The unique style of Argentinian artist Jorge Cocco Santángelo adorns this year's Christmas stamps.

Envelope with the Christmas miniature sheet containing 8 stamps cancelled on the first day of issue.

First Day Cover, Christmas 2021

Christmas Stamps

The first British stamp marking Christmas appeared in 1966. Designs have shifted between secular and religious imagery, but in recent years Royal Mail have focused more on depicting the Christmas story on stamps. This can be seen in the designs from 2019 and 2020 below, which both explored the nativity with different artistic styles.

A small sheet of stamps containing 8 stamps featuring images of the nativity story.

Miniature sheet of the 2020 Christmas stamps featuring images of stained glass windows.

2019 and 2020 Christmas Miniature Sheets

Issued stamps

Each of Jorge Cocco Santángelo’s 2021 stamps depicts a different scene from the Christmas story. You’ll notice that the 1st and 2nd class stamps have been printed with and without a barcode which we will talk about later.

  • 1st NVI – Madonna and Child
  • 1st NVI Large – Shepherds tending to their sheep
  • 2nd NVI – Angels with trumpets
  • 2nd NVI Large – Joseph with Mary on a donkey
  • £1.70 – The Three Kings
  • £2.55 – Figures gathered around the baby Jesus
1st NVI (with barcode)
1st NVI (with barcode)
1st NVI
1st NVI
1st NVI Large (with barcode)
1st NVI Large (with barcode)
2nd NVI (with barcode)
2nd NVI (with barcode)
2nd NVI
2nd NVI
2nd NVI Large (with barcode)
2nd NVI Large (with barcode)
£1.70
£1.70
£2.55
£2.55

Jorge Cocco Santángelo

In 1962, Jorge Cocco was visited by Mormon missionaries at his home. This visit was so impactful that he converted from Catholicism to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since then, his art has been spiritual, documenting religious narratives. The artist is now in his 80s but he still intends to continue to paint. He paints in a style of his own creation, which he refers to as ‘Sacrocubism’. This style uses the techniques developed by post-cubist artists but focuses on religious imagery.

A sheet of 20 stamp and 20 labels featuring images of angels in the background.

Collectors Sheet, Christmas 2021

Barcodes

Barcodes first appeared on British stamps in March 2021. This addition was only trialled on 2nd class stamps for business sheets where a blue barcode was printed to the right of the standard definitive design. Each barcode is uniquely identifiable and Royal Mail say it will innovate their customer service. At the moment, we don’t know exactly what changes the barcode will make for tracking letters and parcels, as it’s yet to be announced by Royal Mail.

The front of a 2nd NVI Business sheet with annotation of the number of stamps on a sheet.

Cover of a 2nd NVI Business Sheet, 2020

For the 2021 Christmas issue, the barcode also features on the right of the stamp and is printed on the 1st and 2nd NVI and Large stamps. As this is still a new system, 1st and 2nd class stamps can be purchased without the barcode in the stamp booklets. The barcode increases the size of the stamp, so it remains to be seen if stamp booklets will increase in size to accommodate a wider stamp.

The inside of two stamp booklets showing the 1st and 2nd class stamps without the barcode.

1st and 2nd NVI Booklets, Christmas 2021

Christmas Delivery Dates

This Year, Royal Mail are recommending that you post early. The last recommended post dates to arrive in time for Christmas are Saturday 18 December for second class and Tuesday 21 December for first class post. Get the new Christmas stamps from any post office or online at the Royal Mail website.

– Georgina Tomlinson, Deputy Curator, Philately

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