If there’s a single song that sums up the summer of 2018, it would have to be The Beatles’ Here Comes The Sun.
The Beatles are cultural icons on whom the sun will never set. And yet, the Royal Mail and popular culture haven’t always been the most natural match.
In recent times, Royal Mail seems to have accepted that pop stars in particular are bound to have occupied a world a little removed from the social activities of the higher echelons of the royal family.
Setting a standard
While the lives of rock stars may be somewhat more colourful than that expected of members of the Royal family, their music and talent certainly captures a special place in the hearts of the nation.
In 2007, recognising the huge and enduring influence of The Beatles, Royal Mail issued a set of stamps marking 50 years since Lennon and McCartney first met, containing images of album sleeves and memorabilia.
Three years later, Royal Mail paid tribute to several more members of the UK rock ‘n’ roll pantheon, releasing a set of 10 stamps featuring classic British album covers including David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed, New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies and Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head.
“The thing about stamps is that they are 1-inch works of art,” said Philip Parker, head of Stamp Policy for Royal Mail. “And thinking about this we thought that the old 12-inch vinyl cover is a great work of art. We thought putting them on stamps would be a great way to celebrate this art form.”
However, selection wasn’t simple. At an inch square, some album covers would be indecipherable; others were deemed so dark they wouldn’t be recognised by the Royal Mail’s sorting machinery – Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was one such omission.
Once the Royal Mail had reached a decision, the stamps still, by convention, had to get royal approval from the Queen.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she knew the majority of the bands,” stated Harker.
Again, it’s tricky to pick out many from a list of Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd who perhaps haven’t enjoyed their leisure time a little too much.
However, any objections were swiftly deflected with a clever point – the stamps celebrate the artwork of the album rather than the individuals in the bands – which also meant they didn’t violate that other overarching rule – other than the monarch, stamps must not feature living people.
For more information about stamp auctions get in touch with Tony Lester.