Royal Mail


The Royal Mail Special Stamps year book provides a back story to the special stamps of the year. 'Special Stamps' celebrate the history, culture, nature, science and people of Britain. These small perforated pieces of paper are ambassadors for Britain and they convey the multifaceted story of our nation across the world.

The year book's 64 pages cover a diverse range of subjects; a celebration of children's illustration, a grand tour of English landscapes, the brilliance of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Ice Age animals, winning the World Cup, our national portraits, innovative architecture, the bravery of Victoria Cross holders, and the diversity of contemporary British music. Our challenge was to weave these different themes together to create a coherent book — not just for philatelists but for any reader with an interest in modern Britain.

We were particularly interested in what might draw new readers to the book. While philatelists were the core audience, we were conscious that there was a marked decline in the numbers of newcomers to stamp collecting. How could we attract the next generation of philatelists?

We developed the idea of a 'magazine-style' year book, using interviews with popular celebrities to bring these diverse subjects to the mainstream. This approach swept aside the 'precious' presentation of the stamps and was quite a departure for the Royal Mail. However, the idea was embraced by the Royal Mail team and surprisingly, our celebrities. Ricky Gervais spoke about his favourite childhood books, David Dimbleby revealed his most loved places in Britain, Brian Sewell didn't hold back on his opinion of British portraiture, and so on...

The Royal Mail Special Stamp year book was printed in a numbered limited edition of 27,000 copies and contains 76 mint stamps for the collector to insert into clear mounts at the end of each chapter. The front was covered in light blue silk and blind embossed. Protected by a slipcase with fluorescent pink type, the yearbook was every inch a collector's item — and the startling design studded with personalities also attracted a younger age group. The 'magazine' style year book sold well and for the first time it was also published in paperback.

64 pages, full colour, hardback with slipcase and paperback, 26 × 24.4cm.


RM4.jpg The TV presenter Nigel Marven (seen here running from a dinosaur) was interviewed about Britain's Ice Age animals. Apparently, his favourite was the giant rhinoceros Elsamotherium with a horn over two metres long. He didn't seem to want to hang around to admire it though!


RM6.jpg Jan Kaplicky and Amanda Levete are the architects of Birmingham's landmark building for the department store Selfridges. The curvaceously sculptural building is clad in shimmering aluminium discs and is now a much-admired local icon. "Everyone knows what the store looks like and where it is. It doesn't need to have a sign outside," says Kaplicky. Whoever heard of a shop without a sign?

RM7.jpg We empathise with the philatelist's need to organise. At the end of each chapter a clear strip mount was provided to insert the stamp set. The mount ensures that the precious stamps are in the right place, protected, and are always properly aligned.

Related project: Royal Mail Special Stamps 2007, Royal Mail Special Stamps 2016