Revealed for the first time today, Royal Mail are set to release 8 new STAR WARS stamps, to mark the release of the new film in the popular sci-fi franchise, The Last Jedi.
Scheduled for release on 12th October 2017, the new stamps will feature beloved ‘Aliens and Droids’ from the complete saga, including one never-before-seen image of the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke, and one brand-new character, Porg.
The stamps are Royal Mail’s second STAR WARS stamp issue, following on from the successful ‘Heroes and Villains’ release in 2015, ahead of the premiere of the first film in the new trilogy, The Force Awakens.
Here’s your first look at the new stamps alongside a bit of info about each one…
Location: Takodana / Maz’s castle exterior
Ships: Kylo Ren’s command shuttle / First Order TIE fighters
Secondary character: HURID-32
Deep within the fringes of the galaxy lies a secret castle hideaway presided over by the wise, boisterous figure of Maz Kanata. Over a thousand years old and an ex-pirate herself, Maz holds court within the galaxy’s underworld: smugglers, bounty hunters and thieves. Maz has also been a friend to Jedi, and her castle contains secrets that tell of one Luke Skywalker.
Location: Starkiller Base
Ships: Millennium Falcon
Secondary character: Chewbacca
Faithful co-pilot and companion to Han Solo for many years, Chewbacca was one of the heroes of the Rebellion. Brought back into the orbit of the Resistance after many years of freelance adventuring, Chewbacca witnesses the tragic death of his best friend, Han Solo. All he has left is his ship, the Millennium Falcon, and a new companion, a Force-attuned loner named Rey.
SUPREME LEADER SNOKE
Film: The Last Jedi
Ships: Star Destroyer / First Order TIE fighters
Secondary character: Praetorian Guard
A shadowy figure who leads the First Order, Snoke trained Kylo Ren in the dark side of the Force. He orders the creation of a giant planet-sized superweapon called Starkiller to destroy the New Republic government and commands Ren to hunt down the last Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker. Next, he issues a chilling command: Ren is ready to complete his training…
Ships: Millennium Falcon
Secondary character: Beaks
Small, flightless birds called porgs are native to the remote planet Ahch-To, where Luke Skywalker is living in exile. The planet is covered with water and rocky islands and is home to the ruins of the first Jedi Temple, where porgs have peacefully made their home. The birds are ill-prepared for the arrival of strangers when Rey and Chewbacca land there in the Millennium Falcon.
Ships: First Order TIE fighters
Secondary character: Luggabeast / Teedo / BB-8
The plucky droid named BB-8 is a loyal companion to Resistance fighter Poe Dameron in the fight against the First Order. Assigned to Poe to provide flight assistance when piloting his X-wing fighter, BB-8 is separated from his master in a deadly battle with Kylo Ren. Forced to seek new allies, the droid runs into a scavenger named Rey and a renegade stormtrooper called Finn.
Location: Coruscant / Grievous’s flagship interior
Ships: Jedi starfighters
Secondary character: R2-D2
This trusty little droid has had an adventurous life, first on board Queen Amidala’s ship during the Battle of Naboo, then in the Clone Wars alongside Anakin Skywalker, and with Luke Skywalker in the fight against the Empire. In recent years, R2-D2 has been in a state of semi-retirement, secretly harbouring the only map that pinpoints the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker.
Location: Tatooine / Jabba’s Palace exterior
Ships: Death Star II
Secondary character: Jabba the Hutt / C-3PO
As a boy on Tatooine, Anakin Skywalker built a protocol droid as a helper for his mother. C-3PO became an expert in matters relating to diplomacy, but he was not equipped for a life of excitement, danger and adventure. Thrust into battles during the Clone Wars and the Rebellion against the Empire, this reticent, nervous droid has time and again helped his friends save the day.
Ships: U-Wing / X-wings
Secondary character: Pao
A reprogrammed Imperial security droid with a bluntly honest way of talking, K-2SO is firmly on the side of the Rebel Alliance in the fight against the Empire. K-2SO’s ability to blend in when doing reconnaissance work behind Imperial lines is a distinct advantage. He can pilot many types of spaceship and scan and access Imperial communications systems.
The Force is strong with Royal Mail’s official Star Wars stamps
Brilliantly rendered in exquisite detail by British Artist Malcolm Tween, the 8 stamps depict the most popular ‘Aliens and Droids’ featured in the iconic blockbuster films.
Two of the stamps feature exclusive never-before-seen images of two characters; one – Supreme Leader Snoke – we’ve seen briefly before, whilst the other – Porg – is a brand new character from the new film.
Incorporated into each stamp is a secondary character and scene forming unique images that can be found nowhere else.
The four ‘droid’ stamps utilise UV ink to emphasise some of the design features of the stamp. These will come visible only under a UV light.
If you’re interested…
You can reserve all of the new Star Wars stamps right now on a limited edition Collector Card – professionally framed and ready to hang.
Did you know that since Royal Mail issued their first Christmas stamp in 1966, over 17 billion Christmas stamps have been printed in Britain? But as popular as they are today, Great Britain was late to the table when it came to issuing Christmas stamps. So which country can lay claim to issuing the first Christmas stamp?
Canada – 1898
The first country to lay claim is Canada, which produced a stamp bearing the words ‘Xmas 1898’. But many people question whether this was really a Christmas stamp at all…
Denmark – 1904
Denmark claims it printed the first Christmas stamp in 1904 after an idea from postmaster, Einar Holboell, to add an extra stamp to the Christmas mail and the money go to help sick children. However these “stamps” were actually labels and not issued for postage.
Austria – 1937
Austria issued two stamps on 12th December 1937 for use on Christmas mail and New Year greeting cards.
Hungary – 1943
Finally, there is Hungary. Many people think the 1943 Hungarian stamps to be the first real Christmas stamps as they feature religious imagery.
The secret behind the Canadian stamp
It is fair to say however that the issue of the Canadian Christmas stamp did not really have much to do with Christmas. In fact it was a result of then Canadian Postmaster General William Mulock lobbying to standardise postage rates across the Empire at one penny.
After failing to get the new rules introduced at the 1897 Universal Postal Union, Mulock returned the following year more determined than ever, with a new proposal. This time he succeeded, and in July 1898, the Imperial Penny Postage rate was unveiled. Canada made the move to be effective on Christmas day 1898.
As a result, the stamp was officially released on 7th December 1898 bearing Mercator’s famous map with the British Empire highlighted in red, and also the words “XMAS 1898”.
So who can lay claim to issuing the first Christmas stamp?
Well despite the controversy, to me, there is only one winner – and that is Canada. Whether it was issued specifically for Christmas or not, it bears the words ‘Xmas 1898‘ and therefore I think it rightly deserves the title of first Christmas stamp.
50 years ago in 1964 Her Majesty the Queen approved a new portrait for her coinage, and set in motion a chain of events that led to the creation of the most reproduced image in the world.
The portrait in question was designed by Arnold Machin RA – and if you look in your pocket now you’re still likely to find a coin bearing the distinctive profile.
But even though millions of coins are struck every year – it was when the design was adapted for use on our stamps that it really took off…
300 billion and counting
Best estimates suggest that the Arnold Machin RA effigy of Queen Elizabeth II has now been reproduced on our stamps over 300 billion times – a staggering number.
In fact, amongst collectors, UK definitive stamps are now simply referred to as ‘Machins’ because the image is so ubiquitous.
But who is Arnold Machin RA, and how did he come to design this instantly recognisable image?
From pottery to sculpting the Queen’s portrait
Arnold Machin was born in 1911 in Stoke-on-Trent. Modelling and sculpture was in the family, but his father struggled to make ends meet with his freelance modelling job. Consequently Machin started work aged 14 at the Minton China Factory, as an apprentice china painter.
But he could not keep away from sculpture, and after a working for many years in the arts was appointed an associate member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1947.
As if this wasn’t enough of an honour, in 1964 Machin was approached to design an effigy of the Queen for the new decimal coinage to be introduced in 1971. So, despite never having designed a coin before, Machin was granted four sittings with the Queen.
Cleverly using the bas-relief technique, which creates a raised sculpture from a plaster base, Machin came up with a design the Queen appreciated so much she has insisted it be used unchanged on our stamps for the past 40 years.
An £18,000 plaster cast
Perhaps testament to the enduring popularity of the image, and the design process behind it, one of Machin’s original plaster casts recently sold at auction for the princely sum of £18,000.
And I don’t think this will be the last we’ll hear of record breaking Machin sales – as time goes by the power of the image will not diminish, yet the availability of collectables will.
And now we are due to see a new portrait of the Queen on our coinage in 2015, this is bound to be an area to watch.
You may be interested in…
The Westminster Collection is proud to present the first ever officially licensed silver philatelic set featuring Arnold Machin’s famous effigy of the Queen.
NOW SOLD OUT