Issue Date - 6th November 2011
The King James Bible has been described as "the noblest monument of English prose", which shaped the way people write and speak English. Now 400 years after its publication Royal Mail celebrates the anniversary on this year’s Christmas stamps.
Seven stamps will be issued which draw on significant events from the Nativity inspired by verses from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. In addition the popular 1st and 2nd Class Madonna and Child stamps, first issued in 2007, will also be available.
For many, perhaps the most important and lasting contribution of the King James Bible has been to the shaping of the English language itself. Commissioned by James I in 1604, he hoped that this new translation would secure peace and stability in religious matters following growing tensions between Anglicans and Puritans.
The arrangements for the translation were more sophisticated and complex than for any previous English Bible. Six ‘Companies of Translators’ were appointed, each consisting of about nine leading scholars and churchmen, who were all allocated a specific section of the Bible to translate.
Appearing in 1611 the new Bible was slow in rising to fame, and it was not until the late 17th century that its remarkable qualities began to be recognised. By the beginning of the 18th century, the King James Bible was being hailed as a religious and literary classic. Yet even today, many still prefer the 1611 translation to its more modern rivals.
Many of its distinctive sayings have found their way into our everyday way of speaking, with more than 200 phrases such as ‘the apple of my eye’, a ‘den of thieves’ or ‘the land of the living’ have become part of modern English.
The seven Christmas 2011 stamps each feature an image inspired by the accounts of the Nativity in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.
The Miniature Sheet contains all seven stamps set within a decorative border featuring an angel following a star and the quote ‘And the angel said unto them ‘Fear not for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great Joy, which shall be to all people’ from Luke 2:10.
Stamps First Day Cover
The First Day Cover features the seven Christmas 2011 stamps. The accompanying filler card includes verses 1-15 from Luke chapter 2 in the original black-letter type from the 1611 King James Bible.
Miniature First Day Cover
The First Day Cover features the Christmas 2011 Miniature Sheet. The accompanying filler card includes verses 1-15 from Luke chapter 2 in the original black-letter type from the 1611 King James Bible.
The Presentation Pack features the seven Christmas stamps and takes a look at the history and influence of the King James Bible. It is written by Revd Professor Alistair McGrath, Chair in Theology, Ministry,and Education at King’s College London.
Eight Stamp Cards feature enlarged versions of each of the Christmas stamps and the miniature sheet. These go on sale about a week before the stamp issue date.
Two new stamp books will be available - containing 12 x 1st Class and 12 x 2nd Class Christmas 2011 stamps.
The Generic Sheet includes 8 x 1st Class, 8 x 2nd Class, 2 x 68p and 2 x £1.10 stamps. The sheet design features verses in black-letter style within the labels.
The Coin Cover features the Christmas stamps alongside a commemorative £2 coin issued by the Royal Mint to mark the anniversary. The informative insert card covers the history of the development of the King James Bible and its legacy.