2 March 1969 marks 50 years since the first flight of Concorde.

The idea of a commemorative stamp to mark the maiden flight of Concorde was first brought to the Post Office’s attention by a Mr Doubtfire who sent in an unsolicited design in 1967.

An essay of the design by Mr Doubtfire featuring a purple Concorde flying over France and Britain.

4d, Mr Doubtfire Design Essay, Nov. 1967

At that time there were no plans for a commemorative stamp, however, it was decided to look into what the French Postal Authority intended to do. The French had already commissioned an artist and together they agreed that each country would have its own stamp issued after the flight.

The French stamp to commemorate the first flight of Concorde featuring the plane flying across a blue sky.

1.00, French Concorde Stamp, 1969

The French first day cover with an illustration of Concorde and the commemorative stamp marking the first flight.

Concorde, French First Day Cover, 1969

The artists commissioned to design the British stamps were: David Gentleman, Philip Sharland and Richard Negus, Michael & Sylvia Goaman and Margaret Calvert. There was also the unsolicited design already seen by Mr Doubtfire and another by a Miss S Down.

Artwork of Concorde flying over a blue France and a red Britain.

9d, Unadopted Artwork by Margaret Calvert, 1967

The stamp needed to represent the collaboration between Britain and France and depict the plane itself. Margaret Calvert’s design (seen above) overlaps the countries on the map as Concorde flies over. The red, white and blue colours used also unified the countries.

Artwork by David Gentleman on Concorde banking.

1/6, Unadopted Artwork by David Gentleman, 1967

After all the designs were submitted they were sent to the Ministry of Technology to be checked for technical accuracy. Minor changes were made and it was also suggested that sound waves, like those used in Philip Sharland and Richard Negus design, shouldn’t be included as it drew attention to the sonic booms made by Concorde.

Artwork showing Concorde pushing through pink, red and purple sound waves.

1/6, Unadopted Artwork by Richard Negus and Philip Sharland, 1967

The final designs chosen and approved by HM The Queen consisted of work by Michael & Sylvia Goaman and David Gentleman.

The 3 essays of the accepted designs signed by a member of the Queen's household on her behalf.

Essays approved by HM The Queen, Jan. 1968

The Concorde stamp issue was accompanied by a presentation pack also designed by David Gentleman. It contained the three issued stamps and detailed information about the plane’s creation and specifications.

The Concorde Presentation Pack consisting of the 3 issued stamp designs.

Presentation Pack, 1969

Information about Concorde printed on the inside of the Presentation Pack.

Inside the Presentation Pack, 1969

When the stamps were created the first-class price was 4d, however due to the delays in the inaugural flight the rate had risen to 5d. The two phosophor bands on the older 4d stamps would still travel first class and it was decided to allow this to pass rather than lose money reprinting.

The first flight of Concorde took place on the 2 March 1969 with the French issuing their stamp on the day of the flight, Britain issued theirs the day after on the 3rd.

Concorde has also featured in other stamp issues such as Airliners from 2002 and below in the Design Classics issue of 2009 celebrating British design.

Stamp depicting Concorde from the front of the plane as it takes off.

1st, Concorde, Design Classics, 2009

For those of us lucky enough to see Concorde in flight it was a site to behold. A true feat in British and French design. The British plane which first flew on the 9 April 1969 can be visited at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovil.

Why not come and see other stamp designs on your visit?

– Georgina Tomlinson (Deputy Curator, Philately)