This weekend Britain and Commonwealth countries around the world – from Canada to Jamaica – will be celebrating the 60 year reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Everyone knows her from the coins in their pockets and the stamps on their parcels. The Queen is the picture of traditional Britain. Her sense of duty and the economical royal wave are renowned and familiar to us all.
The nation is looking forward to a 4 day holiday of street parties. In London a 1000-boat flotilla will sail up the Thames to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond Jubilee. God Save The Queen!
Here in the Expert Market office, we are commemorating this great event in the way that feels most familiar to us. Being franking machine experts, we are harking back over 60 years of stamps featuring Her Royal Highness The Queen.
With current Royal Mail postal rates, a franking machine cuts postage costs by over a third. But for 60 years The Queen’s profile has been a reliable companion to posties across the land.
A 60 year reign in stamps
~ These were issued between 1955-1965, and were the first stamps to bear Queen Elizabeth II's likeness. Stamp connoisseurs will tell you the difference them is in the watermark: Tudor Crown, St. Edwards crown, and Multiple Crown respectively. The Queen's portrait is by the artist Dorothy Wilding, which is why these are known as "Wildings".
~ This stamp was in circulation between 1955-68, has the St. Edwards Crown and E2R watermark, and shows Carrickfergus Castle, in N Ireland.
~ These high value stamps show Carrickfergus Castle and Caernarvon. Other designs showed Edinburgh Castle and Windsor Castle on the £1 value. These were issued from 1955 to 1968.
1968, 1971 + 1987
~ Low decimal stamps: a 7d stamp from 1968, a 1971 26p and a 1987 £1.33 stamp with a new design introduced in 1967 by Sir Arnold Machin: stamps like this are now known as "Machins", and the design is still in use today.
~ A 1st class stamp from 1993. Self adhesive - jazzy!
~ A 1998 throwback to the Wildings of 1952 but showing values in decimal currency.
~ And, finally, the modern day design as we know it.
Still using the old Machin picture from 1967: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Queen Elizabeth II was 13 years old when World War II broke out, and she gave the following big sisterly reassurance over the radiowaves to the nation’s children on Children’s Hour, “We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well.”
When the war ended Elizabeth was 16. She slipped into the London streets and joined the jubilant crowds anonymously, saying, “We were terrified of being recognised… I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us swept along on a tide of happiness and relief.”
Since her own youth The Queen has seen the nation changed by many movements and trends: The Beatles, disco, punk rock, Britpop, video-games, the YBA's, and now the internet.
Our Queen has reigned for 60 years and only Queen Victoria has reigned longer. That's a long career... Well done Your Majesty.
( Thanks to B. McLean's Stamps For Collectors - an online stamp shop - for the pictures )