Get stuck in

Stamps commissioned to commemorate the centenary of the Magic Circle come complete with tricks up their sleeves.

The Royal Mail is promising ‘a trick before you lick’ in a new series of stamps created by Tatham Design to celebrate the centenary of the Magic Circle. Each stamp is designed to display a different trick and draw on the traditional paraphernalia of magic.

Some of the stamps use thermal inks to achieve the ‘magic effects’: on the 47p stamp a handkerchief changes colour as it goes through the tube when rubbed with a finger, and on the £1.12 stamp a missing pyramid appears when it is rubbed. In both cases the stamps return to their original colour when the inks cool down. The main 1st class stamp can be rubbed with a coin to reveal if the printed coin is heads or tails, and will be the first ever split printing run with two versions of a stamp. It uses metal sensitive inks rather than a surface that scratches off.

Other cards change colour or depict rabbits hovering over hats using optical tricks.

Tatham Design was influenced by images in old magic books and commissioned illustrator George Hardie to draw the images and copywriters The Inside Page to write the instructions. Hat-Trick Design produced a collector’s pack, first day cover and ‘smilers sheet’ using the same thermal inks to show how the tricks work.

These are not the first interactive stamps the Royal Mail has issued. Last year, Johnson Banks won Best in Show at the Design Week awards and a D&AD Gold for its Fruit & Veg stamps that could be customised. Its 2001 Nobel Prizes stamps also featured a ‘scratch and sniff’ variant.

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