Tag Archives: The Queen

Royal Portraits

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty The Queen, Royal Mail has unveiled a special stamp issue featuring a collection of some of the finest ever portraits of The Queen, including a brand new painted portrait; the first Royal Mail has commissioned of the monarch.

The six Royal Portraits stamps, issued 30 May 2013.

The six Royal Portraits stamps, issued 30 May 2013.

The painting is the result of three especially convened sittings with The Queen for the artist, Nicky Philipps, that took place in the Chinese Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace in the late autumn of 2012. The Queen is dressed in the Order of the Garter robes.

Portrait of Her Majesty The Queen by Nicky Philipps, specially commissioned by Royal Mail.

Portrait of Her Majesty The Queen by Nicky Philipps, specially commissioned by Royal Mail.

Nicky painted a double portrait of Princes William and Harry in 2009, which is displayed in the National Portrait Gallery. She was selected for the Royal Mail commission after research and consultation with the National Portrait Gallery, Royal Mail is gifting the portrait to the Royal Collection.

The Queen’s Coronation took place on 2 June 1953 following her accession on 6 February 1952.

The other five stamps feature; study for The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II by Terence Cuneo, 1953; Portrait by Andrew Festing, 1999; Portrait by Pietro Annigoni, 1955; Portrait by Sergei Pavlenko, 2000 and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Richard Stone, 1992.

Study for The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II by Terence Cuneo, 1953 – 2nd Class.

Study for The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II by Terence Cuneo, 1953 – 2nd Class.

Portrait by Nicola Jane Philipps (Nicky), 2013 - 1st Class.

Portrait by Nicola Jane Philipps (Nicky), 2013 – 1st Class.

Portrait by Andrew Festing, 1999 – 78p.

Portrait by Andrew Festing, 1999 – 78p.

Portrait by Pietro Annigoni, 1955 - 88p.

Portrait by Pietro Annigoni, 1955 – 88p.

Portrait by Sergei Pavlenko, 2000 – £1.28.

Portrait by Sergei Pavlenko, 2000 – £1.28.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Richard Stone, 1992 - £1.88.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Richard Stone, 1992 – £1.88.

The Royal Portraits stamps are now available from 9,000 Post Offices across the UK, online at www.royalmail.com/royalportraits, and by phone on 08457 641 641.

Designing the Diamond Jubilee stamps

Earlier this year we marked the 60th year of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign by opening our Diamond Jubilee exhibition. The exhibition includes stamp artwork, issued stamps and other material, and it can be viewed for free by visiting the Royal Mail Archive.

To complement the exhibition we have invited designer Kate Stephens and Royal Mail Design Manager (Stamps & Collectibles) Catharine Brandy to discuss the recent Diamond Jubilee stamp issue at an event on Thursday 27th September. The pair will give a presentation looking at the design of the stamps which will be followed by a question and answer session.

Stamps from the recent Diamond Jubilee issue.

Stamps from the recent Diamond Jubilee issue.

The event takes place at the Phoenix Centre, next to the Royal Mail Archive, at 7pm on Thursday 27th September and costs £3.00 (£2.50 concession). Book your tickets online by visiting our website.

Get an online preview of the Diamond Jubilee exhibition at www.postalheritage.org.uk/diamondjubilee.

The Diamond Jubilee Miniature Sheet

The Diamond Jubilee Miniature Sheet is available from today; it marks the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen’s accession to the Throne. The new 1st Class stamps on the sheet feature iconic images of Queen Elizabeth II from stamps, notes and coins issued throughout Her 60-year reign.

The Diamond Jubilee Miniature Stamp Sheet

The Diamond Jubilee Miniature Stamp Sheet

Included among the six stamps is a brand new 1st Class diamond blue definitive stamp, millions of which will replace the current standard gold definitive in Post Offices during 2012.

The first stamp on the new definitive sheet is inspired by the very first stamp issued during Her Majesty The Queen’s reign. This 1952 stamp featured a classic photograph by society photographer Dorothy Wildling. The set also includes portraits taken from a £1 banknote first issued in 1960, and a £5 note issued in 1971. The images used which are taken from coins include a pre-decimal portrait first issued in 1953, on a coin minted the same year, and an image from a 1971 decimal coin which featured a portrait created by Arnold Machin.

The new diamond blue Machin stamp completes the set and features Arnold Machin’s iconic image on a blue background that highlights the words ‘Diamond Jubilee’ in iridescent ink. Since it first appeared in 1967, this timeless image has been reproduced on more than 220 billion of Royal Mail’s definitive stamps.

The fully illustrated presentation pack of The Diamond Jubilee Miniature Sheet is written by Douglas Muir, Curator, Philately, of the British Postal Museum and Archive. He takes a look at the history and iconography of Queen Elizabeth II portraiture on stamps, coins and banknotes. The pack was designed by Studio Dempsey, and printed by Walsall Security Printers.

First Day of Issue Postmarks

First Day of Issue Postmarks

The Stamp Sheet and the new Diamond Jubilee 1st Class Definitive stamps as well as additional philatelic products are available at all Post Office branches, from Royal Mail website, the Royal Mail eBay shop and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.

The BPMA Shop now offers a beautiful collector’s item to celebrate this year’s Diamond Jubilee: a Wedgwood Jasperware plate in Portland Blue with the white cameo relief of Her Majesty The Queen by Arnold Machin which was the basis of the classic definitive portrait.

A Diamond Jubilee display will be launched in the Royal Mail Archive Search Room in May.

Ulysses and the detention of libellous mail

by Richard Wade, Archives Assistant

One of the more unusual items we have in the archive collection here at BPMA is a first edition copy of Ulysses by James Joyce. Joyce wrote this between 1919-1920 and when it was published in 1922 it was soon banned for obscene content. It was illegal to send these sorts of publications through the post, and this became one of many publications that the Post Office was instructed to intercept if they came across them.

There was a censorship department that was allowed to open and detain items sent through the mail if a warrant to do so was given by the Secretary of State. In all other cases, the mail was actually considered to be the property of The King or Queen and could not be tampered with under any circumstances. If a warrant was made, the decision was usually taken through correspondence with the Home Office, and in the case of a publication called The Herald of Revolt there is actually a letter within Royal Mail’s archives from the Home Office endorsing the warrant to detain the publication.

The reasons for detaining packages were generally because they were libellous in nature and it was not wished to spread around the country the type of sentiment they expressed, such as in The Indian Sociologist. This was an Indian nationalist publication produced in the early twentieth century that was fairly obviously anti-British in sentiment. In the case of this, it was also requested that the addresses it was being sent to be noted down, so this was also a way of finding out who was receiving such publications. There was another publication, The Liberator, which contained bad words and criticisms of the Royal Family and of British institutions, and it was obviously not considered wise to have lots of people reading and being influenced by these thoughts as it may have led to popular unrest. In the case of this, there had actually been complaints from the Bishops of Winchester and Wakefield to the public prosecutions about it. Another factor was that the Post Office itself did not want to seem responsible for having spread libel around the country. It was not just particular publications that were requested to be intercepted though. There was a request on 17th January 1911 to detain letters received for delivery at a particular address, this being 100 Sydney St. There were even very specific demands, such as for a letter posted at Charring Cross Post Office at 2:15pm, addressed to Donald Murrey of 61 Stanton Rd, Wimbledon, to be stopped.

To go back to Ulysses, there was a warrant issued to detain and open packages containing this, which was in force from 27th March 1933 to 13th November 1936, over which time a fair few copies were intercepted. In particular, efforts were being made to stop the importation of Ulysses into the country from publishers abroad. There was one such example sent from The Odyssey Press that had outlets in Hamburg, Paris and Bologna to a Mr E. Percy of Forest Gate, which was confiscated. The example of the book in the archive was being sent from a David Byrne in Dublin to the London bookseller Jacob Schwarz, which despite the ban being lifted, was never forwarded on to Mr Schwarz or sent back to Mr Byrne, but remained with the Post Office until eventually it was transferred across to the archive.

The copy of Ulysses sent by David Byrne to Jacob Schwarz, accompanied by a receipt and Byrnes business card.

The copy of Ulysses sent by David Byrne to Jacob Schwarz, accompanied by a receipt and Byrne’s business card.

Amusingly too, after one copy was sent from Miss Browning of Ipswich to Miss Hobman in London, Miss Browning actually wrote to the Post Office and complained that the recipient had not received it and that it had not been sent back, and asked what had happened to it. This meant that she knowingly tried to have a banned publication sent through the post and then expressed great surprise when it did not reach its destination and risked writing in to complain, resulting in a letter back informing her that she could be prosecuted for her actions. Either that, or despite the raging debate going on in the country about Ulysses, she failed to realise that it was in fact banned. The letter she sent to the Post Office and the reply they sent back are both also in the archive here.

Interestingly, there were some copies that slipped though the net. There was one sent to Bodley Head Publishing House, which apparently was clearly marked as containing a copy of Ulysses. Maybe instructions were not passed down to all sorting or postal staff or maybe they just used their own discretion about whether they followed the orders or not or decided that opening packages was just too risky.

I hope therefore that it can be seen how important the postal service was and how diverse its role could be. It had a large influence on the spread of opinion and libel around the country.

All the information for this blog was gained by looking through document POST 23/9 in our collection.