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Royal Mail Press Release

Master Engraver Works His Magic On Royal Mail's Red Icons 

Pillar to Post, Issued 8 October 2002

As red as a Routemaster bus, and as British as a beefeater - 150 years on, pillar boxes remain a quintessential part of our daily lives. And on October 8 Royal Mail pays tribute to these upstanding icons with a stamp issue engraved by another legendary figure, Czeslaw Slania.

Scott # 2077

Scott # 2076

Scott # 2079

Scott # 2080

Scott # 2078

Pillar to Post celebrates the 150th anniversary of the first pillar boxes placed in Jersey's capital, St Helier as a trial on November 23, 1852. 

Two different pictorial "first day of issue postmarks" are available for every new stamp issue, as pictured above.  Unstamped Royal Mail First Day Cover envelopes (price 25= will be available from main post offices and philatelic outlets approximately one week before issue.  Collectors who hand in or post covers at main Post Offices branches will receive the pictorial "BISHOPS CAUNDLE, SHERBORNE" first day postmark.

Alternatively, collectors may send stamped covers of the first day of issue to the British Philatelic Bureau, quoting reference FD 0221 or to any special handstamp center quoting reference FD 0222.

Bishops Caundle was chosen as the postmark because it is the oldest pillar box on the mainland (1853).

And it's all thanks to the great Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope that we have pillar boxes at all. Then a postal official, Trollope made the suggestion after he had been sent over to the Channel Islands to study ways of improving their postal services.

Within a month Trollope's proposals were accepted and the rest, as they say, is history.

Gavin Macrae, Managing Director of Royal Mail stamps & collectibles said: 

"The pillar box represents Britain's first nationwide communication system and they have held a special place in the hearts of British people for 150 years.

"We always intended the issue to be printed in intaglio, the process used for stamps at that time, and the choice of engraver was arrived at just as quickly.

"Czeslaw Slania is the true master of his art and the level of detail he achieves on these stamps is incredible, especially given the stamps have to be engraved actual size - 30mm x 41m."

The Second Class stamp, features a highly decorative box designed for use in London, Dublin and Edinburgh, in its original 1857 livery.

The colour shifts from green to red on the First Class stamp, an early mainland box of an 1856 design, shown in the red livery, which was adopted in 1874.

If it's blue, it must be 1932: that was when the airmail box was first introduced with dual notice plates. Special blue-painted boxes for airmail postings were in use between 1930 and 1938. The one featured on the E Class stamp is from 1934.

The 47p - 1939 stamp is an oval, dual-aperture (one for town, one for country correspondence) version of the 1879 cylindrical design painted in wartime livery of yellow gas-detecting paint on the roof and white paint at the base for greater visibility during blackouts.

The 68p -1980 stamp features the new-style cylindrical 'K' type pillar box designed by Tony Gibbs which was in use between 1980 and 2001.

The desire to produce the most accurate pillar box images possible meant that litho microtext printing had to be used to reproduce the collection plate delivery information sited on the front of pillar boxes.

These panels were graphically reduced, and under printed in litho. This was followed by the intaglio print process, which overprinted the stamps to give the printed surface of the stamps a raised profile.

Intaglio printing - The very first postage stamps were produced by the intaglio printing process. Today it is used primarily on bank notes, passports, stocks and bonds and still, of course, on some postage stamps.

The heavy film of ink applied to the paper under great pressure gives the ink a texture, which is apparent to the touch. Recent stamp issues to use this process include: High Value Definitives and Queen's Beasts Special issue in1998 and the Economic Sciences (1st Class) stamp in the Nobel Prizes issue, October 2001. 

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