Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Autumn Stampex update - an ongoing story, part 1

This brief message (in black) is a prelude to what will be a more complete story on Friday after I have been to Stampex.
Further news added below in blue.

Today is the first day of issue of the Symbolic Flowers Post and Go Faststamps at Stampex and at Post Office Ltd branches nationwide.

News on this today:
1. Some Post Office branches with Post and Go machines assert that they have not received the Symbolic Flowers stamps.
2. Some offices (with or without machines) have received the 'packs' of bureau-printed stamps.  Apparently in all of West Sussex no branches have blank FDCs.  In Leeds one branch had no stamps, the other had the stamps and the FDC, but with no inserts.
[This was mentioned to the Royal Mail team who promised to follow up as it really is not good enough!]
3.  Gloucester PO was selling Symbolic Flowers from the NCR Post and Go machine on 13 September (see right, from eBay).
4. Leeds and Harrogate have the new stamps for their Wincor-Nixdorf machines.

At Stampex the Royal Mail machines are also dispensing stamps from a solo-Poppy reel with an additional inscription (or overprint) First World War Centenary

According to the Jersey Post Philatelic Website yesterday (16th) they were selling stamps from their bureau (produced by the back-office machine) with a Stampex Autumn 2014 inscription/overprint.  Today the website has changed and no longer indicates what the overprint is.  This is because when they received the stamps to sell the inscription read First World War Centenary.

Thanks to Chris we have this picture from Stampex:

I asked the Jersey bureau if the Union Flag stamp from the JE01 machine would have the same inscription and the answer was an uncertain positive.  When I pointed out that the Royal Mail machines selling the Union Flag would not have this inscription, that was changed to an uncertain negative.

Update 19 September:
1. The Union Flag stamps sold from JE01 did not have the World War 1 inscription (as we suspected, really).
2. The Union Flag stamps that I have are all undated.
3. The Machin stamps from A3 and MA13 and those from B001 are undated.

It was good to meet up with friends old and new yesterday: Thomas - ATM specialist from Germany, Chris, Tony, Vince, Bob, Graham (Smilers) Howard, Brian, Torsten Weller and Michael Eastick from Australia, and the Royal Mail team (sorry for anybody I've missed from that list).

Royal Mail Stamp Programme for 2015. in brief:

6 January - Alice in Wonderland
20 January - new Smilers designs in MS and retail booklet
18 February - Post and Go: Working Sail
19 February - Inventive Britons
5 March - Bridges
1 April - Comedy Greats
6 May - 175th Anniversary of Penny Black MS
13 May - Post and Go: Heraldic Beasts
14 May - First World War Centenary
2 June - Magna Carta
18 June - Battle of Waterloo
16 July - Battle of Britain
18 August - Bees
16 September - Post and Go: Sea Travel
18 September - Rugby World Cup
6 October - details awaited
3 November - Christmas
16 November - Post and Go: Winter Fur and Feathers

Plus Generic Smilers and Commemorative Sheets. Further details will be announced in due course.

And lastly, Julia Lee leaves Stamp Magazine today for a new job outside philately.  We've been blessed to have had her hand on the GB tiller at the mag for several years now, and on twitter and the SM forum.  Good luck, Julia, and thanks !

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Post and Go Stamps at Autumn Stampex 2014

Royal Mail have at last formaly told us what will be available from Post and Go machines at Stampex.

Kiosk A003:                    Reel A - flag, Reel B - Machin
Kiosk A004 and A005:   Symbolic Flowers / Solo Poppy*

Kiosk JE01:                     A Jersey Flag, B Union Flag

Pre-orders§ from B001   Flag, Machin, Symbolic Flowers, Solo Poppy*
(The Bureau Pack of Symbolic Flowers is printed on machine C001 and all are 1st class.)

*We know from the Philatelic Bulletin that the solo Poppy Post and Go stamp will be available from Post and Go Kiosks from 21 October.

But we now know that it will first be available on 17 September, but only with a  

First World War 

additional caption from machines A004 and A005.

§ Pre-orders: from past experience it is likely that stamps from the B machine will not be available on demand at Royal Mail's Stampex counter.   There is a minimum order level of £150 for pre-orders; ask for details.

UPDATE 4 September

Looking at the Jersey Stamps website today I find that they have listed:

Jersey Post & Go Jersey Flag Stampex Autumn 2014 Overprint - Mint Set 

As far as I know, nobody has mentioned an Overprint on the Jersey Flag and the site doesn't indicate what it reads.  This will be sold for 12 months subject to availability.

(Other new output is also listed on the site.)

Post and Go in central London - any Wincor-Nixdorf left?

A correspondent has been looking at various blog posts about the change from Wincor-Nixdorf Post and Go machines to NCR Self Service in London, and can't find the answer to this question.

Can anybody tell me whether there are any Wincors left - starting from Islington (Stampex) and working through the central London area? 

Many thanks

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Post & Go arrives in Jersey Broad Street St Helier Post Office

From Post and Parcel  (I couldn't find a Jersey Post press release on this)

A new Post and Go machine will be installed at Jersey’s main Broad Street post office in St Helier next week.  Jersey’s first static Post and Go machine, the JE02 series machine, powered by Royal Mail, will go live on Thursday 4 September 2014.

The machine will vend stamps featuring Jersey’s first Post and Go design, the Jersey flag, as well as Royal Mail stamps depicting the Union flag. Both stamp designs will carry the unique location identifier ‘Broad Street’.

To celebrate Jersey’s annual International Air Display which takes place on 11th September this year, the Jersey flag Post and Go stamps will be printed with special air display overprints from 11th September until 11th October. The Union flag stamps will not carry the overprints but will continue to feature the ‘Broad Street’ identifier.

Jersey Post’s Senior Philatelic Manager, Melanie Gouzinis, is sure Jersey’s new Post and Go products will prove popular with collectors: “We have seen a lot of interest in our Post and Go stamps to date following our launch at Spring Stampex earlier in the year and our overprinted stamps at PhilaKorea World Stamp Exhibition this month. The next step was to bring a Post and Go machine to Jersey’s Broad Street post office and we’re really looking forward to seeing it go live next week.”

Mrs Gouzinis continued: “We have exciting plans to widen our Post and Go product range as we move into 2015 with some beautiful new stamp designs, enabling our collectors to further enhance their collections of this next generation of stamps.”

Just like Royal Mail's, Jersey's Post and Go stamps carry unique identification numbers depending on the machine and session number of where and when they were issued. All Jersey Post and Go stamps will be supplied with a dedicated receipt.

UPDATE 4 September
Thanks to Mike for pointing out that both the Broad Street and Air Display stamps (and a Stampex Overprint(!)) are listed on the Jersey Stamps webshop.  Well, that saves you all a trip to Jersey!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

FORE!! Advance notice of Ryder Cup slogan postmark.

From 23 September Royal Mail will be selling "a stunning limited edition Medal Cover" which they hope will appeal to golfers worldwide.  The cover commemorates the 40th Ryder Cup being held this year at Gleneagles in Scotland. 

UPDATE 28 August: Although it seems that the logo is on a label affixed to the stamp (Smilers-style) no Smilers sheets or Commemorative sheets have been produced for sale.

Of additional interest to postmark collectors, especially those who have sport or golfing as one of their collecting areas, is the advance news that a special slogan postmark will be in use nationwide "from 15 to 29 September".  (NB, this usually means"mail delivered on.." these dates, so it is lilely that the slogan will be in use on Friday 12/Saturday 13 September.)

The image in the Press Release shows the Ryder Cup logo (and the 'Delivered by Royal Mail' slogan) with a postmark from Edinburgh Mail Centre, but sthe cancelling machines at Edinburgh don't have the capability of printing logos.  They did print the 'Homecoming Scotland' slogan in April, but not the Commonwealth Games Logo slogan in July.  (Thanks to Adrian for pointing this out.) 

So it seems likely that there will be two versions of this slogan, one with an one without a logo - let us know what you find. 

In the United Kingdom there are two types of ink-jet cancelling machines in use.  The 'Delivered by Royal Mail' add-on, and slogans with logos, are generally applied by Integrated Mail Processors (IMP).

Intelligent Letter Sorting Machines (iLSM) generally do not include logos and don't add the 'Delivered by ..' slogan, although they do produce Prostate Cancer slogans with the figure of a man, and did produce the boxed script 'Homecoming Scotland' slogan, with the remainder being just text.

More about postmarking later.  Meanwhile thanks again to Royal Mail's media department for giving us 3 weeks' notice of this slogan!

The special handstamp being used on the commemorative cover has now appeared in the Postmark Bulletin.  Collectors can obtain this from the Scotland & Northern Ireland Handstamp Centre at Royal Mail, Tallents House Edinburgh, reference number 13226

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Classic Locomotives of Wales retail book will be issued 18 September.

The final miniature sheet in the Classic Locomotives series (Wales) was issued on 20 February 2014, along with a prestige stamp book, Classic Locomotives of the United Kingdom, but no retail booklet was issued at that time.

Royal Mail have announced that this booklet will be issued at Stampex alongside the Seaside Architecture set and miniature sheet (and the day after the Symbolic Flowers Faststamps!).  The Sustainable Fish retail booklet issued 18 August will be distributed by Tallents House on the same date.

Two sponsored postmarks have been announced so far for this booklet and are shown below.  The booklet contains 2 x 1st Locos of Wales stamps (LMS No. 7720 leaves the Britannia Bridge with a Bangor-to-Holyhead local train c.1930) and 4 x 1st class Machin definitives.  These will have source code MCIL but we cannot be sure which year code they will have. The Football Heroes 2 booklet issued 2 days after the Locos miniature sheet had M13L but that was printed last year with Football Heroes 1.

13186 Smethwick is available from the Midland Special Handstamp Centre, and
13222 Cardiff is available from the Wales and West Special Handstamp Centre.

UPDATE 29 AUGUST: Cylinder booklets show fewer numbers than I would have expected:

Starting from left, above 'GE', they are iridescent, phosphor, red, black and gold.  But whereas the stamp is clearly monochrome black and white, the selvedge is rather more olive-grey in colour, suggesting printing by four-colour process as usual. (It has been pointed out to me that this applies to all the Locomotives booklets - it's taken me until number 4 to notice!)

The old 0845 telephone numbers are on the booklet cover, confirming that these were printed at the beginning of the year, as confirmed by the packing date on the wrapper:

Monday, 18 August 2014

Interruption to our normal service

Due to the recent hospitalisation and now convalescence of a close family member there will be fewer updates here, and service from the web-shop may be slower than normal.

I will use this space to add details of what we have that you may be waiting for, with the assurance that I will send orders and reserved items out to customers as soon as possible.

1. As noted in the relevant blog posts (but not yet on the website) the Great War stamps in the prestige stamp book are not the same as those printed in counter sheets. 

The pictorial stamps issued in sheets have two phosphor bands except for the 'Starburst' painting and 'We Will Remember Them' poetry stamps, which are all-over phosphor.  We now know that all 6 pictorial stamps in the PSB have all-over phosphor which means that at least 4 will have a separate listing in some catalogues.  They are certainly different stamps and we now have them in stock.

2. First day covers of the Machin stamps from the Great War PSB, the three new booklet/business sheet stamps issued on 31 July, and the Commonwealth Games booklets will be added to the web-shop soon.

3. More Poppy Maximum cards will also be added to the web-shop in the near future.  Part of the proceeds of these will go to the Royal British Legion National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.  If you haven't been, it is a very impressive and moving place to be.

We have supplies of the 'GB' codes stamps from Edinburgh, and the KR stamps have now arrived. Customers who pre-ordered have been contacted: if you have not received an email please look in your spam folder, and email me if you haven't had one.  (The image, right, shows the machine with the Philakorea screen.)

Korean stock includes Undated and MA13 Machins from two machines, Undated Union Flags from three machines including JE01, and the Jersey Flag stamps.  We also received three different covers, for these variations.  Smilers stamps are arriving soon.

5. Update 20 August.  BPMA Airmail exhibition opened today with new Post and Go stamps.  And guess what? The brown Machins exist undated and with MA13, probably not surprising, and the blue are MA12.
What is surprising is that BPMA produced a Presentation Pack as well as FDCs.  But they only had 100 Packs for sale on their website !!  Do they think that there are only 100 Post and Go collectors worldwide?  OK, so not all of them would buy it, but at £12 it wasn't expensive and I am certain they would have sold nearer to 1,000 than 100 and thus added to the funds available for the new museum.

Anyway, they are already on eBay, as are the strips of stamps.  I'll not be doing any FDCs for these and don't have any stock.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Only 8 Prime Ministers in October stamp issue

Royal Mail has released details of the Prime Ministers stamps to be issued on 14 October 2014.  

Originally shown to the trade as a set of 8 x 1st class stamps (with Clement Attlee the only one not in colour) the set is now revealed as 4 x 1st and 4 x 97p, with the same portrait of Attlee now coloured.

The 1st class stamps show Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson, Clement Attlee, and Winston Churchill.
The 97p stamps show William Gladstone, Robert Peel, Charles Grey and William Pitt the Younger.

The stamps will be printed in litho by International Security Printers, in two sheets of 24/48, ie 6 se-tenant strips of 4.

Although the Churchill portrait by Yousuf Karsh is probably the best known it is also probably the most reproduced and it seems a pity that Royal Mail couldn't find a different portrait to the one that they (and Austraia and New Zealand) used in 1965.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Slogan postmarks mark World War 1 and Joe Mercer

In my absence two new slogan postmarks have been applied.  I've no precise details about these, but have several examples.

The first slogan marks the Centenary of World War 1, also known as The Great War (as in the stamp issue) or the First World War (as shown on these postmarks).   First, the image as shown in Royal Mail's library:

Now some examples, from Edinburgh Mail Centre 4 August 2014 (thanks Adrian),

Glasgow 6 August and Norwich 7 August

Today's post also had one of the above from Royal Mail Tallents House, with the Joe Mercer stamp. 

Unfortunate, really, as the other new postmark marks the centenary of the birth (9 August) of Joe Mercer who featured on the Remarkable Lives stamp earlier this year. Again, Royal Mail's publicity picture first:

Peterborough and possibly Plymouth/Cornwall MCs, showing the two different styles, used on 7 and 8 August 2014 respectively.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Surprise new 1st class coil stamp now distributed by Royal Mail.

The 2013 printing of the 1st class red self-adhesive coil first seen on mailings from Royal Mail's share registrar and reported here has now been made available mint, along with a new version of the 2012 2nd class coil.  Both are printed by Walsall Security Print, and both are numbered on the reverse.  

The original 2nd class coil was printed by Enschede, coded MA12, and numbered.  Then a Walsall printing coded M12L was discovered, which had no numbering on the reverse. On our initial supplies of the 1st class, the iridescent printing is inset at the left.

The 2nd class coil, showing unnumbered and numbered strips of 10.  We have two unnumbered strips remaining in stock.   The 1st class coil and strips are also listed in our shop.

Royal Mail have distributed these because of the new printer, as 'non-visible changes'.  This seems to be a new policy as previously stamps distributed as a result of a printer change have been 'visible changes' in counter sheets (where the cylinder number indicates the printer but the individual stamps are no different).  When Business Sheet printing moved to a new printer, the sheets were not identified by Royal Mail as different and were not available as a separate stock item.

Thanks to all the readers who emailed, phoned, and left blog comments about this surprise distribution.  I wanted to see them for myself before writing anything which might then have to be edited.