The year 2016 marked a very important moment for the fans of the famous crime novelist, Agatha Christie. It was over 100 years ago, when Christie wrote down her cryptic thoughts in her first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles (published in 1920). It was partly in response to a bet from her Sister Madge, when she gave life to one of the most popular detectives, Hercule Poirot.

To celebrate the centenary of her first detective novel and to commemorate the 40th anniversary of her death, British postal service Royal Mail issued a series of interactive stamps that faithfully follow the puzzling world imagined by the “Queen of Crime,” who is known for recurring thrilling motifs found in her work.

The fascinating stamps, with images made by Jim Sutherland of London-based Studio Sutherland, in partnership with illustrator Neil Webb, feature Christie’s key scenes, complex plots, and main characters from some of her best-known novels like Murder on the Orient ExpressThe Mysterious Affair at StylesThe Body in the LibraryAnd Then There Were NoneThe Murder of Roger Ackroydand A Murder is Announced.

Released in 2016, the one-of-a-kind AR stamps are now available as framed stamps. Unlike any other, the collection, which spins around the enigmatic themes Christie frequently adopted in her novels, includes various cryptic messages inserted along the clever artwork.

This week’s #ThrowBrandThursday solves mysteries; at least for our readers, which may be intrigued by the perspective of solving the hidden clues featured on the stamps. Just like the written masterpieces that came out of the author’s hands, the stamps are shrouded in mystery, honoring six of her most renowned works.

In a twist that fits the genre itself, these tiny artworks are embedded with hidden clues related to one of the murder novels. Concealed in the form of micro text, the incriminating evidence is hardly visible to the naked eye, making it almost impossible for the viewer to puzzle out the murder.

The ingenious stamps carry the fans into the world of suspense depicted by the author and allow them to track events leading to the crimes all by themselves, making them feel almost like a real detective. To be able to decode the obscure message hidden somewhere in the illustration, one needs to expose the image to UV light, body heat, or use a magnifying glass.

“We are celebrating the genius of Agatha Christie with some mysterious and striking stamps. As the solving of mysteries is the focus of Christie’s art, it is fitting that the public have to turn detective to find the hidden words and images in each stamp,’ said Royal Mail’s Head of Stamp Strategy, Philip Parker.

Speaking about the project he was asked to work on, the Brighton-based illustrator Webb said: “Being a big fan of all things nourish, and 30′s design, in general, this was a dream job. Jim and I worked together to come up with concepts and I produced the illustrations. Each stamp focuses on a pivotal moment in the novel. In the spirit of crime fiction and detective work, the six stamps contain hidden secrets in the form of micro text, UV ink, and thermochromic ink.”

Hidden Message | Click to enlarge
Hidden Message | Click to enlarge
Hidden Message | Click to enlarge

The award-winning stamp collection can be analyzed the old-fashioned way adopted by old-school detectives or, as millennials might prefer it, by adopting a modern approach. Even though Poirot didn’t have the augmented reality at his disposal to solve murder cases, today’s ‘detectives’ can track the steps of the criminal of The Mysterious Affair at Styles just by using a smart app.

To allow users immerse themselves in an extraordinary AR experience, the digital artists of the multi-channel marketing services group Linney used Hewlett-Packard’s AR platform Aurasma and created a 3D adventure that enabled users to explore the stamp’s famous scene. Now, it’s your turn to solve some crimes!



Client: Royal Mail

Studio: Studio Sutherland

Artists: Jim Sutherland, Neil Webb