Ethos sent out worldwide in the form of public art

While your News Analysis on stamp design (DW 5 September) includes comments from designers about the integrity of stamp design, your writer has omitted Royal Mail’s comments about the role of the stamps director.

Stamp design is necessarily a collective process. The role of the stamps director, while important, is part of a larger process involving a dedicated Royal Mail design team and the Stamp Advisory Committee, comprised of design and other experts and chaired by managing director Gavin Macrae. This process (and those involved in it) is driven by an ethos of stamps as a form of public art.

The origin of this ethos can be traced to two notable sources, Rowland Hill, credited with creating the Penny Black in 1840, and former Postmaster General Tony Benn, who oversaw the establishment of a regular special stamp programme in the mid-1960s.

It was Hill who determined that a stamp should be the most beautiful form of art possible, while Benn’s criteria for stamp design dictated that stamps should ‘extend public patronage of the arts by encouraging design’.

In short, this ethos is well established, underpins the design of the special stamp programme and is certainly not jeopardised by the recent retirement of Barry Robinson, as your article suggests.

Nor is this ethos jeopardised by the Christmas stamp issue, which this article claims as evidence of stamp design affected by ‘commercialism’. The packaging of this issue simply reflects the fact that stamps are also pre-payment for postage and the importance of Christmas as the busiest posting period of the year.

Bearing that in mind, The Lord of the Rings promotion is intended to further increase the use of stamps for postage.

Greg McNeill

Public relations manager

Stamps & Collectibles

Royal Mail

London EC1

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