Christmas is just around the corner and Royal Mail have issued their last Christmas stamp featuring Queen Elizabeth II’s profile.

Read on to learn more about this year’s designs and the history of Christmas stamps from Curator, Georgina Tomlinson.

A scan of an envelope with 'Christmas 2022' printed on it, with six illustrated Christmas stamps showing the profile of Queen Elizabeth II.

This year’s stamps are designed by Kent based artist Katie Ponder. Her work is inspired by ballet, tarot cards and mythology. Illustrating the story of the nativity, her designs have a contemporary feel with reference to the Art Deco movement.

A miniature sheet with an illustrated background and the words 'Christmas 2022', showing a festive night scene and six illustrated stamps with scenes from the Nativity.

Christmas 2022, Miniature Sheet

All six Christmas stamps feature figures from the nativity story with the addition of the new barcode. The first and second class stamps, which many of us will use for our Christmas post, feature the Holy Family and the Annunciation. Other values include images of angels, shepherds, and the Magi (also known as the Wise Men).

1st NVI Large, Angel, Christmas 2022
2nd NVI, The Annunciation, Christmas 2022
2nd NVI Large, Journey to Bethlehem, Christmas 2022
£1.85, Angels and Shepherds, Christmas 2022
£2.55, Magi, Christmas 2022

The introduction of barcode stamps means that we are all getting used to the new colours for first and second class stamps. These stamps are most commonly known for being red and blue, but are now purple and green. To help identify these values in the Christmas stamps, you’ll notice that the designs’ overall colour palette correlates to the colour of the barcode.

1st NVI, Holy Family, Christmas 2022
2nd NVI, The Annunciation, Christmas 2022

The barcode on Christmas stamps allows you to send an extra message along with your post. This year’s message has been created by Aardman studios, the minds behind Wallace and Gromit. The video features Shaun the Sheep having some festive fun. To deliver the video, the sender needs to use the Royal Mail app to scan the code and select their chosen video clip. The code can be scanned to view the video. You can find out more about this extra feature on Christmas stamps on the Royal Mail website. This is not the first time Wallace and Gromit characters have featured on festive stamps, they also appear on a Christmas set from 2010.

Christmas with Wallace and Gromit, Miniature Sheet, 2010

The 2022 Christmas stamps will be the last to feature the profile of Queen Elizabeth II. Designs for Christmas stamps start months in advance and these would have already been in the process of production when the Queen passed away in September. They, in a way, act as a commemoration to a monarch who since 1957 had broadcasted a Christmas message to the nation.

A scan of a stamp showing a black and white photograph of Queen Elizabeth II, reading from a book in her first Christmas TV broadcast in 1957.

77p, First Christmas TV Broadcast 1957, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Stamp Issue, 2012

The first ever British Christmas stamp was produced during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. In 1966, two Christmas stamps designed by children were issued to the public. Tasveer Shemza and James Berry, both aged 6 at the time, designed a King and a Snowman to adorn Christmas post.

1s6d and S3d, Christmas Stamps, 1966.

Since then, Christmas stamps have been both religious and secular featuring robins, angels, Father Christmas and of course Wallace and Gromit! Christmas stamps are widely circulated during a time when many of us send handwritten cards. For over 50 years, these designs have been produced by some of the biggest names in illustration including Quentin Blake, Raymond Briggs and Axel Scheffler, best known for The Gruffalo.

Miniature sheet from Christmas 2004 designed by Raymond Briggs.
Miniature sheet from Christmas 2012 designed by Axel Scheffler.

As postal traffic gets busy towards Christmas, don’t forget to get your Christmas cards in the post early!

We wish you an enjoyable festive season and a bright New Year.

Learn more about Christmas 2022 at The Postal Museum.