Friday, 22 May 2015

The Gurkhas: 200 years service - BFPS commemorative cover

2015 marks the bicentennial of loyal Gurkha service to the British Crown. For the past 200 years, Gurkhas have served with British forces in every major conflict, most notably in the two World Wars where they suffered over 40,000 casualties, gaining renown for their courage and loyalty. Indeed, Gurkha soldiers have accumulated 13 Victoria Crosses for their acts of supreme valour.

To commemorate this long and faithful partnership BFPS has produced a special commemorative cover to be released on the 9ᵗʰ June 2015.

This beautifully designed cover uses images that show the Gurkhas in both their infantry and ceremonial roles. A 1st class postage stamp also bearing the image of a Gurkha soldier (Rifleman Kulbir Thapa VC) will be cancelled by a handstamp specially designed for this occasion.

This will be a numbered limited edition of just 200 covers. They will cost £10 each and £6 of this will be donated to the Gurkha Welfare Trust to help them with their vital relief work in Nepal. If all 200 are sold we will be able to donate £1200 to this extremely worthwhile cause.

The covers may be purchased from the BFPS online shop ( from the 9ᵗʰ June 2015. However they are available now to order on a strictly first-come-first-served basis. See the BFPS website for details (

The covers are also available by post by sending a cheque (payable to ‘BFPS CIC’) to BFPS The Old Post Office Links Place Elie Fife KY9 1AX.

New slogan postmark for the Irish Golf Open

Royal Mail is marking this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by the Rory Foundation, by issuing a special postmark to commemorate the event at Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle from 28-31 May 2015.

"The postmark, which says ‘Dubai Duty Free Irish Open’, will appear on stamped mail across Northern Ireland for the duration of the event. "

Royal Mail's Press Office confirms that this postmark will only be applied on domestic mail within Northern Ireland.  This picture has been extracted from a publicity photograph of a mock-up envelope.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

VE Day and Trooping the Colour Covers from BFPS

The British Forces Postal Service has announced two new commemorative covers.

VE Day Cover re-issued for 70th Anniversary

Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day as it was known, was the public holiday celebrated on the 8th May 1945 to mark the end of WWII in Europe. To commemorate the 50ᵗʰ anniversary of VE Day the British Forces Post Office produced an official commemorative cover, which was issued on 8ᵗʰ May1995 and sold at the celebrations in London.

To celebrate the 70ᵗʰ anniversary the Forces Philatelic Bureau has created some double-dated some covers from the 8ᵗʰ May 1995 issue and produced a unique collectors’ item that covers 20 years of national commemorations for this very significant historical event.

The covers are available to order now on a strictly first-come-first-served basis from the BFPS online shop ( They will cost just £6 (UK/BFPO p&p free).

Welsh Guards ‘Trooping The Colour’ in their Centenary Year

1915 saw the raising of the Welsh Guards by order of King George V. A few days after the Battalion mounted its first King’s Guard at Buckingham Palace. Later that year they found themselves in France ready to do battle. A century on and celebrating their 100 years the Welsh Guards have once again the honour to parade before the country’s reigning monarch as part of the Queen’s Birthday Parade and Trooping The Colour.

To mark both of these historic occasions BFPS, in partnership with the Welsh Guards, is producing a special commemorative cover to be released on the 13 June 2015. 

The cover carries superb past and present images of the Battalion on ceremonial and combat duties. Signed limited editions will be available to buy. A Welsh regional definitive stamp will be franked by the unique BFPS numbered special handstamp, the centre of which shows a silhouette of a leek, the emblem of the Welsh Guards.

The covers may be purchased from the BFPS online shop ( will cost just £6 for the unsigned version and £12 for the signed version (UK/BFPO p&p free).  
They are available to order now on a strictly first-come-first-served basis.  

Both covers are also available by post by sending a cheque (payable to ‘BFPS CIC’) to BFPS The Old Post Office Links Place Elie Fife KY9 1AX.

Friday, 15 May 2015

London 2015 Europhilex Post and Go report.

As has sadly been the case of late, pre-event information proved to be inaccurate or difficult to obtain once again for the London 2015 event.  (See original information)

Royal Mail's 'Post and Go News' webpage was silent about the whole event which meant that we had to rely on the IAR website or unpublished information from Royal Mail, or contact with the postal authorities.

Two days before the event started the IAR site announced that machine A009 would not be at the exhibition, and would be replaced by A004, which would then move on to a new 'to be announced' static location.  The Royal Gibraltar Postal Service could tell us nothing about the Post and Go stamps - not what would be sold, nor what 'values'.  Information from Jersey about the content of their machine varied according to who was asked!

So what we found was:

The Gibraltar machine GI01 dispensed stamps with their own flag and with the Union Flag (see below for pictures of an original error on some sales):

The Gibraltar stamps are:
Local Standard (22p), UK 20g Letter (64p), UK 40g Letter (88p)
EU 20g letter (70p), Worldwide 20g letter (80p), Registration Fee (£3.00).

The Guernsey machine GG01 produced their own flag with London 2015 inscription, and Union Flag without.

The Royal Mail machines dispensed, variously, Heraldic Beasts, Union Flags, and Machins with a London 2015 inscription.  Some Machins with year code MA13 were available on the first day (13th May) but they were replaced with undated Machins which were still in use on 14th.

The Jersey machine JE01 dispensed Jersey Flag stamps with the Penny Black 175 inscription, and Protected Species stamps launched at Stampex.

As before the Receipts carry the logo of the postal administration - except that for Gibraltar which is anonymous.

Errors and omissions

Mike reports that his receipt from machine A006 is dated 10/05/15 - going by eBay listings session 586 was incorrect but the error was corrected by session 606 (see receipt above).

Robert reports: "As you may know on Wednesday at the start of the Europhliex 2015 on the Gibraltar stand the P&G kiosk was printing a mistake on the Collector Set  i.e the "WORLDWIDE up to 20g Value had "WORDWIDE up to 20g - I understand this was fixed later on Wednesday, but as can be seen on the enclosed Photos.   This was still happening at 12:52 on Thursday 14th."
     ... but clearly it had been fixed by the time I bought mine!


London 2015 Europhilex - Special Handstamping Report.

As well as the Royal Mail philatelic stand, and the late announced but unadorned (no colourful banners) pop-up Post Office at the exhibition, operators from Royal Mail's London Special Handstamp Centre were present, providing postmarks on covers and cards with a hand-back service.

As well as a selection of actual self-inking handstamps, the stand also used an American Tampoprint Entrance 90 machine from Tampotech Ltd.  Ironic really, as I had only just posted to our reference site, a write-up on the machines that are currently in use and which have given stirling service at Special Handstamp Centres for many years!

I understand that this machine - which uses basically the same but improved technology and ink - is being evaluated, with the hope that they will be acquired for the handstamp centres.   Improvements will mean that postmarks can be applied more accurately especially on larger covers.

I am grateful for permission to take pictures and a video of the operation which isn't as large as I wanted it to be, but is too blurred at full-screen.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Will this be the design of Royal Mail's 2016 60th Anniversary Europa Stamp?

With the United Kingdom's 'Toys' Europa stamp issue for 2015 still to be revealed - although look at the gap in the calendar in October - PostEurop has revealed the common design chosen for 2016.  And this may be the first common design that Royal Mail has followed since 1984.

PostEurop is proud to announce Cyprus Post as the winner of the “Think Green” joint design competition.  The design from Cyprus Post artist, Ms Doxia Sergidou, was chosen amongst 24 outstanding entries. Posta Slovenije and Magyar Posta followed in second and third place respectively.

A total of 24 designs were submitted based on the chosen theme, to compete for the honour of having their image on the 2016 EUROPA stamps.  Up to 216 confidential votes were received from 36 PostEurop members whose designs were anonymously published.

The stamp motif is the work of Ms Doxia Sergidou who explains that “the main purpose was to show that it is in our hand to create a greener planet.  Thus, I have placed a hand on the top side of the stamp which basically represents anyone of us, actively replacing the grey colour (the environmental pollution) with the green colour which symbolizes environmental living and hope, and in turn inspire us for a better world.”

“The left side of the stamp represents the polluted side and is painted grey showing us the tremendous disaster caused by the industries, automotive vehicles, power generation and inefficient waste.  It also shows how the human activities are negatively influencing the environment. In contrast on the right side of the stamp, is the green side which shows us how using renewable energy resources, acting in a more environmental way and becoming more environmentally aware could positively affect the environment. This will not only have a positive effect in our generation, but it will also help the future ones to co-exist in harmony” adds Ms Sergidou.

“The impact of our activities on the Environment is an area of high priority for European postal operators and the multitude of initiatives across Europe inspired the theme linked to Europe’s ecology - Think Green.  Once again the designers pulled through taking on this challenging theme and produced some magnificent entries.  A lot of thoughts have gone into the designs and we would like this special 60th issue of EUROPA stamp to help build a legacy for the future generations” exclaimed Anita Häggblom, Chair of the PostEurop Stamps and Philately working group from Ǻland Post.

“In the last 60 years, Europe has gone through a tremendous change but the initial concept still remains.  We are happy with the outcome of this design competition and would like to thank all 24 entrants for taking the time to articulate in a special design what is quite complex in today’s world.” concludes Mr Botond Szebeny, PostEurop Secretary General.


The Europa theme in 2017 will be Castles and in 2018, Bridges.... which makes Royal Mail's choice for March this year slightly unfortunate.  Doubtless they will restrict their Europa issue to one stamp to avoid further collector criticism that "bridges are being overdone".

One of my twitter followers writes:
"I tweeted on the 20th asking RM stamps about the Europa toys issue - had a direct message reply - RM are not participating this year."
So no Europa stamp this year, and from what I was told last week, "there's no way we would go with that design from Cyprus even if it is the common design for the 60 years". 
Well, if Royal Mail stop producing Europa stamps that will benefit Europa collectors who normally have to buy a complete set/block for one stamp, or pay a high price to get a set split.

Updates to reference sources for Security Machins and Exhibition Faststamps

In addition to the new Post and Go catalogue mentioned below, a new version (v1.2.2) of the Norvic Machin Security Stamp Checklist and version 32 of Vince Patel's Post and Go Exhibition Issues are now available to download at

And if you collect first day covers or other special postmarks and don't know what this diagram represents ...

... you might like to read/download 'Special Handstamps - The Padcanceller' from the same link.

Update:  See also this report.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Post and Go Faststamp Checklist now available

I am very pleased to report that the Post and Go Checklist is now available to examine online* or download.  A tremendous amount of work has gone into it and it is a worthy addition to your Philatelic Library!

After we produced the Machin Security Definitives Catalogue last year, several people asked about a similar list for Post and Go Faststamps.   I made it clear in October that this was not something I would undertake and invited interested parties to contact me about production and distribution of a new list.  As I wrote at the time, "There is a demand out there - who's up for it? "

I'm happy to say that Stuart Leigh has produced a comprehensive illustrated check-list in multiple parts with a section for each stamp set/design - so if you aren't interested in the Channel Islands, you don't have to download those parts.

Visit the website, click on 'CHECK LISTS' below the page title, and then choose the sections that you want.

Part of Title page (right) and sample pages on the machines, and on the Union Flag Faststamps (below).  Click on these images for larger versions.

* Depending on your browser settings you may be forced to download these pdf files, or you may be able to see them in your browser and then decided whether to download them.

Like our own Machin checklist, there may be errors or omissions in the Stuart's list despite the assistance of some well-known authorities on the subject so do use the contact form on the website, to help make sure this is the definitive reference material.

Royal Mail competitor Whistl (TNT) suspends mail delivery.

Private postal business Whistl - formerly known as TNT - has suspended its door-to-door delivery service in London, Liverpool and Manchester and is consulting 2,000 workers on redundancy.

Whistl will continue to provide a service, but will revert back to using the Royal Mail for the "final mile".  Shares in Royal Mail rose 3.3% after the news was announced.

TNT Post UK launched its end-to-end delivery service in West London in April 2012, and by the end of 2014 had expanded within London and Manchester, as well as to Liverpool.  Under its new name, Whistl, it has been delivering to 2m households, around 7.4% of all UK households, compared to 4.1% in 2013.

But the news will probably be welcomed by London householders, companies and local authorities who have been using the service, as there have been many reports over the last year or so about mail being dumped in hedgerows instead of being delivered.

- BBC News, Sky News, Post and Parcel.

General Election slogan postmark in use last week?

My fertile imagination thought that this might happen, and I have been told by somebody in Royal Mail that there was a slogan postmark used last week in connection with the General Election.

It would have been used on 5th on 2nd class mail and 6th on 1st class mail - and this would have been after the Penny Black finished and before VE Day 70 was used!

Has anybody seen an example?  Please send pictures by email!