Monday, 19 September 2011

Don't leave it too late to get Birds 4 Faststamps!

If you usually get your own sets of Faststamps from your nearest Post and Go machine, don't leave it too late.  For the two machines in Norwich, 3 rolls were provided.  They have all been fitted in one machine as far as I know.

From installation on Friday, and with the office open all day on Saturday, until about 11am this morning (Monday) two whole rolls have been dispensed.  I had the third one installed to complete my purchases.  I know that there is at least one other big buyer in Norwich, but unless there are more stocks forthcoming from central stores, there is no chance of getting a 40 g set from Norwich because by the time the software upgrade is completed there will be no Birds 4 left.

Sets of 36 different bird/value stamps will be difficult to get: even sets of 30 (without the 40 g) won't be plentiful.  So while we dealers are sorting out what we have and who for, maybe it's time to nip into the PO and buy some to put aside (not that I would ever suggest stamps as an investment opportunity!)  But when they're gone they're gone, and if more do materialise, you can always use them for postage.

Update:
We understand that the initial distribution was low because the Swindon Stores Depot changed the unit of issue from a box (of 5 rolls) to a roll.  Consequently initial supplies were very limited.  The unit of issue has now been changed back to box, and any PO now ordering should get a box of 5 rolls which should last a while!  There may even be an automatic distibution to get the seabirds out of the way before the sheep come in next year!

27 comments:

  1. Bird 4 stamps are still available from Norwich as of 22/9/2011, but for how long?

    Ian

    ReplyDelete
  2. sold out in two London offices on first day!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Some offices were still running Birds 3 early this week so maybe Birds 4 will be added later.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What puzzles me is why there are any shortages at all. Understandable maybe if they were printed in lithography but these are in gravure, a method normally chosen for long print runs. How many cylinders, I wonder, were made and discarded for the birds issues well before they came anywhere near the end of their useful life?

    Douglas Myall

    ReplyDelete
  5. My understanding is that the same quantity of Post & Go stamps was printed for each Birds issue.

    So although there were plenty for Birds 1 & 2 with only around 30 machines or offices using them, for Birds 3 the number of machines had increased to ?200.

    For Birds 4 not only are there at least as many machines but they must have used a few rolls at Stampex for the Hytech machines.

    One source said that each office was supposed to get a box/pack of 5 rolls but Swindon seem to have sent only one roll per machine. It remains to be seen whether indents for more supplies will be served by Birds 4 or revert to Machin head stamps.

    ReplyDelete
  6. All the offices that I have been able to check told me they only received one roll per machine. I don't know if they will be getting anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That's the mystery, isn't it? Gravure cylinders are capable of printing many thousands of sheets in double quick time. For example, how many counter sheets of the gold 1st-class stamp has cylinder D1 printed? So why are there any shortages at all?

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm not convinced that the original D1 has printed all the 1st class gold stamps.

    Remember, when the security overlay changes there is a new D1 cylinder for that. There would be nothing to stop De La Rue using another gold cylinder with the number D1 when they changed the security cylinder to a second D1.

    Cartor, on the other hand, have to use a new litho plate if they change the printing date on regional definitives, so that the new plate has a new number.

    ReplyDelete
  9. All four Birds issues were ordered and pre-printed long before the alterations in office numbers (from Birds 3). My understanding is that the number ordered was the same for each issue. My information matches Brian Morris's - in that offices I asked said they received on average one roll per machine for Birds 4. Birds 4 at Stampex ran continually on last two days (from day of issue) from two machines. Since there was one added value (40g), making 6 values to a strip and a 36 set: coupled with the speed at which these new Hytech machines dispense the stamps compared to the 'churning' slowness of the Wincor's in Post Offices - I wouldn't be surprised if rolls in double figures were exhausted just at Stampex.

    ReplyDelete
  10. We also understand that unlike sheet definitives and Machin Post and Gos - commemorative Post and Gos have a finite pre-ordered print run and with their short life (max. 4 months then superseded by the next issue),there is further reason why they would not be subject to reprint.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Having all the Birds printed at once makes a lot of sense, especially as Robert Gillmor was commissioned to produce all the designs from the outset.

    Reports last year said that the garden birds "had been so popular at the 30 POs that the scheme had been extended nationwide". I don't believe that; I think it was always the intention to run these nationwide eventually and it was short-sighted to have the same quantity printed for each edition.

    Interesting also that some Birds 3 were kept back for use in the Hytech machine at Stampex - because few people knew about that Post Office were wise not to produce a 40g Birds 3 stamp!

    ReplyDelete
  12. All very good comments which helps to keep our hobby interesting.
    I heard at Stampex that the next issue on the Post & Go stamps will not be until next year and possibly Stampex again. So if Royal Mail do the same as this Autumn Stampex what will we see?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Eastern Daily Press, May 19, 2011:

    "Mr Gillmor is busy with another Royal Mail commission, for three further sets of beastly portraits details of which have to remain secret for the moment."

    Think back to the Farmyard Animals (similar type of design) -
    pig, horse, goat, sheep, turkey, chicken (series 1),
    sheepdog, sheep, cattle, goose, ostrich, + ? (series 2)

    My guesses, and later in the year 5 sets of 30 Olympics designs - which have already been issued as adhesives.

    ReplyDelete
  14. From 'the horse's mouth' (!) there is to be a series of Farmyard Animals - can easily see a set of 6 designs of cows/hens.....but sheep?

    Maybe they will stick to the 4 month Jan/May/Sept - 3 per year schedule but Stampex is in February?

    There was also a Royal Mail representative at Stampex asking people in the queue for their thoughts and experiences about PnG.....one of the questions was 'What different designs they would like to see on them?'...this points to a long term strategy on PnG....it is here to stay and my guess is it will form a significant section of GB collecting in the future....also more and more dealers are starting to take it on board and are stocking the material and trading the various issues in their price lists.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Why not sheep?

    Don't be surprised if there is something for the Diamond Jubilee, maybe another 'overprint' (which isn't really) on the Machin head, around February. Accession date is February after all.

    As for long term strategy, the 'back-office' Hytech machines are counter-based rather than having the self-service interface of the big red boxes. I think we will see these in all large post offices eventually - maybe in ALL post offices providing us with pictorial labels (as in Spain, Portugal, France) instead of the Machin head Horizon label?

    ReplyDelete
  16. What has been happening in a few of the original 30 offices is that previous left over rolls from Birds 1 and 2 have been put into machines when their Birds 3 ran out (as they were given fewer rolls of Birds 3 due to having to share the same print run with 110+ offices - they ran out quicker).

    This has already thrown up some interesting new stamps. Also, as one Post Office lady declared to me, "They're all birds to me -I can't tell he difference!" Fair comment - I have to remember one bird from each set to quickly identify/differentiate the separate issues when in strips/sets.

    It will be interesting when/if 40g upgrade goes nationwide and 'old rolls' are put in machines - these would clearly predate any current stamps at that time - and be quite simply DIFFERENT stamps.

    ReplyDelete
  17. 40g roll-out ought to start before Christmas as it is a popular value. Do tell us if you find any and where! Private email to ian[at]norphil.co.uk as well please if you want to supply some.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Just thought the difference in black or white wool (sheep) might not stretch to 6 stamps!

    Yes Diamond Jubilee possible although 22nd to 25th February 2012 is Stampex and properly the Queen's Accession is 6th February. My guess is there may be a new Machin Post and Go for that whole period as the Machin definitive is changing from Gold for the Diamond Jubilee.

    ReplyDelete
  19. yes and the 40g upgrade in time for sending the popular Christmas card Worldwide letter post rate would seem sensible!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Birds 4 exhausted in Paignton, Devon - one roll, one kiosk.....

    ReplyDelete
  21. Some other choices to vary the content of PnG would be Christmas images to put in say Nov/Dec each year and something like the different Smiler stamp images, perhaps - these were popular responses to the Royal Mail PnG questionnaire at Stampex, as well as putting images of classic past GB stamps on them - a set of 6, per reign?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Edward VIII, notwithstanding

    ReplyDelete
  23. Bird 4 stamps are still available from Norwich as of 27/9/2011 From one post and go machine, the other is dispensing Machin stamps.

    ReplyDelete
  24. As of Friday 29th the one machine at Norwich that was dispensing Birds 4, appears to be sold out and was instead dispensing Machins Friday afternoon.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks Jeff. So 2 weeks then. (Friday is 30th BTW).

    ReplyDelete
  26. Apologies, Friday is indeed the 30th, they ran out Thus 29th. I managed to buy a few more on Wed 28th but they had all gone the following day when i returned.

    ReplyDelete
  27. See update regarding new supplies of Birds IV.

    We've had confirmation that there will be three sets of animals next year starting with sheep at Stampex.

    ReplyDelete