Stamps in the Discworld books
Since the re-opening of the Post Office, stamps have become something like the second official currency in Ankh-Morpork besides the Ankh-Morpork dollar (which is still solid coin made of a mixture of miscellaneous metals, probably). The advantage of stamps is that they weigh a lot less, take less space, and are a lot prettier. The Patrician's Palace estimates that a one-penny stamp, on average, changes hands twelve times, acting as a penny, before it gets affixed to a letter to redeem its value with the Post Office. In fact, Lord Vetinari himself refers to stamps as "promissory notes."
The collecting of stamps has swept over the city like a fever and replaced the rather popular collecting of pins, especially in the case of Stanley Howler, the Head of Stamps at the Post Office. Stamps have become something like a status symbol. Every city (e.g. Sto Lat and others on the Sto Plains), kingdom (e.g. Lancre in the Ramtops), or guild wants its own stamp design, even though most of the cities and kingdoms do not have their own post offices.
Stamps as collectors items
The Discworld stamps are available as collectors items since 2004, made by the Discworld Emporium. The stamps are based on the descriptions in the Discworld books (especially Going Postal). All stamp designs get their OK from Terry Pratchett himself. The collectors' community is already quite large and active as the designers make sure they add a lot of special little printing errors that make certain stamps even more interesting, known as 'sports.' Some stamps are perforated by hand using an old perforator found at the Bath Postal Museum. Some Discworld Stamps have a limited lifespan.
Glossary from the Discworld Emporium:
- Blue Triangle – One of our rarest and most sought-after stamps. Only 500 of each edition is produced and only ten sports. Extremely rare, and available only in LBEs.
- Common – a regular, standard issue stamp.
- Definitives – The first Discworld stamps as featured in Going Postal, akin to Royal Mail's standard issues. Values include the 1/2p Post Office, Penny Patrician, 2p, 5p, 10p, $1 Tower of Art and 50p Cabbage Field. A new set of designs is issued at the start of each year.
- FDC – A First Day Cover, or decorative envelope, usually limited edition. Released to celebrate a new issue or commemorate a special occasion. Features stamps, franks, and paper inserts with edition information.
- Flatalist – The name bequeathed by Terry Pratchett to Discworld philatelists.
- Frank – An inked mark made by a hand stamp, used by postal offices to cancel stamps after use.
- LBE – a Little Brown Envelope containing a random selection of Discworld Stamps, and the chance of sports, rarities and occasional prizes. A new edition is issued roughly once a month for every new stamp release, event, or special occasion.
- Mini Sheet – A small sheet of six stamps.
- Proof Sheet – A sheet created by a print firm to present stamp artwork for a client's approval.
- Selvedge – The bordering paper surrounding the stamps on a whole sheet. Often decorative and retained attached subject to personal preference.
- Sport – A stamp with a deliberate or accidental mistake, usually appearing once on whole sheet of each Discworld Stamps and not available to purchase singly. Some sports, the $1 Tower of Art, or Blue Triangle for example, are only available in LBEs and are therefore considerably rare.
Magical Realms Pack
On Roundworld Discworld stamps are referred to as 'Cinderellas,' stamps that are not valid for actual use by mail services. However in 2011 the Royal Mail created a pack of specially decorated stamps for legitimate use in the UK. The illustrations on the stamps included two Discworld characters: