Monday 7 February 2022

London 2022: The Stamp Design of David Gentleman miniature sheet - 18/19 February 2022

Royal Mail have chosen to issue a miniature sheet celebrating the stamp art of David Gentleman on the day before the London 2022 International Stamp Exhibition opens.

David Gentleman changed British stamp design for ever when in January 1965 he first wrote to the new Postmaster General, Tony Benn, in response to a general invitation for ideas about stamps. Gentleman recommended much more interesting subject matter than had been featured previously: special themes for stamp issues rather than commemoratives for conferences or festivals.

David Gentleman’s designs have featured on more stamps than any other designer (103 issued stamps) and have become iconic in their own right, and more than 50 years later the impact on the Royal Mail’s stamps programme can still be seen.

For this stamp issue, Royal Mail selected six iconic stamps from working in collaboration with David Gentleman himself to bring you this collectors delight, and homage to the work of an Iconic Designer.

Unfortunately this means that while the individual stamps are good examples of his work, the miniature sheet itself lacks cohesion as a whole.  The original four pre-decimal stamps are all the standard double-definitive size for the period, but the two decimal stamps on the 1st class were taller and are therefore shown out of proportion on this MS.

The Stamp Designs of David Gentleman, miniature sheet issued 18 February 2022

Stamp Designs

2nd Class: 3d National Productivity Year -1962
2nd Class: 9d British Ships, Elizabethan Galleon -1969
1st Class: 9p British Trees, European Oak - 1973
1st Class: 8½p Social Reformers, Thomas Hepburn - 1976
£1.70: 6d 900th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, Norman Ship – 1966
£1.70: 4d 25th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Spitfires - 1965

Technical Details

The 192 x 74 mm miniature sheet is printed in litho by Cartor Security Printers.  The 1st class stamps are 50 x 30 mm, the remainder are 60 x 30 mm.  According to Royal Mail, the 1st class stamps are perf 14, the others perf 14½.    (Update 18 Feb, thanks to a reader: there is more to this perforation business than meets the eye; more detail later.)

UPDATE 9 February
.  My thanks to SM for a link to Gentleman on Stamps, an 18 page pdf which can be viewed and downloaded here.


Other products

First Day Cover, Presentation Pack, Stamp Cards (7), Press Sheet of 14 x MS.

London 2022, 19-26 February, Business Design Centre.

The London 2020 International Exhibition, due to take place in May 2020, was postponed due to the worldwide Covid Pandemic. Rescheduling in 2021 was not possible, and the best arrangement was for the international to take the slot already allocated for Spring Stampex in February 2022. 

Royal Mail will be in attendance as expected, and will be selling the usual Exhibition Sheet (aka Smilers) with the Hello Stamp and 20 images of the Mail Rail underground railway operated via The Postal Museum.  This will be supplied by Royal Mail to collectors who have such sheets on standing order.

Royal Mail London 2022 Exhibition sheet with 20 x 1st class Hello stamps and 20 labels depicting the Post Office Underground Railway.

There is no retail booklet to publicise the exhibition.

As has been the practice in recent years Royal Mail will issue a miniature sheet available only at the exhibition.  This year it is the Stamps of David Gentleman sheet with the exhibition logo added at the top left corner.  A limited edition of 10,000 will be available at face value (£6.42).  There is no presentation pack.

London 2022 exhibition variant of the 'Stamps of David Gentleman' miniature sheet.

Both the Exhibition sheet and the variant of the Gentleman sheet will be sold from the first day of the exhibition, 19 February.

UPDATE 15 February:  With many people here and elsewhere criticising the selection of stamps in the MS, AH has sent in this alternative version:

Readers will recall that the range of products available at Royal Mail's Autumn Stampex 2021 stand was very limited.  We have received this reply in response to clarification of the 2022 situation:

 "We are still finalising the actual product and print range that we have available but it is our intention, as normal, to bring the very latest print dates to the show. However, it is worth clarifying that we don’t anticipate that it will be practical to extend this to all print dates back to the last Stampex show in September 2019.  "

Which is good news for those attending, even if a little imprecise at present.

UPDATE 21 February: Our thanks to Doug who sends this report with his experience of the first day of the show.

Opening time was 10am; I was a bit late arriving so no outside queue. Went straight to the Royal Mail stand but only 2 in the queue! I was third at 10.10am. They had not set up the stand fully as the stock only arrived this morning. All hands on deck putting out stocks, cash machines and general setting up. Staff very good keeping us informed and the stand opened at 10.50am but the queue was only about a dozen people.

Stocks looked good. I got the high value Machins date blocks (2021 issue) taken from the full sheets which were being held ‘around the back’. Plenty of the David Gentleman special exhibition overprint. 

I also wanted a full set of the booklets with datamatrix codes but with cylinder numbers. Nothing had been sorted so a very helpful lady undid the packaging and searched the packs. A bit time time-consuming but virtually no queue waiting. They couldn’t find the Cylinders on the ‘large’ versions in the booklets. 

But I was advised to come back later as they would set someone to search for them. I went back an hour later, nobody in queue and as promised they had found what I was looking for. Most excellent service despite the challenges. 

Overall not too many visitors. Some stands missing and not set up. Some just setting up as late as 12 noon. The gallery areas looked quite busy but mostly people just browsing. 

Was it worth £10 entrance? Ok for me as I got everything I was expecting. So my collection for 2021 is complete except for the 100 x 2nd Business sheet (not the datamatrix sheets) of any 2021 printing date. No doubt dealers will have vast stocks to get rid of later in the year when these start being traded in!!

Doug later wrote this piece about a new book available from The Postal Museum. I don't do book reviews myself unless I have the book. The book has been mentioned in the philatelic press, and this review is from a reliable source!

I was just having a quick browse and spotted a new book with a Queen Victora cover but no indication what it was about!!  Being curious I had a quick browse and it looked quite good.  £25 so not too bad a price if the content was as indicated.  

Douglas Muir was on hand and the spine of the book reads “Just Large Enough” A Guide to the Postal Museum’s Philatelic Collections.  At first I thought it was just a Guide book but I did manage to digest a few pages.  

About 300 in all , and well illustrated, and printed on quality paper.  Douglas and his team must be fully congratulated on such an excellent publication.  Very well written in concise detail but despite this, it is a fairly easy read.  (To the point I cannot put the book down!) Any serious philatelist should have a copy – they will not be disappointed.  The historical chapters are packed full of facts and it is clear that the Museum has a very large and comprehensive research library (something often forgotten about).ISBN: 978-1-3999-1273-0 first published 2022.



  1. According to my February RMPB, there will also be an overprinted version of the miniature sheet in a limited edition of 10000, available only from the RM stand at London 2022 (though I'm sure you will be able to get copies from dealers if you can't attend).

  2. “Awaiting Image” – but I thought I saw one not far from here four weeks ago.

    1. You did; I inadvertently published the whole thing early due to a glitch in the editing process. This is only here now because Royal Mail have published the picture of the Exhibition (Smilers) Sheet.

      If you want to see the Gentleman MS before Friday, it's in this month's Stamp Magazine received today.

  3. Hi Ian, I found this on the internet. Not sure if it's of any interest, but I thought I would share it.

  4. Hi Ian, you might want to have a look in Stamp Collector (formerly Stamp and Coin Mart) the full Min. Sheet is shown

    1. Hi Stuart, Magazines had dispension due to publication dates, to provide the details and images before today's embargo ended.

      The pictures and details were in the blog post, just coded invisible until now.

  5. The David Gentleman miniature sheet just seems to be a random selection of stamps designed by him - again little thought seems to have gone into the design process. Would it not have been great to have had a selection of some previously unseen (to most collectors) designs?

    1. I have to agree. I would have liked to have seen some unadopted essay designs. Maybe a set of 10x 1st class se-tenant pairs. One issued design with an unadopted design for that issue. Just my thoughts.

  6. “The 1st class stamps are 50 x 30 mm, the remainder are 60 x 30 mm” which rather disappointingly means that the 8½p and 9p stamps aren’t to the same scale as the 3d, 4d, 6d and 9d ones.
    I expect that most will agree though that it is a nicer miniature sheet than we usually get.

  7. Does anyone find it strange when RM says the 60mm x 30mm are perf. 14½ x 14½ and the 50mm x 30mm stamps are perf. 14 x 14 when the vertical perfs are common to both size se-tenant stamps?

  8. This year's commemoratives are something of a swan song. Stamps are like railways: they were once useful and much used but now seldom so, but they remain because people like them. However with stamps the shock of the future demonetization of some stamps, will make many people wary of buying commemoratives or country stamps, lest they find them useless. This is a pity for the Gentleman MS because it is made up of the most useful denominations and not dear. At some point commemorative stamps - if they will continue - will have to have datamatrix squares on them which will make it hard to make them æsthetically pleasing. And when the Queen goes, either in for a republic or Prince Charles, many philatelists will regard that as a good point to end their collecting, ruining part of Royal Mail's income stream.

  9. Any news on what stock RM have, are they doing bespoke tearing again

  10. A comment on "Just Large Enough", mentioned in the blog: I was at London 2022 yesterday and picked up a copy - the nice lady on the Postal Museum stand offered me (without prompting) a copy signed by Douglas Muir. Douglas was also on the stand at the time and would have signed a copy on the spot if asked.

  11. I have just received my Gentleman FDCs. I was surprised to find that an envelope sized Hawid Mount had been added into the plastic covering behind each envelope. I had put the inners in my FDCs. The FDC envelope and its inner seemed much the same as usual. Have there been complaints about FDCs being bent once they have left the Special Handstamp Centre? Are there any other thoughts about why?


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