David Bowie Is Honored by the Royal Mail in a Most Peculiar Way

Can you guess the whereabouts of "The Stamps That Fell to Earth"?

The Royal Mail's David Bowie stamp package in outer space. Screenshot from Royal Mail video.
The Royal Mail's David Bowie stamp package in outer space. Screenshot from Royal Mail video.

The Royal Mail is going to great lengths to promote its new David Bowie stamps. Or really, great heights. Hundreds of stamps featuring the singer’s image took a trip to the stars thanks to a stunt dubbed “The Stamps That Fell to Earth.”

The reference is to the musician’s 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth. But the actual tale of the flying stamps may be closer to Major Tom, because it has an as yet mysterious ending.

“With a sound, style, and vision so ahead of this time, many thought David Bowie had tumbled to Earth from a distant planet,” wrote the Royal Mail on the project website. “As a tribute, a cargo of special edition stamps have been blasted in space so they can fall to Earth too.”

The Royal Mail attached 52 sets of of the new stamps (one for each year of Bowie’s recording career) to a helium balloon and released it into the sky, a camera capturing the suborbital space flight.

The Royal Mail's David Bowie Heroes Stamp. Courtesy of the Royal Mail.

The Royal Mail’s David Bowie Heroes Stamp. Courtesy of the Royal Mail.

At the Royal Mail website, you can watch a 20-minute clip of the voyage, beamed back by the balloon camera, the landscape framed against a stamp featuring Bowie’s famed Aladdin Sane cover from 1973.

The intrepid stamp collection ascended to nearly 112,000 feet before the balloon burst and the package plummeted back down at close to 200 miles-per-hour (without, one hopes, any harm to hapless earthlings below).

The Royal Mail tracked the path of the stamps until they lost contact after 20 minutes. A contest running through March 26 allows visitors to the Royal Mail website to guess at the final landing spot by marking an interactive map. If you get it right, you might be rewarded with a complete set of the new Bowie stamps.

New clues about the final touchdown point are set to be released every two days via Facebook and Twitter.

The Royal Mail's David Bowie Stamps. Courtesy of the Royal Mail.

The Royal Mail’s David Bowie Stamps. Courtesy of the Royal Mail.

The set of 10 new stamps were released shortly after the first anniversary of Bowie’s death, as part of the Royal Mail’s “Music Giants Special Stamp” series. The release marks the first time that an entire set has been dedicated to a solo artist, though musical groups the Beatles and Pink Floyd have previously been so honored.

“For five decades David Bowie was at the forefront of contemporary culture,” said the Royal Mail’s Philip Parker in a statement. “Royal Mail’s stamp issue celebrates this unique figure and some of his many celebrated personas.”

The Royal Mail's David Bowie Stamp featuring a photo from his 2004 "A Reality Tour." Courtesy of the Royal Mail.

The Royal Mail’s David Bowie Stamp featuring a photo from his 2004 “A Reality Tour.” Courtesy of the Royal Mail.

The Royal Mail used a template created for their 2010 “Classic Album Art” series, which included Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust record. A record peeking out of the album sleeve extends beyond the traditional square shape of the stamp.

Both the stamps and the commemorative “presentation pack” materials that accompany collectible sets were designed by Supple Studio. “We’ve tried to capture some of the eclectic and chameleon-like nature of Bowie and his graphic output,” Supples creative director Jamie Ellul told Design Week.


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