Happy New Year, readers! Hoping your year is as bloody awesome as the pun in my headline.
2018 has kicked off with the news that on January 23, the UK’s Royal Mail is releasing no less than 15 stamps commemorating “the significant British contribution” to the production of the TV series Game of Thrones.
Here’s the Royal Mail’s justification for jumping on the GoT band-dragon:
The Game of Thrones production involves a very significant British contribution. Principal filming of the series is at Titanic Studios in Belfast, at the Linen Hill Film Studio in Banbridge and on location elsewhere in Northern Ireland, with additional filming in Scotland and European locations including Malta, Croatia, Iceland, Morocco and Spain. Additionally, the acclaimed cast is predominantly British and Irish, and British expertise is to the fore in many areas of the production, including award-winning costume design and prosthetic special effects.
And here’s what they might as well have written: “Game of Thrones is huge and we are out to make a shipload of coin.”
Masters of Coin
Regular readers would know I’m a fan of pop culture on stamps, and no one does it with more class than the UK. I’ve gushed over releases on Star Wars, Bowie, Pink Floyd, Classic Toys and the Great Fire of London narrated in comic-book style.
I’m also a long-time fan of Game of Thrones, at least since last year when I binged on the series so I could re-engage with people I hadn’t spoken to for five years, because all they would talk about was Game of Thrones, which was tedious, but my only other option was to spend the party talking to people whose only conversation point was how proud they are that they’re not into Game of Thrones, which is even more tedious. Long story short: big fan, now.
British stamps do, of course, have a long tradition of depicting royals who are into getting it on with their own relatives, but… I dunno. It’s one thing to honour a long-time, culturally significant national contribution to pop culture like Star Wars, or Dr Who as the Royal Mail did in 2013. But immortalising a more recent TV series on your nation’s stamps before the show has even finished? That crosses a line even for me. It reeks of opportunistic money-grubbing. If Game of Thrones gets stamps, why not One Direction? 1D also involved a very significant British contribution, with a cast predominantly British and Irish. (In case you’re wondering: this is a negative analogy for the purpose of rhetoric. This is not me calling for an issue of stamps commemorating One Direction.)
And as with any stamp release susceptible to ongoing events, it’s fraught with danger. What if the final season sucks? What if one of the featured actors turns out to be dodgy or gets buried under the #metoo avalanche? Your stamp will look like a First Class turnip.
None of this is to say that Game of Thrones isn’t worthy. It’s a magnificent production of extraordinary worldwide popularity. It’s just… why not wait until the finale, give it maybe ten years, and then see if it has reached the pantheon of stampworthy cultural touchstones? That’s not to deny that this sheetlet is awesome.
I have one other problem with this issue. It features ten characters central to Game of Thrones (plus a sheetlet depicting dragons, direwolves, giants, White Walkers, the Night King and the Iron Throne)… and yet NO LORD PETYR BAELISH? What an OUTRAGE!
Olenna Tyrell gets a stamp for spending most of the show sitting around gossiping – and OK, fair enough, she does [spoiler redacted] – but they fail to honour the ONE character responsible for [a whole bunch of stuff that I won’t reveal]? I demand that smirking salt’n’pepper bad boy in my stamp album, thank you very much Royal Mail.
Don’t get me wrong, Olenna kicks butt and Diana Rigg is a legend, but come on, there are already 15 stamps in the series. Maximise that sweet profit and chuck in Littlefinger along with, say, Joffrey, Varis, and – well, I could say Bran or Margaery, but personally a man would name Jaqen H’ghar. It’d sure make a man buy a few more stamps. It’d be brilliant to see Brienne of Tarth and Yara Greyjoy too, and Caitlin Stark is suspiciously missing, and… OK, I’m starting realise how tricky this job must have been.
Happily, I CAN report that the designs are as sumptuous as the TV show itself, even if they do have Kit Harington in one of his I-couldn’t-possibly-put-more-clothes-on moments. I particularly love the use of a unique dominant-but-muted shade for each character, treating the eye to an intoxicating journey across the spectrum when viewed as a group.
So, just like when I watch the show, I’m going to put all my moral, political and personal beefs aside, and just soak in the pretty pictures. You win, Royal Mail.
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© Philatelic product images remain the copyright of issuing postal administrations and successor authorities
“Don’t get me wrong, Olenna kicks arse and Diana Rigg is a legend, but come on, there are already 15 stamps in the series. Maximise that sweet profit and chuck in Littlefinger along with, say, Joffrey, Varis, and – well, I could say Bran or Margaery, but personally a girl would name Jaqen H’ghar. It’d sure make a girl buy a few more stamps. It’d be brilliant to see Brienne of Tarth and Yara Greyjoy too, and Caitlin Stark is suspiciously missing, and… OK, I’m starting realise…”
there will be a second issue when season 8 started in 2019, imitating the 2017 second Star Wars issue. 😉
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I wouldn’t be surprised! 😀
“You know nothing, John Snow.” Should not have listened to Melisandra that time,… and this one… and that other one… and… 😉
I still think your prediction was an excellent idea! I’m surprised they didn’t go for it.
Are you trying to say that they are doing this for ….money (gasp). Yes, well, it is probably true. It is also a strike while the iron is hot kind of thing. Of course, they probably didn’t think we would have a one year hiatus.
I went to a stamp show and the only positive that came out of “collectors’ ‘” mouths about this was the hope that it might bring some people into stamp collecting.
Awesome post. Perfect blend of humour and seriousness. Keep it up.
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I wrote about this on my own Blog a few days ago. There are many long established themes within Stamp Collecting and on one level, Pop Culture or Nostalgia is just a new one. This (like Dr Who) is somewhat different. A strange Tail Wagging Dog set. The GOT stamps are part of a theme within Stamp Collecting but I think it means that Stamps can now be part of the Memorabalia industry. A few years ago, I was in a stamp shop in London and most of the shop space was given over to stamp and FDC related Dr Who memorabilia. Much of it was autographed and there were even pics of the autograph signing session in the shop. So I would expect more of the same when the Game of Thrones stamps are issued. Id be surprised if any of the main stars actually featured on the stamps made some extra cash by having an autograph session (they are all A List now) but some of the supporting cast will find it lucrative.
Fifty years ago, there was an emphasis on Stamps being “worthy” …eg “royals” and major historical figures but the deaths of the first wave of Stars from movies and TV makes Nostalgia a legitimate “theme”. When the convention that living persons should not appear on stamps was broken, then it allows for more Nostalgia and even Memorabalia.
The 11 Footballers set that Britain issued about four years ago featured George Best who had been in prison for assault (he was a tax cheat, drunk and wife beater).
Certainly it is unlikely that Britain will ever produce a set of 1960s DJs (Jimmy Saville) and I cant see Britain or Australia commemorating the centenary of the birth of a well known entertainer. I think the reputation of historical figures can be revised but the great problem with living people is that we don’t know that a conviction for being a serial killer is not waiting for them.
To be fair the GOT stamps are characters. But interesting that no Irish actor is included.
And it is not unique to Britain …over the last year Ive been at Stamp Fairs and bought Australian stamps of Slim Dusty, Kath and Kim and a lot of Tennis players. Its instant nostalgia….I wish there was a Sea Patrol set. Olympic winners stamps bother me a little….an accident waiting to happen. Britain in 2012 issued winners stamps next day but a hostage to frtune surely ….luckily nobody was stripped of a medal.
But there is Philately for Phun….I heard a whisper in London that Charles and Diana would break up and I bought some wedding stamps, carried them around with me for a week and posted them on the day John Major announced the split. I used scissors to separate them on the stamps. I have also had phun with Princess Anne and Mark Phillips and her new hubby. And I have had a LOT of Phun with Margaret Thatcher stamps.
As GOT is made in Belfast 923 miles) and Banbridge (11 miles) I will be using GOT location postcards to send stamps to folks in USA.
Reblogged this on Collecting Irish Stamps, Coins, Postcards and Collectables and commented:
Excellent post from Australia…The Punk Philatelist writes some good stuff.
Thanks for the reblog! And when I’m next on my homepage I’ll be officially adding your blog to Sites I’m Loving. (Yes, I am this easily bought.)
Thank you. I appreciate it.
I remember seeing something about the stamps in the Guardian. I particularly liked the Arya and Oleanna ones.
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