Date of Issue : 15 September 2016
2016 marks the centenary of Agatha Christie writing her first detective story – The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The Royal Mail is marking the occasion with a set of six stamps representing some of her best-known novels – Murder on the Orient Express, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Body in the Library, And Then There Were None, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and A Murder is Announced.
The set of six stamps were created by Jim Sutherland of Studio Sutherl & and illustrator Neil Webb and include elements that react to UV light and heat.
Each stamp sums up one of Christie’s complex plots in a single frame illustrated by Webb, with clues that point to the murderer hidden in the artwork. These ‘hidden clues’ are revealed with exposure to UV light or heat, and of course, the use of a magnifying glass.
“As ever – there’s so much detail in handcrafting for such small canvasses,” explains Sutherland, “The books themselves are beautifully written with such clever plots and twists – we were keen to reflect that in the scenes chosen from each story.”
Sutherland and Webb worked to create a styling that fits the author’s era, but is also modern. “We worked very closely on the ideas and compositions – swapping sketches and ideas and final details, it was a real collaborative effort. Trying to sum up complex plots in one frame is tricky but very rewarding.”
Some of the hidden clues on individual stamps include:
Murder on the Orient Express – a figure, half-hidden wielding a knife; the names of the suspects; Poirot himself
A Murder is Announced – Crucial to the story, the word Switzerland hidden in microtext; the clock’s numbers; the invitation to the murder
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – words that Roger Ackroyd read aloud before his demise; the murdered character; Hercule Poirot’s head
And on each individual stamp is hidden a letter, which combine across the set to spell: AGATHA