In pictures: Royal Mail launches special stamps website

  • 2 January 2015
  • From the section UK

Royal Mail is celebrating 50 years of its special stamps programme by launching a website showing all 2,663 designs.

Visitors to the site will be able to browse the stamps issued since July 1965 when the then-postmaster general Tony Benn widened the scope of the programme.

The first special issue stamp featured Sir Winston Churchill, following his death in January 1965. It was the first UK stamp to feature a contemporary non-royal figure. Royal Mail said the image "set the scene for the future with its bold, modernist approach".

The commemorative stamps mark the UK's most important events and anniversaries - such as this one marking the 150th anniversary of John Keats's death in 1971 - as well as reflecting national life and culture. Each design is approved by the Queen before being printed.

The website allows people to browse image by decade and by the name of the collection. 1975 saw this colourful design issued as part of a set of four stamps to celebrate sailing.

In 1980, a set of stamps was released depicting some of the best-loved British female authors and their works. Royal Mail receives hundreds of requests for subjects of special stamps each year from stamp collectors, organisations and members of the public.

Ten images of smiles were the subject of a booklet of stamps issued in 1990. As well as Mona Lisa, pictured above, Dennis the Menace and the Cheshire Cat were featured.

The Queen is the person featured most on special stamps since 1965, followed by the Duke of Edinburgh and then William Shakespeare. This 1992 stamp shows her with a baby Prince Andrew.

Scenes of British life - such as this one of spectators at Wimbledon - also feature heavily in the special stamp designs. Outside London, the most featured city is Edinburgh.

Beatles stamps issued in 2007, featuring their album sleeves, remain among the most popular commemorative stamps issued in the past 10 years.

Doctor Who stamps issued in 2013 featured all of the actors to play the Doctor, with this image showing the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker. The stamps were released to mark the 50th anniversary of the television series.

The special stamp programme for 2015 has recently been revealed. A Comedy Greats set, to be released on 1 April, is to feature comedians including The Two Ronnies. Other collections for this year include a miniature set of stamps being issued to mark the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black stamp and a Rugby World Cup set being launched in September.

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