Monday, 27 April 2015

Stamp, Postmark and Post & Go News update 27 April 2015

It's been another busy philatelic week while we've been away again.  Thanks to our readers for the following reports, linked to the original blog entry if relevant.  In most cases clicking on the picture will show an enlargement.

        Slogan Postmarks

Martin reported that these slogan postmarks would be in use last week:

1. Queen's Award on Monday 20 April, on iLSMs and IMPs

Adrian sent this example from Peterborough:

2. St George's Day on Wednesday 22 April, on IMPs only, and possibly only on mail addressed to English addresses.

I've seen no examples yet of the St George's Day postmark.

3. Anthony Trollope from Thursday 23 April until 1 May, on iLSMs and IMPs
I received these in my own post, one type from Bristol Mail Centre and the other from Peterborough both on 23 April:

       Post and Go

Malcolm sent a photo of the Fleet Air Arm Museum Post and Go machine A003 which now correctly identifies the Museum (with it's harrier logo) on the screen.  No word yet on when the harrier will appear on the stamps.

The chaos of Post and Go at the 86th Scottish Philatelic Congress continued.  Several people reported the omission of the year on the Machin and Flag stamps produced to pre-order on the 'back-office' machine B001 in Bristol.  Jersey Post's machine also produced stamps without 2015.

In Perth, the stamps from machines A006 and A008 did show the year, but receipts from machine A008 initially showed this as the 85th Congress!  This was updated later on day 1.

After the debacle at Spring Stampex 2014 which included almost every conceivable type of error we were assured by Royal Mail that they would stress to the contractor the need for better quality control to ensure that such errors were fewer in future.  Of course operationally - to the extent that the stamps are used for postage - the errors do not matter to Royal Mail.  But RoyalMail are aware that the unintentional variations do reflect badly on them, with people suggesting that they are intentionally made to fleece collectors.  They are also aware of comments made by both collectors and dealers - and also recognise that with every such situation there are some collectors who decide not to continue with their Post and Go collections, so reducing revenue.

      Banbury Trials

John E was able to obtain some samples of the handstamps used in trials at Banbury as part of the revenue protection exercise on uncancelled mail.  As John wrote,"A shame that the 'Banbury Cross' will not be used generally!"

The three show Large Wavy Lines with Maltese Cross, same but smaller, and wavy lines with no cross.

      Machin definitives

John F reports another new printing date for the £1 M15L sheet stamp - 22/01/15.

This is in addition to the already reported 13/01/15 and 09/03/15.

Post and Go in 3 more Enquiry Offices - today at Kingston-upon-Thames

Following the trial use of Royal Mail II Post and Go machines at Crewe and Bradford North three new Enquiry Office Post and Go machines will go live from 27 April 2015 as part of the ongoing trial.

Details are:

Kingston upon Thames – Machine M004 – 27 April 2015

Croydon – Machine M005 – 28 April 2015

Doncaster – Machine M006 – 29 April 2015

Machines will vend Machin 1st and 2nd class designs.

Due to training requirements, the new kiosk at Kingston-on-Thames will not be in available until 16:00 on the 27th and Croydon and Doncaster not until 13:00

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Fleet Air Arm Museum Post and Go Launch

Royal Mail's latest venture into military museums didn't go entirely to plan as the machines did not produce the Fleet Air Arm Museum Harrier logo due to 'quality issues'.  Perhaps it was copied from their website - it doesn't enlarge well from there.  

The machine was operational from 12.30pm on 14 April 2015 after set-up problems. Thanks to several readers for pictures of the stamps and receipts, and photographs of the machine. Nobody mentioned year codes; as far as I can see the Machin is MA13 and the flag undated.

The machine identified itself as the National Museum of the Royal Navy, with the same logo as at Portsmouth.  This is probably an error which will be rectified, although the Portsmouth, Southsea and Yeovilton museums all fall under the same RN group.  (Click on the images for enlargements.)

Thanks to Trevor, Malcolm, and Roy.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

2015 Machin stamps in abundance! The list so far.

In the last three weeks the range of Machin definitives with 2015 year codes has increased substantially.  As well as providing pictures of the latest, I'm aiming with this post to also provide a complete list of the stamps that have appeared so far this year, including 2014 codes.

At the end of March the 2p, 5p and 20p counter sheets made an appearance, and this week the 1st class business sheet and 2nd class retail booklet have become available.  On most of these the M15L code is quite clear, although at first glance the 2nd class looked like M16L.  We will have to be careful next year!

The list of 2015 issues so far, with Norvic catalogue numbers - 23 new stamps:

2911.5        2nd counter sheet
2911B.5     2nd business sheet
2931.5        2nd retail booklet

2914B.5     1st business sheet
2936C.5     1st from mixed retail booklet (Alice in Wonderland or Comedy Greats)

2937.5        1st Large from retail booklet

2991.5        1st Signed For
2992.5        1st Large Signed For

3001.5        1p counter sheet
3002.5        2p counter sheet
3005.5        5p counter sheet
3020.5        20p counter sheet
3101.5        £1 counter sheet

3133           £1.33 counter sheet
3152           £1.52 counter sheet
3225           £2.25 counter sheet
3245           £2.45 counter sheet
3315           £3.15 counter sheet
3330           £3.30 counter sheet

4001P.4      1p M14L from Inventive Britain Prestige Book
4002P.4      2p M14L from Inventive Britain Prestige Book
4081P.4      81p M14L from Inventive Britain Prestige Book
4097P.4      97p M14L from Inventive Britain Prestige Book

Monday, 13 April 2015

A new slogan postmark next week - Anthony Trollope.

Royal Mail has created a special slogan postmark to mark the bicentenary of Anthony Trollope’s birth.  This will appear on stamped mail across the UK from Friday 24 April 2015 for one week.

We'll add examples here when received.

See more about Trollope currently at

Revenue protection - Royal Mail phasing out the pen-cancel?

According to MyRoyalMail, the  business is reporting a 9% decline in the number of non-cancelled postage stamps in the network.

"We also cancel the stamp parcels that we get through the parcels pipeline, which has helped to protect our revenue.

A new hand-stamp tool has also been successfully trialled in Banbury and London delivery offices with a view to being rolled out nationwide in the new financial year. This will make it easier for teams to cancel stamps."

Operational changes to the mailstream should help to pull out uncancelled mail - although direction to Post Office branches to cancel mail on request would help collectable mail get a good postmark.

From the picture it still seems like a handstamp and an old-fashioned PO inkpad rather than a self-inking device which would probably be more efficient.

I've been sent this picture which shows what appears to be a self-inking wavy-line handstamp, said to have been chosen from one of 6 trialled at Banbury in Oxfordshire.

But anything that prevents stamps being cancelled like these below, has to be good.

The first of these already has the machine postmark; the second is uncancelled.

And this one, by Special Delivery, should have been cancelled at the Post Office branch counter - this is deliberate destruction of the customer's property.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Easter Holiday arrangements

A reminder to customers especially outside the UK that there are some changes to postal and office arrangements this week.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland many Post Offices are closed on Friday and Monday, but will be open as normal on Saturday.  Some branches operating under new contract arrangements will be open for part or all of each day.

There will be no Royal Mail collections (even from POs which are open) or deliveries on Friday or Monday.

Different arrangements apply in Scotland where Friday is a normal working day, but there will be no collections or deliveries on Monday.

These changes will affect despatch and delivery of orders.

Our office will also be closed until Saturday 11 April, and again from 18-25 April inclusive.

Comedy Greats Stamps one-day Slogan Postmark

As mentioned earlier, this slogan which is in use on 1 April only, is in use both at ILM and iSLM Mail Centres, and so can be found in more than one format.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Another slogan postmark: Hampton Court is 500

Royal Mail are using another unannounced slogan postmark at mail centres around the country, this one marking the 500th anniversary of Hampton Court royal palace. (See the HCP500 website.)

Thanks to Trevor from this example from North West Midlands MC, I think dated 30.3.15

Update 1 April
.... from Royal Mail press release dated 30th March:

• Royal Mail is celebrating the 500th anniversary of Hampton Court Palace with a special postmark

• The postmark will printed on millions on items of mail delivered nationwide for six days from Monday 30 March

• The postmark includes an image of the palace alongside ‘500th anniversary Hampton Court Palace’

2015 marks 500 years since Cardinal Wolsey – Henry VIII’s trusted adviser - commissioned builders to lay the foundations of Hampton Court Palace. The palace will celebrate this historic occasion over the Easter weekend with a spectacular anniversary party.
Adrian sends a better example from Chester; perhaps somebody has one in the other format?

UPDATE 2.4.15
I've been told that the Hampton Court slogan is only being used at IMP* Mail Centres, and is being interrupted on 1 April only by the 'Comedy Greats Stamps' slogan. Here's an even clearer example from Preston:

Another slogan is being used today (1 April) to publicise the Comedy Greats stamp issue - when will they learn that people need to know in advance?

Monday, 30 March 2015

Post and Go Stamps Tariff Change News

As I mentioned a month ago, new postage rates came into effect today. Whilst the new definitive stamps were issued last week in preparation, Royal Mail Post and Go machines and Post Office Self-Service (NCR) Kiosks could only be updated after close of business yesterday in preparation for opening time in branches today.  The change in structure of the airmail rates required the introduction of Europe 100g and Worldwide 100g stamps, replacing the previous 60g stamps

Norwich had Machin definitive (MA14) and Working Sails stamps:

It is likely that other Machin versions will exist - MA13, MA12 etc.  Indeed MA13 stock was in the Royal Mail machine at Crewe Delivery Office.

But the surprise - and perhaps disappointment for collectors and dealers - was that the location identifier, introduced only with the new machines on 2 February, had been removed.  Thanks to Stuart and Alf for telling me about Crewe and Bradford North respectively.

Mike reports that Mount Pleasant, Camden, Baker Street, Great Portland Street & Trafalgar Square offices in London all have Machin stamps only. 

UPDATE 31 March
Thanks also to Stuart for pictures of Crewe (M002) and Bradford North (M003) stamps produced yesterday with no name. These are both MA13.