The 29 gold medals that Team GB have won at the games has left my pockets empty of cash. I doubt even that the Royal Mail could have foreseen such a large medal haul when they promoted the Gold Medal Winner stamps that the public would take such an interest. If you are not aware of these stamps, the Royal Mail pledged to issue a 1st class stamp illustrating a GB gold medal winning Olympian or team and have them on sale by noon on the day following their success. They were issued in sheets of six stamps and initially sold thus, but Royal Mail later relented and informed post offices that they could be sold singly - possibly to take advantage of the interest and demand. The stamp issue quickly became synonymous with a gold medal win...TV presenters greeting winners with "..you'll be appearing on a stamp tomorrow!.." and such like.
Met by many philatelists (myself included) with suggestions that the stamps sacrificed quality in favour of a quick profit, I would now conclude that although a "gimmick", they have stimulated an interest in stamp collecting, that if sustained, could create a huge legacy the hobby in general..and weren't the games all about "legacy" ? It will be interesting to see what the final sales figures will be, but some of the stamps quickly sold out at my local retail outlet in Dudley - one of 500 nationwide. The first to sell out was the Bradley Wiggins stamp, my candidate for the Gold Medal Winner's Gold Medal Winner!
The most popular of the Gold Medal Winner stamps?
You may be aware, from earlier postings, that I have been just a little bit critical of the philatelic service at my local post office in Dudley. Such has been the impact of these stamps that they have transformed the attitude of the counter clerk selling them...he has started his own collection!
It will be interesting to see in the weeks to come what philatelic souvenirs will surface and be paraded around like the flags at the opening ceremony. At the moment, my cherished item is a sheet of the Jessica Ennis stamps on cover with first day "flag" postmark and oval cachet from the Olympic Park Office.
Jessica Ennis Gold Medal Winner sheet with interesting cachet
The cachet on the cover is interesting, in that it differs from the one applied to the "smiler" sheet folder on sale at the Olympic village. It is known to have been used to cancel stamps on official mail at the village, though it's status is at present unconfirmed... unless someone has the knowledge? Below is a comparison between the two cachets.