I don’t know about you but the one part of Christmas I enjoy most is receiving those Christmas cards to people we do not see regularly, perhaps loved ones who live abroad. Here I am not referring to the ‘Boast Post’ type of letters where you receive a standard letter telling you of their 6 overseas holiday to exotic destinations and that their darling little dears have just gained a First in some obscure subject that you have never heard of. No, I am talking about that personal letter that speaks to the heart.
But, being a stamp collector I am also interested in the stamps and envelope that they came in, especially at this time of the year when the Christmas stamps are about. The idea of issuing stamps at Christmas was the brain child of Tony Benn who had been appointed the Postmaster General in October 1964. They first appeared in 1966 and featured children’s drawings after the Post Office had held a competition for children under the age of 15.
Nearly 5,000 entries were received and eight professional stamp designers judged the winners to be two six year olds, Tasveer Shemza for King Wenceslas on the 3d value and James Berry for his idea of a snowman on the 1/6d value. Whilst they were welcomed by the public enthusiastically
their production was not without its problems and a number of errors escaped the printers – Harrison & Sons.
The main design was produced by a process called photogravure in which the image to be produced is photographically transferred to the printing plate. Examples are know with missing colours and it can be great fun going through old albums full of what appears to be common stamps on the lookout for such varieties which do turn up occasionally in general collections. Because the Queens Head was die stamped in gold onto the printed sheets it is possible to find examples where it has been applied twice or omitted altogether. Errors like this are always worth looking out for. Perhaps there may be one or two lurking in one of the collections which are coming up on our next stamp sale on January 9th 2016?