Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Agatha Christie’s Special Stamp

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Isle of Man post office will issue a set of eight stamps, each sporting the portrait of a well-known personage with a Manx connection. Unsurprisingly, some of these connections are stronger than others.

Captain William Bligh, for instance (yes, that Bligh) earns his stamp by virtue of having been stationed on the Isle of Man in the 1770s. The English painter John Martin was a frequent visitor to the island, and the English composer Sir Edward Elgar presided over the annual Manx Music Festival in 1914.

The stamp we’re most looking forward to seeing, of course, is the one featuring mystery maven Agatha Christie. Dame Agatha bought her way onto the 31p stamp by penning “Manx Gold,” a short story she was commissioned to write in 1930 for the London Daily Dispatch. A bit of a public-relations stunt aimed at drawing visitors to the island, “Manx Gold” was set on the Isle of Man and contained clues to help readers discover where snuff boxes filled with cash prizes might be found.

This batch of stamps, to be released on August 25, isn’t the first time that Dame Agatha and “Manx Gold” have held pride of place for Island posties. Just three years ago, the Isle of Man post office released a “Manx Gold” stamp as part of a set that included five other literary notables with Isle of Man connections.

Collectors will want to go here to find additional details about this forthcoming release. Those wanting to take a closer look into the esoteric world of collecting detective-fiction stamps will find a good starting point here.

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