Gibraltar Stamps | WOPA+


01 June 2020

Coat of Arms (Definitives)

Gibraltar: Coat of Arms 2020 Definitive Stamps, 1 June 2020. Images from Gibraltar Stamps and eBay.

Technical Specifications:

Design: Stephen Perera
Illustration / Photography: Stephen Perera
Printer: Cartor Security Printers
Process: Offset Lithography
Colours: 4 colours
Stamp size: 20 x 25mm
Issue date: 2020-06-01
Stamp Values: 12p, 14p, 18p, 30p, 60p, 90p, £1, £1.15, £2, £4


The Definitive 2020 stamps, like others before it, uses a colour coding to identify which country you need to send your post to and features Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar crest as the central design feature.

A definitive stamp is a postage stamp that is part of the regular issue of a country’s stamps, available for sale by the post office for an extended period of time and designed to serve the everyday postal needs of the country. The term is used in contrast to a commemorative stamp, a stamp issued to honour a person or mark a special event available only for a limited time.

Commonly, a definitive issue or series includes stamps in a range of denominations sufficient to cover current postal rates. Additional stamps in a Definitive series may be produced as needed by changes in postal rates but some values may be permanently available, regardless of prevailing rates.

Since postal administrations know that many stamp collectors want to own every stamp of a definitive series, collectors organizations have recommended that administrations only bring out new definitive issues no more often than every five years and most administrations of the world follow this policy. An exception would be the death of a monarch, or other prominent leader, necessitating a new definitive series for the new ruler. Sometimes merely the portrait is changed, and the outer design (known as the frame) remains the same throughout several issues.

The coat of arms of Gibraltar was first granted by a Royal Warrant passed in Toledo on 10 July 1502 by Isabella I of Castile during Gibraltar’s Spanish period. The arms consists of an escutcheon and features a three-towered red castle under which hangs a golden key.

The arms were described in the Royal Warrant as consisting of:

“…an escutcheon on which two thirds of its upper part shall have a white field; in the said field set a red Castle; underneath the said Castle, on the other third of the escutcheon, which must be a red field in which there must be a white line between the Castle and the said red field; on this a golden key which shall be on that with a chain from the said castle…”

The arms consist of a shield parted per fess:

  • 1st Division: Two thirds Argent, a triple-towered castle of Gules, masoned and ajouré of Sable.
  • 2nd Division: One third Gules, a key of Or hanging by a chain also of Or from the castle.
Original arms granted to Gibraltar by Isabella I of Castile

The castle has its roots in the heraldry of the Kingdom of Castile, the largest and most important medieval Spanish kingdom, of which Isabella was Queen. The preamble to the warrant granting the coat of arms to Gibraltar said:

“…and we, deeming it right, and acknowledging that the said City is very strong and by its situation it is the key between these our kingdoms in the Eastern and Western Seas and the sentinel and defence of the Strait of the said Seas through which no ships of peoples of either of these Seas can pass to the other without sighting it or calling at it.”

The idea of Gibraltar being the key to Spain or the Mediterranean originated well before the Spanish conquest. The followers of Tariq ibn Ziyad, who invaded Spain via Gibraltar in 711, are said to have adopted the symbol of the key when they settled in Granada. The coat of arms was accompanied by the inscription “Seal of the noble city of Gibraltar, the Key of Spain”.

The coat of arms of the government of Gibraltar combines that of Her Majesty’s Government and Gibraltar’s own coat of arms.

Today, the official coat of arms as used by the government of Gibraltar consists of the original coat of arms with the addition of the motto Montis Insignia Calpe (“Insignia of the Mountain of Calpe”; Mons Calpe was the Latin name of the Rock of Gibraltar), which was granted by the College of Arms in 1836 to commemorate the 1779–83 Great Siege of Gibraltar. It is the oldest coat of arms in use in an overseas territory of the United Kingdom and is unique in that it is the only armorial insignia that dates from before the period of British colonial administration.

The arms differ from the seal of Gibraltar, which is an image of the Rock of Gibraltar with a sailing ship in the forefront. There is no evidence available as to when this image was created. From 1982, a banner of the arms has been used as the flag of Gibraltar. The arms also appear in the flag of the governor of Gibraltar. The arms of the government of Gibraltar are the same as the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom combined with a badge featuring the coat of arms of Gibraltar.

The coat of arms of San Roque, Cádiz, derived from that of Gibraltar

A very similar coat of arms is in use by the nearby Spanish municipality of San Roque, using a slightly different version of the same main heraldic elements (the escutcheon with the castle and key), with the addition of the old Spanish Royal Crown above the escutcheon.

When Gibraltar was captured by an Anglo-Dutch force on behalf of the pretender to the Spanish Throne, the Archduke Charles, in 1704, the city council and much of the population established a new town near the existing chapel of Saint Roch to the west of Gibraltar,

The Royal Warrant of 1502 which granted the coat of arms was taken by the city council to San Roque along with Gibraltar’s standard and records, and is now in the San Roque municipal archives. The establishment became a new town in 1706, addressed by King Philip V of Spain as “My city of Gibraltar resident in its Campo”, and becoming the Spanish Gibraltar. Therefore, they kept the old coat of arms granted to Gibraltar in 1502.

The coat of arms of the Campo de Gibraltar in an area that remained under Spanish control.

In 2015, the Commonwealth of the Municipalities of the Campo de Gibraltar (Cádiz) adopted a coat of arms and a flag. This new coat of arms shows the elements of the coat of arms of Gibraltar with seven green stars that represent the municipalities of the Commonwealth, two equal horizontal stripes (green and purple) with the colors of this organization, and a bordure Or with its motto PRO GEOGRAPHIA, HISTORIA ET VOLUNTATE CONIVNCTI (Latin: For geography, united history and will). The modern Spanish Royal Crown is used as heraldic crest.

Presentation Pack:

First Day Cover:

Proof Set with Imperforate Stamps (Limited Edition of 250 Sets]:

The Imperforate proof folder is limited to 250 and is sold mounted on the original printer card from Cartor Security Printing in France who have produced the stamps.

These are original proofs of this issue and include an imperforate proof of the complete set of stamps and a signed certificate of authenticity.

A truly remarkable collectors item.

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