Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Out of office - again

If you've been to our shop or sent an email you will know that we are going away for a few days.

There will be no more blog entries until next week, and I closed the shop until we get back, because a week's worth of orders is a lot to catch up on.

NEWS: 2nd class Post and Go with CL17S date has been reported
Ink-jet postmark with / / separators has been reported from Bristol MC as far back as 02/12/2016. This is the earliest date I have seen.

That's all for now, folks!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Christmas comes (very) early in West Yorkshire

Regular readers will recall that this year's Christmas issue will include not only the regular 8 values with a religious theme, but also stamps designed by the winners of this year's design competition for children.

All these stamps will be issued on 7 November, the competition winners being in both standard and Large Letter stamps.

But one reader has sent this picture today, showing the 1st class stamp issued already and posted in West Yorkshire.

Now we know that Christmas stamps used to be issued earlier, and that the surface last posting dates for international mail are approaching very soon, but this is exceptional.

And it's very easy for many special stamp issues to be sold early, despite the selling date in the margin (not usually present on Christmas stamps), but surely anybody with a hap'orth of sense would know that mid-September is far too early to sell Christmas stamps?!

Perhaps its the fault of the greetings card companies, who have already filled the supermarkets and other shops with cards before some people have had their summer holidays; if the cards are on sale is it not unreasonable to sell the stamps?  [It is, of course, but some people just don't think!]

Saturday, 16 September 2017

New plans for even later deliveries?

It's hard to believe that anybody in Royal Mail thinks this will be an acceptable situation.  According to reports from Cornwall Live:

St Austell could lose morning postal service if Royal Mail proposals go through

The change would see mail arriving for sorting at the delivery office at 11.30am, rather than 6am.  This would mean that the local delivery postal workers would start not long before most people start their lunch, and deliver from about 12.30 onwards.

Now we know that wherever you are somebody has to be at the end of the line.  I made this point in a newspaper article over a decade ago when I suggested that people retiring early to the country to set up their own business should, as well as looking at internet speeds, should find out when the mail was delivered.  At the time I was delivering as late as 2pm to some farms and other businesses in rural homes half-a-mile from the nearest country road.  And what about the 9am Special Delivery service? That would involve extra van journeys, just to get one piece of mail delivered.

But things have changed.  Commuters don't expect to get the mail before they leave for work, retired people don't get so much mail anyway, and a large part of the population relies on social media and the internet for their communications.

But businesses in rural towns should be entitled to their mail early enough in the day that they can process it and get some answers out again the same day.  Some business still receive a good number of cheques and are in rural town with banks, and it is good to get the banking done the same day, if only to reduce the interest paid on their loans.   Even here in Norfolk where the postmen start at 6 or 7, the local council and a large supermarket are now paying extra to have their post delivered at a reasonable time because the 'normal' time was too late.

With the bank cut-off at 3pm, if you don't get the mail delivered until 2pm, because the delivery office doesn't receive it until 11.30 (on a good day), you're going to lose a day.  The only saving grace, if your delivery van also does the collections, is that you'll still get 24 hours to turn round anything that needs to be (say) signed and returned, because the collection will also be later!

But if this goes through in Cornwall, then other areas could follow.  Just think, the postmen could do deliveries from one town in the morning, and then do another in the afternoon?

Friday, 15 September 2017

Autumn Stampex report

As usual I went to London Stampex in Islington on Thursday.  It was moderately busy with several people looking at the exhibits - there were many displays of postal history, and some good examples of Machin decimal covers, which it is always good to see as more attention is being given to modern material.

The Royal Mail stand was reasonably busy with the relatively new Royal Mail staff from Sunderland who have thereby met the collectors face-to-face and thereby learned more about their idiosyncrasies!

As far as I know - and I've had few reports - there have been no Post and Go errors. A steady dribble of people were buying some of the stamps, but it is no longer a battle.  If you left a credit card in the machine you wouldn't now find the next buyer rushing over to give it to you, but could go back a few minutes later to collect it!

Left to right: Machin Anniversary with Autumn Stampex 2017 inscription (only 1st class)
Poppy MA15 with WWI Battle of Passchendaele inscription (6 values)
Mail by Air collectors set of 6 values.

Jersey and Guernsey both had Prince Philip inscriptions on their flag stamps, with Jersey selling their new Fruit and Berries set and Guernsey continuing the Lighthouse stamps issued in February.

(As in all cases, click on the images for larger views)

The Post and Go offerings from Gibraltar Post were a surprise as I hadn't seen any publicity about them before Stampex, and can't find anything on the official or IAR website.

The Year of the Rooster stamp, issued earlier in the year and available at Spring Stampex in the usual strips of 4, was this time sold with the additional inscription Autumn Stampex 2017, and the collectors strip, this time of of 6, consisted of Local 50g, Spain 50g, UK 20g, EU 20g, Worldwide 20g and Worldwide 40g stamps.  The other reel dispensed what I think is a new issue - not mentioned on the Gibraltar Post website.

These were available in the same Collectors Strip values as the Year of the Rooster shown below.

As for the rest of Stampex, I don't go intending to buy much and this time ended up with far more modern British postal history than I expected!  I'll report on them on my other blog in due course.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

More Post and Go News

In the absence of news about ordinary stamps, and in particular Machin definitives, some more news today about Post and Go, from Royal Mail and Jersey Post.

Royal Mail
Royal Signals Museum - Kiosk A011
On 9th June A011 at the Royal Signals Museum will commemorate the White Helmets Motorcycle Display team, who are disbanding. Motorcycles were used extensively by the Royal Signals as courier transport. There will be a new logo on the Union Flag only and this will run until the stamp is replaced with the Poppy Stamp.

Jersey Post

From 18 September until 16 October, the JE02 Post and Go kiosk at Broad Street post office will dispense Jersey Crests stamps with the inscription: Super League Triathlon 2017, in honour of the first ever Super League Triathlon event which takes place in Jersey from 23rd - 24th September. A limited number of collectors' strips will be available from the Jersey Philatelic Bureau whilst stocks last.

Super League Triathlon is a new championship series combining the three core triathlon disciplines but with an alternative approach to the Olympic standard. Points are awarded for three individual stages: the Triple Mix, the Equaliser and the Eliminator rounds.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Unannounced Post an Go changes at RN Museums

Stuart Leigh writes to report that at least some of the Post and Go machines at Royal Navy Museums are dispensing stamps with a changed logo.

The Royal Navy Logo has been reduced in size from about 10.5 mm dia. to about 7.3mm – see below

"To date I have only found this on A002, A006 and A007 – The NMRN, HMS Trincomalee and Museum of Naval Firepower."

The logo on the inscription for HMS Queen Elizabeth at RMRN was smaller than that used for the Battle of Jutland commemoration.

Stuart's Post and Go Checklist can be downloaded here.

As usual, we are only reporting these but will not be stocking them.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Machin and Shop Update

We must apologise that nothing has been added to our shop since re-opening last week.  

We have not yet received supplies of the 2nd Large booklet and business sheet definitive stamps. 

We expect to have these by the middle of next week (around 13th), which will be the day before Stampex after which we will also have a few Stampex Post and Go sets.  There may be other finds at Stampex: this is unlikely, but who knows?

Monday, 4 September 2017

Star Wars revisited for October's surprise stamp issue

As readers of Britain's Sun newspaper will already know:


Star Wars stamps will be released next month featuring classic characters from C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca to Maz Kanata — ahead of the release of The Last Jedi in December

Royal Mail account holders were told not to write about this stamp issue, especially on social media, until Royal Mail had made the official announcement, but as the stamps are on their website and the artist Malcolm Tween and others have already spread the word on twitter, I feel no need to hold back giving you the news that there is to be yet another Star Wars stamp issue on 12 October.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think this is a good move for the stamp collecting hobby in this country (although a lot of money will flow into Royal Mail Stamps & Collectibles which will be useful for them) but a lot of people commenting seem to have short memories, suggesting that this is not a British enterprise.  I suggest you have a look at the paragraphs on our 2015 webpage about the earlier issue to jog your memories.
The new stamps feature a mixture of old and new characters - Prog, Chewbacca, Maz Kanata, C3PO, R2D2, BB8, K-250 and Supreme Leader Snoke.
STAR WARS:THE LAST JEDI, is blasting its way onto cinema screens from 14 December 2017. To celebrate, we’re proud to announce eight new STAR WARS stamps, limited-edition collectibles and gifts, packed with friendly (and not so friendly) characters.
Available to pre-order on the Royal Mail website some products are aimed squarely at Star Wars fans, some are for normal postal use (8x 1st class shown above), while some are aimed at the philatelic community.

As well as the usual framed and bemedalled paraphernalia there is a prestige stamp book* (and a limited edition ditto) issued on 14 December when the next new film is released, and two retail stamp books issued in October.  Whilst the latter should not bring any new definitives, only four self-adhesive versions of what will probably be a gummed set of 8), the PSB will contain 4 x 1st class, 2 x 2nd class and 2 x £1.05 £1.40 Machin definitives which should be coded M17L MPIL.  This will give us three new stamps in the pane of 8.

(* From Royal Mail's shop site: "The 26-page Prestige Stamp Book includes all eight Special Stamps from the 2017 issue, four from the original 2015 issue and a unique stamp pane.", the last-mentioned being the definitive pane.)

There doesn't appear to be a new Smiler sheet this year, although the sales pages of Royal Mail's website show a mix of new and 2015 stamps and may require closer examination.
Thanks to Anonymous for his closer examination of the website!  He has found the two new generic sheets. The Droids Aliens and Creatures generic sheet of 10 with attached labels has the 8 new stamps, and two extras and is priced at £7.00 (face value £6.50).

The Ultimate Collectors Sheet (which must mean that it is the last of these?) shows all 20 stamps and is priced at the £13.00 face value.  This one could be gummed, whilst the one above would most likely be self-adhesive.  Time will tell.  The stamps from this one are also available on an A4 first day cover at £17.50, the like of which we have not seen since the Classic Album Covers sheet.  

Other countries
... have already announced some stamps, including Portugal, which has two each at €0,50 €0,80 and €0,85 and a miniature sheet with 3 x €0.50 sold at face value (allthough a souvenir colder costs more).

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Not many more Machins to come this year?

August 2017 bows out with news that yet another new stamp has been found this week, the 2nd class Large business sheet, printed 04/03/17.

This will be illustrated and all the recent new stamps will be added to our webshop next week when we have supplies.

The arrival of these means that there are only four more stamps which may appear with the 2017 code:
the Special Delivery 500g;
the 2p, 10p, and 1st class Large Signed For on SBP2 instead of plain paper;
plus any that may appear in as yet unannounced prestige stamp books this year and early next year.
UPDATE from comment: I should, of course, recognised that the 50p, £1 and any other higher values could be reprinted.

It could be a fairly quiet autumn!

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

September Slogans: New Queensferry Crossing marked by postmark

According to Scotland's Sunday Herald Royal Mail is marking the opening of the new Queensferry Crossing across the Forth of Firth with a nationwide slogan postmark.
The postmark - which says "Official Opening of the Queensferry Crossing Summer 2017" will appear on millions of items of stamped mail across the country over the next few days.
The £1.35 billion bridge, which opens to traffic on August 30, was officially handed from the contractors to the Scottish Government on Monday night.
All mail posted across the UK between August 30 and September 6 will be stamped with the special postmark.
Which makes it the last slogan for August and the first for September.

I've seen no announcement from Royal Mail: given that the official opening is today, 30th August, we may find that the postmark is applied to all mail delivered "between August 30 and September 6".  I'm writing this before the post is delivered, but hope to show images later.

Fifty-three years ago the opening of the Forth Road Bridge was marked by a special stamp designed by Andrew Restall.  If Royal Mail had chosen to mark the opening of this new bridge with a stamp it would undoubtedly have been arty photographic (like that for the Humber Bridge), now that multi-colour printing is the norm, and printers no longer need to produce a plate for each colour used.

Blood Service slogan
The first example of a new slogan for the NHS Blood and Transplant service has appeared from Nottingham Mail Centre, and this (like Bristol reported earlier) has the date separators changed to oblique strokes - 05/09/17.

The full text shows the NHS logo reversed out at top right:

Blood and Transplant 
Sign up as
an organ donor

Thanks to JC for these two further slogans in this campaign.  The Plymouth & Cornwall MC version has the date in the traditional form (08.09.17), while the one from Warrington MC is totally different, reading

Royal Mail
Supports Organ
Donation Week

New date format update
Meanwhile TC of Bristol has sent a selection of local mail which shows that Bristol MC's machine 1 was using the new oblique-stroke date format at least as early as 10 May with the Mental Health Awareness Week slogan, right through to July, while machine 7 continued with the traditional date format.  (Click on image for larger view.)

As if confirming my July suggestion, TC's covering envelope was cancelled at Exeter MC with the Mental Health Awareness slogan dated 04-09-2017

The same slogan has been seen from both Peterborough and Norwich mail centres but with smaller text and 9 wavy lines rather than 11.

RIP Cassini
Royal Mail marked the Grand Finale of the Cassini Mission to Saturn with a special slogan postmark on 14 September.  The best example I have is from KC who sent this one from the Jubilee Mail Centre.  I also have examples from Glasgow and Edinburgh MCs on the same day, but none in the other format.  It reads

Cassini's Grand Finale
Mission to Explore Saturn
Twenty Years of Science

UPDATE 19 September
Know your numbers!
After the blood donation campaign, we now have Blood Pressure Testing Week - it's all health, isn't it?  Thanks to Robert for this one which comes from Mount Pleasant MC on 18 September, and reads:

Know Your Numbers! Week
(18-24 September 2018) - 
the UK's biggest free
blood pressure testing event

Oddly, I didn't see anything about this in Boots the Chemist yesterday, but looking at the website I can see why!  Once again, Norfolk is a desert, with the nearest testing station being 41m/66km away in Glemsford, Suffolk, though the one closest by time (maybe) is Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, but only from 10 am - 3.30 pm.   Doesn't seem much chance of catching people of working age with these times.

Another clearer example just received from a customer from my mailing yesterday, Norwich MC slogan (with Dereham CDS):