Friday, 29 May 2015

Set of stamps picturing closed Post Office branches

Although the programme of Post Office branch closures has reduced in recent years, the move to the 'local' system of combining an existing self-standing branch into a local mini-market or other shop to the detriment of the established Postmaster, who loses his livelihood, continues unabated.  (See This is Money)

This A4 poster was spotted recently in a local church hall.  I have no idea when it was produced, or where.  But it is quite clever.  Does anybody know if actual 'stamps' were produced?  They would be cinderellas, of course, but they would be quite collectable!

Gibraltar Post and Go Stamp First Day Covers now available - but not from us.

As readers will know, The Royal Gibraltar Post Office (RGPO) joined the Post and Go family when the first machine in its livery was present at London 2015 Europhilex on 13 May 2015.

Two weeks before this, I had asked RGPO for details of what would be available, and received the answer:
Unfortunately we do not have any information on the Post and Go stamps yet.

Hopefully we will have some more info when the machines arrive to Gib hopefully very soon.

Also the Gibraltar Post and Go will be available at Europhilex 2015 so you will be able to purchase them by the machine.
Of course it was the machine in London I was asking about!  In the end, as we found, the stamps were dispensed from the machine, but none were available from the Gibraltar Stamps stand.  There were no 'back-office' machine stamps, and no official first day covers of course.

Imagine my surprise to receive an emailshot from Gibraltar Stamps this morning:

And on looking at their website, I find that they now have stamps with a GI country code, B002 machine number - and they also have first day covers dated 13 May.  But none of these is provided with the customary receipt. The technical information on the website is totally missing, but the FDC is illustrated.

Sadly the most telling part of this is in their description:
Post and Go machines issue a new generation of self-adhesive postage stamps that are rapidly capturing the interest of stamp collectors.

OK, we know that first day covers are rarely produced on the day of issue, being prepared beforehand, or for some time afterwards, and in stock at most bureaux for many months or years.  But is this the first instance of a first day cover not being available from either the philatelic bureau or its trade stand at an exhibition on the day of issue, but being contrived two weeks later?

I suppose RGPO had to wait for the IAR contractor to get back from London (after Essen) and reprogram B002 (which is located in Bristol) to pretend to be a Gibraltar machine.  If the stamps are in Gibraltar, they weren't printed there, and were shipped there in bulk.  Yes, many modern stamps are printed in another country - look how many Royal Mail stamps are printed in France. But the essence of Post and Go stamps is that the base stock is printed at the printing works (wherever that may be), and the black value and machine code is printed on site, the country code indicating the country in which they were printed.  The datastring on these stamps is totally bogus - unless anyone knows otherwise?

This is a message I sent to the RGPO (not Gibraltar Stamps which is a separate company), on 10 May, before the exhibition.  No answer was received, so I now make it an open letter to the Royal Gibraltar Post Office which, as far as we know, still doesn't have a public-access machine (if indeed they have any Post and Go machine) in the colony.

Dear Sir
I am concerned that next week the Royal Gibraltar Post Office will be selling in London stamps which are only valid for postage in Gibraltar but which are not being sold in Gibraltar.
I understand that after the London Europhilex event the machine dispensing these stamps will move not to Gibraltar but to Gibraltar House in London, from where the stamps will continue to be available.  Somebody in your organisation clearly thinks this is a good idea, and certain to attract collectors, but why would you produce stamps not available in the Colony for sale only in another country.  That would be like Royal Mail selling a British stamp only in Gibraltar (or the USA, or Venezuela!), or the Canadians selling on only in Monaco or Ukraine.
What are you thinking?

Ian Billings, Norvic Philatelics. 

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Another new 2015 Machin definitive appears.

The latest Machin security stamp to appear this year is the 1st class Large from business sheets.  Both this and the 2nd class Large have a printing date of 23/02/15.

This new stamp (Norvic 2916B.5) will be listed in our shop as soon as we have sufficient stock.  Like the 1st Large booklet stamp, although some stock has been found, these stocks are very small.

As the microscopic images show, we will need to be very careful next year identifying MA16 stamps, as these MA15 are not very clear.

Meanwhile we have more of the 2nd Large business sheet which is back once again available on the shop.

Post and Go on the move

Two pieces of Post and Go news this week.

Royal Mail will be attending the MIDPEX Stamp Show on 4 July at The Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, Fosse Way, nr. Leamington Spa CV31 1XN.

There will be two Royal Mail Series II Machines A006 and A008, which will dispense Machin and Union Flag designs. There will be no special inscription for the event.

For details of Midpex: location, 73 dealers and the 42 specialist societies attending see the website.

Enquiry Office machine on the move.
I'm reliably informed that, despite the apparent success of the trial at Crewe enquiry office, Machine M002 is being moved from Crewe to Mount Pleasant in London.  It will be removed Wednesday 27 May and after an upgrade, will be relocated.

Mount Pleasant enquiry office, of course, is a very short distance from the BPMA, and between there and the Business Design Centre at Islington, so all three could be visited - if anybody is still interested, that is.

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.