Wednesday 7 July 2021

Wild Coasts - 22 July 2021

WILD COASTS - what does it mean?  What came to mind when you saw this in the programme back in January, when I illustrated it with this stamp from 2002 showing the wild coast of Portrush in County Antrim?  Well, it isn't more of the same, at least not for that issue.

And the subject is not one of these either:


As readers of the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog will know, the subject is closer to these - all coastal wildlife, above and under the surface.

And the stamps - which I am not yet able to show - are already available on eBay, for pre-order.  I suspect this is somebody who works in or owns a franchised sub-post office.  And Royal Mail Stamps & Collectables have no control over them.  (Let's face it RM can't prevent post offices from selling stamps ahead of the issue date as we have seen.)

More details of this set of 10 x 1st class and miniature sheet, issued on 22 July, next week!


UPDATE 13 July

Why are these stamps being issued?  According to Royal Mail:

Nowhere in the UK is more than 70 miles from the coast, and our waters team with incredible marine life. This stamp issue celebrates the beautiful and surprising animals of our coastal seas and shores, with the UK waters and British Isles providing unique habitats for a multitude of species.   The 10 stamps celebrating the UK coastline, including wildlife from all over the UK are accompanied by a 4 stamp miniature sheet focussing on the UK’s marine food web.

I've never before heard of the food chains being described as a web, so we all learn.

The set of 10 x 1st class.

Set of 10 'Wild Coasts' stamps issued 22 July 2021 by Royal Mail (click to enlarge)

The set showcases wildlife across the UK’s coastlines; from mammals (Grey Seal, Bottlenose
Dolphin, Orca), to fish (Long-snouted Seahorse, Cuckoo Wrasse), anemones (Fried-egg Anemone), crustaceans (Spiny Spider Crab), birds (Northern Gannet), molluscs (Common Cuttlefish) and Cold-water Coral Reef.

The 35 mm square stamps are printed by ISP in litho, in two sheets of 50, perf 14.5.  

Design and acknowledgements:  Designed by Steers McGillan Eves. 
Northern Gannet © Tim Slater/Alamy Stock Photo; Common Cuttlefish © Alex Mustard/2020VISION/; Grey Seal © Robin Chittenden/; Bottlenose Dolphin © Graham Eaton/; Spiny Spider Crab © Sue Daly/; Long-snouted Seahorse © Alex Mustard/; Orca © Hugh Harrop; Fried-egg Anemone © Sue Daly/; Cuckoo Wrasse © Scotland: The Big Picture/; Cold-water Coral Reef © Prof J Murray Roberts, University of Edinburgh

The miniature sheet

Marine Food Chain miniature sheet issued by Royal Mail 22 July 2021

In the MS, the two 1st class stamp show Phytoplankton and Zooplankton; the two £1.70 stamps show Atlantic Herring and Harbour Porpoise.

Design and acknowledgements:  Designed by Maïté Franchi, © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2021.  The 192 x 74 mm sheet contains stamps 41 x 30 mm, printed by ISP in litho, on gummed paper.  Perforation is 14.5 x 14.

Retail booklet

Wild Coasts retail booklet including Orca and Grey Seal stamps. Machin definitives will be coded M21L MCIL not as shown in this publiclity image.

As usual the self-adhesive retail booklet is printed by ISP Walsall in gravure which makes this two more new stamps, prey and predator, although apart from the gannet and the dolphin these will be most popular with the stamp-using public.

Collectors sheet  The self-adhesive collectors sheet includes the 10 x 1st class stamps from the main set. Each stamp is presented alongside stickers featuring further photographs of the coastal wildlife in their habitats.

Set of 10 'Wild Coasts' stamps with labels attached, issued 22 July 2021 by Royal Mail (click to enlarge)

Other products:  first day covers (2), presentation pack, stamp cards, framed set, framed collectors sheet.

UPDATE  27 July:   I have often said that special stamps are available at the majority of post offices in the UK (supposedly approximately 7,500 of 11,500).  I found some postcards that would make good maximum cards, but when I visited Dereham's Crown PO to buy some gannets I was told that this 4-counter position office was only supplied with 100 stamps - not 100 sets, 10 sets!  So I ventured to the village I usually use for posting.  

There the stamps (issued Thursday last) had not arrived (although I would have expected them to be delivered 3-4 weeks earlier, and the sub-postmaster told me that as nobody ever asked for special/philatelic stamps and other products he would return them when they did arrive and had asked not to be supplied with any more.


There are some attractive designs, but Royal Mail have steered clear of highlighting the problem of foreign matter such as fishing tackle and microplastics in the food chain.  I suppose they wouldn't make attractive stamps but they would certainly be applauded by Greenpeace in their campaign against plastics.  Here's a different gannet from their website.

It wouldn't make an attractive stamp but it would make people notice, especially in the booklet!


  1. Hi Ian,
    I thought the Wild Coasts issue date was 22 July? Maybe Midpex was a bit too convivial!!??


    1. Yes, of course thank you, 12 August is Industrial Revolutions.

      I published 4 blog-posts yesterday and drafted more - not bad for day 1 and I'm allowed a little slip. Nobody else spotted it though.

    2. Hi Ian,
      Indeed you are. No criticism was meant.


    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The Wild Coast issue is now being advertised on the RM website. Based on previous experience it may disappear again, as the people who run their website seem to like to do a "dry run" first. However, you can at least see the stamps and decide whether you like them or not.


  3. Collectors Sheet is described as being self-adhesive in the First.

  4. Collectors Sheet as self-adhesive brings it up to 24 stamps ( or 26 if those self-adhesives are different from the two in the retail booklet ).

    1. Went into the main PO in Norwich yesterday to get some of the Wild Coast stamps on Friday.I wanted 4 of the dolphin and seal ones, but was told that could only have strips of 5 with all the designs or 'it would upset stamp collectors.' After some negotiation I left with 2 dolphin ones. However during this I looked at a set of the Industrial Revolution ones which they had in a poster board by the business counter.they are broad and shallow with pictures of early 19th century type devices, such as Puffing Billy and a penny farthing in dull colors and are similar to the ones about 15 years ago.

    2. That's the first time I've heard about them (in WHSmith) caring about collectors as regards special stamps.

      Anecdotal evidence is that they only get them out of the safe if asked for them, and return them to stores as quickly as possible. What they should be doing is offering them to anybody who asks for 1/2/5/10/ etc 1st class stamps.

  5. I received an email from RM this morning (24/7) sent at 10:15 advising me that my FDC order was on it's way.
    Perhaps they sent them via the Science Fiction issue Time Machine as I received them last Thursday.

    1. I had a similar experience with my order - it arrived on the 22nd, but the email informing that my order was on the way came a couple of days later. Clearly RM are trying to convince us that the post is superior to this new-fangled email thingy!! More seriously, the RM email system has been flaky for quite a while - I don't get about 30% of the order or delivery confirmation emails that I should.


  6. When I saw the title of the Stamp issue, I really thought of wildlife under our British coasts, so I wasn't far off, pretty much spot on. These stamps are beautifully illustrated, probably the best set of the year for me. They are bright and pretty, this set would have been better released as 2 First Day Covers and covering a set of 16 stamps, instead of releasing a Miniature Sheet First Day Cover. On the whole the photographic material on the stamps are really eye catching.


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