Thursday, 17 November 2016

Multi-Sensory Stamps Sets - Update

Category - Sight / Touch
Subcategory - Multi-Sensory Stamps Sets/ Stamps with Interactive (QR/Bar/Augmented Reality/C) codes  / Glow in the Dark Stamp Under UV Stamps   / Stamps with Thermochromic ink printing / Stamps with Micro text Printing

UK 2016 Agatha Christie Stamp Set

Issue date 15 September 2016

To commemorate 100 years of the Writer Agatha Christie's first Novel (The Mysterious Affair At Styles), Royal Mail has issued a special stamp set of 6 stamps featuring scenes from her six iconic novels Murder on the Orient Express, And then there were none, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The Body in the Library and A Murder is announced.

Agatha Christie was known as the Queen of Crime Novels with her creation of Hercule Poirot, a fictional Belgian detective.

Hercule Poirot featured in 53 novels, one play and more than 50 short stories, making him one of the most famous fictional characters of all time. The Belgian detective was due to retire from the Belgium Police when war started. He apparently had an international reputation for crime solving and when he was injured (possibly on active service) he moved to England as a refugee. We first meet him living in Essex, and he appears to be in late middle -age (maybe late 50s). A native French speaker, he is also fluent in German, Italian and (haltingly) in English. He is fond of his moustache (‘very stiff and military’), and in the early novels consults his large pocket watch. Hastings described him as a ‘quaint, dandified little man’ with a height of ‘hardly five feet, four inches’. His eyes are green, his eyebrows expressive when in deep thought. His detective method is to use pure reason and his knowledge of human psychology. His triumph over ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’ leads him to develop his career as a private detective. 

When Christie finally killed off Poirot the character received an obituary in the New York Times, the only fictional character to have been so honoured.

The six stamps contain hidden secrets and also feature 'visual' clues some of which are more obvious than others (the skull on 'Styles', and the apparent dagger on 'Roger Ackroyd'.  Others are in microtext, or in thermochromic ink, or only visible under an ultra-violet light.  No details of these can be published at this stage.

Spoiler Alert - Secrets on the Stamps

1st Class: Murder on the Orient Express, 1934
Returning from Syria, Poirot travels on the Orient Express bound for Calais in the company of shady fellow passengers. Mr Ratchett approaches Poirot saying he had been threatened and offers a large fee for him to take the case. Poirot declines saying, ‘I do not like your face’. That night Ratchett is murdered. The train is caught in a snowdrift and Poirot is persuaded to take on the case. The novel was shortlisted by the Crime Writers Association poll for the greatest crime novel of all time.

- the smoke from the train combined with the crescent moon creates a silhouette of Hercule Poirot.
- there is thermochromic ink over the second window, so when a thumb is placed over the window a half-hidden person is revealed wielding a knife.

- the names of the suspects whom Hercule Poirot interviews during the course of the investigation are presented in microtext along the bottom of the stamp.

1st Class: And Then There Were None, 1940
Christie wrote several novels and many short stories and plays (under her own name) that do not feature her most famous creations, including And Then There Were None in which eight people are invited to an island, attended by a butler and his wife. An old fashioned gramophone plays a recording accusing each of murder, and then each is murdered in a way outlined in the rhyme Ten Little Soldier Boys. Eventually all die – the police are baffled, but a chance discovery explains all.

- A silhouette of a person’s head forms the outline of the island.
- The moon’s reflection in the water features the “Ten Little Soldier Boys” poem in microtext.

- The reflection of the house light in the water features the word “U.N. Owen” in microtext, the name of the mystery person who invited the guests to their doom

£1.33: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, written 1916, published 1920 (US)/1921 (UK)
In the first introduction to Poirot, the story is told by Captain Arthur Hastings, on sick leave in Essex after being invalided while serving in the First World War. He encounters Poirot in the village, having already made his acquaintance from working on a police case with him before the War. That same night a Mrs Inglethorp (of the house where Hastings is staying) dies of Strychnine poisoning. Her husband is arrested and Poirot is enlisted to investigate. Afterwards Hastings becomes a kind of Watson to Poirot’s Holmes in numerous stories.

- The skull-like middle image created by Poirot and Hastings sitting around the table with the lamp is reproduced in miniature on the poison bottle.

£1.33: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, 1926
The classic whodunit is narrated by Dr Sheppard, friend of Roger Ackroyd. Ackroyd is found murdered with an ornate knife in his neck, in a room locked from the inside, with many suspects who have motives for murder. Sheppard’s next door neighbour is none other than Poirot who rules out suspects one by one. He is assisted by Sheppard’s sister, Caroline (thought to be the prototype for Miss Marple). The twist in the final chapter has divided critics and readers ever since it was published and is a cornerstone in the modern crime novel and a prime example of the ‘locked room’ style of mystery. The book was voted the ‘Greatest Crime Novel of All Time’ by the 600 members of the Crime Writers Association.

- An outline of Hercule Poirot’s head appears in the flames in the fire.
- The blood-stained letter hanging from the dead man’s hand features some words from the letter that Roger Ackroyd read aloud before his death.

- A silhouette of the murderer holding a knife created by the shadow of the chair.

£1.52: The Body in the Library, 1942 (biggest selling Marple book)
Mrs Dolly Bantry awakes to find a dead woman in the library. She calls her good friend Miss Marple to investigate and the aged sleuth pits her wits against Inspector Slack. After a second murder Marple sets a trap for the killer. Since its first publication in 1942 it has gone on to become the biggest selling Marple book 

- The body outline is printed in UV ink to be seen with a UV light.
- The arrangement of the hat, glasses and book ribbon is intended to represent an outline of Miss Marple.

- Book titles of all Agatha Christie’s books and short-story collections (not featuring Hercule Poirot) that were published before The Body in the Library appear in microtext on the spines of the books on the shelf.

£1.52: A Murder is Announced, 1950 (in top list of Christie novels)
In the personal columns of the local paper, an ad announcing a murder and a time and place is published. Assuming it is a party of some sort, half the village turns up. The lights go out and shots ring out. Leticia Blacklock (owner of the location of the shooting) lies injured next to a dead man. Chief Inspector Rydesdale thinks it is an accident or suicide, but encounters Miss Marple at lunch at the local hotel who examines the evidence and draws her own conclusions. She goes to the village to investigate the murders that ensue.

- The spotlight is meant to represent a clock, and the clock numbers are printed in UV ink.
- the word “Switzerland” appears in microtext on the little clock face that is set at 6.30p.m. (both the word and the time are significant to the story)

- The small ads page from the newspaper that feature the “A Murder is Announced” is reproduced in microtext in the paper held by the woman in black.

Each stamp also has a hidden letter, which combine across the set to spell ‘Agatha’. 

A – On Orient
G – On Styles
A – On Library
T – And Then There Were None
H – On Ackroyd
A – On Announced

Royal Mail have also developed an augmented reality feature for the The Mysterious Affair at Styles stamp which triggers a 3D animation and users who download the Aurasma app, can explore the scene being played out on the stamp and interact with the scene lighting.

To view other stamps in this category click on the following link - 

Disclaimer - Information about the stamp issues on this page has been taken from the net and are for informational purposes only. No copyright claim is made for the above mentioned information/pictures/video.  The pictures have been scanned from my collection. 

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