Tag Archives: Christmas

Overseas mails

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster advertising final posting dates for overseas Christmas mail, designed by Tilley, September 1966. (POST 110/3034)

Poster advertising final posting dates for overseas Christmas mail, designed by Tilley, September 1966. (POST 110/3034)

This poster first appeared in September 1966 and as with other long, landscape posters would have been displayed on to the side of small Morris post vans. The designer Tilley has created a colourful scene to promote the list of Christmas posting dates available at post offices. A dolphin representing sea (or surface) mail holds a copy of the list in its mouth, while a bird representing airmail holds a copy in its beak.

These days the public are more likely to use the internet to find out the last posting dates. The Royal Mail website lists the dates for 2012 here: http://www.royalmail.com/greetings.

Get your Christmas presents from our online shop. Order before 18 December for delivery within the UK.

Christmas airmail

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster advertising Christmas air mail services; featuring a flying Father Christmas with wings made out of Air Mail stickers, designed by Dick Negus and Philip Sharland, 1962. (POST 110/4254)

Poster advertising Christmas air mail services; featuring a flying Father Christmas with wings made out of Air Mail stickers, designed by Dick Negus and Philip Sharland, 1962. (POST 110/4254)

This poster from 1962 gives the last posting dates for Christmas mail sent by airmail in that year. Airmail is usually associated with international mail services but after the Second World War the Post Office began to use scheduled inland flights to carry mail between major centres.

Since 1979 Royal Mail has developed an inland network of nightly flights between provincial centres. Its national air network, Skynet, ensures millions of letters reach their destination the day after posting. Thanks to Skynet some of your Christmas cards and parcels will have gone by air for part of their journey without the need for an airmail sticker.

If Skynet sounds a bit Terminator and not as fun as this Father Christmas with angel wings of airmail stickers, we can only apologise.

Seasons greetings by radio

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster advertising radio telegram service; featuring a ship and the radio mast, November 1960. (POST 110/1406)

Poster advertising radio telegram service; featuring a ship and the radio mast, November 1960. (POST 110/1406)

Wireless or radio telegraphy was pioneered by Guglielmo Marconi and General Post Office (GPO) at the end of the 19th Century; we have previously blogged on its important role in saving lives after the Titanic disaster. While Marconi’s invention was originally implemented to transmit messages where a wired telegraph network did not exist (i.e. to ships at sea), radio was, of course, later used to broadcast information and entertainment (we have also previously blogged on the GPO’s involvement with the BBC and early broadcasting).

The above poster from 1960 advertises the GPO’s radio telegram service, where telegrams were sent overseas via a relay of on-shore transmitting stations and ships. International telephone calls were still prohibitively expensive in this period and telegrams were the most affordable option for anyone needing to send a quick message over long distances. This poster, which would have been a common site at local post offices, uses simple, stylish graphics to encourage the public to use this service at Christmas.

Post Early at Christmas

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster advertising final posting dates for the festive period; featuring a Christmas tree and a candle, designed by Hans Arnold Rothholz, 1951. (POST 110/1276)

Poster advertising final posting dates for the festive period; featuring a Christmas tree and a candle, designed by Hans Arnold Rothholz, 1951. (POST 110/1276)

From the 1930s until the 1960s the Post Office ran its annual “Post early” campaign, encouraging people to send their letters and parcels as early as possible to avoid a rush in the week leading up to Christmas. We have previously blogged about this campaign and how it became a victim of its own success. A Post Office Regional Director’s Conference paper of 1966 (RD (66) 2, POST 73/122) concluded that the campaign had proved to be “somewhat of an embarrassment since it produces a large volume of traffic before we are ready for it”.

The above poster from 1951 shows the last posting dates as 19 and 20 December, Royal Mail’s recommending posting dates for 2012 can be found on their website. If you are sending a Christmas card or parcel to Canada, Eastern Europe or the United States today is the last day – do not delay!

You can purchase a selection of “Post early” Christmas greeting cards from our online shop. For delivery within the UK please place your order by 18 December.

Temporary Christmas Staff

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Christmas temporary staff wanted, General Post Office recruitment poster, 1946. (PRD 0450)

Christmas temporary staff wanted, General Post Office recruitment poster, 1946. (PRD 0450)

It may not be the most exciting poster in the Royal Mail Archive, but this poster from 1946 is one of many that have been produced over the years to help Royal Mail and the Post Office recruit extra staff for Christmas. This year Royal Mail Group has hired around 18,000 extra staff to sort more than 130 million extra items per day, including Christmas cards and parcels.

Today’s Christmas recruitment is organised through websites and agencies, but in the 1940s it would have been common to see posters such as this in local post offices and employment exchanges. The blue lettering may seem dull to modern eyes, but this poster was produced in 1946 and colourful printing inks were in short supply during and after the war – you may have noticed that the colours in the 1944 Christmas Airgraphs poster we blogged yesterday were equally muted. Next Monday’s poster, produced in 1951, will be a more colourful offering, however…

The History of the Christmas Card

BPMA Archivist Anna Flood previews her upcoming talk on The History of the Christmas Card

It’s a treat as we head towards Christmas to showcase some of the festive items we have in our collections. Last year I had the pleasure of delving into our extensive Christmas card collection for a talk which I will be repeating this December at the BPMA.

Using a wide variety of cards from our museum collection I’ll be discussing the inception in 1843 of the Christmas card as we know it today, and how the custom took off to great proportions up to the mid twentieth century, a period during which the most attractive, intricate and inventive cards were produced.

Audience members will be able to see how cards could become covetable objects for Victorians, particularly those with novel qualities such as perfumed and fan-shaped cards.

Chromolithographed card from scrapbook, 1866 (E10869)

Chromolithographed card from scrapbook, 1866 (E10869)

Some of the cards really are works of art, produced using innovative printing and paper-cutting methods, paper lace, and embroidery. However, there will also be several prime examples of Victorian gaudiness!

Raphael Tuck and Sons celluloid Christmas card, c. 1914-1918 (OB1995.162/41)

Raphael Tuck and Sons celluloid Christmas card, c. 1914-1918 (OB1995.162/41)

The exchange of Christmas cards as a romantic gesture will be illustrated by images of some of the prettiest and most delicate cards in our collection. Alongside these ornamental numbers will be examples of the practical uses of Christmas cards, given as gifts which doubled as National Savings stamp books, and printed in the form of tradesmen’s calling cards to solicit tips.

Postman's Christmas greetings card, issued to customers in the hope of receiving a gratuity (POST 30/1813)

Postman’s Christmas greetings card, issued to customers in the hope of receiving a gratuity (POST 30/1813)

The touching messages, cheerful colours and spring-like floral embroidery of some of the First World War cards will reflect how sending Christmas greetings was important to sustaining morale and providing comfort to soldiers on the frontline and their girlfriends, wives and mothers back home.

Embroidered Christmas card by Visé Paris, c.1914-1918 (OB1995.162/30)

Embroidered Christmas card by Visé Paris, c.1914-1918 (OB1995.162/30)

I’ll also provide examples of Victorian cards which debunk the common belief that the rotund, red-suited Father Christmas was the creation of Coca-Cola advertising in the 1930s. Other themes, including pagan imagery, humour, religion and romance will also be discussed, alongside the significance of the custom of exchanging Christmas cards as a reflection of social relations, tastes and fashions.

Raphael Tuck and Sons Christmas card, c.1900 (Acc. No. 2005-0101/3)

Raphael Tuck and Sons Christmas card, c.1900 (Acc. No. 2005-0101/3)

The talk on the ‘History of the Christmas card’ will be held on Tuesday 4 December, 7-8pm, in the Phoenix Centre next to the BPMA. For further details please visit http://www.postalheritage.org.uk/talk-christmas.

Items from the BPMA’s Christmas card collection can be viewed by appointment. Please contact info@postalheritage.org.uk for details.

Get 20% off Christmas cards purchased at the BPMA Shop until 19 November. Read our blog on GPO Christmas Posters to get the discount code.

Christmas stamps 2012

The illustrator behind the world famous children’s classic The Gruffalo brings his unique style to this year’s Royal Mail Christmas stamp issue. The seven stamps, issued today, are inspired by classic Christmas images, brought to life through the instantly recognisable illustrations of Axel Scheffler.

Christmas 2012 Presentation Pack.

Christmas 2012 Presentation Pack.

His gentle and disarming approach can be seen straight away on both the 1st and 2nd class stamps; a Christmas robin perches on Santa’s hand on the 1st Class stamp, while a reindeer’s antlers take on the role of a Christmas tree for the 2nd Class image.

Christmas 2012 - 1st and 2nd class stamps.

Christmas 2012 – 1st and 2nd class stamps.

The other Christmas stamps feature a snowman meeting a penguin (87p), a Christmas robin bearing a star decoration in his beak (£1.28), and on the £1.90 stamps, the cat and mouse set aside their normal differences to decorate the Christmas tree together.

Christmas 2012 - 87p, £1.28 and £1.90 stamps.

Christmas 2012 – 87p, £1.28 and £1.90 stamps.

Designers Webb & Webb were commissioned by Royal Mail to devise the Christmas stamps and suggested Axel Scheffler, who they worked with to create images suitable for the small format of a stamp.

Two different pictorial ‘first day of issue postmarks’ are available, and as always with Christmas stamp issues one of these is from the village of Bethlehem in Wales.

Christmas 2012 - First Day of Issue handstamps.

Christmas 2012 – First Day of Issue handstamps.

Royal Mail’s policy for Christmas stamps is to alternate non-secular and secular themes; the 2011 stamps marked the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, and this year a secular theme has been chosen. To provide choice for customers, the popular 1st and 2nd Class Madonna and Child stamps, first issued in 2007, will also be available.

Stamps and stamp products are available at most Post Office branches, online at www.royalmail.com/christmas2012 and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.

GPO Christmas Posters

The tendency of many people to post letters at the very last minute poses a considerable problem to the Post Office and Royal Mail especially in the run-up to Christmas. The large volume of post, late in the day or only a few days before the Christmas holidays, has made the allocation of resources and the efficient provision of service much more complex and costly since the 1930s. When the GPO Public Relations Department was created in 1934, a poster campaign to educate the public to “Post Early this Christmas” started and some striking and wonderful poster designs were produced. We wrote about this successful campaign in a previous blog and now want to present some of our favourite poster images to set the mood for Christmas – and to remind you to “Shop Early – Post Early.”

Shop Early – Post Early poster (Holly Leaf) by Derek Hass from 1953 (POST 110/4243)

Shop Early – Post Early poster (Holly Leaf) by Derek Hass from 1953 (POST 110/4243)

From the 1930s to the 1960s, the Post Office commissioned well-known designers like Jan Lewitt & George Him, Tom Eckersley or Barnett Freedman for posters informing the public about the correct use of the postal service. Just like modern advertising campaigns, the designers used animals, striking colours and humour to get their message across. Tom Eckersley’s “Be First, Not Last – Travel Early – Shop Early – Post Early” poster from 1955 features a pantomime horse in two halves: the front half (“Be First”) is smiling, the back half (“Not Last”) frowning. Dogs, Cats, Reindeer, Doves and Owls were equally popular motives to educate the public and prevent the Christmas rush.

Be First, Not Last – Travel Early – Shop Early – Post Early by Tom Eckersley from 1955 (POST 110/1340)

Be First, Not Last – Travel Early – Shop Early – Post Early by Tom Eckersley from 1955 (POST 110/1340)

Post Early (Dachshund) by Leonard Beaumont from 1950

Post Early (Dachshund) by Leonard Beaumont from 1950

Santa Claus himself also appears in different shapes and sizes – “on wheels” with his beard flying in the wind (Manfred Reiss, 1952), skating on ice (POST 110/3213 John Rowland Barker c.1951), or flying over a smoking chimney with a bag of parcels (Eric Fraser, 1946).

Travel Shop Post Early (Father Christmas) poster by John Rowland Barker a.k.a. Kraber from 1951 (POST 110/3213)

Travel Shop Post Early (Father Christmas) poster by John Rowland Barker a.k.a. Kraber from 1951 (POST 110/3213)

Post Early and get 20% off BPMA Christmas cards!

Buy your Christmas cards by the 19 November 2012 from the BPMA Online Shop and receive 20% off your Christmas cards order over £10 (before Postage & Packaging). Enter POSTEARLY2012 discount code at checkout, or visit our Public Search Room in London.

New Lower Prices on BPMA Products

The BPMA Shop now offers new lower prices on selected products:

Original Post Office Green Papers. In the 1930s the General Post Office hosted lectures on various new or innovative aspects of its business, from engineering to public relations. The Green Papers were published versions of these lectures, and they have become an invaluable resource for information about the postal past. These are the original copies of the Green Papers from the 1930s, 40s and 50s – so numbers are strictly limited.
Was £5.00 – NOW £3.00 each – or get 5 copies for the price of 4! Enter GR33N544 discount code at the online shop checkout when ordering 5 copies of more to receive the discount.

Original GPO Green Papers

Speeding the Mail – An Oral History of the Post Office from the 1930s to 1990s Audio CD. Covering 60 years of postal history, this superb audio CD provides a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes to see how the job was done. Postal workers past and present talk about the way they used to work – recollections from the days of the GPO; stories by those who delivered letters, packets, parcels and even pairs of rabbits; stamp designers and those postal workers serving the public behind the Post Office counter.
Was £11.99 – NOW £5.99

Speeding the Mail – An Oral History of the Post Office from the 1930s to 1990s Audio CD

Postal Reform & the Penny Black – A New Appreciation. Douglas N. Muir, BPMA Curator (Philately), describes the long campaign for postal reform in this important study. He illustrates his account of the period leading to the issues of the Penny Black and the Mulready Covers with a wealth of contemporary designs, proofs and other philatelic material.
Was £5.99 – NOW £4.99

Postal Reform and The Penny Black – A New Appreciation, by BPMA Curator (Philately) Douglas N. Muir

Night Mail T-Shirt. The striking poster design of the GPO Film Unit classic Night Mail (1936) has been adapted for these shirts. Like the film itself – a classic work.
Was £9.00 – NOW £5.00

Night Mail T-Shirt

You can find all these products and more in our online shop www.postalheritage.org.uk/sale.

The BPMA Shop now also has a new postal address and phone number for shop orders and enquiries:

BPMA Product Sales
Room 309, 3rd Floor
5 Almeida Street
LONDON
N1 1AA
Tel. 0044 (0) 207 354 7272

And finally, a little reminder that Christmas is approaching fast – so ‘Post Early’ and order your Christmas cards soon from the BPMA Shop: www.postalheritage.org.uk/greetings.

Christmas stamps 2011

Each Christmas Royal Mail processes 2 billion items of post; many sent this year will feature the new Christmas stamps issued today.

Christmas 2011 minisheet

Christmas 2011 minisheet

Royal Mail’s policy for Christmas stamps is to alternate non-secular and secular themes. The 2010 stamps featured children’s characters Wallace and Gromit, and this year the Nativity is the theme. The seven new stamps are inspired by verses from the Gospels of Mathew and Luke, and recognise that 2011 is the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

2nd Class – Joseph visited by the Angel
Inspired by Matthew 1:21 where the angel tells the sleeping Joseph: ‘And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins’

1st Class – Madonna and Child
Inspired by Matthew 1:23, ‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us’

2nd Class Large – Joseph visited by the Angel
Inspired by Matthew 1:21 where the angel tells the sleeping Joseph: ‘And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins’

1st Class Large – Madonna and Child
Inspired by Matthew 1:23, ‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us’
The wider format of the Large stamp reveals the stable in the background.

68p – Baby Jesus in the Manger
Inspired by Luke 2:7, ‘And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn’.

£1.10 – Shepherds visited by the Angel
Inspired by Luke 2:10, ‘And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people’.

£1.65 Wise Men and Star
Inspired by Matthew 2:10: ‘When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy’.

Two first day of issue postmarks, also inspired by the King James Bible, are available.

Christmas 2011 postmarks

Christmas 2011 postmarks

Stamps and stamp products are available at all Post Office branches, online at www.royalmail.com/stamps and the Royal Mail eBay shop, and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.