Thursday, 20 July 2017

New inscription makes a mess of FAAM Post and Go.

As reported last month Post and Go machine A003 at The Fleet Air Arm Museum, based at RNAS Yeovilton Somerset, has been adapted to provide additional inscriptions in association with a new exhibition entitled ‘Cold War to Kabul’.

According to the IAR website, the kiosk will print ‘ZA298’ onto the Machin design and ‘ZD433’ onto the Union Jack design - referring to the Sea King HC4 (ZA298) and Harrier GR9 (ZD433) at the exhibition.

Unexpectedly, the additional printing also identifies the aircraft - which doesn't seem unreasonable until you see what a mess it makes of the stamps!   There simply is not enough room to accommodate so much additional text on the Flag stamp, and on the Machin the extended inscription overlaps the museum logo and includes the word 'Junglie'.

These are most unattractive and demonstrate that you can do just too much to a stamp by way of customising it.   Unless properly catalogued - and I'm sure Stuart Leigh will add them to his lists soon - in years to come collectors might even imagine that this is a private additional overprint, and a reject at that!

Thanks to RS for the pictures.




Alert for Hotmail, Orange, Wanadoo, Freeserve, etc email users.

I see from a newsletter received from a US dealer that the cessation of Hotmail addresses is proceeding quickly - he has trouble getting any Hotmail emails from outside, and from some within, the USA.  This is because Microsoft no longer authenticate those addresses as valid.

If you have an email service with any of these providers
  • Orange.net
  • Orangehome.co.uk
  • Wanadoo.co.uk
  • Freeserve.co.uk
  • Fsbusiness.co.uk
  • Fslife.co.uk 
  • Fsmail.net
  • Fsworld.co.uk
  • Fsnet.co.uk 
  • Hotmail
  • Verizon
  • btinernet
  • btopenworld
  • btocnnect
please read the detailed information provided in the post we made on 5 May.

We understand that Yahoo has recently been bought, so Yahoo addresses may not be the best ones to move to - gmail looks a safe bet, or your own domain.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Philatelic Bulletins wanted by US collector.

As a result problems with Royal Mail's accounting systems, it took one of our US customers six months to renew his subscription to the Philatelic Bulletin.  

He is trying to get the back numbers from Royal Mail but if anybody has duplicates or unwanted copies of these editions, he would be interested in acquiring them.

October 2016 - June 2017 inclusive

Please let me know by email (ian@norphil.co.uk) and I will put you in touch with each other.

Many thanks.

UPDATE 20 JULY
Arrangements have been made with one of our UK customers to send the required Bulletins to the customer in the USA.  Many thanks to him, and to others who have made offers or sent individual Bulletins.  These will be passed on to other collectors.


New stamps in short supply - further stocks awaited

As many of our customers have noted, we are out of stock - already - of several of the most recently discovered stamp booklets.

We are currently out of  these booklets and have very few (if any) stamps to sell as singles:
RB 6.7 -  1st Large x 4 booklet M17L
ME 7a.7 - 2nd x 12 booklet M17L
MB18a.7 - 1st x 6 Padlock booklet M17L
MF 9a.7 - 1st x 12 booklet M17L
MB18a - 1st x 6 Padlock M16L SBP2 - back in stock, as is 2936a.6a, but not for long.
Some of these were found in supermarkets (supplied by Royal Mail), and some in Post Offices (supplied by Post Office Ltd Supplies Dept).   In both cases subsequent supplies have been of earlier stamps.  Similarly, old stocks of business sheets are still being delivered (a 2014 printing of the 1st Large is now available in our local crown office).

More stocks are being sort and when we visit the west of the country soon we may find some more - or they may have stamps that are older still!

Stocks will be made available as soon as we are able.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Stanley Gibbons' 2017 Great Britain Concise Catalogue now published.

After a delay of more than six weeks from its originally forecast publication date the SG
Concise has now reached us, with a few surprises.

The first surprise was that the delay was not to allow the editors to incorporate the Machin 50th Anniversary stamps issued a week after the original publication date and available to dealers 2-4 weeks earlier.  On reflection, though, and considering all the problems I and our reader-contributors had working out what was new and what wasn't, and of those that were which would warrant full catalogue status, it makes sense for the editors to wait until they and their advisors had had plenty of time to study the stamps themselves.

There are some welcome changes in this edition.  The stamp subject index in the introductory pages have had a make-over.  Somebody has done a lot of work and the decimal index is now in several different forms, including not only the subject but for miniature sheets, alphabetically by title, alphabetically by stamp within the sheet, and numerically by SG number.  Regional stamps included in MS are also included.  Unfortunately the alphabetical list has been sorted using a computer programme, and hence numbers and quotes are taken into account.  This extract shows the order in which these stamps are listed:
'Address your letters Plainly' - Classic GPO Posters
'Now run along....' - Illustrations from The Tale of Peter Rabbit 
"Cat" - Edward Lear
"FAIR" - The Weather
15th Infantry Regiment - Soldiers and Battle of Waterloo Map
1971 decimal coin - Diamond Jubilee of QEII
A Colour Box - - Films by GPO Film Unit
etc through to ZLS'
I think the quotes, and the definite and indefinite articles ('a', 'an' and 'the') should have been ignored.

Whether this is sufficient to satisfy thematic collectors remains to be seen; including the new 2015 Smilers designs (SG MS3678) by the name of the design team seems very odd.  The 'Dad' stamp, 3677, is not listed in any of the lists as far as I can see (even under the generic heading 'Smilers' which is also absent) even though it exists as a single stamp, outside the MS.

In the introduction the editor provides justification for the listing of the £5 Accession anniversary stamp: in fact his justification has become unnecessary as all Post Office branches have been able (but few are willing) to order this stamp by entering the product order code.  A major addition to the listings is the 5½p Wales definitive with a lower setting of the dragon and value, which makes its appearance as W21b, priced at £350 mint, £100 used.

The original selling price of No Value Indicated (NVI) stamps continues in the introduction, but I
think it is a pity that the listing of international stamps is confined to the stamps denominated with the letter 'E' and excludes all those showing a weight and the airmail postcard stamp (SG2357a-9).  It also excludes all airmail Post and Go stamps.  I think it would be useful to show the original selling price of all these in a table which would, therefore, also show the current postage value of those stamps.
     The 'E' stamps were sold at a value of 30p - 40p over six years but are now worth £1.17 as postage. Inclusion of this information would help explain why the 'Fashion Hats' 'E' stamp is listed at £2 mint, while the 'higher' value of 45p is listed at £1.60 (though it doesn't explain why the 65p stamp is listed at £2.50).

As usual the introduction includes a list of the catalogue numbers new stamps added (aside from new issues) but on this occasion omits to mention number changes.   Within the Security Machins area of interest the 1st class gummed Diamond Jubilee stamp from the prestige book (Norvic 3328) has been moved from the main commemorative area to the Machin listings, changing from 3328 to U3279.  With U3012, the 5p from PSBs, included as the lowest value in the Beatrix Potter book the pane that it is in has been numbered U3012d.  The Enschede Merchant Navy 5p with elliptical perforation inverted has been renumbered from U3012d to U3102g.  I have not noticed any other re-numbers of individual security stamps.

Stamps printed on both types Security-printed Backing Paper (SBP) are now listed in John Deering's tables although those stamps which exist both with and without, or with SBP1 and SBP2 are not given full catalogue listing as individual stamps.  However in the booklet listings, not only are booklets with SBP separately numbered, but if they are first issued with SBP1, those with SBP2 have been allocated a sub-number.

Post and Go stamps listings have been given a major makeover seemingly out of proportion to the number of people now interested, although the introduction warns that "as these machines become ever more ubiquitous... we have had to draw a line and limit the tables to those categories already established."   This is in line with the suggestion of John Deering in Gibbons Stamp Monthly (with which I disagreed) last year, in which he claimed that the transport museums (and hence the Shakespeare Centre) were not as worthy as the Armed Forces Museums because of the latter's close association with The Queen.  I'll leave others to review the new listings and tables (and I am happy to publish a guest-blog on that subject!

But as usual the Concise is essential reading for those who want to keep up to date and know what Gibbons and other dealers are using as their main reference and price guide.  I'll leave readers to decide whether the prices reflect the market: I suspect for the U-series Machins those prices will not be far ahead - or behind - the market!

The latest edition of the Norvic Machin Security Checklist (v1.6.1) is now available for download.



Post and Go Correction - don't waste a journey.

A correspondent has sent us some information which will be of interest to anybody interested in getting the Post and Go stamps advertised in the July edition of Philatelic Bulletin for BFPO at the end of this week.

For a start, admission to RAF Northolt's Open Day (NORFEST) was limited to local residents, so if you wanted the special inscription from Post and Go machine M001 which was announced for 22nd July 2017 you would have to know somebody who could prove their local residence and who had applied or tickets in advance.


Now we have been told that there is no access to the Post and Go machine, which will not have any specific inscription for the open day.

Our correspondent has had this reply from the man in charge of the base (my emphasis):
I thought that it may be prudent to clarify on my previous email.  BFPO have taken the decision not to support Norfest (RAF Northolt families and friends day) with the Post and Go kiosk and there will not be an overprint to mark the occasion.  HQBFPO will also be closed to those attending Norfest as the individuals attending will be kept to specific locations on camp for security reasons.  I believe that not having an overprint to mark the day is the best course of action, as this will ensure that no one in particular (Norfest attendees) has an advantage to collect HQBFPO Post and Go stamps.  
So anybody who had arranged to attend will probably enjoy their day, but anybody who had arranged with non-philatelic friends/relatives to get Post and Go stamps would be advised to tell them not to hunt too far!

My thanks to JG for this information, which has also been passed on to the Bulletin editors!
Apologies that an earlier version of this post was published before it was completed.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

300 years of Freemasonry Royal Mail Commemorative Sheet sold only by Isle of Man Post?

This year marks 300 years of Freemasonry in the United Kingdom, and although the national organisation approached Royal Mail a few years ago to have the anniversary marked in the 2017 stamp programme, this has not happened. 

So what do we have here?


It's a Royal Mail commemorative sheet containing 10 x 1st class Lion England Country Definitive stamps, with attached labels depicting the collar jewels of the senior officers inside the Lodge and geometric Masonic patterns, with coded references to places important in masonry and the charitable works supported by Freemasons.


So is this an addition to the Royal Mail programme?  Apparently not as it is only (so far) being sold by Isle of Man Post, and it is described on their website as
These special stamps can be used for mailing within the UK, but they are also the perfect way for a Mason to show how proud he is of his craft - they are beautifully designed and can be framed as a gift for special events, Installations, Ladies Nights or as a gift for visiting Lodges.
Each sheet is presented in a descriptive album containing a certificate of authenticity and includes a pristine set of Freemasonry 300 stamps with a detailed explanation of the many visible and hidden design elements contained within a stamp area of no more than 40mm square, a truly impressive Tercentenary 300 commemorative piece.

The folder - produced in a limited edition of 750 - contains a set of stamps* which can be used for postage in the Isle of Man, and a sheet of stamps which cannot.  Why did IoM Post not produce a commemorative sheet with their own stamps on?  Obviously because they thought that collectors of Great Britain commemorative sheets would want to have this one, even though they also get Isle of Man stamps as well, and the whole thing costs £45!  *These are also available separately.

As far as we know Royal Mail will not be selling this sheet at all.  Not one for me!


Royal Mail slash cost of 5kg 2nd Class Medium Parcels for the Summer

Post and Parcel and Tamebay report that Royal Mail are drastically reducing the price of 2nd class medium parcels for a trial period - but only for postage bought online.

The cost of sending a second class medium parcel will be reduced from £13.75 to £6.29 for a three-month period starting 17th July, online only. The trial ends on 16 October.

In addition, the cost of sending second class Signed For, medium parcels will be £7.29, reduced from £14.75.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “The trial is designed to test the popularity of this price point rather than being a trial of the online channel. We’re offering this trial price point online simply because it makes it easier for us to execute.”

The £6.29 price point would be broadly inline with some of the leading economy courier services, and it is significantly less than Royal Mail’s first class service.

New stamp designs released: Classic Toys and Christmas Competition Winners

Our website has been updated with details of the Classic Toys set of 10 x 1st class stamps to be issued on 22 August.

The set features some well-known and some not so well-remembered playthings: The Merrythought Bear. Sindy Doll, Spirograph, Stickle Bricks, Wm Britain Toy Figures, Space Hopper, Fuzzy-Felt, Meccano, Action Man, Hornby Dublo Trains.

Meccano and Hornby Trains also featured on the Classic Transport Toys set issued in September 2003.





Royal Mail have announced the winners of this year's Christmas Stamp Design Competition for children aged 4-11.   I had some misgivings about what would be presented and chosen, based on some designs by younger children in the past, compared with the 22p from 1981 which rivalled designs produced by professional designers.

But I quite like the winners this year, and feel that the judges have chosen well.  HRH The Prince of Wales chose the two winners from the regional shortlists.

The designs, ‘Santa Claus on his sleigh on a starry night’ by Ted Lewis-Clark, aged 10, and a pupil at Oakfield Academy in Frome, Somerset, and ‘Snow family’ by 9-year old Arwen Wilson, who goes to St Chad's Catholic Primary School in Dudley, West Midlands, were chosen from more than 200,000 entries. 

Ted’s ‘Santa’ design will appear on the 1st Class Christmas Stamp and ‘Snow family’ by Arwen will feature on the 2nd Class Christmas stamp.  The stamps will be issued on 7 November 2017.

As usual other Christmas stamps for different postal rates, and a religious-themed issue, will also be available.



A picture of the Canada 150 Commemorative Sheet has now been added to the original post.



Monday, 10 July 2017

Attention our webshop customers !

We're contemplating some minor changes to our web-shop, and thought it a good idea to run them past customers first, to get some feedback.

As some of you will know the minimum order value on our webshop is just £5.00.  It was set like this when we set up the new store five years ago, when stamp prices were generally low, and a £1 stamp was a high value.  It allowed for people who wanted to buy just one of our first day covers, just a few of our postcards or postal history covers, or a few of the latest Machin security stamps, blocks, or booklets.

Since then most of what has been added is new stamps; time has not permitted us to add as many new postal history items as we would have liked.  Excess time is taken up with small orders, as people rush to make sure they don't miss out on one of the new stamps before it disappears for ever, as so many have done.  This has sometimes meant three orders in a week for some of our customers.

Increasing the minimum order level will not make much difference to most orders, especially as there are so many more expensive stamps now that face values have increased.  But any time saved can be used to add more products for sale - older Machin series stamps (the long-promised X & Y numbers from Gibbons catalogues), and booklets; and more postal history.  If customers combine their orders into larger ones they will save on postage - and we often refund duplicated postage payments if we combine two orders into one package, refunding the excess: it all takes time.

Other products.  We can't make any promises, but later in the year I want to add other ranges of material.  (Most of this year's Machins are now available so the second half could be quieter?)  As mentioned above, these would include:
  1. Pre-security Machin singles from sheets and coils, including cylinder blocks, date strips etc
  2. Similar for regional issues.
  3. Post and Go stamps on cover, some with a clear date, use often not inspired by collectors/dealers.
  4. Ditto Horizon labels, white, gold, perforated gold, and latest.
  5. Older Great Britain first day covers, definitive
  6. Selections of Machin security stamps used on dated cover, preferably 'in period', eg M12L used in 2012-13, not 2015 or later.   These would probably be in 'collections' rather than individually.
  7. Ditto on piece for those who don't want covers; although covers can make a nice display, they do take up space!
  8. Postal History of Great Britain, Commonwealth and Foreign countries, mostly post WWI, and much of it 1960s onwards, particularly Europe, Australia, New Zealand.
  9. Anything else.
Items 3, 4, 5 6 and 8 are particularly attractive to us because they take up a lot of space.  They would be priced to sell!

Noting that we have many loyal customers, we would particularly like to know what else you would be interested in, how we can add to your collections.   But at the same time we welcome thoughts from new or occasional customers and visitors who have looked but not found anything of interest.

We will also be putting some stock onto eBay using the norvic user name, especially where we think the interest may be wider than our current viewers.

Update:  Thanks to Anonymous and Doug for comments; I've had others by email.

Doug raises an interesting point:
However, I think you have to look at the business model you are considering moving to. From a current position of having reasonable stocks (i.e. multiple copies) of an item that you can sell (i.e. list and catalogue) is different to having a significant number of one-off items for offer (similar to a person selling a personal item on eBay).
----8<-- br="">
I am not sure what you mean in the sentence "... items 3,4,5,6 and 8 are particularly attractive to us..". By that I am assuming you don't actually want to continually stock these and you are attempting to dispose of these once and for all to save space etc. Those items I could see and one off eBay offers. 
A little background information will probably help add the right perspective.  I've been collecting (accumulating) stamps and postal history for over 60 years.  When I had the early retirement opportunity I created the original website starting with the 1998 Lighthouse stamps and collectors around the world asked me to do FDCs and to get the thematic postmarks.  This expanded in the 1999-2000 Millennium years.  I did consider selling at stamp fairs, but a wise local dealer and friend told me that it was exceedingly difficult to have the same postcard and postal history stock at fairs and online - I'll leave you to imagine the problems involved in selling something at a fair only to get home and find that somebody had bought it from the webshop.
     A few years later we decided to produce our own range of limited edition first day covers often using Norfolk themes or our own photographs for the illustrations. It was fun, and we had a loyal following.  But the sheer volume of new issues meant that we also pulled the plug on that venture, with the aim of devoting more time to the (then) 50 year accumulation of one-off items. The blog was started to direct traffic to the website which continued to show new issues, and to the shop, highlighting new blocks of one-off covers and cards.
      And then Royal Mail's security features appeared on Machin definitives, and with news coming not only from official sources and printed media, but also from collectors and dealers with their local finds and discoveries, the emphasis switched to those, and the time that was going to be devoted to what I already had was taken up with what I (and you) wanted to find.  The Checklist was born from an initial list which put things in perspective and showed how SG had changed their catalogue numbers - in some cases twice in 12 months!
       So although I am described in some places as a Machin Security expert that has only come about by chance and with the help of others.  And while I believe that collecting the Security Definitives has brought back the 'thrill of the hunt' that existed in Wilding days, with different watermarks, paper, phosphor, etc, the hunt for these and other stamps on cover paying the right rate for the job is much more difficult - and satisfying - than buying mint stamps from Royal Mail or from dealers.

Security features:  £1.10 solo use to Australia and inland Special Delivery 100gr.




Please read the other comments and leave a comment on the order level and new products questions.  If you don't want to do so publicly, then either email to ian@norphil.co.uk or send a comment headed 'not for publication'.  All comments are moderated (ie checked before publication) so we can copy the message to our own records and then delete what you have written.  But if you would like a reply, we will need your email address.

Thanks for reading this and for helping us to help you build your collections.


Special Delivery 1973 - solo use of 20p Silver Wedding stamp, and pre-printed Machin PPI
 
  
Pre-security Machins: different from different sources - Anniversary Wilding Regionals from PSB

 

Australia Modern Postal History



Foreign Postal History