Monday, 25 July 2016

Machin definitive stamps updated list for 2016

As I mentioned last week, two more definitives had been found but supplies had not yet reached us.  We now have stocks and these two have been added to our webshop.

The 2nd class Large books of 4 were packed on 08/03/16 in the usual packs of 25.  Cylinder numbers are W2(blue) W1(iridescent) W2(phosphor) and are hidden by the front cover.  Single stamp Norvic 2933.6 and booklets RA2d.6



The 1st class Large business sheet has been a long time making an appearance at Post Offices having been printed on 11/02/16.    Norvic 2916B.6 - and we have one top panel for sale. 


2016 stamps summary - these have been issued or first found in 2016


2015 Year Codes   (7)

2931R.5 - 2nd class coil - MRIL - reported used, then mint

2911B.5a - 2nd class business sheet MBIL on security backing paper (SBP)

2931.5a - 2nd class book of 12 MTIL on SBP

2936.5a - 1st class red book of 12 MTIL on SBP

2914B.5a - 1st class red business sheet MBIL on SBP 

3745a  -  1st class amethyst purple book of 6 on SBP [O15R]

2937.5a - 1st Large book of 4 on SBP


2016 Year Codes (M16L unless otherwise stated) (27)

2911B.6 - 2nd class business sheet MBIL on security backing paper (SBP)

2913B.6 - 2nd Large business sheet MBIL M16L 11/02/16 on security backing paper (SBP)
2913.6 - 2nd Large counter sheet printed 15/01/16 - plain backing paper (PBP)
2916.6 - 1st Large counter sheet printed 12/02/16 - plain backing paper (PBP)

2931.6 - 2nd class book of 12 MTIL on SBP
2936.6 - 1st class red book of 12 MTIL on SBP  
2936s.6 - 1st class red book of 6 MSIL on SBP from redesigned booklet
2933.6 - 2nd Large book of 4 MFIL M16L
2937.6 - 1st Large book of 4 MFIL M16L 


3001.6 - 1p counter sheet printed 02/02/16 - PBP
3002.6 - 2p counter sheet printed 12/01/16 - PBP
3005.6 - 5p counter sheet printed 04/02/16 - PBP
3010.6 - 10p counter sheet printed 11/01/16 - PBP
3020.6 - 20p counter sheet printed 03/02/16 - PBP
3101.6 - £1.00 brown counter sheet printed 10/02/16 - PBP
3105 - £1.05 counter sheet printed 20/01/16 new tariff - PBP
3133.6  - £1.33 counter sheet  08/01/16 - PBP

2992.6 - 1st Large Signed For - printed 01/03/16 - PBP
2986.6 - Special Delivery 500g - printed 03/03/16

3745a.6  -  1st class amethyst purple book of 6 on SBP [O16R]
3746.6 - 1st class amethyst purple from mixed book of 6 on SBP - issued 21/04/16
3748 - 1st class amethyst purple gummed paper from PSB O16R REIGP issued 21/04/16


3702P.6  - 1st class red MPIL  gummed paper from PSB issued 21/04/16
3744.6 - 1st class amethyst purple counter sheet printed 21/01/16 - PBP  [O16R]

4005P.6 - 5p gummed MPIL M16L from Beatrix Potter PSB
4010P.6 - 10p gummed MPIL M16L from Beatrix Potter PSB 
4105P - £1.05 gummed MPIL M16L from Beatrix Potter PSB



Friday, 22 July 2016

Post and Go Stamp News: Olympics and another Navy Museum

Press release 22 July 2016

Royal Mail is pleased to announce that Post and Go machine A007 will go live at the Royal Navy Museum of Naval Firepower in Gosport, Hampshire on 16 August. The machine will vend Union Flag and Machin stamp designs and carry the 'Royal Navy' identifier.
According to the RNMNF website, the Museum Shop is located "opposite our Reception area and stocks a wide range of Souvenirs and Books relative to the Priddy's Hard site and Naval Firepower.
"Publications and souvenirs can be obtained from the Shop via Mail Order, please contact the Gift shop manager by phone on 02392 505612 or Contact Retail & Coffee Shop to discuss availability and current prices.
"The Camber Lights waterside coffee shop, is FREE to enter and can be used independently from the Museum."


To mark the Olympic Games in Rio, Royal Mail Enquiry Office machines and Post Office Limited machines will carry the Union Flag stamps from 1 August until 13 September.



Reported on the GBStamp.co.uk blog, there is also news from the Postal Museum on new Post and Go to coincide with Autumn Stampex:
Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the Edward VIII 1d value issue and the first day of Autumn Stampex, a new overprint will be available from the Post and Go+ machine in The Postal Museum foyer and will feature on both 1st and 2nd class Machin reels. In addition to The Postal Museum logo, the overprint will feature a graphic illustration of the royal cipher for Edward VIII, as designed by him and used on royal household mail, as well as the text "King Edward VIII 1936".
The stamps will be available from The Postal Museum foyer during standard opening hours from Wednesday 14 September until close on Friday 11 November, replacing the normal Machins. The Union Flag and Mail Coach designs will continue to be offered with the present overprint and will not change.


Monday, 18 July 2016

Not Quite Last Orders for Great Britain stamps! But we'll soon be taking a break from the hustle and bustle

Thank you to the customers who wrote expressing concern for our welfare after I sent an email* recently which included this....
We will be closing the shop from (as yet unsepcified dates in) August to November, and will not be able to take any orders during that period.  All orders placed by 1 August for items in stock will be posted, but probably none after that date.
We will also be unable to respond to any phone calls or emails, so please do not phone and block the answerphone, or fill up the inbox until our blog shows that we are available to deal with your queries.
New stamp issues will be mentioned on the blog as usual, although there will probably not be any news about new Machin discoveries.  We will report on the October booklets and business sheets in November.  We will not be supplying any Post and Go stamps from Autumn Stampex.
If you have any questions or comments please write now and I will reply before the end of the month.
Thank you for your continued support and - in many cases, your business.  We look forward to continuing to supply you in 2017.
The good news is that there are no health concerns, no operations and no hospitalization!  We are simply taking an extended break during what will probably be a fairly quiet and predictable time in the Great Britain stamp scene.
[* If you are a customer and didn't get the email, please let me know and I will add you to the list; there have been some message-bounces in the past and I have deleted those email addresses but if they are still valid I will put them back.]

As also mentioned
I am pleased to say that the latest version of our security checklist is now available (here). 
This is updated to 28 July and includes the stamps from the Beatrix Potter PSB and the 6 x 1st booklet with the new cover, both due that day.  It also includes all the new numbers that SG have allocated to booklets with security printing on the inside cover - not something I anticipated in the previous editions!
All these stamps and booklets have been added to our web shop now, for delivery after the issue date.
Stanley Gibbons' policy on which booklets should be listed in their Concise catalogue with whole numbers, sub-numbers and only mentioned in footnotes is puzzling.  When the printer's imprint was removed and then again when the FSC certification was added, the booklets were given sub-numbers (12 x 2nd are ME5b and ME5c respectively).  When the telephone number on booklets changed from 0845 to 0345 this warranted only a footnote - and ME5c covers both.  But the booklets with the security backing paper (SBP) on the inside under the stamps have been given new whole numbers, so ME6.  This has meant several changes in the Checklist - and I hope I have caught them all!

As well as the Beatrix Potter-sourced stamps and the 1st class red from book of 6, the list also includes four new stamps, two of which are on the shop, and two which I hope to get this week, as I found out about them only after the others had been added to the shop.   These are the 1st class Large business sheet and the 2nd Large booklet, Norvic 2933.6 and 2916B.6.  I haven't made these available in the shop until I am sure of having them to send.

5p counter sheet



1st class book of 6 MSIL



Additions are highlighted on the checklist.  I'll repeat them here, but for the present I won't repeat a list of new stamps for 2016.

2936S.6     1st red booklet of 6 MSIL M16L - new cover design, issued 28 July, pre-order now.

2933.6       2nd Large - booklet of 4 - supplies awaited

2916B.6    1st Large red - business sheet  - supplies awaited

3005.6       5p counter sheet M16L - in stock now

4005P.6     5p gummed M16L MPIL - Beatrix Potter PSB issued 28 July, pre-order now.
4010P.6     10p gummed M16L MPIL - Beatrix Potter PSB issued 28 July, pre-order now.
4015P        £1.05 gummed M16L MPIL - Beatrix Potter PSB issued 28 July, pre-order now.


MB17        6 x 1st red booklet, new cover design issued 28 July, pre-order now.
PM52        6 x 1st mixed Beatrix Potter booklet (purple defins) issued 28 July, pre-order now
RA2d.6      4 x 2nd Large booklet -   - supplies awaited



Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Royal Mail Digital Post and Go Stamps Update

I thought I had misplaced the May edition of Royal Mail's Philatelic Bulletin but it seems that it, too, was delayed - it arrived this morning.

It's content is mostly about April's Queen's Birthday stamps, the last of which may still be dribbling into your postbox soon.  I know somebody who received the last set on his standing order on Saturday last.  The only item of real news, now, comes from Head of Production Martyn Fry, concerning the digitally printed Post and Go stamps.

Martyn writes that the paper is the same for both gravure-printed and digitally-printed stamps, but to allow the digital ink to adhere successfully a Digiprime* coating has to be applied first.  The phosphor is added by gravure, but will eventually be digital.

As digital inks are glossier than gravure, this is dulled by the phosphor (which is all-over on the picture) on Royal Mail stamps, and by a matt varnish on the Gibraltar Year of the Monkey stamps.


* This appears to be made by MichelMan a US company with branches in other continents.  There are several variants of Digiprime, some of them clear, some opaque white, and some with a colour tint.  Most appear to be created for use with HP Indigo Solutions inks.  DigiPrime 2500 is listed as:


Usage
When added to size press treatments or pigment coatings this primer will optimize substrates for HP Indigo printability. It is slower drying and provides excellent adhesion of HP Indigo Electroinks® to paper.

Description
Primer for digital printing suitable for paper substrates


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Why Post and Go? When is enough enough? Jersey celebrates George III.

Well no, not actually King George III, but Jersey Post has decided it has to mark the third birthday of Prince George of Wales.


This prolific producer of 'collectibles' (I suspect their output may rival Royal Mail's) has chosen to mark this Royal achievement not - for once - with a set of 6 stamps and a miniature sheet, but by applying an additional inscription to their Post and Go flag stamp from kiosk JE02, reports Commonwealth Stamps Opinion.

And having set the precedent for George's 3rd birthday, surely this must be repeated every year (nothing special about the third, after all?), and also for his sister - and probably his mother and father as well.  Add in the birthdays of his grandfather, great-grandmother and others, and collectors of Jersey stamps may wonder whether their pennies (the set costs £4.48 plus import VAT) might be better spent on the output of a territory slightly less prolific - say the Grenadines of St Vincent!

This column is my opinion only and does not offer investment advice nor criticise collectors who must, of course, spend their money on their collections however they see fit.  Many would be amazed at the postal history I have spent my money on!

Friday, 8 July 2016

Stamp Collecting Isn't Dull, But Phosphor Has Become Duller

During the last year the phosphor used for British stamps has been changed, and I have been asked to write about which stamps exist.

I understand that although the basic composition remains the same, the phosphor ink from the new supplier is not as bright as that used previously.  (I've been told that on some examples of stamps or Post and Go Faststamps the brighter phosphor had taken on a yellow tinge over time, which may be the reason for the change of supplier !)

First things first, this change was made in the autumn of 2015, so all printings with 2016 year codes have dull phosphor.  The following stamps with 2015 year codes exist with both bright and dull phosphor.   In the case of counter sheets all printings after the date shown are dull. 

Counter Sheets
1p             05/11/15
2p             28/09/15
5p             06/11/15
10p           30/09/15
20p           01/10/15
£1             12/11/15

1st purple     18/09/15
1st Large      01/10/15
2nd class      29/09/15
2nd Large     03/09/15

1st Signed    13/11/15

Business Sheets  - these exist with and without SBP

2nd class    
2nd Large
1st class
1st Large

Booklets:  information awaited.


Because I have concentrated on year codes as and when the arrive or are discovered, I have not kept track of whether our supplies have bright or dull phosphor.   A later version of the Norvic Security Machin Checklist will have this information when it is finalised.

At this stage I cannot supply specific types for any of the 2015 issues.

Slogan postmarks used by Royal Mail in July 2016

My thanks to the several people who have mentioned or sent pictures of this month's first slogan.

1. Once again Royal Mail is marking Dog Awareness Week, for which they have had wide publicity in the media.  Here are both versions of the slogan, one from Greenford/Windsor MC 4 July, and one from Home Counties North MC on 6 July.



2.  I've been told that the latest slogan to hit the doormats advertises the Farnborough Air Show.   As promised, here is the slogan from Peterborough MC dated 13-07-2016.  The full slogan is
Farnborough
International Airshow
15 July 2016
Celebrating the birth
of international airmail



Please keep sending your reports for July and I will add them to this post.


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

When is a postmark not a postmark? When Royal Mail wanto to make it exclusive, apparently.

Readers who are interested in the special stamp programme and/or Pink Floyd in general will recall that one of the special products aimed not at stamp collectors but Pink Floyd fans is a special cover depicting Syd Barrett.

According to Royal Mail's 2012 publication All About Postmarks (pdf download here)
"Royal Mail only applies postmarks to genuine items of mail. This means that any item submitted for postmarking should conform in all respects with postal service conditions: it should be addressed and bear at least an amount of postage appropriate to the postal service being provided."
On the subject of 'Special Handstamps' (which they acknowledge and we know are not always applied by hand):
"Special Handstamps, which are sometimes referred to as Special Postmarks, normally incorporate a pictorial design, and are used to mark particular events and anniversaries ....  Customers may post covers [to the Special Handstamp Centres] for handstamping ...  Care should be taken to ensure that it is made clear which handstamp is required. This can be done by marking on the outer envelope which contains your covers .... the reference number. "
The guide also states that all special handstamps - originating in Royal Mail or sponsored by an organisation, company, or dealer will be publicised in the Postmark Bulletin and, by implication (this isn't specifically stated, will be applied to any suitable item of post which is sent to the SHC by anybody, ie it is not exclusive to the sponsor.

So step forward Royal Mail and Syd Barrett: anybody who thought that they might be able to service their own covers or cards with a Pink Floyd (or any other) stamp and have this 7 July 2016 Cambridge postmark applied to it is likely to be disappointed.  I have been told that this will NOT appear in the Postmark Bulletin and will only be used to cancel the special Royal Mail Syd Barrett cover.

I'm sure somebody, maybe a member of the British Postmark Society, will tell me that this has happened before.  I'm getting too old to remember past infractions, but this will be yet another Royal Mail disappointment for some people.

Update 8 July
In the Comments below, Adrian wrote:
This may be a technical argument, but if this handstamp is not advertised in the Bulletin for general use and it is not an operational (inkjet) mark, surely it's just a cachet applied on a private basis by Royal Mail, and the cover is not a first day (or any other type of commemorative) cover. Anyone could do the same, which makes it worthless as a collectible item.
Which takes us to the "here's one I prepared earlier" department.  I was prepared to sponsor a postmark for the Harry Potter stamps issued in 2007.  However, because I was using my own (clipart) artwork depicting a (generic) wizard, and not the Warner Brothers provided artwork (which were mostly woodcuts and, quite frankly, dire) Royal Mail would not accept my money, and this postmark did not go ahead.  I think it made a very good cover, though! Norvic FDCs with real postmarks here!




Beatrix Potter definitives

I can now show images of the Machin definitives included in the Beatrix Potter prestige stamp book.  These are in our list as 4005P.6 (5p), 4010P.6 (10p), 4105P (£1.05), and will be sold as a set on our webshop.  The £1.05 will also be sold as a single stamp for those people who do not collect individual year variants.




Scan of actual retail book:


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Smilers Bubble Bursts - Stamps Not Posters!

When even hardened stamp collectors are saying that it is time to give up for one reason or another (and there are many), it's no surprise that the demand for Smilers Sheets, particularly the Business Customised Sheet, has reduced from its peak at the turn of the century.

Back in 2011 when the Norfolk and Norwich Philatelic Society celebrated its centenary we were debating whether to have a Business Customised Sheet (BCS), but the economics just didn't work out.  Interest in all Smilers was already in decline and Royal Mail had started (n 2008) to produce its own version of the BCS, the Commemorative Sheet the first of which marked the Centenary of the Territorial Army.  

At the time Royal Mail said that Commemorative Sheets would "be used ... to mark anniversaries that never quite made it into the stamp programme", a ridiculous statement and a chance to sell 10 stamps for more than twice face value.  Earlier this year Halley's Comet from 2010 was still on sale at Tallents House!

Originally aimed as a business alternative to the personalised Smilers, Business Customised Sheets were launched in late 2001 and a few were used by companies for publicity or as gifts.  But some stamp dealers soon realised that there was an opportunity to diversify from first day and commemorative covers, and make some money instead from people interested in particular themes (football, Concorde, Dr Who, railways).  But by 2011 the decline had started (see Who's Smiling Now? Business Smilers take a dive).

Noticing how few new sheets were being offered for sale this year, Graham Howard of Smilers-Info checked the future plans of the market leaders.  Whereas in 2015 the three produced 30 sheets between them, in the first half of this year there were only 3.  Adrian Bradbury is reported to have said that he is no longer producing what Graham describes (even though fewer people seem to want them nowadays) as 'these collectable sheets'.  Buckingham have said that their output would be reduced, probably to just one or two a year.  Benham were non-specific, saying that they will produce sheets for future subjects when it is considered suitable; they are producing a series for World War I.

Royal Mail produced four Commemorative Sheets for each of 2014 and 2015, but only two are planned for this year, one continuing their World War I series, and the other for the Battle of Hastings.

WWI will continue in 2017 and 2018, but perhaps after that this series of 'collectables' will be allowed to wither and die, as Royal Mail continue their plans of shifting the burden of the Stamps and Collectibles Division's income from real stamp collectors to people who have a particular interest in, for example, Star Wars and Beatrix Potter.  Meanwhile if you have an interest in any of the particular sheets or subjects, many are available for much lower than the original sale price.  I was able to buy some of the early football sheets this spring for the current face value of the stamps - £6.40 - compared with the £25+ for framed examples sold by the football clubs when they were first sold.

I never try to dictate what people should buy, and if you collect all or any of these quite attractive sheets that is good, as it helps the philatelic economy.  However, you should not think that these are all a good long-term financial investment as recent sales on eBay demonstrate.