Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Yet another unannounced Post and Go Faststamp change

Remember the Tariff Change at the end of March, when Royal Mail suddenly realised that they really ought to keep the 97p postcard and basic Worldwide letter rate? 

Emergency measures were taken with Post and Go machines and, after a false promise of a nationwide change in April, the NCR software was changed in June so that the 'Europe up to 20g' stamp was changed to read 'Euro 20g / World 10g'.


The special machines in use at philatelic events, and at the BPMA and NMRN also used this service indicator.  Those of us who thought about it generally reckoned that with the Wincor-Nixdorf machines being replaced rapidly their software would not be changed.  The Philatelic Bulletin (October p 55) confirmed that "The dual-value label was not vended from Wincor machines."

So imagine my surprise when this picture turned up this week from the other end of England to where the main action was supposed to be going on (London and Portsmouth) :


From machine number 1, so clearly not an NCR machine.  In fact, Spring Blooms from Chester-le-Street's Wincor-Nixdorf machine!

We await with bated breath your reports of availability on other stamps.  Brown Machins (various dates), Union Flag (also various dates), Symbolic Flowers, and possibly some of the older stock if any of it is left in Post Office branches yet to be converted.

This undated Union Flag (collector's strip) from Leeds was listed on eBay yesterday:


On this subject, these reports have been received in the last few days:

(1) Further conversions to NCR have now reduced Wincor in the Capital to a handful.
Wood Green has been NCR for some time and recent conversions are Great Portland Street and Junction Road.

Kensington (of poppy fame) has had Wincor withdrawn so NCR is imminent there.

I am sure it is not official but from todays observations it seems if a Wincor goes defective it is not been given priority for repair with Farringdon Road and also 2 of the 3 kiosks out of service at both Tudor Street and Clapham out of service.

The kiosk at Holloway is showing a Windows start up fault as it did two weeks ago, not checked were Finchley Road and Balham.

(2) I'm reliably informed that Harrogate W-N machines were removed this week (16 October) and York will be changed on 30 October.

Another rarity in the Trafalgar Day Post and Go update from BPMA & RN Museum

As regular readers will know there has been some discrepancy between what Royal Mail have announced and what we have been told by other sources regarding today's Post and Go changes.

In brief, the machine at the BPMA has been changed so that more than two types of stamps can be sold, and the NMRN machine will have Trafalgar Day inscription on the flag stamps and Remembrance on the newly installed Poppy stamps.  Thanks to Chris for this report and the pictures.

NMRN
"Staff placed the Poppy Reel in the machine and it all started well, printing Poppy with ‘NMRN’. Only when someone queried the absence of the ‘Trafalgar Day’ overprint on the Union Flag, was it discovered that the machine had not been updated overnight.

"We were assured* that the only overprint on the Poppy would be ‘NMRN’, until 11 November when ‘Remembrance would be added for that one day only. When the software was updated, the ‘Remembrance’ overprint was available immediately!

"Only about 900 stamps exist with just the ‘NMRN’ on the Poppy stamp."
*(as I had been told last week by Museum staff) §


The Trafalgar Day inscription:

Chris and Mike have also sent pictures of the four stamps available from the BPMA machine today, showing that (after the Postage Due and Airmail inscriptions) the inscription has reverted to the lower position as it was in 2012.  Note that these four are all from session 1546.


On these the Machin and Flag are undated, the 2nd class is MA12, with the Poppy being MA14 of course.

The 2012 version:
It's not the same, of course: there have been (too?) many changes in 2 years - the font, the machine number and data string format.  But on a simplified level it's the same.


§ Mike commented ....

".... I was told by the 'minder' at Portsmouth that the software updates had been timed for 10.30* despite the BPMA having been under the impression that they would be done at 07.01 to allow them to cater for their needs before opening to the public).

"RM (or whoever) seriously need to address this so that all PO branches and any other machines are updated before they are timed to open to the public."


Saturday, 18 October 2014

New Catalogue Machin Security Definitive Stamps

We are pleased to announce that the new Norvic Checklist of Machin Security Definitive Stamps is now available free of charge to all collectors and dealers.

Designed to fit the gap between the Stanley Gibbons GB Concise Catalogue and the extreme detail of some other lists, this identifies all the values with all the source and year codes, cross-referenced to SG numbers and Royal Mail product codes.  Source booklet numbers are also included to assist in precise identification.

Table showing 2nd class counter sheet listing

Dates of issue or earliest known dates (EKD) of appearance are shown.  Over the summer the list has been checked by a number of customers and dealers, and many corrections made, but more information is waiting to be discovered, especially on dates.  Checking stamps on ordinary mail may yet reveal that stamps were actually in post offices or other retail outlets earlier than previously thought so the list is always subject to change.  But it is totally up to date with the latest discovery, the 2p M14L (see below).

Some collectors (and dealers) record these stamps in greater detail than we do, for instance according to the size of the gap in the security slits, according to the shape of the perforation, or the direction of printing.  This doesn't claim to be a complete list of Security Machins according to those criteria, but it does list all the basic stamps - and a few extras.

The Norvic numbers are used in our webshop, and we hope that this will help customers to find what they are looking for an fill the gaps.  

To download a copy of the checklist visit this page on our website - where you can see more tables from the Catalogue - and enter your email address.


Machin 2014 is not finished yet - 2p M14L now available.

Perhaps the year still holds more surprises for collectors of Machin Security stamps, as another low value reprint has appeared.

Not reprinted in 2013, the 2p was first issued without an overprint, but with security slits, in 2011. 


When the 1st class red and other palette changes were issued at the beginning of 2013, all the low value stamps were issued with M12L codes.  The 10p and 20p have already been reprinted, but now we have the 2p, reprinted on 26/09/14 with code M14L.  This is available in our shop from today.



Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Poppies sold early - Faststamps and counter sheets; other Faststamp news

As previously announced the definitive-sized self-adhesive Remembrance Poppy stamp is to be available from all Post Offices again on 21 October.  On the same date Post and Go machines will have 'Poppy-only' reels in the lead up to Remembrance Day.

Except that things at Post Offices don't always go to Royal Mail's plan.  On Saturday I was told by an American tourist that she had bought the Poppy stamps 'a couple of weeks ago' - so they were either early, or very old stock.

And I have also been told that some London Post Office Post and Go machines have been dispensing the Poppy-only Faststamps last week or earlier.  What I didn't realise when I first wrote this is that the early release was on a Wincor-Nixdorf machine which may have been removed by 21 October. There are few W-N machines remaining and getting solo-Poppy stamps from such a machine may be difficult.

Of course the Poppy stamp was included in the Symbolic Flowers set issued in September and all values could be obtained on the Poppy stamp, so 21 October was not intended to be a first day of issue or even philatelic availability - just the first day that all six values could be bought in a strip, and with NCR 'open values'.

In other Faststamp news, new installations at Inverness (3) and Norwich (4) are loaded with MA14 Machins, brown and blue, with no Symbolic Flowers delivered and (I understand) only 2 rolls of Poppies supplied (for the branch, not per machine).

UPDATE:
Based on information from the unofficial IAR website, there will be a further short-term inscription on the NMRN Portsmouth machine:

The Poppy stamps will be available at the NMRN from the 21st with a ‘Remembrance’ inscription replacing the current Machin stamp from 11-13 November 2014

... that is, for just two or three days.  However, advice from the Museum Shop is that these will be available ONLY on 11 November.

Although the regular issues are on the Museum shop website, the short-term specials will only be available in person or by telephone 02392 727596 or possibly email: shop@nmrn.org.uk They are taking advance orders, but take particular note of the following:

The price shown on the Museum website is £15 for a Collectors Strip.  For some reason this includes 20% VAT which does not seem appropriate,  (see also the comments by readers)

The price includes the Museum charge, to people who cannot attend, for the service of getting the stamps from the machine.  My understanding now is that Royal Mail regards the Museum as a secondary seller; being registered for VAT the Museum also charges 20% on the goods including their charge for the service.  So £7.42 + £5.08 = £12.50, plus VAT = £15.00 plus postage and packing.   Explained that way the charge does not seem as bad.

But the appeal of the Post and Go stamps must exceed that of the HMS Victory stamps from Universal Mail UK, also sold by the museum.   To a postage price of probably £4.85 (5 x 97p) the museum adds only 57p, plus VAT of £1.07 to arrive at a selling price of £6.50.

As collectors you have the choice, to vote with your feet rather than your hearts!

Advertising comes back to Slogan Postmarks - Man Booker Prize

From Press Release:

"Royal Mail is to issue a special postmark to celebrate the winning author of the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.  

Richard Flanagan received the prestigious literary award for his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North from HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, at a ceremony at London’s Guildhall.

Mr Flanagan was one of six authors who were shortlisted for the prize.

Royal Mail’s postmark will appear on millions of items of mail delivered nationwide from tomorrow to Saturday" - which means it will be applied from today, 15 October 2014.


It's good for postmark collectors to have something different to look for, but I question whether this is appropriate, since Royal Mail abandoned slogan postmark advertising for specific products some decades ago.  It's not even as if the slogan marks a success for a British author: Flanagan is Tasmanian.  As the press release also notes:

Winning the £50,000 prize brings an author international recognition, not to mention a dramatic increase in book sales.

UPDATE:
Here is one version of the postmark:


and the other




Friday, 10 October 2014

Special Covers from British Forces Postal Service Philatelic Bureau

The British Forces Post Office (BFPO) has had responsibility for all aspects of military mail, including philatelic matters, since its formation in 1882.  The British Forces Philatelic Service (BFPS) fundraises for Service charities through philately and is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers. BFPS was specially set-up to ensure that the Forces Philatelic Bureau survives and thrives.

This summer the Bureau has produced a number of first day and commemorative covers which can be bought from it's website. Each cover has as a full colour design and a special informative insert often A4 size.  Signed covers are often available, at a small premium.  All are limited editions.

Trooping the Colour



Armed Forces Day 28 June 2014



70th Anniversary of D-Day and Operation Overlord - 6 June 2014




42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic) relocation - 21 June 2014



Great War Centenary - 28 July 2014



Britain Declares War - 4 August 2014



Red Arrows: 50 seasons - 30 September 2014


350th Anniversary of the Royal Marines - 28 October 2014



Thursday, 9 October 2014

Remarkable Life - Joan Littlewood slogan now in use

The latest slogan postmark in the Remarkable Lives series is now in use for Joan Littlewood, who was born on 6 October 1914.

Littlewood was born in a working-class district of south London. She left the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art early, and was a founder of the agit-prop-inspired Theatre Union in Manchester. After the Second World War, aiming to bring a fresh kind of theatre to a new audience, the company toured the UK and Europe as Theatre Workshop before settling in 1953 at the run-down Theatre Royal in London’s East End.

She revolutionised British theatre after the Second World War by making the classics immediate and by turning raw material relevant to its time into productions of international acclaim. Chief among them was the eye-opening First World War entertainment Oh What a Lovely War.

The postmark follows the usual patterns and is believed to have started on Friday 3 October for delivery on 6th.  These examples from Jubilee Mail Centre and Nottingham Mail Centre show the two different layouts normally seen


 
This example from Chester and N Wales MC shows the reverse layout normally applied to the right side of square envelopes (where the machinery has aligned the stamp to the top left corner).


UPDATE 15 October:
Royal Mail's press release shows this image confirms that
The postmark will appear on mail delivered nationwide from Monday 6th October - the date she was born – to Saturday 11th October 
 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Christmas stamp 2014 images

We can't show pictures of the Christmas Stamps that Royal Mail have shown in their Philatelic Bulletin, and on their website, and in their stock list - and which are shown on at least one UK website, so I thought you might like to get in the holiday mood with some stamps from other countries.

United States




New Zealand set of 5, 3 of which will also be in self-adhesive form:
Hong Kong


I do like the US Magi stamp.  Makes a change from so many 'Madonna and Child' stamps.

UPDATE 9 October
Thank you for the many people who have commented on this situation.  As the British stamps are now on eBay, here is a link to one of the eBay listings:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2014-Christmas-all-Royal-Mail-varieties-issued-each-sold-seperately-Mint-/171490727458?pt=UK_Stamps_BritishStamps&var=&hash=item27eda4d622

The Winter Greenery Faststamps are also available on eBay.

UPDATE 13 October: Just to confirm that different Postal Authorities have different approaches to their philatelic programme (after all, we're often told that nobody else buys special stamps!) here is a Hong Kong set that will be issued on 8 December - 2015 !

Hong Kong's preliminary programme, subject to change of course, can be seen here - not just a list but pictures as well.


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Stroke Association is Royal Mail's new fund-raising partner

Press release 8 September 2014

Royal Mail Group is delighted to announce the Stroke Association as its new charity partner for the next two years.

The Stroke Association was chosen to be Royal Mail Group’s new Charity of the Year after around 40,000 employees selected it in a staff vote.

The company aims to raise at least £2 million for the charity over the course of the partnership.Royal Mail will match every penny raised by colleagues, up to £1 million.  Money raised will help the charity provide Life After Stroke grants of up to £300 to help 10,000 stroke survivors. The partnership will also aim to raise awareness of the condition as well as steps people can take to reduce their stroke risk.

There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year and it is the leading cause of severe adult disability. There are over 1.2 million people in the UK living with the effects of stroke.

- See more at: http://www.royalmailgroup.com/royal-mail-announces-stroke-association-its-new-charity-partner#sthash.hQW7XXDc.dpuf



Press release 29 September 2014

Letters delivered across the UK from today (Monday 29th September2014) will be helping to raise awareness of Royal Mail Group’s charity partner, the Stroke Association.

The postmark will be used frequently over the next two years.   It will feature on millions of items of mail delivered nationwide by Royal Mail’s postmen and women.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The earliest examples we have seen are dated 29 September but the wording of the press release suggests that postmarking started on Friday/Saturday 26/27 for delivery on Monday 29th. As usual the postmark is in two styles depending on the type of machine being used at the Mail Centres.



Thanks to Bob for these images.  Please send us examples from other locations, especially if they are with earlier dates.