Page last updated at 00:38 GMT, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Christmas stamps offer new choice

Pantomime Christmas stamp
Pantomime scenes feature on one range of Christmas stamps

The Royal Mail is to feature both religious and secular images in its Christmas stamp collection for the first time.

The Madonna of Humility by Lippo di Dalmasio will be on the 1st class stamp while the 2nd class stamp will feature William Dyce's Madonna and Child.

And another set of six stamps will celebrate pantomime favourites such as Cinderella, Peter Pan and Snow White.

The Royal Mail first issued Christmas stamps more than 40 years ago.

The Royal Mail's head of special stamps, Julietta Edgar, said: "Every year customers look forward to our Christmas stamps.

"This year we are delighted to offer our customers a choice of Christmas stamps and the images will be seen on millions of letters and cards throughout the UK as well as on gifts sent across the globe."

The Madonna of Humility stamp
The Madonna of Humility is on one of the new stamps for Christmas

The postal service predicts more than two billion items will be sent over the festive period, including 750 million Christmas cards.

The busiest day of the year is expected to be Monday, 15 December, with a predicted 123 million items set to pass through the postal system.

This is in comparison with an average daily figure of 80 million.

The Royal Mail's last recommended posting dates for UK mail are Saturday, 20 December for first-class items and Thursday, 18 December for second class.

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