Speed, Regularity and Security – 200 years of the Royal Mail

Bicentenary of First Mail Coach Run, Bath and Bristol to London
Bicentenary of First Mail Coach Run, Bath and Bristol to London

When I first read that the theme over at Sunday Stamps today would be “transportation”, I knew right away that this wonderful se-tenant set celebrating the 200th anniversary of the inauguration of the Bristol, Bath, London Mail Coach Service in 1784 would be my choice. This five stamp set of GB commemoratives issued by the Royal Mail on 31st July, 1984 was a childhood favourite of mine, and as usual, I’m presenting them exactly as displayed in my teenage stamp album (nearly forty years ago), in a row of five black Hawid mounts. I still remember the excitement of obtaining the full strip including selvedge at the very end!

The souvenir pack summed up the themes illustrated on the stamps with some enticing titles that evoke the romance of stagecoaches: Taverns & Turnpikes · Floods & Footpads · Highwaymen · Travellers’ Tales · Blizzards & Blunderbusses.

The stamps were designed by Keith Bassford and Stanley Paine, and all carry a value of 16p. So let’s take a closer look at the individual stamps:

The Original Bath Mail Coach of 1794: The first stamp, on the far left, shows the very first mail coach, the idea of theatre-owner John Palmer from Bath, as it leaves the Swan with Two Necks in 1794.

An Attack on the Exeter Mail 1816: The next stamp shows a lioness, which had escaped from a local menagerie and attacked the Exeter Mail in 1816. Happily everybody survived the attack.

The Norwich Mail in a Thunderstorm, 1827: This dramatic illustration beautifully showcases the work done on this set by prolific stamp engraver and designer Csezlaw Slania (1921-2005).

The Holyhead & Liverpool Mails, 1828: The stage coach is depicted in front of the historic inn The Angel, in Islington, London. The inn also was the subject of William Hogarth’s 1747 drawing, The Stage-Coach, Or The Country Inn Yard, which also depicted the busy coaching inn’s customers and traffic.

The Edinburgh Mail Snowbound in 1831: This illustrates the story of the Edinburgh to Dumfries Mail which was brought to a halt by a terrible blizzard on 1st February 1831. Both the guard and driver perished in their attempt to continue carrying the mail on foot.

Don’t forget to head on over to See it on a Postcard and visit the other Sunday Stamps bloggers today!

2 replies on “Speed, Regularity and Security – 200 years of the Royal Mail”

One of my favourite sets too. I have a selvedge but not the number, lucky you. I didn’t know all the stories which makes the set even better.
In answer to your question I don’t know whats happened with Violet Sky’s Sunday Stamps. In these strange times I’m hoping its just technical issues. My broadband went down last week.

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