If you love collecting Jane Austen memorabilia, one of the easiest and cheapest things to collect are Jane Austen stamps.
As stamps are produced in great quantities, so it is less about the stamps themselves and more about the postmarks that go with them that adds the value. Or in some cases, what the stamps are stuck to!
There have been two main sets of Jane Austen stamps produced, one in 1975 to celebrate 200 years since Jane’s brith and the second in 2013 to celebrate 200 years since Pride and Prejudice was published.
Anniversary of 200 Years since Jane’s Birth (1975)
This set of four was produced in 1975 and celebrated the 200th anniversary of Jane’s birth. The four illustrations feature characters in Jane’s novels, and these are harder to find.
All the stamps read Jane Austen 1775-1817 up the left hand side and then a description of the characters. The first is Emma & Mr Woodhouse from Emma, then Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey, a proud Mr Darcy is from Pride and Prejudice, and Mary and Henry Crawford from Mansfield Park complete the set.
Emma & Mr Woodhouse (Emma)
Catherine Morland (Northanger Abbey)
Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
Mary and Henry Crawford (Mansfield Park)
200th Anniversary of Pride and Prejudice (2013)
The most recent stamps were produced in 2013 to celebrate 200 years since Jane’s first novel Pride and Prejudice was published.
The Royal Mail launched the commemorative stamps on 21 February 2013. There are six stamps to collect, one for each of Jane’s novels, and below you can find the written commentary that came with each.
Sense and Sensibility
On opening the door, she saw Marianne stretched on the bed, almost choked by grief, one letter in her hand, and two or three other laying by her. Elinor drew ear, but without saying a word; and seating herself on the bed, took her hand, kissed her affectionately several times, and then gave way to a burst of tears, which at first was scarcely less violent than Marianne’s.
Pride and Prejudice
As she stood before the canvas on which he was represented, and fixed his eyes upon herself, she thought of his regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had ever raised before; she remembered its warmth, and softened its impropriety of expression.
There certainly are not so many men or large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them.
Oh! to be sure,’ cried Emma, ‘it is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should every refuse an offer of marriage. A man always imagines a woman to be ready for any body who asks her.
She took her candle and looked closely at the cabinet … The key was in the door, and she had a strange fancy to look into it; not, however, with the smallest expectation of finding anything, but it was so very odd, after what Henry had said. In short, she could not sleep till she had examined it. So, placing the candle with great caution on a chair, she seized the key with a very tremulous hand and tried to turn it; but it resisted her utmost strength.
When they came to the steps, leading upwards from the beach, a gentleman, at the same moment preparing to come down, politely drew back, and stopped to give them way. They ascended and passed him; and as they passed, Anne’s face caught his eye, and he looked after her with a degree of earnest admiration, which she could not be insensible of. She was looking remarkably well; her very regular, very pretty features, having the bloom and freshness of youth restored by the fine wind which had been blowing on her complexion, and by the animation of eye which it had also produced. It was evident that the gentleman, (completely a gentleman in manner) admired her exceedingly. Captain Wentworth looked round at her instantly in a way which shewed his noticing of it. he gave her a momentary glance, a glance of brightness, which seemed to say, ‘That man is struck with you, and even I, at this moment, see something like Anne Elliot again‘.
One thing to look out for is a postmark with a quote from Pride and Prejudice. On the first week of the launch, letters mailed from Chawton or Steventon (Jane Austen Country) were postmarked with a special Pride and Prejudice quote, ‘Do anything rather than marry without affection’.
To mark the 200th anniversary of Jane’s birth in 1975, the Royal Mail produced special collection packs which you can still find today.
This set also came in a Presentation Pack and an insert all about Jane.
First Day Cover, Insert and Posters, PHQ Cards
You can also find other items that feature the stamps. Some are called First Day Cover and they are franked with a postmark on the first day of launch and sometimes the first ones off the press.
In England, there are two tiers or postage for mail. First Class postage costs more and is for more urgent letters that will arrive the next day. The Second Class postage costs a little less and is for less urgent letters that will arrive in 2-3 days. The cost of the stamps go up each year which is why they say 1st or 2nd on each stamp.
You can order the stamps from anywhere in the world via the Royal Mail website and watch out for new ones released on key dates. You can also find sheets of new stamps and sometimes franked stamps for sale on second hand websites.
Collectors know that the ones sent from Chawton, Bath and Winchester, and other places associated with Jane are the most sought after.
Visiting the Jane Austen Centre in Bath?
If you are visiting the Jane Austen Centre in Bath you can find Jane Austen stamps in their gift shop. These can be used to mail postcards from the UK to anywhere in the world. A great gift for a Jane Austen fan to receive back home.