Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

The Centenary of the Great War - 31 July 2017

This is the fourth set in a five part landmark series that commemorates ‘the War to end all Wars’.   Not only did the First World War claim millions of lives, it changed the course of history and transformed the lives of generations to come.  Each year of the war is explored though a stamp which covers six key themes: Poppies, Poetry, War Art, Memorials and Artefacts. These themes combine to form a beautiful and poignant collection which serves as a fitting way to commemorate this tragic conflict.

Key events in 1917 explored through the issue include: Events at Sea - combating the U-Boat menace and the development of the dazzle camouflage, The Western Front and British Offensives including the Battle of Passchendaele and the human stories to emerge and also the hardships on the Home Front with the price and availability of staples such as bread, butter, sugar and meat becoming a key issue.
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Set of 6 stamps marking centenary of world war 1. 
1st class stamps: Shattered Poppy; 'Dead Man's Dump' by Isaac Rosenberg; Nurses Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm.
£1.57 stamps: 'Dry Docked for Scaling and Painting' by Edward Wadsworth; Tyne Cot Cementery, Belgium; Pte Lemuel Thomas Rees's life-saving Bible.

 World War 1 Centenary PSB Pane 1.   World War 1 Centenary PSB Pane 2.
Pane 1 - 4 x 1st class poppies from the 2006-8 Lest We Forget miniature sheets.
Pane 2 - 3 x 1st class stamps from the current set

  World War 1 Centenary PSB Pane 3. World War 1 Centenary PSB Pane 4.
Pane 3 - 3 x £1.57 stamps from the current set.
Pane 4 - 8 x 1st class definitive-sized poppy stamps with a label showing
 a 1920 poster advertising the Great War Exhibition at the opening of the Imperial War Museum.

World War 1 Centenary PSB Cover.

Prestige Stamp Book Cover

The stamps in detail

Photographer John Ross has a particular interest in micrography, for which he uses microscopes to reveal aspects of subjects not normally visible. To create Shattered Poppy, Ross needed a supply of fresh poppies and so he set up a temporary studio in a barn next to a poppy field, where he froze freshly cut poppies using a vat of liquid nitrogen, before breaking the brittle petals with a metal rod. Backlit to maximise the flower’s colour and fine structure, the resulting image suggests a sudden, devastating act of violence, an impression that is heightened by the poppy’s natural delicacy.

Isaac Rosenberg was a British painter and poet. The son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, but also maintained an interest in writing poetry.
By the time of his arrival on the Western Front with the 11th Battalion, King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) in the summer of 1916, he had published three volumes of poetry. In ‘Dead Man’s Dump’, Rosenberg depicts a shocking scene as mule-drawn wagons laden with coils of barbed wire pass by the dying and crush the bodies of dead men lying in their path.

Shortly after the outbreak of war, friends Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm travelled to Belgium, joining a small ambulance corps where they worked transporting casualties to base hospitals. Realising that many men were dying from untreated wounds, they established a front-line first-aid post at Pervyse in Belgium where they would eventually treat 23,000 casualties. In 1917, they were awarded the Military Medal. The stamp image shows the ‘Madonnas of Pervyse’ wearing the Order of Leopold II, a Belgian decoration that they received in 1915.

Working in the geometric, abstracted style of Vorticism, British painter Edward Wadsworth was interested in technology and the new perspectives it might offer. After being invalided out of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1917, he was engaged to design ‘dazzle camouflage’ patterns for British ships, which were intended to confuse attacking German U-boats (submarines). In Dry Docked for Scaling and Painting, Wadsworth emphasises the harsh, confusing ge ometry of the new patterns, as the massive hull of the merchant ship seems to disappear among its new stripes.

Tyne Cot Cemetery in Flanders, Belgium, was designed by Sir Herbert Baker. A total of 11,961 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War are buried or commemorated there. Of the burials, 8,373 are unidentified. Visiting the cemetery in 1922, King George V remarked: “I have many times asked myself whether there can be more potent advocates of peace upon Earth through the years to come than this massed multitude of silent witnesses to the desolation of war.” On the Tyne Cot Memorial are the names of almost 35,000 UK and New Zealand servicemen who were killed in the Ypres Salient after 16 August 1917 and who have no known grave.

In 1917, Lemuel Thomas Rees was conscripted into the 6th Battalion, South Wales Borderers. During the Battle of Passchendaele, an exploding German shell landed close by, and although Rees was hit, he was saved by a small Bible that he kept in his breast pocket. After spending four months in a field hospital, he was sent home on leave where he suffered terrible nightmares, reliving the horrors of trench warfare. Following his return to the Western Front, Rees was wounded in a gas attack. He died from bronchial pneumonia and the effects of gas on 13 November 1918, only two days after the Armistice was signed.


Shattered Poppy by John Ross, 2017 © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2017; ‘Dead Man’s Dump’ by Isaac Rosenberg, quotation used by permission of the Estate of Isaac Rosenberg, typography by Kelvyn Laurence Smith © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2017; Nurses Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm, photograph © National Library of Scotland/ Leabharlann Nàiseanta na h-Alba; Dry Docked for Scaling and Painting by Edward Wadsworth, reference IWM (ART 16380) © Estate of Edward Wadsworth. All rights reserved, DACS 2017; Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium, photograph © Mike Sheil/ Evans Picture Library; Private Lemuel Thomas Rees’s life-saving Bible, used with the kind permission of Mr Eurof Rees, photography by John Ross © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2017

Technical details:
The 35 x 35 mm square stamps were designed by Hat-trick Design, printed by International Security Printers in Lithography.  No details of the perforations or phosphor arrangements have been provided - in 2014 four of the stamps in the PSB had different phosphor banding than on the sheet stamps. 
All stamp images Royal Mail Group Ltd ©2017 reproduced with permission.

Products issued.

Set of 6 stamps           Presentation Pack 

Set of 6 stamp cards    Coin Cover    Prestige Stamp Book

Special first day of issue postmarks are in the Royal Mail Postmark Bulletin which can be downloaded from their website. 

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This page updated 19 June 2017

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