Fastest stamp design

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The 75th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2001 provided Gibraltar with the idea of producing the world’s fastest stamp design. In fact, from design to delivery, the celebratory miniature sheet for the monarch’s landmark birthday took just 10 hours and 24 minutes.

At 8am on April 23, 2001 Nigel Fordham, Head of the famous Crown Agents Stamp Bureau, collected artwork from Buckingham Palace for a £2 stamp from Gibraltar to mark the 75th birthday. The portrait was The Queen’s own choice – a personal favourite taken at Buckingham Palace by the Press Association Royal photographer Fiona Hanson.

The artwork was rushed by Fordham to the PA News Centre in central London, and by 8.15am was being transmitted to the House of Questa stamp printers, in Surrey. By noon that day the stamps were ready for despatch, and the first 5,000 were taken by motorbike to Gatwick Airport, for the 2.25pm flight to Gibraltar.

On board was Nigel Fordham, but also the TV and Monty Python personality Michael Palin, who commented: ‘She chose quite a smiley one rather than an austere, severe picture – I think that speaks volumes’.

The flight touched down on Gibraltar at 6.24pm so the record was broken in just 10 hours and 24 minutes. Nigel Fordham explained: ‘We were not monkeying around. This was a serious world record which turned out to be a lot of fun’. The stamps went on sale at one minute past midnight local time, with huge queues formed to buy the record-breaking stamps.