Thursday, 25 May 2017

Machin 50th Anniversary products now available on our shop for delivery after issue

Thank you for your patience while we undertook a comprehensive stock check and top-up of the most recent stamps.  Some items remain out of stock because we just can't find any more, but we have added the Machin 50th Anniversary products including a selection of first day covers, and some more Machin Business Sheet Tops.

You can find all these by going to our shop and clicking on 'Recent Additions'.  Several important points:
  1. We will be on holiday from June 1 - 17, so no Anniversary products will be despatched until week commencing June 19th.
  2. Because of this you may wish to order and delay your payment until our return. In this case choose any payment option other than Card or PayPal.
  3. We have prepared a number of first day covers and they are at the Royal Mail Philatelic Handstamp Centres for processing and return.  If you chosen FDC is shown as out of stock, please email us and we will try to obtain more.
  4. The easiest way to obtain all the stamps issued as part of this commemoration is to buy the Prestige Stamp Book and the Golden Anniversary MS.  Depending on your degree of specialisation the book contains between 10 and 22 new stamps, the only duplication being the 2 x 20p double-headed stamps, and the 4 x £1 gold.   We realise that if you buy the book to break up you may not want the duplicates, especially if you are not in the UK and cannot use the extra £1 stamps for postage.   For this reason we are offering the book with only one £1 stamp at a reduced price, as this saves us a lot of time in breaking the book up into individual stamps.  Use the option 'Reduced book'.  
  5. At this stage the only single stamp we are offering is the 1st class deep scarlet MSIL stamp from the retail booklet.  Depending on feedback we may sell other stamps singly in due course.
And while you are in Machin Anniversary mode, take a look back to the FDCs we produced ten years ago.  Some of these are still available.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Pictures of 30 essays and 42 stamps in Machin Anniversary Prestige Stamp Book

Although most serious collectors of Machin definitive stamps will be aware of much of the background to the design, and the work that went on before the first stamps were issued in 1967, and the many developments that have taken place since then, the Prestige Stamp Book usefully brings all this together.   The book has 12 non-stamp pages of text written by Richard West MBE, former editor of Stamp Magazine.

Page 1 shows Arnold Machin (the portrait used for the 2007 1st class stamps in the miniature sheet and smilers sheet), with sketches which included four different portraits.


Page 2 shows further designs based on photographs of the coinage head mould.


Page 3 introduces the new photograph by John Hedgecoe, from which followed a new plaster cast, giving rise to further essays.


Pages 4 and 5 show how the design was developed through to the final design


Subsequent pages show actual stamps as issued from June 1967, including the 7d and 8d with the value 'behind' the head - which looks really odd after 50 years!  (Pages 6 and 7)


Decimalisation brought a new typeface for the figures of value and mostly new colours although the 5p and 9p retained their pre-decimal (1s and 1s9d) colours. (page 8)


Page 9 takes us through to the new larger photogravure high values, the first stamps printed outside the UK, and in lithography by Waddingtons and Questa.


Page 10 brings NVI, 1990 double-head, elliptical perforations and self-adhesive stamps.


The small recess-printed high values, Millenium 1st class, Airmail and PIP stamps are shown on page 11, while page 12 brings us up to date via the £1 ruby introduced for the 40th anniversary, the security stamps of 2006, Recorded Delivery stamps, the 1st class stamps for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and Longest Reign, and the change to Royal Mail Red.  It is good to note that the gold security stamp has no year or source code.  The Diamond Jubilee and LTROU stamps are copies of the actual stamps unlike so many of the illustrations used by Royal Mail elsewhere.  These two have no security slits indicating that they were taken from the miniature sheets: the codes are not visible.


The inside back cover includes all the technical information including that the stamp panes are printed in gravure except for the pane of 4 x £1 gold foil stamps, "printed in lithography and foiled in gold" by International Security Printers.  The outer covers show a selection of decimal and pre-decimal issued stamps in their original colours.



Tuesday, 23 May 2017

July Special Issues - Landmark Buildings and World War I (1917) Designs

At the risk of being repetitively boring I must remind you that I am unable to provide much detail about these two stamp issues, but that has not stopped others who are not bound by the same contractual obligations with Royal Mail as I am.

My friend WhiteKnight's Commonwealth Stamps Opinion reports today on these two sets and shows all the designs.  You can see them here.  The World War I (issued on 31 July) set is in the usual format of 3 x 1st class and 3 x airmail (£1.57).  The Landmark Buildings set (issued on 13 July) is all 1st class and shows 10 very different modern buildings from around the United Kingdom, including two in Scotland, one each for Northern Ireland  and Wales, with the rest from England.

Here are a couple of tasters:


More detail on our website when Royal Mail have published details through their own media.



Monday, 22 May 2017

Slogan postmarks for May 2017

After the rush of postmarks during March and April there have been very few special slogans during May and most offices are using a Postcode slogan or in some cases the Stroke Support slogan.

Mental Health.
A couple of weeks ago I received a letter from a customer which had a new slogan, but we have had very few reports of this.  All are from the same type of machine:

Royal Mail
supports
Mental Health
Awareness Week
#mhaw17

here from Plymouth and Cornwall MC 08.05.17


also seen from South East Anglia on 11.05.17, but from Sheffield on 10.05.17 without the Royal Mail logo.  (This one from the Stampboards forum.)


Christmas Stamp Design Competition
As I reported earlier this year's Christmas stamp issue will once again include a pair of stamps designed by schoolchildren.  Back in 2013 each of the winners was separately identified by their personalised postmark, but this year there is only one.  The first one reported is fromthe ILSM at Romford Mail Centre 19.05.17 but not very clear.  A better one from Southampton MC is on 20.05.17.  (Thanks to JG and RS for the images.)

Congratulations to the
24 Finalists of
Royal Mail's 2017
Christmas Stamp
Design Competition


Thanks again to JG for this one from the Peterborough MC iLSM machine 20-05-2017


Another version on the Jubilee iLSM has a similar layout to that on the IMPs



I was looking for a list, but all I can find is a list of local finalists 5 for each of the 24 regions.  If you search Google news, you can see some of the designs.


RS reports late use of the National Stationery Week slogan (remember, that was 24-30 April), used in Bristol Mail Centre on 15.05.17


UPDATE 26 MAY
It seems that Royal Mail has a new charity partner, so we should soon see slogans declaring their association with "Action for Children", replacing that linking them to The Stroke Association.

Not much left of May now, but still time for more slogans, so let us know what you find and we'll report them here.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Machin Anniversary 50th Anniversary Commemoration: how many new stamps? [Revised and Updated]

As we have known for some time, Royal Mail are next month marking the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Machin definitive on 5 June 1967.  The issue consists of two miniature sheets... and a prestige stamp book, stamp cards, presentation packs, first day covers, a retail stamp booklet, press sheets, a medal cover, new post and go faststamps, a limited edition prestige stamp book. The stamps will be issued on Monday 5 June 2017.  (Updated again 23.5.17)

The first surprise is that one of the PSB panes is quite different to the pre-issue publicity picture that we were sent, which subsequently appeared in the Royal Mail Philatelic Bulletin.  The change introduces a new stamp and eliminates some of the duplication. Larger images of some of these products can be seen on our new webpage.

50 Years of a Design Icon Miniature Sheet
This sheet contains six new stamps showing the development of the Machin design from the design inspired by the 1d black, through to what was almost the final design.  The Machin head which is common to each stamp is embossed, as is the plaster cast portrait in the margin. Detail of the designs on the stamps is on our website.


Golden Anniversary Celebration Miniature Sheet
The second sheet shows the original 4d dark brown stamp issued in 1967, and includes many of the different design variants of the stamps issued over the 50 years. The stamps are, from left to right,
5p violet (1971), 20p black double-head (1990), 1st class orange (issued in 1993 as the first self-adhesive booklet), 1st class Millennium (2000), 1st class gold Pricing in Proportion (2006), 1st class red (2013), and a new £1 stamp based on the high-value range of 1969, printed using gold foil.


The Prestige Stamp Book contains five panes of stamps.  The first two have three each of the Design Icon stamps*, and pane 5 has a striking block of 4 gold foil £1 stamps.  But the other two panes contain 8 Machin definitives each, in various designs.   
*As these are separated onto two panes in the PSB they will be catalogued as individual stamps. 

Pane 3 has eight stamps and is described as having the 'make-up' or supplementary values.  These are 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p - plus 2nd class and £1 ruby.

The 50p grey and £1 ruby are not in the current colours, but in the colours first used in 2007.  Odd then that the £1 ruby - and only this stamp - has iridescent printing, coded M17L MPIL.  The central label is a detail from the 50p stamp.

Pane 4 also has eight stamps.  Aside from the 20p double-headed stamps (the pane contains two of these rather than three as shown previously), all the others are 1st class.  (Another odd decision given that the 1st class double-head stamp exists from the Special by Design PSB and the 2009 Treasures of the Archive PSB (SG 2133 and 2956 respectively).


There is also a retail booklet as unimaginative as the one produced for the 40th Anniversary; the security coding is M17L MSIL and the stamps are deep scarlet, not as shown in this publicity picture.



List of the stamps contained in the retail booklet, the Golden Anniversary MS and PSB panes 3-5.

1p crimson
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
Y1667
2p deep green
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
Y1668
5p pale violet
Gummed
Non-elliptical
Gravure
MS
X866
5p red-brown
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
Y1670
10p orange
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
Y1676
20p green
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
Y1687
20p black double-head
Gummed
Non-elliptical
Gravure
MS
1470
20p black double-head
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
2955
50p light grey
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
Y1727
£1 ruby MPIL M17L
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
New
£1 gold foil 2mm phos
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
MS
New
£1 gold foil 2mm non- phos
Gummed
Elliptical
Litho
PSB
New
2nd blue
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
1664
1st black
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
New
1st orange (Horiz)
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
MS
New
1st orange (Vert)
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
1667
1st gold
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
1668
1st Millennium
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
MS
2124
1st Millennium
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
2124
1st gold PIP
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
MS + PSB
2651
1st red MPIL M17L
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
PSB
New
1st red MMIL M17L
Gummed
Elliptical
Gravure
MS
New
1st deep scarlet MSIL M17L
Self-adh
Elliptical
Gravure
Book
New

Responding to a request for clarification Royal Mail have said that both £1 stamps are the same, ie gold foil embossed and neither litho nor gravure.
 But we now know that the stamp on the mini-sheet has phosphor bands which must be applied by litho.

The majority of these stamps are very good matches to the originals.  I've added SG numbers numbers in the table above, although some of the original stamps exist in several variants so other numbers may also be relevant.


The new stamps
There are four stamps with security printing: 1st class red (not deep scarlet) coded M17L and MPIL, MMIL*, and 1st class deep scarlet MSIL, and the £1 ruby (magenta) M17L MPIL.

The three other new stamps are the £1 gold foil embossed (with± and without phosphor bands), the 1st class black with elliptical perforations, and the 1st class orange, landscape format, on gummed paper rather than self-adhesive*.    This makes a total of 7 new stamps although specialists will identify some subtle and not so subtle differences from the originals.  The Millennium stamp, for example, has the head placed much further to the left than on the originals, aside from being in two slightly different shades.
±  Contrary to previous observations the £1 gold stamps from both sources do have phosphor bands. But we still don't know for certain what process was used.  BM has pointed out that the embossing must be the final operation after all printing (including phosphor) and application of gold foil.  He suggests that a third party printer may have been involved with this operation, as with the recess printing by FNMT on the Long To Reign ms.

*These two are unlikely to be allocated individual numbers in the SG Great Britain Concise catalogue as they only exist from the miniature sheet. 


There is also a Limited Edition version of the PSB which RM are pricing at £99.95.  This
"comes in an exquisite specially-created display case together with a silver Machin medallion which was handmade in the UK and has been struck in solid sterling silver, weighing 97grams (diameter 60mm). In addition, centrally placed in the lid of the case is an original 4d stamp as replicated on the Golden Anniversary Celebration Miniature Sheet".  

As this is an edition of only 500 we don't know what supplies will be available for Royal Mail online and telephone buyers when it is issued.   We will have a few for those who want them.    We have been assured that the stamps they contain are the same.


The PSB, MS and retail booklet will be added to our webshop shortly.  We will also have some first day covers for sale available for pre-order. 
As we are on holiday from June 2 - 16 we will not be able to process any orders until June 19. Customers ordering these new products should not choose immediate payment by PayPal but choose 'Pay by Cheque' and await our return.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Security Printing: Up, Down, both - does it matter? Not for the present.

A number of people have written about whether stamps exist on upright or inverted Security Backing Paper, which I mentioned last week.  Several stamps - and maybe even some of my pictures! - show instances that I didn't mention.

Now John Deering has written about the same feature in Gibbons Stamp Monthly (June 2017) so what exists is clearly more complex than I originally thought.  (No comments here: if you have a contribution please continue on last week's discussion.)

So I shan't be adding any further on this for the present.  It's probably not worth separately listing both types on the same stamp as a sales option in our webshop, certainly not at present.  Far better that my time is spent on sending out to customers the stamps that they have already ordered and paid for!    Next news will be about the Machin Anniversary issue.  Meanwhile shown above is a taste of what has already been shown in the philatelic press, but an actual scan.




Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Open for business - we're back!

Thank you for your patience while we have been processing orders and restocking the latest new issues.

We have now reopened the webshop.  A number of new Machin security stamps have been received since we closed, and we have also added the forgery of the £1 brown, and the 1997 trial printings by Courvoisier (only a few of those).   Also new are maximum cards of the Songbirds and David Bowie - we haven't seen any Bowie maximum cards anywhere else - and the Thistle and Post Office railway digitally-printed Post and Go stamps.

The full list:

Spear Thistle Post and Go single 1st class FV24
Post Office Underground Railway Post and Go 1st class and Collectors Strip FV25

Songthrush and Wren maximum cards
Aladdin Sane (2 types), Heroes, and Earthling David Bowie Maximum Cards

5p Machin counter sheet M17L 3005.7
20p Machin counter sheet M17L 3020.7
1st Large Machin business sheet MBIL M17L 2916aB.7
1st class Machin booklet single MTIL M17L 2936a.7
12 x 1st class Machin booklet MTIL M17L MF9a.7
Machin Forgery £1 sheet stamp M14L MTIL
Machin Undenominated Trials by Courvoisier

Updated Checklist
Our Machin Security Checklist has been updated to include the latest stamps listed above.  Version 1.5.7 dated 10 May is now available from the usual download link or here.


Keen observation reveals mixed use of SBP2 backing paper

When I first reported the use of the second type of security backing paper (SBP2) I showed that if the backing paper was re-reeled and used inverted, the format of the text would be different.

UPDATE 18 MAY
"I shan't be adding any further on this for the present.  It's probably not worth separately listing both types on the same stamp as a sales option in our webshop, certainly not at present. "
See full text on later blog post here.


Small Upright Large Upright Small Inv Large Inv -- --  Small Inv Large Upright Small Up Large Inv

Now an eagle-eyed customer (thanks Rolf) has observed that the two different formats have already been used - and nobody else seems to have noticed, probably because at this stage no individual stamp has appeared on both types.

So far the split seems to be:

SI LU SU LI
2nd and 2nd Large counter sheets M17L
1st and 1st Large counter sheets M17L
2017 new tariff high values counter sheets M17L
5p and 20p counter sheets M17L
1st Large Business Sheet M17L (shown below)

SU LU SI LI
2nd M16L MBIL
2nd M16L MTIL
1st M16L MTIL
1st M16L MTIL
1st M17L MTIL (shown below)

So aside from the 2nd class business sheet, all the thin-paper stamps (counter and business sheets) have been printed on what I described originally as an 'inverted' SBP2;  and all the thicker booklet stamps have been printed on original (upright) paper.

More new printings
As 'Trelantis' mentions in a comment on last week's post about the 5p and 20p sheet stamps, the 1st Large business sheet and 12 x 1st booklet, both M17L, have now appeared and will be listed on our webshop when it reopens later today.  The iridescent printing on the business sheet is not very strong, being similar to the M16L booklet issued earlier.

1st Large business sheet (Norvic 2916aB.7) - printed 22/02/17


12 x 1st booklet M17L (norvic 2936a.7) packing date not yet known.  Cylinder numbers W7 (red),  W1 (iridescent), W2 (phosphor).



Universal Postmarking Machines - late usages still recorded

We've previously reported on the Christmas use of Universal machines, often with antique slogans, but it's unusual to get one from a Mail Centre at this time of year, so thanks to RS for this.


I don't think we have had a report from Medway Mail Centre before, so this example on 6 May 2017 of the Sorter-Canceller-Machine is welcome and will be noted by the British Postmark Society.  Kent seems to have adopted continental timing, with a day-slug inserted into the 'hour' slot, giving 1315PM.

UPDATE:
Our reader RS has another report, this time from North and West Yorkshire on 9 May 2017, machine number 4, with the old 
REMEMBER 
to use the 
POST CODE! 
slogan



We're happy to have all reports!

Royal Mail Post and Go Update - Museums

Royal Mail's erratic updating of its Post and Go webpage continues.  Nothing about operational machines at Enquiry Offices, but this is the latest Museum news.
Latest news

Royal Navy Submarine Museum - A004
Overprint ‘HMS Alliance 14th May 1947’ will be on both Union and Machin stamps from Friday 19th May until close Sunday 18th June. This marks the launch date of the submarine which is now at RNSM.

Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower - A007
Overprint ‘Heligoland Big Bang 1947’ will be on both Union Flag and Machin from Friday 19th May until close Sunday 18th June.
This is to commemorate Operation ‘Big Bang’ on 18th April 1947 - the attempted destruction of all Germany’s military installations on the small island of Heligoland.
As usual, we will not be stocking these, and this is for information only.