Tag Archives: Clive Abbott

Christmas air letters

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 greetings stationery; featuring two air letters; one with a nativity scene and one with a pear tree, October 1967. (POST 110/1544)

Poster advertising Christmas greetings stationery; featuring two air letters; one with a nativity scene and one with a pear tree, October 1967. (POST 110/1544)

Like the Airgraph the air letter came about during the Second World War. It was developed to provide soldiers with an easy method of sending letters by air that weighed little and therefore required less fuel to transport. In the post-war era decorative air letters became available in post offices, with special Christmas air letters first issued in the 1960s.

This poster advertises 1967’s Christmas air letter designs. It was decided to issue one seasonal and one religious-themed air letter in that year, and the chosen designs were a nativity scene by Eric Fraser and Clive Abbott’s ‘partridge in a pear tree’. Michael and Sylvia Goamans designed the printed ‘stamp’ used on both air letters.

While Eric Fraser (1902-83) is less well known in the field of stamp and postal stationery design than Abbott or the Goamans, he submitted a number of designs on various occasions during the 1950s and 1960s, and had previously undertaken poster design work for the Post Office. You can see several of Fraser’s poster designs on our Flickr site.

Medical Breakthroughs

Today Royal Mail has issued a new set of stamps commemorating British achievement in medical research and technology. There has been a long tradition of cutting-edge medical research in the United Kingdom and several previous stamp issues have focused on this topic; these new stamps mark achievements since the Victorian era.

The six stamps are as follows:

Medical Breakthroughs stamp issue (designer: Howard Brown)

Medical Breakthroughs stamp issue (designer: Howard Brown)

1st (First Class inland letter rate): Heart-regulating beta-blockers synthesised by Sir James Black 1962

58p (Basic Rate World Wide Surface): Antibiotic properties of penicillin discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming 1928

60p (Europe up to 20gm): Total hip replacement operation pioneered by Sir John Charnley 1962

67p (Basic airmail rate up to 10gm): Artificial lens implant surgery pioneered by Sir Harold Ridley 1949

88p (Europe up to 40 gm): Malaria parasite transmitted by mosquitoes proved by Sir Ronald Ross 1897

97p (Rest of World airmail up to 20gm) Computed tomography scanner invented by Sir Godfrey Hounsfield 1971

Penicillin notatum from British Discovery and Invention issue, 1967 (designer: Clive Abbott)

Penicillin notatum from British Discovery and Invention issue, 1967 (designer: Clive Abbott)

Penicillin mould (Fleming’s discovery of penicillin) from Millenium Series. The Patients’ Tale issue, 1999 (designer: Mike Dempsey)

Penicillin mould (Fleming’s discovery of penicillin) from Millenium Series. The Patients’ Tale issue, 1999 (designer: Mike Dempsey)

As with many previous science-themed issues, designer Howard Brown has used scans, x-rays and microscopy images to illustrate the themes of these stamps. They compliment issues such as 150th Anniversary of Royal Microscopical Society and Medical Discoveries, as well as the two previous stamps which commemorated the discovery of penicillin.

150th Anniversary of Royal Microscopical Society issue, 1989 (designer: Keith Bassford)

150th Anniversary of Royal Microscopical Society issue, 1989 (designer: Keith Bassford)

Europa. Medical Discoveries issue, 1994 (designers: Pierre Vermeir and Jean-Paul Tibbles)

Europa. Medical Discoveries issue, 1994 (designers: Pierre Vermeir and Jean-Paul Tibbles)

A full range of Medical Breakthroughs products are available from Royal Mail Stamps & Collecting.