Thursday 7 September 2023

Dame Shirley Bassey (Music Giants 8) - 21 September 2023

With the embargo date only 2 days after the issue of the Paddington stamps Royal Mail runs the risk of the latter being overwhelmed by Shirely Bassey before it has really got started!

Royal Mail is celebrating the unique voice and iconic status of Dame Shirley Bassey 70 years on from the start of her career in 1953 with a set of eight special stamps capturing her spellbinding performances and a miniature sheet with four stamps shows a more natural side of Dame Shirley with photographs taken during recording sessions and rehearsals.

Dame Shirley Bassey is one of Britain’s best-loved performers and the first female vocalist whose albums have charted in the UK top 40 over seven consecutive decades. Born in 1937 in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Dame Shirley toured theatres and revues until she signed a record deal with Philips and scored the number one hit, ‘As I Love You’, in 1959. 

By the 1970s, she was an international star with numerous hit albums spanning contemporary pop, show tunes and soundtracks. Some of her greatest work was with film composer John Barry, creating the James Bond themes ‘Goldfinger’, ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and ‘Moonraker’, which became her signature songs. 

In the 1990s and 2000s, she attracted a whole new audience, performing the official song for the 1999 Rugby World Cup with Bryn Terfel and attending the 2007 Glastonbury Festival in diamante wellington boots. She was awarded a CBE in 1994 and a DBE in 1999.

The stamps

Set of 8 stamps featuring Shirely Bassey, Music Giants 8 - issued 21 September 2023

1st Class: Performing at the Pigalle nightclub, London, 13 September 1965 

Photo: R McPhedran/Express/Getty Images

1st Class: Performing in Bournemouth, October 1974 

Photo:  David Redfern/ Redferns/Getty Images

1st Class: Performing at the BBC Electric Proms, The Roundhouse, London, 23 October 2009 

Photo:  Brian Rasic/Getty Images

1st Class: Performing at the Safeway Picnic in the Park 2002 

Photo:  Simon Meaker /Alamy Stock Photo

£2.00: Hyde Park, London, 29 June 2002 

Photo:  Simon Meaker /Alamy Stock Photo

£2.00: Performing in Brighton. 

Photo:  David Butler / Shutterstock, under license from

£2.00: Singing ‘World in Union’ (with Bryn Terfel) during the Opening Ceremony of the Rugby World Cup, Cardiff, 1 October 1999 

Photo:  Gary M Prior/ Allsport/Getty Images

£2.00: Performing during the Oscars held at the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood, California, 24 February 2013 

Photo:  Mark Davis /Wireimage/Getty Images

Miniature sheet

The miniature sheet features four stamps with a beautiful selection of candid photographs taken of Dame Shirley Bassey during recording sessions and rehearsal sessions throughout her illustrious career.

Set of 4 stamps in miniature sheet featuring Shirely Bassey, Music Giants 8 - issued 21 September 2023

1st Class:  Rehearsing before a concert at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate her 25 years in show business, March 1978;   During rehearsals before the opening of her season at the Talk of the Town theatre in London, 26 September 1962.

£2.00:  In the recording studio, 1961;  At Grouse Lodge Studios, Ireland, 2009.

Technical details

Probably* -  Printed in sheets of 48, horizontal se-tenant strips of 4, in lithography on gummed paper perf 14.5.   The 146 x 74 mm miniature sheet with stamps 41 x 30 mm is also printed in litho on gummed paper but self-adhesive. All are printed by Cartor Security Printers.

*Design/photography details of sheet stamps awaited.

Miniature sheet:  Design by Royal Mail Group Ltd.  Photo acknowledgements:
Rehearsing before a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, photo © Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images; Talk of the Town theatre in London, 26 September 1962, photo © George Freston/Fox Photos/Getty Images;
in the recording studio, 1961, photo © Jon Lyons/Shutterstock, under license from; at Grouse Lodge Studios, Ireland, 2009, photo © Danny Clifford; border:
pictured in October 1973, photo © Victor Blackman/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Prestige Stamp Book

Music Giants 8: Shirley Bassey prestige stamp book with panes 1-4 in order as shown.
Definitive pane 4 is self-adhesive and contains 1 x 10p, 1 x 2nd class and 2 x 1st class
King Charles definitive stamps, coded M23L MPIL

Scan of actual definitive pane

Actual definitive pane from Shirley Bassey PSB; click for larger images in all cases.


My thanks to RP for sending this picture of the most spectacular PSB error anyone has seen for a long time.  It's more spectacular than my Music Giants Queen error.   The book was in his order from Royal Mail Edinburgh.

Here is a pane inverted, and face down in the book (ie facing the back) apparently from the foot of the primary sheet.  The stack of books has then been guillotined leaving this pane with only the values showing on the upper stamps and a huge margin at the foot.

Inverted and reversed definitive Shirley Bassey PSB primary sheet leaves a huge miscut with only the values showing in the upper stamps.

Obviously there will be a few more from the bottom of the sheet, and a greater number which have the (majority) top part of the 1st and 10p stamps at the foot of the pane. 

Products available

Set of 8 stamps, miniature sheet, first day covers (2), presentation pack, stamp cards (13), prestige stamp book, Collectors sheet, Fan sheet, press sheet of 18 miniature sheets, coin covers, framed stamp set, framed Collectors sheet, and framed stamped set signed in gold ink by Dame Shirley Bassey edition of 70(price £250).

Collectors Sheet

The eight stamps with attached pictorial label - these are self-adhesive and therefore different to the sheet stamps.  (Price £13.60)

Shirley Bassey Collectors Sheet of 8 self-adhesive stamps.

All these will be available from the Royal Mail website and some Post Office branches.


  1. Disappointing.

    It might as well have been called "The Hairstyles of Dame Shirley Bassey" since little else seems to distinguish one image from any other (and even there, not much changes).

  2. Underwhelming.... But I will look to buy a few stamps ahead of the 1st class price rise. And as for the £2... well, I do quite like the one of her in the Welsh flag.

    1. "the one of her in the Welsh flag" but will it have a different font on the first day cover ?

  3. I like the minisheet, candid photographs are better than her mid "laaaaaaaaa!"

  4. With international rates (particularly for Postcrossing) effectively starting at £2.20, I find these £2 values a bit infuriating. I know I can make them up, but there isn't much room on a card for that! Really feels like it takes these out of potential use for me.

    1. £2 is great - it is the surface mail / international economy rate for outside Europe. Many UK-based postcrossers use this rate. I carried out a small international economy experiment a few years ago, and found most of the cards ended up going airmail, and some postcrossers have noted this too.

    2. Fair enough - I suppose I don’t have as much trust in the speed of international economy (though am not necessarily surprised they often ended up in the airmail pile at Heathrow!)

  5. If the issue is not available at ALL post offices it is an appendix issue

    1. That hasn’t been the catalogue editor’s policy for the last 20 years. The stamps are widely available.

      Under Post Office Ltd new branch set up, just as some don’t do vehicle road tax and passport applications, some don’t sell special stamps, as they have much less secure storage space.

      As they are a separate company to Royal Mail, POL alone can determine how and what stamps they sell.

  6. Received collector sheet today, it appears to have the numbers 10 over 5 black text, very small font, located approx 15mm from left top corner, 5mm down. Does anyone else have this? My copy from TH under their plastic protector is covered in third party figure prints (great!!)

    1. If you can provide a scan of that I'll be pleased to show it and ask Royal Mail.

      As for the finger prints - doesn't sound good.

  7. I was in my local post office today (Blackheath Village, London SE3) and they still have not received the Shirley Bassey stamps. I was behind two people who actually asked for them, and the kind man at the counter had to say that they still hadn't arrived and he wasn't sure if they ever will. What a shame - a few people actually wanting to buy stamps and none were sent. I posted some of mine and the whole office wanted to see them (mine came from Edinburgh - although my "collectors sheet" arrived damaged as well and not in a plastic protector!

    1. I had my 2 PSB's sent to me in an A5 envelope, just loose, no protection whatsoever. Had to be sent back for replacements as they were damaged due to the lack of proper packaging.

  8. Decembers GSM has listed the PSB as catalogue No. CY1


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