Royal Mail Crimean War Stamps Postcards

In 2004 the Royal Mail issued a set of six stamps to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Crimean War. As is usual for the Royal Mail a set of postcards was also issued depicting these stamps in a much larger size to better allow people to appreciate the design of the stamp rather than the more usual one inch square. The six postcards each depict a soldier from the war taken from period photographs:

The images were all taken by Joseph Cundall and Robert Howlett from London in June and July 1856 at Aldershot where returning troops were assembling for a parade. The photographers set up an outdoor studio and whilst images were offered for sale, they were also sent to Queen Victoria. The six portraits produced on the stamps depict a range of troops from different regiments who fought in the different battles of the Crimean.

The 2nd Class stamp depicts a cavalryman from the Heavy Brigade who charged at Balaclava, Private McNamara of the 5th Dragoon Guards, depicted in his ornate plumed helmet:

The 1st Class stamp represents Scottish troops with a Piper Muir of the 42nd Regiment of Foot, which would later become the Black Watch:

Another Scottish Regiment appears on the 40p stamp with a senior NCO from the Scots Fusilier Guards:

The Crimean War saw the Footguards in action repeatedly, easily identified by their large bearskins. The 57p stamp depicts Sgt Powell of the 1st Foot Guards. Today this regiment is better known as the Grenadier Guards and the grenade badges can be clearly seen on his collar:

The Royal Sappers and Miners were the precursors to the Royal Engineers and were heavily involved in building both defensive and offensive fortifications during the war. Here we see Sergeant Major Poole wearing the regiment’s shako in the 68p stamp:

The final, and most expensive, stamp in the set is the £1.12 stamp which represents the Royal Artillery:

The quality of these images is remarkable and a testament to the photographers’ skill in capturing their subjects. The men have clearly seen much combat and had a hard war, most probably only being in their thirties but looking far older. The Crimean War is largely forgotten now, but had a major influence on the development of the British military throughout the second half of the nineteenth century.

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