Monday, 18 August 2014

Interruption to our normal service

Due to the recent hospitalisation and now convalescence of a close family member there will be fewer updates here, and service from the web-shop may be slower than normal.

I will use this space to add details of what we have that you may be waiting for, with the assurance that I will send orders and reserved items out to customers as soon as possible.

1. As noted in the relevant blog posts (but not yet on the website) the Great War stamps in the prestige stamp book are not the same as those printed in counter sheets. 

The pictorial stamps issued in sheets have two phosphor bands except for the 'Starburst' painting and 'We Will Remember Them' poetry stamps, which are all-over phosphor.  We now know that all 6 pictorial stamps in the PSB have all-over phosphor which means that at least 4 will have a separate listing in some catalogues.  They are certainly different stamps and we now have them in stock.

2. First day covers of the Machin stamps from the Great War PSB, the three new booklet/business sheet stamps issued on 31 July, and the Commonwealth Games booklets will be added to the web-shop soon.

3. More Poppy Maximum cards will also be added to the web-shop in the near future.  Part of the proceeds of these will go to the Royal British Legion National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.  If you haven't been, it is a very impressive and moving place to be.

We have supplies of the 'GB' codes stamps from Edinburgh, and the KR stamps have now arrived. Customers who pre-ordered have been contacted: if you have not received an email please look in your spam folder, and email me if you haven't had one.  (The image, right, shows the machine with the Philakorea screen.)

Korean stock includes Undated and MA13 Machins from two machines, Undated Union Flags from three machines including JE01, and the Jersey Flag stamps.  We also received three different covers, for these variations.  Smilers stamps are arriving soon.

5. Update 20 August.  BPMA Airmail exhibition opened today with new Post and Go stamps.  And guess what? The brown Machins exist undated and with MA13, probably not surprising, and the blue are MA12.
What is surprising is that BPMA produced a Presentation Pack as well as FDCs.  But they only had 100 Packs for sale on their website !!  Do they think that there are only 100 Post and Go collectors worldwide?  OK, so not all of them would buy it, but at £12 it wasn't expensive and I am certain they would have sold nearer to 1,000 than 100 and thus added to the funds available for the new museum.

Anyway, they are already on eBay, as are the strips of stamps.  I'll not be doing any FDCs for these and don't have any stock.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Only 8 Prime Ministers in October stamp issue

Royal Mail has released details of the Prime Ministers stamps to be issued on 14 October 2014.  

Originally shown to the trade as a set of 8 x 1st class stamps (with Clement Attlee the only one not in colour) the set is now revealed as 4 x 1st and 4 x 97p, with the same portrait of Attlee now coloured.

The 1st class stamps show Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson, Clement Attlee, and Winston Churchill.
The 97p stamps show William Gladstone, Robert Peel, Charles Grey and William Pitt the Younger.

The stamps will be printed in litho by International Security Printers, in two sheets of 24/48, ie 6 se-tenant strips of 4.

Although the Churchill portrait by Yousuf Karsh is probably the best known it is also probably the most reproduced and it seems a pity that Royal Mail couldn't find a different portrait to the one that they (and Austraia and New Zealand) used in 1965.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Slogan postmarks mark World War 1 and Joe Mercer

In my absence two new slogan postmarks have been applied.  I've no precise details about these, but have several examples.

The first slogan marks the Centenary of World War 1, also known as The Great War (as in the stamp issue) or the First World War (as shown on these postmarks).   First, the image as shown in Royal Mail's library:

Now some examples, from Edinburgh Mail Centre 4 August 2014 (thanks Adrian),

Glasgow 6 August and Norwich 7 August

Today's post also had one of the above from Royal Mail Tallents House, with the Joe Mercer stamp. 

Unfortunate, really, as the other new postmark marks the centenary of the birth (9 August) of Joe Mercer who featured on the Remarkable Lives stamp earlier this year. Again, Royal Mail's publicity picture first:

Peterborough and possibly Plymouth/Cornwall MCs, showing the two different styles, used on 7 and 8 August 2014 respectively.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Surprise new 1st class coil stamp now distributed by Royal Mail.

The 2013 printing of the 1st class red self-adhesive coil first seen on mailings from Royal Mail's share registrar and reported here has now been made available mint, along with a new version of the 2012 2nd class coil.  Both are printed by Walsall Security Print, and both are numbered on the reverse.  

The original 2nd class coil was printed by Enschede, coded MA12, and numbered.  Then a Walsall printing coded M12L was discovered, which had no numbering on the reverse. On our initial supplies of the 1st class, the iridescent printing is inset at the left.

The 2nd class coil, showing unnumbered and numbered strips of 10.  We have two unnumbered strips remaining in stock.   The 1st class coil and strips are also listed in our shop.

Royal Mail have distributed these because of the new printer, as 'non-visible changes'.  This seems to be a new policy as previously stamps distributed as a result of a printer change have been 'visible changes' in counter sheets (where the cylinder number indicates the printer but the individual stamps are no different).  When Business Sheet printing moved to a new printer, the sheets were not identified by Royal Mail as different and were not available as a separate stock item.

Thanks to all the readers who emailed, phoned, and left blog comments about this surprise distribution.  I wanted to see them for myself before writing anything which might then have to be edited.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

More new printings of Machin Definitive Stamp sheets

More stamps from the May 2014 round of printings are now appearing:

10p       -  21/05/2014
20p       -  28/05/2014
2 Large -  19/05/2014
£1.47    -  22/05/2014
£2.15    -  27/05/2014

Date blocks of 8 of all these are available on request and while stocks last.  They have been added to our webshop, but not in the Recent Additions category - look at the individual listings within 2014.

Of more interest to collectors of the basic stamps, we are expecting to have stocks of the first Special Delivery reprint, the 100g stamp with M14L year code very soon.  Cylinder numbers and Date Blocks will be available.  This will be numbered 2985.4 in our system and is now available to buy.

UPDATE 11August
Back from our August break, I can now add images of the new Special Delivery stamps:

Comparison with the original - because of the silver printing the coding in the iridescent ink shows up in ordinary scans.  The blue ink on the new stamps is deeper, but no more than might be expected during the print run.

 Full sheet of the new stamps showing the 8 grid positions:

And a microscope view of the security coding:

Stamp Booklet and Business Sheet update 31 July 2014 (revised report)

As reported earlier, new booklets and business sheets are available from 31 July 2014.  The stamp content will be unchanged as far as Royal Mail concerned.  [This blogpost replaces the two earlier ones on the same subject.]

In accordance with new EU regulations on Customer Service, premium rate numbers are no longer permitted for Business-to-Customer after-sales services.  This affects the stamp booklets, on which the telephone number 08457 740 740 has changed to 03457 740 740, and the Textphone/Minocom number from 08456 000 606 to 03456 000 606. 

The new regulations do not apply to Business-to-Business communications, so on the Business Sheets the telephone number is unchanged.  However, the same Textphone number is used for all customers, so that number has changed on Business Sheets.

As mentioned on the original blogpost, the M14L 1st x 6 booklet with the old numbers appeared in June.  We were told by Royal Mail that the Large Letter booklets and small stamp Business Sheets with 2014 codes (MA14/M14L) would make their first appearance with this printing.

In fact supplies of the M14L 2nd class Business Sheet were found in post offices last week, with printing dates of 18/02/14 and 19/02/14.  Our FDCs for 31 July will therefore have only 3 stamps!

(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:

BUSINESS SHEETS (Click on any image for a larger version.)

Printing date 05/06/14 - sheet number 9403397 

Printing date 11/06/14 - sheet number 2456883

The Large Letter Stamps are unchanged, so here are the sheet tops for the record:

Printing date 27/05/14 - sheet number 1749264

Printing date 21/05/14 - sheet number 1683411

Thanks to all readers who sent in comments on this subject, and apologies for the confusion on the changes.  Royal Mail did not tell us the complete details, so there has been detective work involved!
Thanks to Robert, Brian and Machnimaniac and others.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

July 2014 Business Sheet 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 which on booklets changes from 08457 to 03457.  On Business Sheets, the TextPhone number changes from 08456 to 03456, but the telephone number remains 08457.

See revised report covering both booklets and business sheets.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Seaside Architecture stamps commemorate multiple events, and 2014 Europa theme

The Seaside Architecture stamps and miniature sheet are issued on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the founding of Trinity House, the body responsible for all UK lighthouses and lightships. (wikipedia, official site)  The first pier in the UK was completed at Ryde on the Isle of Wight on 26 July 1814, so celebrating it's 200th anniversary tomorrow.

The Eastbourne Bandstand with its brass band 1st class stamp includes the EUROPA logo, which is Royal Mail's mod to the Post-Europ 2014 theme of 'National music instruments'.

Royal Mail's set of 6 stamps depict:
1st class - Eastbourne Bandstand, Tinside Lido, Plymouth
97p - Bangor Pier, Southwold Lighthouse
£1.28 - Casino at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Bexhill-on-Sea Shelter

The miniature sheet contains 4 stamps, against a backdrop of the pier at Southend-on-Sea, the longest in the country (so we can expect a special postmark for Southend!):
1st class - Llandudno and Worthing Piers
£1.28 - Dunoon and Brighton Piers

The stamps and miniature sheet are designed by Why Not Associates using photography by Lee Mawdsley.  The stamps are printed by ISP and the miniature sheet by Enschede.

As well as the usual products there will be a coin cover to mark the Trinity House anniversary, the coin being a £2 commemorative.

Post Office Touring Displays Marking First World War

The Post Office has announced the venues for its special travelling displays in branches to commemorate the First World War. (I'm sorry that some of these dates are already passed.)

The free exhibitions will begin in Oldham and Nottingham – home of two VC recipients from the 1914-18 war – and travel the length and breadth of the UK, offering a greater understanding of how the General Post Office fitted into the story of the First World War.

The displays will be in:
  • Nottingham Post Office in Queen St (from July 8-July 25)
  • Oldham Post Office in Lord Street (from July 8-July 25)
  • Birmingham Post Office in Pinfold Street (from July 29-August 15)
  • Dundee Post Office in Meadowside (from July 29-August 15)
  • Pontycymer Post Office in Bridgend, Wales (from August 19-September 12)
  • Bangor Post Office in Main Street, Bangor, Northern Ireland from (August 19-September 12)
  • Oxford Post Office in St Aldate’s (from September 16-October 3)
  • High Wycombe Post Office in Units 10/11 Chiltern centre from (October 7-October 24)
  • Tonbridge Post Office in Angel Walk (from October 28-November 14).
The exhibition, curated with The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA), is part of a five-year programme of events by the Post Office to mark the centenary of the First World War. It is also currently on display at Post Office headquarters in Old Street, London EC1V 9HQ.

The Post Office Rifles fought at Ypres, the Somme and Passchendaele and were awarded 145 decorations for gallantry, including a Victoria Cross to Sergeant Alfred J Knight from Birmingham. At least three more GPO employees who fought in other regiments were awarded the VC, the highest medal for gallantry. They were: Sgt Albert Gill from Birmingham; Major Henry Kelly from Manchester; and Sgt John Hogan, of Royton near Oldham.

The Post Office Rifles included the younger brother of renowned war poet Rupert Brooke; 2nd Lt. William Alfred Cotterill Brooke who was serving with the 8th Battalion London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) was killed in action near Le Rutoire Farm on the historic Loos battlefield on 14th June 1915.  2nd Lt. W.A.C. Brooke was one of the two machine gun officers in the Post Office Rifles.

Paula Vennells, chief executive of The Post Office, said: “This exhibition is a mark of our respect for those whose courage and sacrifice in the First World War changed the course of history. On the centenary of the First World War, we particularly wanted to remember the Post Office Rifles, who earned high praise and a prestigious place in British military history. About 1,800 of its soldiers were killed – and 4,500 injured – during the war. “We’re proud to honour the fallen and their families this centenary.”

Duncan Barrett, author of a new book, Men of Letters*, which tells the story of the Post Office heroes who fought in the First World War, said: ‘Those who signed up with the Post Office Rifles were shocked by the horrors they found on the Western Front. Some men saw colleagues they had worked alongside for years killed right in front of their eyes. But with their courage, tenacity and good humour they distinguished themselves as a first-class fighting unit, and participated in many of the key battles of the war.’  (*AA Publishing, £8.99)

At Ypres and at Passchendaele the Post Office Rifles suffered tremendous losses. More than half of their fighting force was lost at the Battle of Wurst Farm Ridge in September 1917. Although unique in its composition, the experiences of the PORs were entirely representative of life on the Western Front. The 1st Battalion embarked from Southampton on 17 March 1915 and after a period of training and acclimatisation, entered the trenches to fight in the battle for Festubert, France on 11 May that year.

The Post Office Rifles fought resiliently to secure and reinforce the British position there but the experience was traumatic. Today Post Office Rifles are best remembered for their involvement as infantry on the Western Front in the First World War. Their bravery, tenacity and character during the severe circumstances of the trenches are well-documented and their endeavours have earned the regiment high praise and a prestigious place in British military history. Comprised mostly of Post Office employees, approximately 12,000 men fought with the regiment, suffering losses of 1,800 and 4,500 wounded.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

New Slogan Postmark for Abram Games - Festival of Britain designer

For once we have advance notice of a slogan postmark, courtesy of Design Week.

The Abram Games slogan postmark will appear on mail for four days from 29 July – the day Games was born – until 4 August, and will bear the text ‘Celebrating the life of Abram Games, Remarkable Lives Stamps, 1914-1996’.

Among Games’ designs was the symbol for the 1951 Festival of Britain.
We're hoping for more details about which mail (ie to which destination) will get this postmark.

UPDATE 25 July:
  • The postmark will appear on mail for four days nationwide from Tuesday 29th July, the date of Abram’s birthday, until Saturday 2nd August 2014
  • Games was born in Whitechapel, East London and designed almost 300 posters and new products 

Based on information so far received, this will run concurrently with the Commonwealth Games Glasgow 2014 slogans

UPDATE 29 July:
Once again I have overlooked Royal Mail's terminology on this.  When they announce that the postmark "will appear on mail" it means it will be used earlier than the stated date for delivery on that date.   Hence I received one from North West Midlands this morning which is probably dated 28 July, but could be 26th.  Mike has sent one from Bristol (BA BS GL TA) Mail Centre definitely from 28th:

UPDATE 1 August
Thanks to Adrian for supplying this alternative layout from Edinburgh MC