Putting the ‘Spring’ in Stamps

18 March 2016
Wild Bluebells in the countryside on a 11 pence stamp.

Spring Wild Flowers, Bluebells, 11p, 1979

The month of March brings in the changing of the season, with both the Equinox and the first day of Spring. It is a time for rebirth, regrowth and renewal, acting as a metaphor for better times. March is the third month in the Gregorian calendar and the first in the Roman. Named after Mars the god of War, March was a time to farm and begin warfare again after the cold winter months.

Horse pulling a farming plough on a 26 pence stamp.

Millennium Series, The Farmer’s Tale, 26p, 1999

An array of fruit and vegetables on a 19 pence stamp.

Food and Farming, Fruit and Vegetables, 19p, 1989

It is at this point of the year that we begin to feel the Earth get slightly warmer as the planet tilts towards the sun. This season brings unstable weather, with a greater chance of snow in March than Christmas, and an increase in April Showers. The stamp below depicting ‘Rain’ references the phrase ‘raining cats and dogs’, believed to originate in the 17th century, when dead cats and dogs were found floating down streets during heavy rain.

A snowflake under a microscope on a 19 pence stamp.

Microscopes, Snowflake (x10), 19p, 1989

A weather berometer with cats and dogs falling in the background on a 19 pence stamp.

The Weather, Rain, 19p, 2001

There are many flowers associated with spring. The narcissus, or ‘daffodil’ as it is more commonly known, is also the flower of March. These predominantly bloom in white or yellow and are the flower/symbol of Wales, as depicted in the stamps below. Other flowers associated with this period are the bluebell, the primrose and the tulip.

The stamp set of British spring flowers.

Post & Go, Spring Blooms, British Flora 1, Stamp Set, 1st Class up to 100g, 2014

A blue daffodil on a Welsh European value stamp.

Wales Regional Definitive, Daffodil, European, 1999

The stamp below depicts the European Hare, from which the saying ‘as mad as a March hare’ comes, due to its strange actions such as boxing during its March breeding season. Author Lewis Carroll’s March Hare was made famous in his novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, where, accompanied by the Mad Hatter, they have a continuous tea party.

A standing brown hare on a 9 pence stamp.

British Wildlife, Brown Hare, 9p, 1977

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland on a 81 pence stamp.

Alice in Wonderland, A Mad Tea-Party, 81p, 2015

With Spring comes Easter, a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as told in the New Testament. Easter is in fact a moveable feast, and falls on the first Sunday following the full moon after the Spring Equinox. Eggs are traditionally decorated and given to children at Easter, although many now associate them with chocolate treats.

Yellow chicks on a 1st class stamp.

Farm Animals, Light Sussex Chicks, 1st NVI, 2005

A black rabbit on a 29 pence stamp.

150th Anniversary of Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Rabbit, 29p, 1990

Spring is about change and growth, which is especially apt for The Postal Museum right now, as building work gets underway on our new museum. This will be a rebirth for our organisation as we open our doors to the public, with more items on show than ever before. What changes will Spring bring for you?

– Georgina Tomlinson, Philatelic Assistant