Monday 14 November 2022

Tutankhamun set, MS & PSB - 24 November 2022 -- full details

Tutankhamun Discovery 1972 stamp

Royal Mail is marking 100 years since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb by British archaeologist Howard Carter with a new set of Special Stamps and a Miniature Sheet.  The remarkable discovery has shaped historians’ understanding of the religion, rituals and culture of ancient Egypt to this day.

UPDATE 12 December:  Royal Mail's website now indicates that the PSB (and year books etc) will be available from 19 December; the definitive pane has been distributed to dealers.

UPDATE 21 December: My PSB was posted special delivery yesterday and arrived today. Ordinary customers should get theirs in January by ordinary mail.

Details from Royal Mail

In early November 1922, a few months after Egypt became independent, the eyes of the world turned to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor with the announcement of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb by a team led by Howard Carter and funded by Lord Carnarvon – the first intact royal burial found in Egypt. 

On 26 November 1922, Carter made a small hole in the sealed inner doorway of the tomb and peered in. He later recalled: “At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold – everywhere the glint of gold. When Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, ‘Can you see anything?’ it was all I could do to get out the words, ‘Yes, wonderful things.’.” 

The tomb contained food and wine, clothing, jewellery and furniture – ritual items to enable the king’s journey into the afterlife. Tutankhamun’s body lay protected within a layered arrangement of four gilded shrines, erected around a sarcophagus containing three nested coffins. On 28 October 1925, Carter lifted the innermost coffin’s lid to reveal the king’s wrapped body; covering the head was what is now the most iconic object from the tomb – a gold mask. 

As well as a team of experienced Egyptian excavators, Carter and Carnarvon gathered a group of specialists to record and conserve the tomb’s objects, including the photographer Harry Burton from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, whose images evocatively recorded the undisturbed tomb and captivated international audiences. It would take the team ten years to clear, document and conserve over 5,000 objects packed into the small tomb. The objects are in the Grand Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and the excavation documentation is in the archive of the Griffith Institute, the centre for Egyptology at the University of Oxford.

The stamps

Set of 8 stamps issued 24 November 2022 to mark the centenary of the discovery of Tutankhamun's Tomb by Howard Carter.

2nd Class - Head Of The King The head of the king emerging from a lotus flower represents part of the ancient Egyptian creation myth when the infant sun-god Re appears from a lotus flower floating on the primordial waters. Tutankhamun, like Re and the sun, would also be born again each day. The head was found in the rubble of the entrance corridor, and its unusual placement may have allowed it to function as a magical portal that enabled the king to leave and return to his tomb each day. Alternatively, it may have been dropped there by robbers, possibly after they had stripped valuable earrings from the pierced ears.

2nd Class -  Inlaid Fan Fans provided cool air and shade. Eight were found in the tomb, all beautifully decorated and originally fitted with ostrich feathers (long since perished). Oval namerings, or ‘cartouches’, were used exclusively for kings’ names, and they decorate many of Tutankhamun’s possessions, including this inlaid fan found placed between two of the shrines in the burial chamber. Two vultures, representing the goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nekhbet and Wadjet, protect the king’s cartouches. The left cartouche, assigned to the king on his accession, reads Nebkheperure (‘The lordly manifestation of Re’), while the right cartouche contains his birth name, Tutankhamun (‘Living image of Amun’).

1st Class - Gold Mask
The mask of Tutankhamun is now the most iconic object from the tomb, revealed in October 1925 when the innermost coffin’s lid was opened. Covering the head, neck and upper chest of the king’s wrapped body, the mask’s face is an idealised portrait of the young Tutankhamun. He wears the striped nemes headdress with the royal insignia of the heads of a cobra and a vulture on his brow, a long plaited false beard (not shown in Harry Burton’s photo, above, as it was temporarily removed for conservation and photographed separately), and a broad collar covering his chest and shoulders. The ancient Egyptians believed that gold was the flesh of the gods; accordingly, the mask is made of pure gold inlaid with blue glass and semi-precious stones.

1st Class - Falcon Pendant
This falcon pendant (or pectoral) portrays the sun-god Re-Harakhty, a merged form of the royal god Horus and the sun-god Re. The king was a living god, who embodied Horus and was also the ‘son of Re’. The falcon is associated with these gods and with kingship. The hovering falcon wears the sun disk on its head and grasps the symbols for ‘eternity’ and ‘life’ in its talons. The pendant was found inside a box in the so-called treasury, and is composed of gold inlaid with semi-precious stones and coloured glass

£1.85 - Lion Couch
When Carter peered into the tomb’s antechamber, the first objects he glimpsed were the “gilded couches in strange forms, lion-headed, Hathor-headed, and beast infernal”. The sides of the three couches or beds are modelled in animal form, including the lion couch with its striking inlaid eyes and nose, made from crystal and blue glass. The couches were used during the funerary rites; they represent the three mother-goddesses present at different stages of the king’s passage towards rebirth. The lion-panther goddess, Set-Mehtet, was responsible for his transformation into a divine being.

£1.85 - Throne
Lord Carnarvon referred to the so-called ‘gold throne’ as “perhaps the most important item among the entire contents of the tomb”. The throne is made from gilded wood with gold sheets applied to the seat and backrest, and is lavishly carved and decorated. On the backrest is an intricately composed scene created from thousands of inlays made from coloured glass, lapis lazuli and other materials. The young king is seated in a pavilion, attended by his wife, Queen Ankhesenamun, who stands before him. He wears a short curly wig and a diadem, topped by an elaborate, tall, plumed crown with pendant cobras.

£2.55 - Boat Model
Found in the fourth chamber, named the annexe, this unique boat model is made from calcite (Egyptian alabaster) and decorated with gold, ivory, faience (ceramic-like material) and coloured pigments. The boat, with ibex-headed prow and stern, is supported on a box-shaped pedestal. Amidships is a papyrus-columned pavilion, in front of which kneels a girl holding a lotus flower, and at the stern stands a female dwarf holding a pole. Although the object’s purpose is uncertain, its design may be connected to the king’s rebirth, the naked female figures and ibex being symbols of fertility and rejuvenation.

£2.55 - Guardian Statue
This imposing life-size statue of Tutankhamun, made of black painted wood with gilded details, shows the king wearing the striped nemes headdress with the uraeus serpent at the front, the symbol of royal authority. The uraeus represents Wadjet, the protector goddess of Lower Egypt, in the form of a cobra. In Egyptian belief, black symbolised regeneration because it was associated with the dark, fertile soil deposited by the Nile during the annual inundation. Often referred to as a ‘guardian statue’, it is one of a pair found in the antechamber, positioned on either side of the burial chamber’s sealed doorway, which Carter described as “facing each other like sentinels”.

Miniature Sheet

Following the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, Howard Carter immediately recognised the size of the task that lay ahead of him and gathered a team of specialists to record and conserve the tomb and its contents. Alongside their immediate circle of Egyptological colleagues, he also depended on a group of skilled and experienced Egyptians who had worked alongside him for many years and were able to meet all the challenges and practical difficulties the excavation presented. 

Miniature sheet issued 24 November 2022 to mark the centenary of the discovery of Tutankhamun's Tomb by Howard Carter.

Harry Burton was the only photographer permitted to work inside the tomb during the excavation. Burton took two views of each area, one showing all the objects in place and another after numbered cards had been placed beside each object, assigning it a reference number. Burton used glass-plate negatives, and each exposure took several seconds or even minutes. Burton then processed the negatives in a darkroom set up in an adjacent tomb.

  • The Miniature Sheet contains an additional four stamps which capture the discovery of Tutankhamun’s Tomb through a selection of photographs taken by Burton

  • The background of the Miniature Sheet is a photograph of the entrance to the tomb


1st Class Objects in the antechamber
Harry Burton was a pioneer of archaeological photography, and his view of the objects in the tomb’s antechamber demonstrates his camera and lighting skills. Taken before anything was touched, it illustrates the “wonderful things” first seen by Howard Carter on 26 November 1922.

1st Class Head of the outermost coffin
Taken on 5 February 1925, Burton’s intimate study of the head from the lid of the outermost coffin evokes the stillness of the tomb; the royal insignia, with vulture and cobra on Tutankhamun’s forehead, are still adorned with a tiny garland.

£1.85 Examining the innermost coffin
Some photographs were carefully staged, including one capturing Carter, with an Egyptian colleague, examining the innermost coffin. Carter poses motionless, as the camera focuses on his tool-equipped hand, which investigates the blackened funerary unguents covering the coffin’s lid.

£1.85 Moving small shrine to laboratory
Journalists and tourists headed to the Valley of the Kings to witness the world-famous event, many taking their own cameras. Most of their photographs show the team transporting objects from the tomb to the nearby conservation laboratory.


Technical Details

The 37 x 35 mm stamps were designed by Andy Altmann and printed in litho by Cartor Security Printers in sheets of 60 (in se-tenant pairs) perforated 14x14.5.  Two phosphor bands except the 2nd class which has a single band justified left to avoid it printing over the facial image.  Acknowledgements:objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun by kind permission of The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) Project; photographs © Araldo De Luca.

The miniature sheet is also designed by Andy Altmann and printed in litho by Cartor Security Printers using photographs by Harry Burton © Griffith Institute, University of Oxford. "Moving small shrine' photograph © David Cole/Alamy Stock Photo.   The 146 x 74 mm sheet contains four stamps 41 x 30 mm.  The MS is not printed in 4-colour litho - it appears to be shades of grey/black and shades of olive.

Royal Mail have confirmed:  Black and a gold for the background;  Yellow for the heads, values and captions.   

Prestige Stamp Book

Entitled ‘Finding a Pharaoh’ the Prestige Stamp Book includes a wealth of fascinating insight into the discovery of Tutankhamun’s Tomb in 1922, compiled with help from Egyptology experts, the Griffith Institute. Packed with illustrations and photography which tell the story of Howard Carter’s career and journey to excavation in the ‘Valley of Kings’ in Egypt. Includes original photographs, sketches, notes and artefacts to tell the story. Includes four stamp panes containing all twelve Tutankhamun stamps plus a pane of definitive stamps unique to the issue

All the stamps are said to be printed in lithography; the special stamps are comventionally gummed and the definitives are self-adhesive.  If true, these will be the first barcoded definitives are printed in lithography rather than gravure.

UPDATE 28 December:  My thanks to petemk for pointing out what I hadn't had time to read, that the definitive pane is printed in gravure - and this is stated in the book itself.  It is distressing that the production department within Royal Mail does not provide full accurate and up to date information to the Stamps & Collectibles department so that dealers and collectors know what they have from the outset - or know what to expect.  Assuming the text in the book itself is correct - why was that not relayed for the dealer news briefing back in October?

Machin definitives: the booklet pane contains two each 10p & 20p, a single £1.85 definitives and a label.  I expect the security coding will be M22L and MPIL - confirmed!

UPDATE 21 November:   Royal Mail's website now indicates that the PSB will be available from 12 December, and the definitive pane FDC from 28 November. 

UPDATE 12 December:   Royal Mail's website now indicates that the PSB (and year books etc) will be available from 19 December; the definitive pane has been distributed to dealers.

UPDATE 21 December: My PSB was posted special delivery yesterday and arrived today. Ordinary customers should get theirs in January by ordinary mail. 

Tutankhamun prestige stamp book cover

UPDATE 15 December.  Now that the actual definitive pane has arrived I can show scans of the pane and stamps.  This pane seems to be very difficult to colour match on my old scanner, taken as a whole.  On the 10p & 20p stamp the appearance of the background, which should be plain white, is affected by both the iridescent ink and the security printing on the backing paper.

Detail of iridescent printing on 10p M22L MPIL

10p barcoded definitive stamp from Tutankhamun prestige stamp book coded M22L MPIL

Detail of iridescent printing on 20p M22L MPIL

20p barcoded definitive stamp from Tutankhamun prestige stamp book coded M22L MPIL

£1.85 barcoded definitive stamp from Tutankhamun prestige stamp book coded M22L MPIL

Scan of actual Tutankhamun prestige stamp book definitive stamp pane coded M22L MPIL



Set of stamps, miniature sheet, prestige stamp book, first day covers (3), presentation pack, postcards, press sheet of 18 miniature sheets, medal cover, framed products.  The press sheet has two columns with barcodes and one without.

As usual we will not be stocking these.



  1. A great issue. I'm keen to get the definitive stamps into my collection - glad they have mixed up the denominations from the 50p & £1

  2. Looking forward to getting this issue, some different definitive issues too, shame about the supply problem but be nice to get something in December, which maybe the final issue with the late Queen's cameo on .

  3. They are nice stamps, still waiting to receive mine though, guessing they stuck in the backlot

  4. What will be the first stamps with King Charles III's head on them - January commems or later definitive stamps?

  5. So much black on all but one of the sheet stamps will mean many a pen cancellation in addition to the feint ink jet cancellation.
    And an increase in price from 3p in 1972 to 1766p now can hardly be justified.

  6. By the time my Tutankhamun stamps finally arrive, I expect that they will be bearing the profile of William V!

    1. Let us know if yo don't get them at the rescheduled time, which is when I am expecting mine.

    2. Stamps and MS arrived on Saturday, in separate envelopes, but still no 'Prestige' book.

  7. Presentation Pack arrived on Monday , still waiting for the m/s (according to my account - not yet dispatched).

  8. Still no sign of my stamp set and miniature sheet (I didn't order the PSB). I've sent a "Where's My Order?" message. Perhaps the Curse of Tutankhamun was real after all.

  9. RM web site is now showing 19-Dec for the Tutankhamun PSB - it might be the New Year before we see it

  10. Royal Mail website now shows the PSB being available from 19th December

  11. Enquiries with RM have revealed that the PSB FDC is being sent week commencing 19th December. The same goes for Year Books and Year Packs. So you might be lucky if they arrive before Christmas

  12. I'm still awaiting the Tutankhamum PSB eighteen days after it was due.

  13. Like most people I am awaiting my PSB but I did have a chat with a very helpful agent this morning and he confirmed after a bit of a wait and lots of page turning that the PSB definitive pane is printed in Litho so another different type of definitive.

  14. That is what we were told originally but I will await the experts to find out for sure. Gibbons won't allocate any numbers until they know what they are.

  15. Always best to make sure 🙂

  16. Pity RM couldn't get the denominations right on the images of the stamps on P.63 of the 2022 Yearbook (4x 1st & 4x £1.85). Another failure in proof reading

  17. Royal Mail sent me the Tutankhamun PSB today - why did they not wait until after Christmas with strikes on 23rd and 24th? God knows what state it will be in after more than a week in the mail.

  18. I got my PSB today in good order despite the long wait. Like Anonymous above it was posted on 21st Dec. RM need to really get their house in order! Rant over Happy New Year to all at Norphil

  19. I was intrigued as the blurb was that all stamps in the PSB were printed by lithography this is true of all panes except the definitive pane which is printed in gravure, this is stated on the last page of the PSB so not entirely new stamps.

    1. Thank you for pointing this out. I've edited the blog.

  20. Still not got my PSB.
    Five weeks late.

    1. Quite ridiculous, but only a week since the last date they last said it would be available after which we have had only 1 delivery day. Solidarity with the workers, surely?

  21. Regarding the 'Gravure or Litho' debate around the Machins pane - although the book states that the stamps are printed in gravure, they appear markedly different in terms of their background screen to the barcoded Machin stamps previously issued in the Transformers booklet.

  22. The MBPC report on the Tutankhamun PSB states that the definitive pane was printed in litho. As the stamps are new anyway (first time these values have appeared with MPIL rather than MAIL) it won't affect the collectability for most people.

    1. Apologies that the above post appeared as "Anonymous" - I didn't notice that I wasn't properly signed-in.

  23. I suppose we will have to wait until SG decide what's what with so many conflicting reports, like most collectors I just want to know for definite .

  24. As the definitive pane FDC was available late November and the actual pane and PSB up to late December might this suggest different printings and yet more varieties ?
    And does anyone know what caused the delay ?


Thank you for reading the blog and commenting: please use an identity (name or pseudonym) rather than being Anonymous; it helps us to know which 'anonymous' comments are from the same person to avoid confusion. Comments are moderated to avoid spam, but will be published as soon as possible.