We thought we’d take this opportunity to show some spreads from the 2010 Royal Mail Yearbook — ‘The Big Picture’ — which came out back in November last year. First published in 1984, the Yearbook tells the back stories of the year’s pictorial stamps, and is always impeccably printed and produced. This edition is a beautifully considered piece of editorial design by hat-trick, which uses extreme close-up photography to reveal the unexpected about subject in hand. John Ross took the striking shots which open each section.

I wrote two essays for each chapter — one an introductory overview, to provide context and colour, the other a more focused, detailed piece which expands on illuminating particulars. So for the Classic Album Covers, there was a longer piece on Peter Saville and Factory Records; for Endangered Mammals chapter, a piece on Hedgehogs; for the House of Stuart chapter, a piece on the Restoration, and so on. The way hat-trick handled the relationship between the slip case and the front cover was particularly interesting: the slipcase cover shows a close up of an elaborate R on a painted red post box, then when you pull out the book, there’s the same R sandblasted back to the metal. It’s a subtle visual metaphor to show the reader that all will be revealed inside. The endpapers print all the words in the book in miniature, playing on the juxtaposition of scale that continues throughout the pages. You can order your very own copy — which includes all the stamps issued in 2010 — here.

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