In praise of Barbie

For the last time, on Saturday, I stuck the head of the late Queen, without a barcode, on an envelope and posted it. I have kept the two remaining stamps of my sheet as souvenirs. Stamps survive, of course, under the new King, but they are gradually becoming like cash – marginal and out of date. The letter is no longer a primary means of communication, just as notes and coin are no longer the primary means of purchase. I wonder how these changes will affect our view of monarchy. The head of the monarch, unnamed, has been the daily sight of virtually every citizen since the Penny Black arrived in

Stamped out: Royal Mail’s plan to shrink Queen Elizabeth’s head

As King Charles’s stamps begin landing on our doormats more frequently, we’ll be saying goodbye to the familiar Arnold Machin silhouette of Queen Elizabeth II that has appeared on our envelopes for 55 years. But what is less familiar is the story of how that silhouette almost changed dramatically two decades ago.  Early in this millennium, the Royal Mail’s design director, Barry Robinson, led a secret initiative to design a new set of ‘definitive’ stamps – the everyday 1st and 2nd class ones. The aim was to make it easier for visually impaired or partially sighted people to see the class of stamp by making the ‘1’ or ‘2’ much