The Royal Mail’s “The Legend of King Arthur” stamps, available now, feature art by concept artist Jaime Jones.
The ten stamps, which feature original illustrations, depict key moments in King Arthur’s story,
“These atmospheric illustrations bring to life the timeless stories of the king and the knights of the round table,” says Philip Parker, of the Royal Mail.
“With its themes of magic, chivalry and quests, the enduring legend of King Arthur has entranced for centuries and will continue to do so.”
While omitting some of the awkward moments in Arthur’s fictional tale and perhaps inevitably prompting online wags to post Monty Python and the Holy Grail quotes, the set features some great art by Jaime Jones, an American illustrator and concept artist working in film, games and print.
Jones clients also include Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Bungie, NCSoft, Blizzard, National Geographic, Harper Collins, Penguin Books, Macmillan Publishers and Wizards of the Coast.
Merlin and the baby Arthur
Merlin holds baby Arthur, the future king, whose origins remain shrouded in mystery, and in Merlin’s power, until Arthur is revealed to be Uther Pendragon’s rightful son and heir.
Arthur draws the sword from the stone
Arthur’s birthright to the crown of England, according to later romance traditions, is confirmed when he pulls out the sword in view of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the whole court.
Arthur takes Excalibur
Arthur’s famed sword, Excalibur, is the gift of the Lady of the Lake, and a symbol of his tutelage by Merlin and his mission in the world. Destined for greatness, Arthur excels in all human virtues.
Arthur marries Guinevere
Despite Merlin’s warnings, Arthur chooses Guinevere as his wife. Her dowry, Thomas Malory tells us, is the Round Table, which Arthur will use to build a fellowship of knights united around the values of loyalty and equality.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Arthur’s nephew and chief counsellor, Sir Gawain, here swings his axe to chop off the head of the Green Knight, whose deadly Christmas game of blows startles Arthur’s court and challenges its values.
Knights of the Round Table
Around the Round Table, knights from Europe and all nations in the British Isles share the same values of loyalty and unite as equals to protect the weak and defend the realm.
Sir Lancelot defeats the dragon
Emblematic since Arthur Rackham’s illustrations dating from the early 20th century, Lancelot’s slaying of the dragon shows God’s grace granted to Lancelot in the fight with the Devil/darkness, despite Lancelot’s own sins.
Sir Galahad and the Holy Grail
Sir Galahad, the pure knight, is the epitome of perfection among Round Table knights, and the opposite of his father, Lancelot. His unique success in the Grail Quest reveals the moral failures of Arthurian chivalry.
Arthur battles Mordred
Arthur and Mordred meet one last time in battle, fulfilling their destiny: Arthur’s, to be mortally wounded by his own son, and Mordred’s, to commit the sin of patricide and treason.
The death of King Arthur
The wounded Arthur departs for Avalon on a barge driven by three queens. This represents hope for the king’s return, and the agency of women in healing and in preserving his memory and stories.