Saturday, 20 December 2014

Six more shopping days ? - We'll be having a break !

The pre-Christmas posting rush is nearly over, and soon we can all relax.  Perhaps you will get some philatelic goodies in our Christmas sacks - a new UV lamp, or a new stockbook?  A big bag of kiloware so that you can hunt for the elusive 'direct-mail-only' security Machins, or some scarce Post and Go stamps at 2nd class rates on flags, or flowers, or anything else that they shouldn't be on!

The queues of people at Post Offices still posting parcels, or mail-order returns or - like me - sending out orders continues unabated.  The future looks good for the Post Office branch network and for Royal Mail while it can maintain a good level of parcel and packet business.

We will not be posting anything next week, and maybe not the week after - it will depend on how well the relaxing goes, and how fine the weather is.  So the office will be closed from 22nd December to 2 January 2015.  But stamp ordering on the internet is a 365/24/7 process: last year we had orders on 24 and 26 December.  As usual orders placed in this time will be dealt with as quickly as possible after we return, and those posted after 6 January may have Alice in Wonderland stamps on.

It is, of course, a time for family and friends, and particularly for children, and we will have a quiet family day on 25th, and a hectic multi-family day on 28th with a visit to a household which should have at least 16 people by the time we arrive!


We would like to thank all readers and contributors to our blog - without you it would be far less useful - and most of all, thanks to our customers.  Thanks, too, for the Christmas cards and other greetings that you have sent in the last few weeks: they really are much appreciated by the whole family. 

We are pleased to be able to supply new stamps for your collections, and hope that in 2015 we will be able to make much more available - we're planning to add some older Machins, Booklets, regionals, and worldwide postal history.  Meanwhile, we wish you ...


This year's picture is adapted from a 1905 'hold-to-light' picture postcard, which has cut-away sections on the top picture layer, to allow the windows to be 'lit' when held to the light - probably candle-light when these were posted to rural areas of Norfolk, 109 years ago.


Instead of the inkjet postmark - last uses of the old-fashioned machines

As most UK readers know our letter post, if it is postmarked at all, is handled by one of the Mechanised Mail Centres and receives an ink-jet postmark. Some post still receives a counter datestamp (CDS), usually Special Delivery and other tracked mail.

But I have found that old-style machines are still in use around the country, and not just at Christmas!

This is a place to record the use of these old machines, commonly referred to as Universal or 'unified' as the style is the same but the manufacturer of the machine cannot be identified by the postmark impression. 

Click on the images to see them enlarged.   Firstly some from earlier in the year:

CITY OF INVERNESS - with inverted wavy lines, and space between elements of date
SWANSEA - same error as Inverness but with line between date elements



CUMBRIA DUMFRIES GALLOWAY
NORTH AND WEST YORKSHIRE  with space between elements of date


Now from the Christmas post, 4 types of IPSWICH SUFFOLK postmark (I am fairly confident that the one with the slogan is from Ipswich). Three from the same square envelope, dated 4 Dec 2014, and one 9 Dec 2014 with the inverted Happy Christmas / PLEASE USE / THE POSTCODE slogan, with a snowman,


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Although comments are welcome, to be useful we need a picture of the postmark, so please email to ian@norphil.co.uk  (a 300dpi scan is perfect)

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

What more for Machin Security stamps ?

And so we approach the end of another year, a year in which Machin definitives and Post and Go Faststamps have made the most GB philatelic news despite the efforts of Royal Mail's special stamp programme to engender some life into other areas of collecting, and to attract new collectors.  As written in the latest Stamp Magazine, the lack of mainstream media coverage of, for example, the Prime Ministers issue (which included Margaret Thatcher, surely one of the most controversial of modern PMs) demonstrated that the nationals didn't really take any notice of Royal Mail's output.

But are we finished with this year's Machins and, aside from the Alice in Wonderland booklet stamp, what will be the first new Machin Security Stamp to appear next year?  The only low-value stamp still to appear with a 2014 reprint date is the 1p, a value used so much to supplement the others that it must surely have been reprinted alongside the other low values and will appear quite soon.  But my bet for the first sheet stamp to appear with a 2015 code is the 97p.

Reprinted 6 times since the first (January 2014) printing this is possibly the most-used value outside the 2nd and 1st class NVIs.  Post Office branches reported stocks running low in the Christmas period as, quite inexplicably, the value was not included in the Christmas set.  There's no 97p in the Alice in Wonderland set either, which does - bizarrely - have two 81p surface mail stamps.

We can expect the rate to change in the March/April review (probably to £1 which will save having a new stamp), but I doubt that there will be any 97p special stamps before then.  The last set before the rate change is always a set of 1st class stamps - they have to be printed so far in advance of a decision being made on new postage rates that stamps with a face value are never included in the set issued in March.


Machins first issued or discovered in 2014 - 36 this year
In the order they appeared:

2931R.2W - 2nd class coil 10,000 printed by Walsall - M12L MRIL

4002P.3E - 2p From Classic Locomotives of the UK prestige stamp book M13L MPIL
4005P.3F - 5p ditto.  4005P.3E was in the Merchant Navy PSB with inverted perforations

2911.4 - 2nd class counter sheet

3081 - 81p "holly green" - emerald
3097 - 97p "purple heather" - bluish violet
3147 -  £1.47 "dove grey" - lavender-grey
3215 -  £2.15 "marine turquoise"- greenish blue

2913B.4 - 2nd class Large business sheet MBIL MA14
2936.4  - 1st class red MTIL from booklet of 12

4010P.4 -  10p MPIL from Buckingham Palace PSB
4020P.4  - 20p  MPIL from Buckingham Palace PSB
4100P.4  -  £1 MPIL from Buckingham Palace PSB

2936C.4  - 1st class MCIL from Buckingham Palace mixed retail booklet

3010.4  -  10p M14L/MAIL from counter sheet
3020.4  -  20p M14L/MAIL from counter sheet
3101.4  -  £1 bistre-brown M14L/MAIL from counter sheet

3128.4 - £1.28 M14L/MAIL emerald from counter sheet
2914.4 - 1st  M14L/MAIL class counter sheet
2916.4 - 1st Large M14L/MAIL counter sheet

2916B.4 - 1st class Large business sheet MBIL MA14
2913.4 -  2nd class Large counter sheet M14L
2931.4 - 2nd class MTIL M14L from booklet of 12
2914R.3 - 1st class coil (of 10,000) by Walsall M13L MRIL

2911B.4 - 2nd class business sheet MBIL MA14
2914B.4 - 1st class business sheet MBIL M14L
2933.4 - 2nd Large MFIL from booklet of 4
2937.4  - 1st Large MFIL from booklet of 4
2936S.4 - 1st class red MSIL from booklet of 6 

4010P.4a -  10p MPIL from Great War PSB - shade and phosphor difference.
4020P.4a  - 20p  MPIL from Great War PSB - shade and phosphor difference.
4100P.4a  -  £1 MPIL from Great War PSB - shade and phosphor difference.

2985.4 - Special Delivery 100g M14L
3002.4 - 2p counter sheet M14L
2986.4 - Special Delivery 500g M14L
3005.4 - 5p counter sheet M14L


In value order

3002.4 - 2p counter sheet M14L
4002P.3E - 2p From Classic Locomotives of the UK prestige stamp book M13L MPIL
4005P.3F - 5p ditto. 
3005.4 - 5p counter sheet M14L
4010P.4 -  10p MPIL from Buckingham Palace PSB
4010P.4a -  10p MPIL from Great War PSB - shade and phosphor difference.

3010.4  -  10p M14L/MAIL from counter sheet
4020P.4  - 20p  MPIL from Buckingham Palace PSB
4020P.4a  - 20p  MPIL from Great War PSB - shade and phosphor difference.
3020.4  -  20p M14L/MAIL from counter sheet
3081   -   81p "holly green" - emerald M14L/MAIL
3097   -   97p "purple heather" - bluish violet M14L/MAIL

4100P.4  -  £1 MPIL from Buckingham Palace PSB
4100P.4a  -  £1 MPIL from Great War PSB - shade and phosphor difference.
3101.4  -  £1 bistre-brown M14L/MAIL from counter sheet
3128.4 - £1.28 M14L/MAIL emerald from counter sheet
3147 -  £1.47 "dove grey" - lavender-grey M14L/MAIL
3215 -  £2.15 "marine turquoise"- greenish blue M14L/MAIL

2931R.2W - 2nd class coil 10,000 printed by Walsall - M12L MRIL 
2911.4 - 2nd class counter sheet
2911B.4 - 2nd class business sheet MBIL MA14
2931.4 - 2nd class MTIL from booklet of 12
 
2913.4 -  2nd class Large counter sheet M14L
2913B.4 - 2nd class Large business sheet MBIL MA14
2933.4 - 2nd Large MFIL from booklet of 4

2914.4 - 1st  M14L/MAIL class counter sheet
2914B.4 - 1st class business sheet MBIL M14L
2914R.3 - 1st class coil (of 10,000) by Walsall M13L MRIL 
2936.4  - 1st class red MTIL from booklet of 12
2936S.4 - 1st class red MSIL from booklet of 6 
2936C.4  - 1st class MCIL from Buckingham Palace mixed retail booklet 
2916.4 - 1st Large M14L/MAIL counter sheet
2916B.4  - 1st class Large business sheet MBIL MA14
2937.4  - 1st Large MFIL from booklet of 4

2985.4 - Special Delivery 100g M14L
2986.4 - Special Delivery 500g M14L

Friday, 12 December 2014

Special postmark to mark restoration of Charles Dickens' postbox

From a Press Release:

Charles Dickens’ postbox, installed by Royal Mail at the author’s request in the 19th century, has been recommissioned and put back into service following a special ceremony held today (Wednesday 10th December).

The postbox in Gads Hill, Higham, Kent, was officially reopened outside Dickens’ former home and now school, Gads Hill Place, by his great, great granddaughter, Marion Dickens.

A plaque has been attached next to the box to highlight its historical connection to the author and reads:

This letterbox outside Gad’s Hill Place, home of Charles Dickens, was used by the author and his family between 1859 and 1870.
Proudly restored in his memory by Royal Mail, 10.12.14

A special postmark will also be applied to mail posted in the box bearing the letters ‘CD’, in tribute to the way Dickens used to seal his mail before he posted it.  The postmark will be applied from Monday 15th December to Thursday 18th December – the last recommended posting date for Second Class mail.
-----------

I can't help thinking that the date should have been shown as 10.12.2014 (or even 10 December 2014).

Unfortunately the press release does not identify whether this will be an operational slogan, or a special handstamp; or whether it will be applied to all mail posted in the area or only mail posted in the restored box.

More details will be provided if we can winkle them out of Royal Mail.


The special postmark is revealed to be a short-term handstamp in the latest Postmark Bulletin, and may be obtained from the London Special Handstamp Centre at Mount Pleasant, Ref 13298.

UPDATE 16 December: Thanks to Graham I can now show this picture of the box and plaque:



It's Christmas time! "Last Posting Dates" slogans

Royal Mail has started using 'Last posting dates' slogans as we get closer to Christmas.  Both types feature a decorated Christmas tree and show posting dates for 1st class and 2nd class mail.  Collectors aiming for a complete collection should look out for a new type from 18th, just showing the 1st class date.

Norwich Mail Centre 08-12-2014


North and West Yorkshire 09.12.14


On square envelopes the stamp is often detected at the top left corner, and the elements of the slogan are reversed.  Thanks to Robert for this example from Tyneside MC:



Thursday, 11 December 2014

New Machin security stamp printings - the last for 2014?

Several new Machin printings have appeared in recent weeks, one of which has produced yet another new stamp for 2014.

Following the 2p M14L printing, and the two Special Delivery stamps, the 5p (reprinted on 17/09/14) has now appeared.  This will be numbered 3005.4 in the Norvic Catalogue: a new edition will be available in January.  The stamp, cylinder and date blocks are available now in our webshop.



Other new printings recently available include two more printings for the 97p - obviously for the Christmas market despite Royal Mail's assertion that this value wasn't need for Christmas, which was why they issued £1.28, £1.47 and £2.15 Christmas stamps but not the value which does double duty for 10g Worldwide and 20g Europe letters/cards.

97p - 18/09/14 and 03/11/14
£2.15 - 17/09/14

When new dates are found I generally only buy a few date blocks for customers, although for totally new stamps I buy sheets.  The new 97p printings are a case when I really wished I had bought the whole sheet: had I known about this mis-perforation I would have! The die-cut is shifted to the left and up, leaving the left-hand security cut passing between the two figures of value.  There is no colour on the tips of the left-hand perfs, but that is only by luck - all the perf-holes on the right-hand side cut into the colour.





This block will probably be offered in the next MBPC Auction.

The Holly and the Ivy - and the Poppy: mistakes at POs lead to some scarce stamps

I reported in the middle of November on the Post and Go error at Farringdon, in which the blue Winter Greenery stamps were loaded into their Wincor-Nixdorf machine, producing 1st class to Worldwide 60g on Mistletoe and Ivy stamps with single phosphor bands. 

It seems that it was a case of both The Holly and The Ivy from supplies department as both designs were sent to all Post and Go offices including the few remaining Wincor offices (although Perth PO maintain that they only received the Ivy- 2nd class - rolls).

Earlier the (solo) Remembrance Poppy stamps were loaded into one NCR machine at Norwich in both 1st and 2nd class slots.  It was several days before this was noticed by a collector, and the '2nd class' roll was quickly used to produce Collectors Sets (ie pairs: 2nd class and 2nd Large) and a few 2nd class Open Value stamps.  How many had already been used by the general public and for what services is impossible to know, but it will be worth looking out for them in kiloware.



Friday, 28 November 2014

Post and Go News: A Christmas outing for UK and Jersey exhibition machines

Hidden away in Royal Mail's website Shop is this news:

Post and Go Latest News
Royal Mail will be temporarily installing Post and Go machines (A003 and A004) at its Enquiry Offices in Crewe and Bradford North from 3 December 2014. The machines will be in situ until the end of January 2015. The machines will carry the Winter Greenery stamps.


These machines will be the only source of the Winter Greenery without additional inscriptions from IAR machines. 

The addresses are:
Royal Mail Crewe, Weston Road, CW1 6AA
Royal Mail Bradford North DO, Inkersley Road, Bradford BD1 4RS


On the iAR Post and Go website, there is news also from Jersey Post

Jersey Post’s JE01 series Post and Go machine will be arriving at Jersey Post Headquarters for the lead up to Christmas. The machine will be temporarily located in the foyer at Rue Des Pres from Monday 1 December until the New Year.

The machine will vend stamps featuring Jersey’s first Post and Go design, the Jersey flag, as well as Royal Mail stamps depicting the Union flag. Both stamp designs will carry the unique location identifier ‘Jersey Post HQ’.

To celebrate the festive season, and spread some Christmas cheer, the Jersey Post and Go stamps will also feature a special ‘Merry Christmas’ overprint during the month of December. The message will be printed on Jersey stamps available from the JE01 machine at Rue Des Pres and the static JE02 Post and Go machine located at Jersey Post’s Broad Street Post Office. The Union flag stamps in both machines will not carry the overprint but will still feature their respective location identifiers.

Jersey Post has plans to widen its Post and Go product range for 2015 with a beautiful new stamp design planned for February and some exciting overprints, the first of which will be available from the JE02 kiosk from the 24 January for one month only.

We will not be stocking the stamps from Crewe, Bradford or Jersey.


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Self-Service Stamp Machines - now Welsh receipts

Coincident with the issue of the Winter Greenery Faststamps on 13 November, machines in Cardiff's St David office have started producing bilingual receipts.  Thanks to Stuart for these pictures.  As this change was unannounced he may be the only person who collected sets with the Welsh receipt on the first day.  (Most users buy stamps for immediate posting, rather than Faststamps.)


This odd error was also produced !



Wincor-Nixdorf Post and Go, the latest list

Thanks to our friends at Post Office Ltd we can now show their list of Post Office branches which still have Wincor-Nixdorf machines.


Branch Code
Branch Name §
No*
Address 2
Address 3
Post Code
003313
Chester Le Street
1
137 Front Street
Chester Le Street
DH3 3AA
004202
Boston
1 WHS
27 Strait Bargate
Boston
PE21 6EG
014613
Carmarthen
1 WHS
7/8 Guildhall Square
Carmarthen
SA31 1PN
005206
Crewe Town
1 WHS
13 Victoria Centre
Crewe
CW1 2PU
100003
Farringdon Road #
4
39-41 Farringdon Road
London
EC1M 3JB
032004
Holloway
1
116-120 Seven Sisters Road
Holloway, London
N7 6AE
011306
Keighley
1 WHS
27 Cooke Lane, Airedale Centre
Keighley
BD21 3PF
008208
Kidderminster
1 WHS
19/20 Vicar Street
Kidderminster,
DY10 1DD
699010
Model office   ±
1
148 Old Street
London
EC1V PHQ
016820
Perth
1 WHS
91-97 High St
Perth
PH1 5TJ
015427
Southport
1 WHS
22 Chapel Street
Southport
PR8 1AF
042005
Swiss Cottage
1 WHS
9/10 Harben Parade, Finchley Rd
South Hampstead, London
NW3 6JS

* WHS = Post Office is in WHSmith.  § Chester-le-Street is the only Crown Office.
± No Public Access.

# - There is one machine at Farringdon PO and three at Ludgate Circus (see below).  It's suggested that these will be the last four in operation (at least it will make maintenance easier; the engineer can just take his sleeping bag!).

Thanks to Anonymous for providing this. The timetable seems to ensure that no Wincor-Nixdorf machines will dispense any 2105 Faststamp issues, if the POL suggestion that Farrington and Tudor Street will be last to close is right.

Dear Customer
Ludgate Circus Post and Go service
Tudor Street, London, EC4Y 0AA
Proposed Permanent Closure

I’m writing to let you know that we are proposing to permanently close the Ludgate Circus Post and Go facility, which offers basic postal services and postage to customers.

Our contract with our existing supplier is coming to an end which means that the Post and Go machines at this location will be withdrawn from service in February 2015. Alongside this, since the facility opened in 2009 there has been a significant decline in customer usage which means that this type of service is no longer commercially viable in this location, either for Post Office Ltd or the Postmaster who operates the service on our behalf.

We have looked at a number of options that would provide a viable alternative, but we have been unable to find suitable premises in the area to accommodate a Post Office, either from existing nearby retailers or from potential new operators willing to take on vacant premises.
Post Office services in the area

We have therefore reviewed our services in this part of London and we are satisfied that the five Post Office branches which are all within a mile radius of this facility will be able to meet customer demand in the area. Details of the three nearest branches, all just over half a mile away, at Blackfriars Road, Aldwych and Farringdon Road, along with other branches in the area that customers may find convenient, are provided below.

Some of the branches such as Blackfriars Road and Aldwych have recently benefited under our modernisation programme, providing an improved environment for customers. These branches also offer enhanced facilities such as self-service kiosks where customers can pay for postage and send most mail items, including Special Delivery and Signed For items, without having to queue at the main counter. Also available at these branches is our free-to-join Drop and Go service, where customers can hand over their mail and pay with a prepaid Drop andGo card; more information on this service can be found on our website.