Tuesday 9 April 2024

Centenary of First UK Commemorative Stamp - 16 April 2024

So-called 'Stamp on Stamp' designs are always popular and Royal Mail have even managed to include a 'Stamp on Stamp on Stamp' in this set of 10 x 1st class stamps.  However, by including three representative stamps from a decade, they have rather crammed the designs - some of which were arguably already too small to be on a stamp originally.

Royal Mail's write-up

In 1924 stamps were proposed to commemorate this British Empire Exhibition, to be held at Wembley Park in London. King George V was a keen stamp collector but he was somewhat unsure about the idea of a commemorative stamp issue, however, despite his initial reluctance several artists were invited to submit designs, and the first British commemorative set, with designs by Harold Nelson, was issued on 23 April 1924, the first day of the exhibition. 

In the early days, there were few commemorative issues. King George V got a commemorative stamp set for his Silver Jubilee in 1935. Numbers of commemoratives remained low in the 1950s, with only five issues. These were produced to mark some of the major events of the decade, most notably the Festival of Britain.
The 1960s saw a marked change in stamp production and a period of great expansion in designs and approaches especially following the reforms to Commemorative Stamp issues initiated in 1964. 

Commemorative stamps are more than just a way of marking events and anniversaries or celebrating achievements -and certainly more than simply a means of postage. They are works of art in miniature. Often starting out as artworks in more traditional sizes, their designs must work when scaled down to something the size of. ... well, a postage stamp! Over the years, some incredible designers and artists have contributed their work, including Quentin Blake, David Hockney, Paula Rego and Yinka Shonibare.  

As commemorative stamps celebrate their 100 years, what better way to mark the anniversary than with a stamp issue about stamp issues!

Set of 10 x 1st class stamps marking the Centenary of the first UK Commemorative Stamp -
click on the image to see a larger version

For the record the designs of the 10 x 1st class (£1.35) stamps show the following stamps:

1920-30's  -  British Empire Exhibition, Postal Union, Congress, Silver Jubilee

1940s - Royal Silver Wedding, Centenary of First Adhesive Postage Stamps, Peace and Reconstruction

1950s - Tercentenary of ‘General Letter Office’, Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Festival of Britain

1960s - Landscapes, Investiture of HRH The Prince of Wales, National Nature Week

1970s - Philympia 70 Stamp Exhibition, British Wildlife, British Achievement in Chemistry

1980s - Flowers, Halley’s Comet, Transport and Communications

1990s - Robert Burns: The Immortal Memory, Millennium, Architects of the Air

2000s - The Weather, Lest We Forget, Sounds of Britain

2010s - Landmark Buildings, Jane Austen, Queen

2020s - Platinum Jubilee, Brilliant Bugs, Windrush:75 Years

Technical details

The 41 x 30 mm stamps were designed by hat-trick design and are printed in two sheets of 50 (se-tenant strips of 5) in lithography by Cartor Security Printers on paper with conventional gum.

All images © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2024, except Royal Silver Wedding, 1948, photo by Dorothy Wilding, courtesy of Royal Collection Trust; Investiture of The Prince of Wales, 1969, photo by Godfrey Argent© Camera Press London; Lest We Forget, 2007, Battle of the Somme, photo© IWM Q 70167, and Untitled-06WT, 2002 (Orange Poppy). photo© Chad Kleitsch; Landmark Buildings, 2017, SEC Armadillo, Glasgow, 'SEC ARMADILLO' is a registered trademark of Scottish Event Campus Limited; Queen, 2020, Queen II album cover© Queen Productions Limited, under license from Bravado International Group; Platinum Jubilee, 2022, Her Majesty The Queen during a visit to the headquarters of Ml5, London, February 2020 © Victoria Jones/POOL/AFP/Getty Images.

Products available

Set of 10 stamps, presentation pack, first day cover, stamp cards, collectors sheet, framed set and framed collectors sheet.

Collectors Sheet

As usual the collectors sheet is printed on self-adhesive paper so producing 10 stamps totally different to the ones sold in sheets. On the labels, relevant day of issue postmarks are shown.  This is not expensive at £14.70 (£13.50 face) but not necessary either.

Collectors Sheet of 10 x self-adhesive 1st class stamps
marking the Centenary of the first UK Commemorative Stamp

The next issue will be 'Peppa Pig' issued on 16 May with details available from 2 May.


  1. I think I will like one of the sheets more than the other.

  2. I'm pleasantly surprised.
    The stamps are to scale, unlike the David Gentleman ones, and choosing some of the best gives a chance to briefly forget many dreadful ones of recent years.

  3. Would have thought this issue would have warranted a prestige booklet unlike some of the more recent topics chosen.
    Still a nicely designed set of stamps though.

  4. A reminder, if one was needed, of the rate of price increases in recent years!

  5. Having now received this new issue the thirty-one 'stamps' appear smaller than I expected but it's still a nice set.


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