Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Slogan Postmarks - 3 so far!

As reported elsewhere, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games stamps were issued last Thursday, 17th July 2014.  

I've been sent several pictures of special slogan postmarks which have been running, around the UK, since before the stamp issue.  Unfortunately unless you received one of these, or read about it before the stamp issue date, and also were able to post in one of the relevant areas, you would not have been able to get a first day cover cancelled with the slogan.  

Once again Royal Mail failed to provide any advance notice.  One really does have to wonder whether their marketing, PR, and Philatelic areas could be better joined up to generate more revenue.

One showing the Glasgow 2014 logo as on the stamps, from Edinburgh MC on 15 July - yes, from Royal Mail Tallents House! - to Norfolk

A similar one with the postmark elements in a different order, from Greenford MC on 14 July to Norfolk

And a 2nd class one sent from Swindon MC to a Swindon address 21-07-2014, picture from Bob (thanks!)

So obviously these are not on mail only to or only from Glasgow, so we must assume that they are being used nationwide to all addresses, and possibly on international mail.

New Post and Go installation: Portsmouth Royal Dockyard Museum

According to an unofficial website machine A002 is to be installed at the Portsmouth Dockyard Museum Shop:

‘Following on from the success of the static Post & Go machine at the BPMA in London, Royal Mail will be installing its second static Post & Go machine at the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth from 28 July 2014. Machine A002 will initially carry Union Flag and Machin designs with the static location identifier ‘The NMRN’. The machine will be located in the Museum shop’

The installation will take place before the shop opens, collectors wishing to visit on that date should note the Kiosk is scheduled to be available from 10:00 am.

It should be noted that entrance to the shop is free."

Although this is said to be on the Royal Mail website I haven't found it and Royal Mail Tallents House (and via twitter) have been unable to confirm that this news item is true.  The unofficial website also suggests that:

The machine ....  will be the first to use the new Royal Mail font.’

I've no idea what this means! 

I've now had this confirmed by Royal Mail, and this is on their website:

Post & Go News - New Font for Royal Mail Machines
Following the introduction of the dual value design in April and subsequent feedback from collectors, the font used on Royal Mail Post & Go machines will change to help improve the overall look of the stamps. The first use of the new font will be at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth from 28 July 2014.

Post & Go News - New Static Machine in Portsmouth
Following on from the success of the static Post & Go machine at the BPMA in London, Royal Mail will be installing its second static Post & Go machine at the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth from 28 July 2014. Machine A002 will initially carry Union Flag and Machin designs with the static location identifier ‘The NMRN’. The machine will be located in the Museum shop.

July 2014 retail stamp booklet update

As reported earlier, new booklets and business sheets will be available from 31 July 2014.  The stamp content will be unchanged as far as Royal Mail concerned, with the only change being the telephone number on the back cover, which changes from 08457 to 03457.  However this change sees the first appearance of 2014 codes on the Large Letter stamps, which are coded MA14.  (Click on any image for a larger version.)

We don't have cylinders on all booklets yet:

12 x 1st - W5 (red) W2 (phos) W1 (security)

4 x 1st Large - W2 (red), W1 (phos and security)

4 x 2nd Large

12 x 2nd

6 x 1st -  31 July with previous M14L booklet for comparison.  Used copies are known from mid-June.

Barcodes and packing details:

Monday, 21 July 2014

New printings of Machin counter sheets

Another round of printing was undertaken by De La Rue in May, and so far the following have been seen:

2nd class         12/05/14
1st class           08/05/14
1st Large         20/05/14
97p                  23/05/14
£1                    22/05/14

Date blocks of 8 can be supplied on request.

Packing dates for the new Walsall retail booklets seen so far are:

6 x 1st              02/05/14
12 x 1st            08/05/14
12 x 2nd           14/05/14
4 x 1st Lge       03/06/14
4 x 2nd Lge      28/05/14

Friday, 11 July 2014

Commonwealth Games booklet variants

The full set of Commonwealth Games stamps is now shown on our website, following Royal Mail's decision to put them and all products on their website shop before the embargo date.

Accompanying the set of 6 is a retail booklet containing 4 x 1st class Machin definitives and 2 x 1st class Swimming stamps.  As usual the Machins are coded MCIL M14L and the booklet is printed by Walsall Security Printers.  We are used to minor colour-registration problems on Walsall's booklets and from the examples of this booklet we have seen, they seem to have escaped this fate, although without seeing a booklet with cylinder numbers we don't know whether the almost mono-chrome special stamps are printed in 4-colour process or a reduced range of colours.

Here is the booklet itself:

However, in this booklet we have found misplaced phosphor and iridescent ink printing to make up for the often ugly mis-registered special stamps.

Booklets have been found with significant shifts of the phosphor both upwards and downwards, and with a significant shift of the iridescent layer downwards.  As these images show:

Downward shift of phosphor.  The top of the phosphor is in the Queen's head.  In more extreme examples the phosphor on the upper definitives is shifted down onto the lower ones.

Upward shift of phosphor.  The phosphor on the lower definitives is lapping onto the upper ones

In some examples the iridescent security printing is well down from the top of the design:

While stocks last these are available at our webshop, but will not be shipped until 22 July because of the issue date coinciding with holidays.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Symbolic Flowers at Autumn Stampex and nationwide in Post and Go machines

The second set of British Flora Post and Go Faststamps will be issued on 17 September 2014, coinciding with Autumn Stampex at London's Business Design Centre in Islington.  The stamps will also be available from the nationwide network of Post and Go machines which means that three* different versions will be available from the day of issue.

Designed by Kate Stephens using illustrations by award-winning Bath artist Julia Trickey, the six stamps show forget-me-not, common poppy, dog rose, spear thistle, heather and cultivated flax.

The forget-me-not is a common flower in cottage gardens, and grows wild if allowed to!

Common Poppies are widespread in the countryside notable along verges and in cornfields here in Norfolk, where we have Poppyland (an area near Cromer named in the 19th century by author Clement Scott),  the 'Poppy Line' or North Norfolk Railway, and a Poppyland brewery. 

The Dog Rose is widespread in roadside hedges, and even climing up into higher branches of trees.

Spear Thistle (or common thistle) has a purple flower atop a swollen, spiny green base and spear-like tips on the leaves. Its flowers provide a feast of nectar and pollen for insects in late summer.

Heather is widespread in moorland parts of Britain including the Pennines and Scotland.

Cultivated Flax has been grown for centuries for making cloth and linseed oil, traditionally used to finish and refresh cricket bats.  Now included in commercially available wild bird seed, it is often seen in gardens.

I'm pleased to say that we have all except the thistle and heather here at Norvic towers!

First day covers and presentation packs will be available as usual.

* The stamps in post office branches will be dispensed from Wincor-Nixdorf and NCR machines while those at Stampex will provide a third version.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

New Tour De France Grand Départ Yorkshire Slogan Postmark

Royal Mail is to issue a special postmark to mark the Tour De France Grand Départ which begins in Yorkshire today (July 5th).

The postmark will be printed on mail that is delivered across the UK* on Saturday. It will read ‘Yorkshire Grand Départ Tour De France 2014’.   It is the first time the Tour has visited the UK since 2007.
Stephen Agar from Royal Mail said: “We’re delighted to be marking the Tour De France Grand Départ with one of our postmarks. “It’ll be a very special moment to see this iconic sporting event begin in the UK in Yorkshire and we’re pleased to mark the occasion in this unique way.”

Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, commented: "This celebration of the Yorkshire‎ Grand Départ by Royal Mail is testament to the scale of this historic event coming to our county and indeed the country. “Excitement is reaching fever pitch for millions in Yorkshire and beyond - and we're delighted the Tour's arrival is being celebrated in this way."

* The postmark must have been used at Mail Centres across the UK on Friday 4th July.  Although the official announcement is that it is on mail delivered to UK addresses, look out for it in other countries. The Lord's Cricket Ground postmark was used on mail from Gatwick to South Africa.

UPDATE: Evidence from JG that this was, in fact, already in use on Thursday 3rd July so could have been on 1st class mail delivered on 4th.  Now if only they could achieve 100% legibility despite the uneven contents...

Thanks also to Bob for this much better example in the other layout and in a totally different style from across the border in Lancashire:

Thursday, 3 July 2014

New Imprint on Post and Go at BPMA in August

According to the GBStamp.co.uk blog A new BPMA Exhibition at Freeling House from August to October will mark the 80th anniversary of British Inland Airmail.

The Post and Go machine will dispense stamps with a new inscription (underprint or overprint depending on who you read), which will also include a pictorial airmail element.

The buried news is that 2nd class stamps will be dispensed instead of Union Flag.  Let's hope the IAR machine isn't affected by the sort of software errors that have occurred at Stampex and elsewhere over the last 12 months or so.

Note, I am not planning to make a trip to London to get these overprints.  I may have mint examples after Stampex, but no FDCs.

NCR Post and Go pack issued 7 July 2014

The new NCR Post and Go Pack was mentioned last month and we can now show the actual pack and stamps.

As explained on the reverse of the pack, the 'Service Indicia' which was previously printed on plain white labels is now printed on Post and Go stamps (or Faststamps).

These stamps (with the same values) are readily available at Post Office branches with the NCR self-service machines, the number of which will increase from the current 225 (mix of old and new machines) to over 700 by the end of 2015.

The stamps in the pack have a different datastring to those from the machines, however, and don't even mimic the 'live' versions which have kiosk numbers 67 upwards.  These have a datastring similar to that in IAR and previous exhibition machines and so unlike those from either the Wincor-Nixdorf or NCR machines.
B7GB14 C001-1840-015
This indicates: Reel B, Month 7, Great Britain, Year 14,  Machine C001*
The 1840 is supposed to be the session number and 015 indicates the pack number (this is the 15th Post and Go presentation pack).
The pack doesn't explain the VAT codes which are (in sequence as shown) E4 B4 F4 C4 and H4.

* The July Philatelic Bulletin quotes this as C002 but that is wrong.   Also, both brown and blue stamps show Reel B.  If nothing else this shows that they are not printed together, but in two very separate major print runs.

Royal Mail are not producing first day covers of these stamps.

One good thing to come from this is that Tallents House are using up old stocks of base stamps, the blue stamps being coded MA12, and the brown undated! 

A reminder of what a other datastrings looks like Wincor (top), machine NCR (centre) compared with ones from the pack:

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

It's Dog Awareness Week - 30 June - 4 July 2014

Royal Mail has launched the annual Dog Awareness Week (30 June-4 July) to raise understanding of the issue of dog attacks on postmen and women - and members of the public.

On average around nine postmen and women a day are attacked by dogs across the UK with over 3,300 attacks taking place from April 2013 to April 2014, an 8 per cent increase on the previous year.

The number of attacks peaks during the school holidays.

Royal Mail wants to encourage responsible dog ownership and to appeal to dog owners to keep animals under control when the postman calls.

They look cute, but they can be vicious when a stranger approaches their domain.  (From personal experience, it doesn't help if the regular postman feeds biscuits to the dog, and you are his relief - with no biscuits!)

A nationwide Dog Awareness Week postmark is to be applied to letters from 30 June

As they said at our delivery office, it would be a good idea to have a Dog Awareness sticker on ALL mail, rather than just the stamped mail, given that such a large percentage of the daily mailbag is either franked or has a postage-paid impression.

See more at: http://www.royalmailgroup.com/

UPDATE: new image from Home Counties North (thanks Rob)