Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

Christmas: the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible - 8 November 2011

The King James Bible has been described as “the noblest monument of English prose”,  which shaped the way people write and speak English. Now 400 years after its publication Royal Mail celebrates the anniversary on this year’s Christmas stamps. Seven stamps will be issued which draw on significant events from the Nativity inspired by verses from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.

Since 2006 all Christmas stamps are standard definitive size except for the 1st and 2nd Class Large stamps where the 1st and 2nd Class images are repeated but with more detail revealed on the wider format stamps. All Christmas stamps are self-adhesive.

The two 2007 Madonna stamps will also be reissued this year to provide a more traditional religious image.

2011 Christmas Stamp 2nd. 2011 Christmas Stamp 1st.  2011 Christmas Stamp 2nd Large.

2011 Christmas Stamp 1st Large. 2011 Christmas Stamp 68p.2011 Christmas Stamp £1-10.2011 Christmas Stamp £1-65.
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Details of designs:

2nd Class – Joseph visited by the Angel

Inspired by Matthew 1:21 where the angel tells the sleeping Joseph: ‘And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins’

1st Class – Madonna and Child

Inspired by Matthew 1:23, ‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us’

68p – Baby Jesus in the Manger

Inspired by Luke 2:7, ‘And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn’.

£1.10 – Shepherds visited by the Angel

Inspired by Luke 2:10, ‘And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people’.

£1.65 Wise Men and Star

Inspired by Matthew 2:10: ‘When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy’.

Christmas 2011 miniature sheet.

Madonna - 2007 stamps reissued
The two Madonna & Child stamps feature two classic paintings of the image, printed by De La Rue on self-adhesive paper in sheets of 50.

2nd class - William Dyce, c. 1827.
1st Class - The Madonna of Humility, Lippo di Dalmasio, c. 1390-1400. 

Background to the stamps and production

For many, perhaps the most important and lasting contribution of the King James Bible has been to the shaping of the English language itself. Commissioned by James I in 1604, he hoped that this new translation would secure peace and stability in religious matters following growing tensions between Anglicans and Puritans. The arrangements for the translation were more sophisticated and complex than for any previous English Bible. Six ‘Companies of Translators’ were appointed, each consisting of about nine leading scholars and churchmen, who were all allocated a specific section of the Bible to translate.

Appearing in 1611 the new Bible was slow in rising to fame, and it was not until the late 17th century that its remarkable qualities began to be recognised. By the beginning of the 18th century, the King James Bible was being hailed as a religious and literary classic. Yet even today, many still prefer the 1611 translation to its more modern rivals.

Many of its distinctive sayings have found their way into our everyday way of speaking, with more than 200 phrases such as ‘the apple of my eye’, a ‘den of thieves’ or ‘the land of the living’ have become part of modern English. 

Technical details:
The stamps were designed by Together Design with artwork by Peter Malone/The Artworks.  The sheet stamps & MS are printed in gravure by De La Rue Security Print in sheets of 50.  The individual stamps are 20 x 24mm (30 x 24mm large) self-adhesive; the 115 x 102mm miniature sheet is conventionally gummed. Booklets of 12 x 1st class and 12 x 2nd class stamps will also be sold - technical details to be confirmed. 

Smilers Sheet

The Smilers® Sheet contains 20 stamps: 8 x 1st class, 8 x 2nd class and 2 each of the two airmail rate stamps, 68p & £1.10 (initial selling price £10.45).   As last year, this arrangement means that, as last year, there are only two sets per sheet, rather than 4 in previous years.  Collectors of Smilers singles are advised to place their orders early to avoid disappointment!  On the other hand there are only 4 different label designs, each containing a verse from the Bible, relative to the stamp.  It will be printed in litho, probably by Cartor Security Printers. 

Royal Mail King James Bible Smilers stamp sheet.

Product range:

Set of 7 stamps & miniature sheet
Retail booklets of 12 x 2nd or 12 x 1st class stamps
Set of 7 stamps on Post Office FDC
Miniature sheet on Post Office FDC 
Presentation Pack containing set of stamps
Set of 8 mint stamp cards (PHQ cards)
Pair of 2007 Madonna & Child stamps
Smilers Sheet: Mint Generic Smilers Sheet 

Special postmarks available on the Day of Issue are shown below: these postmarks cannot be obtained from the PO after 8 November.

Postmark showing initials KJV in antique type.. Postmark with text from King James Version of the Bible.. Non-pictorial Postmark first day of issue Bethlehem, also in Welsh. Postmark showing King James. Postmark showing a cross.
Ref FD1139
Official Bureau postmark 
Ref FD1140
Official Bethlehem postmark
Ref FD1140NP
Official Bethlehem non-pictorial postmark
Ref M12339 James House Birmingham
Ref L12335 Celebrating 400 Years of the King James Bible, Lodnon EC4 In the Beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Postmark with text as below. Postmark showing open Bible. Postmark showing crossed keys. Postmark showing a star. Postmark showing a star.
Ref L12336 Bible Society, Swindon
Ref L12338
KJV 1611-2011, Cambridge
Ref M12342 Pereunt Et Imputantur Parish Church of SS Peter & Paul Wisbech, 900th Anniversary - Norman Foundation
Ref M12340 Peterborough Cathedral, Cambridgeshire
Ref M12341 St Martin"s The Bullring Birmingham
Postmark illustrated wtih Shepherds & stars.. Postmark showing nativity scene. Postmark showing Nativity scene. Postmark showing wise men. Postmark in the style ofthe Badge of the Salvation army.
Ref L12348 Shepherdswell, Dover Ref N12350 Stableford, Newcastle
Ref S12351
Maryhill, Isle of Lewis
Ref W12352 Wiseman's Bridge, Narberth
Ref N12344 The Salvation Army, Scarborough Citadel Corps, 130th Anniversary

This page was created 3 November 2011.

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