if you exploded it you would have a - visibly - early use cover, and I would be pleased to show it!


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