ArcheryAugust 24 - A series of London 2012 themed stamps will be issued over the next three years in a licensing deal with Royal Mail, it was announced today.

The first set of ten 1st Class stamps will be issued on October 22 with illustrations featuring Olympic and Paralympic sports.

This will be followed by further issues of sports stamps in 2010 and 2011.

Alongside the stamps will be first day covers, presentation packs and other commemorative products.

Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012, said: “Stamps have always been part of every Games and it is a huge honour to have London 2012 themed stamps being issued over the next three years.

"It is a wonderful way to celebrate the London 2012 Games and a way for the whole country to get involved in this fantastic festival of sport between now and 2012."

Stamps with an Olympic theme date back to the first Modern Games in Athens in 1896, spawning more than 75,000 stamps alone, of which 10,000 were Olympic stamps, arguably helping rescue the future of the Games.

That is because in 1895 the decision to issue Olympic stamps made it possible for the Greek organising committee to balance their budget and construct the last four venues.

Since then Olympic stamps have become big business.

Thousands of Olympic-sport collectors are organised worldwide in 31 chapters of the International Olympic Philatelic Federation (FIPO) and 50 sport groups in the International Federation of Philately (FIP).

No other theme or subject is so prolific in the philtaely world and no other theme has achieved so many of the highest awards of the FIP.

Julietta Edgar, head of special stamps at the Royal Mail, said: “ Royal Mail has commissioned some of Britain’s most exciting artists and illustrators to create three sets of stamps which will highlight both the sporting and cultural significance of this incredible event.”

The agreement with Royal Mail begins with immediate effect and will see 30 sports stamps issued between now and 2011.

When London last hosted the Olympics in 1948 just four special stamps were issued and one first day cover.

But when London first staged the Olympics in 1908 no stamps were issued.

Along with the Stockholm Olympics in 1912, it is the only occasion on which a country has not issued special stamps to mark hosting the Games.

The stamps to be issued in October will feature Olympic sports aquatics, athletics, badminton, basketball, canoe slalom, judo and weightlifting and Paralympic sports archery, boccia and equestrian.