New 'sticky' stamps can't be licked

Self-adhesive stamps were today on sale to the general public for the first time.

In future all first and second-class stamp booklets will contain self-adhesive rather than the old-fashioned gummed postage stamps.

The new booklets could signal the beginning of the end of "lickable" stamps on sale at British post offices.

Previously self-adhesive "sticky" stamps were only available, in rolls of 200 or more, to business customers.

Sticky stamps were introduced after a survey showed a massive 93% of the British public said they would prefer not to lick their stamps.

Self-adhesive stamps are widely available in other countries.

Celebrity slimmer Vanessa Feltz was launching the self-adhesive "no calorie" stamps at London's Trafalgar Square Post Office. Old-style gum stamps contain 5.9 calories.

Today's launch also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the death of Queen Victoria with a special "stamp label" in booklets.

Like the new stamps, the self-adhesive gold label, showing a bust of Queen Victoria against the background of London's Albert Memorial, can be peeled from the booklet and affixed to an envelope.

But according to stamp expert Peter Jennings, Royal Mail should have done more to commemorate the centenary of the death of the British monarch during whose reign, in 1840, the world's first postage stamp, the Penny Black, was issued bearing Victoria's image.

"Sadly the Royal Mail Queen Victoria stamp label is not actually attached to a postage stamp and in reality is no more than a jam jar label that knowledgeable philatelists are likely to ignore," said Mr Jennings who is a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London.

"Collectors of stamps featuring famous people would have been delighted had Royal Mail issued a stamp featuring Queen Victoria."

A Royal Mail spokesman described the claim that the Victoria label was more fitting for a jam jar as "facile".

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