Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

Agatha Christie - 15 September 2016

This set of stamps commemorates the mysteries of the bigge st-selling novelist of all time marking the centenary of Agatha Christie writing her first story, the ‘birth’ of Hercule Poirot, as well as the 40th anniversary of Christie’s death. 

The six Special Stamps mark the timeless characters and absorbing mysteries of ‘The Queen of Crime’. “ It is the brain, the little grey cells on which one must rely. One must seek the truth within – not without.” Hercule Poirot Agatha Christie, the ‘Queen of Crime’, is the world's best-selling writer, outsold only by Shakespeare (and the Bible). The Agatha Christie catalogue consists of 66 crime novels, 6 romance novels, 150 short stories and 19 plays. Her works have been widely adapted and produced across most media platforms around the world, including TV, film, radio, publishing, stage and very successful digital games.
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Murder on the Orient Express 1st class  Agatha Christie stamp. And then there were none 1st class Agatha Christie stamp. The Myserious Affair at Styles £1.33  Agatha Christie stamp.. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd £1.33  Agatha Christie stamp.
The Body in the Library £1.52  Agatha Christie stamp. A Murder is Announced £1.52  Agatha Christie stamp.
1st class - Murder on the Orient Express; And Then There Were None;
£1.33 - The Mysterious Affair ay Styles; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd;
£1.52 - The Body in the Library; A Murder is Announced.

Although shown alongside each other, the stamps in each value are in vertical se-tenant pairs in the sheet.


She has sold over 2 billion copies of her books worldwide – 1 billion in the English language and 1 billion in over 100 different languages. Her books and fictional creations continue to live, with book sales averaging 3 -4 million books a year worldwide and around 30 feature films and 200 TV productions having been screened based on her novels.   While her books are quintessentially English in their settings as are most of her characters, the subject matter is surprisingly less cosy: murder, adultery, forgery and blackmail fill the pages. Since her debut in 1920, Agatha Christie’s books have never been out of print. She was the first crime writer to have 100,000 copies of ten of her titles published by Penguin on the same day in 1948 - A Penguin Million.

Hercule Poirot featured in 53 novels, one play and more than 50 short stories, making him one of the most famous fictional characters of all time. The Belgian detective was due to retire from the Belgium Police when war started. He apparently had an international reputation for crime solving and when he was injured (possibly on active service) he moved to England as a refugee. We first meet him living in Essex, and he appears to be in late middle -age (maybe late 50s). A native French speaker, he is also fluent in German, Italian and (haltingly) in English. He is fond of his moustache
(‘very stiff and military’), and in the early novels consults his large pocket watch. Hastings described him as a ‘quaint, dandified little man’ with a height of ‘hardly five feet, four inches’. His eyes are g reen, his eyebrows expressive when in deep thought. His detective method is to use pure reason and his knowledge of human psychology. His triumph over ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’ leads him to develop his career as a private detective.

When Christie finally killed off Poirot the character received an obituary in the New York Times, the only fictional character to have been so honoured.

The stamps in detail

1st Class: Murder on the Orient Express, 1934
Returning from Syria, Poirot travels on the Orient Express bound for Calais in the company of shady fellowpassengers. Mr Ratchett approaches Poirot saying he had been threatened and offers a large fee for him to take the case. Poirot declines saying, ‘I do not like your face’. That night Ratchett is murdered. The train is caught in a snowdrift and Poirot is persuaded to take on the case. The novel was shortlisted by the Crime Writers Association poll for the greatest crime novel of all time.

1st Class: And Then There Were None, 1940
Christie wrote several novels and many short stories and plays (under her own name) that do not feature her most famous creations, including And Then There Were None in which eight people are invited to an island, attended by a butler and his wife. An old fashioned gramophone plays a recording accusing each of murder, and then each is murdered in a way outlined in the rhyme Ten Little Soldier Boys. Eventually all die – the police are baffled, but a chance discovery explains all.

£1.33: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, written 1916, published 1920 (US)/1921 (UK)
In the first introduction to Poirot, the story is told by Captain Arthur Hastings, on sick leave in Essex after being invalided while serving in the First World War. He encounters Poirot in the village, having already made his acquaintance from working on a police case with him before the War. That same night a Mrs Inglethorp (of the house where Hastings is staying) dies of Strychnine poisoning. Her husband is arrested and Poirot is enlisted to investigate. Afterwards Hastings becomes a kind of Watson to Poirot’s Holmes in numerous stories.

£1.33: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, 1926
The classic whodunit is narrated by Dr Sheppard, friend of Roger Ackroyd. Ackroyd is found murdered with an ornate knife in his neck, in a room locked from the inside, with many suspects who have motives for murder. Sheppard’s next door neighbour is none other than Poirot who rules out suspects one by one. He is assisted by Sheppard’s sister, Caroline (thought to be the prototype for Miss Marple). The twist in the final chapter has divided critics and readers ever since it was published and is a cornerstone in the modern crime novel and a prime example of the ‘locked room’ style of mystery. The book was voted the ‘Greatest Crime Novel of All Time’ by the 600 members of the Crime Writers Association.

£1.52: The Body in the Library, 1942 (biggest selling Marple book)
Mrs Dolly Bantry awakes to find a dead woman in the library. She calls her good friend Miss Marple to investigate and the aged sleuth pits her wits against Inspector Slack. After a second murder Marple sets a trap for the killer. Since its first publication in 1942 it has gone on to become the biggest selling Marple book

£1.52: A Murder is Announced, 1950 (in top list of Christie novels)
In the personal columns of the local paper, an ad announcing a murder and a time and place is published. Assuming it is a party of some sort, half the village turns up. The lights go out and shots ring out. Leticia Blacklock (owner of the location of the shooting) lies injured next to a dead man. Chief Inspector Rydesdale thinks it is an accident or suicide, but encounters Miss Marple at lunch at the local hotel who examines the evidence and draws her own conclusions. She goes to the village to investigate the murders that ensue.

Murder on the Orient Express © 1934 Agatha Christie Limited. All rights reserved; And Then There Were None © 1939 Agatha Christie Limited. All rights reserved; The Mysterious Affair at Styles © 1920 Agatha Christie Limited. All rights reserved; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd © 1926 Agatha Christie Limited. All rights reserved; The Body in the Library © 1942 Agatha Christie Limited. All rights reserved; A Murder Is Announced © 1950 Agatha Christie Limited. All rights reserved; AGATHA CHRISTIE, POIROT, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, MISS MARPLE and the Agatha Christie Signature are registered trade marks of Agatha Christie Limited in the UK and/or elsewhere. All rights reserved.

Technical details:
The 60 x 30 mm vertically se-tenant pairs of stamps were designed by Studio Sutherland, printed in sheets of 24/48 by International Security Printers in Lithography.  No details of the perforation or phosphor arrangements have been provided.

The stamps also feature 'visual' clues some of which are more obvious than others (the skull on 'Styles', and the apparent dagger on 'Roger Ackroyd'.  Others are in microtext, or in thermochromic ink, or only visible under an ultra-violet light.  No details of these can be published at this stage.

Products issued - these can be obtained from Royal Mail.  (This page is for information only, we will not be stocking these stamps.)

Set of 6 stamps - Presentation Pack - Set of 6 stamp cards - First Day Cover - Unaddressed Souvenir Cover

Special first day of issue postmarks

Postmarks available for the day of issue will be shown in Royal Mail's Postmark Bulletins (download here).

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This page created 16 August 2016.

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