Many of us will have read 'A Christmas Carol' or in my case watched the Muppets version pretty much every Christmas.

The story has become synonymous with the season with every family having a grumpy ‘Bah Humbug’ relative. In 1993 Royal Mail commissioned a set of stamps to commemorate 150 years since its original publication. The stamps were designed by illustrator Quentin Blake, probably most famous for his work on Roald Dahl’s stories.

Display of each of the stamps in a line.

Full set of ‘A Christmas Carol’ stamps, 1993

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843 and it is a window into Victorian society and how they celebrated Christmas. The Victorian period was a time of great change and many of the Christmas traditions we have today began at this time. Dickens’ early life was full of poverty and hardship which is echoed in many of his stories including A Christmas Carol.

The stamps introduce you to some of the stories of key characters…

Bob Cratchit & Tiny Tim

It’s much easier for Tiny Tim to travel through the snow on the shoulder of Bob Cratchit, than to walk with his cane.

Illustration of a man carrying a boy with a women and child in the background.

24p, Artwork of Bob Cratchit & Tiny Tim by Quentin Blake.

Scrooge’s nephew and wife

The happy couple stare longingly into each other’s eyes oblivious to the poverty and cruelty around them.

Illustration of a couple walking together with the gentleman holding his hat and figures in the background.

39p, Artwork Mr Scrooge’s nephew by Quentin Blake.

Mr and Mrs Fezziwig

The ever happy Fezziwigs enjoy a leisurely stroll in the snow as others carry their Christmas trees home.

Illustration of a couple walking next to a young boy carrying a tree.

28p, Artwork of Mr & Mrs Fezziwig by Quentin Blake.

Scrooge

Here Blake depicts Scrooge as a hunchback as he drudges through the snow with passers by looking on in fear.

Illustration of a old man hunched over with a boy carrying holly in the background.

18p, Artwork of Scrooge by Quentin Blake.

Quentin Blake not only produced the designs for the stamps but also decorated the stamp products that accompanied the issue. On the presentation pack children peak over the table to see the huge selection of Christmas treats just asking to be eaten.

Illustration of food on a table and two children peering over the edge.

Quentin Blake artwork on the Presentation Pack.

Bob Cratchit’s hat and umbrella also feature on the first day cover. An example of which we have signed by the artist himself.

First day cover with the five issued stamp and an illustration of a hat and umbrella.

Signed Quentin Blake First Day Cover.

This was not the first time A Christmas Carol has been the inspiration for a Christmas stamp design. For the 1980 Christmas issue Carol Walkin produced this design of the Fezziwigs Christmas ball with people dancing and celebrating.

Illustration of people dancing and a man playing the violin in the background.

Unadopted design by Carol Wilkin of Mr Fezziwig’s Christmas Ball.

2019 Christmas Stamps

This year’s Christmas stamps feature nativity designs produced by Hari & Deepti. This husband and wife duo create their designs by passing light through intricate paper cuttings.

Small sheet of stamps depicting images of the nativity.

Christmas 2019, Miniature Sheet

If you are interested in seeing the original artwork produced by Blake, the designs will be on display in The Postal Museum main exhibition until January 2020 as part of our Victorian Christmas.

-Georgina Tomlinson (Deputy Curator Philately)