Special Royal Mail set pays tribute to man who put stamp on British design

David Gentleman designed 100 stamps for Royal Mail and the set includes some of his most famous

A new set of stamps is being launched to pay tribute to David Gentleman, the designer credited with changing the face of the British stamp.

Gentleman, who has been hailed as the most prolific and influential British stamp designer, designed more than 100 stamps for Royal Mail between 1962 and 2000, and provided many more designs that were not used.

Royal Mail collaborated with him to choose a selection of some of his most famous and influential images.

The tribute to Gentleman is notable as it is the first time Royal Mail has dedicated an entire issue to a designer of its commemorative stamps.

David Gold, a spokesperson for Royal Mail, said Gentleman was “one of the foremost artists involved in British stamp design”.

“For over half a century, he has made an enduring contribution to British stamp design. His work continues to influence and inspire designers today.”

The first designs of Gentleman’s that were successful were for National Productivity Year in 1962, and used symbolic arrows.

Three years later he wrote to the new postmaster general, Tony Benn, in response to a general invitation for ideas about stamps, recommending more interesting subjects than had been featured previously.

He also proposed a new size of stamp and introduced a small cameo of the Queen, based on her profile as depicted by Mary Gillick on coins from 1953.

His most recent issued stamp designs were for the millennium timekeeper miniature sheet, depicting the stylised hands of a clock and globe.

The 9d stamp designed by David Gentleman for British Ships issued in 1969.
The 9d stamp designed by David Gentleman for British Ships issued in 1969. Photograph: Royal Mail/PA

The new set of six stamps will be available from Friday, and feature the 1962 National Productivity Year, the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Royal Mail has issued commemorative stamps in the past to celebrate historic events and notable figures, such as stamps commemorating the Rolling Stones and celebrating 150 years of rugby union.

Gentleman said: “Stamps were fun to design, though squeezing a lot into a small space wasn’t easy. At first it was difficult to fit in the Queen’s head until I turned it into the simple profile which is still used today.

“Stamps I particularly enjoyed designing were for the Battle of Hastings 1066, and Social Reformers.”


Tobi Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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