A. When it's a privately produced label !
That's what Graham Howard, who publishes the Smilers catalogue and keeps us updated on the Smilers Info website, found out with a recent arrival from Buckingham Covers.
Most serious collectors of Smilers stamps and covers will have read this on Graham's site but for the wider philatelic readership Graham has said I can show the story here.
Buckingham Covers produce Business Customised Stamp Sheets for many events often with a contribution to charity. The one they planned for the Royal Flying Corps as shown on their website shows the 'Seal' stamp although Smilers-Info reports that originally the Union Flag stamp was to be used, and indeed the flag stamp is shown on their official cover along with a King George V 2d stamp tied by their own cachet.
However, when Graham received his official Buckingham cover it was without the King George V stamp. On Smilers-Info News Graham writes:
"I recently received a letter from Buckingham Covers asking
me to return the Commemorative Cover issued by them for this issue as they
had inadvertently failed to add a King George V 2d stamp and cachet that
had been included in the pre-issue artwork for this cover.
"As I was preparing to return it as requested I noticed a strange
thing. The Smilers and stamp and label affixed to the cover was not a
Smilers stamp as advertised but a privately produced label affixed
alongside a Union Flag stamp to look like a Smilers stamp/label. To
say I was surprised would be an understatement."
When he questioned this Graham was surprised to be told:
"I'm afraid the sheets themselves were delayed and
didn't arrive in time for us to be able to use the stamps from them on our
covers. As this was the case, all of the covers were stuck with the Union
Jack stamp and reproduced label as unfortunately we didn't have another
The RFC was formed on 13 May 2012 so changing the date (until the stamp sheets were available) was not an option, but I find it hard to believe that Royal Mail would not back-date covers by a few weeks for a customer as big as Buckingham, especially given that they were waiting for a Business Customised Sheet from... Royal Mail.
So this cover is still available at £13.95, and very attractive it is too. But it's not a Smilers cover by any stretch of the imagination. And Buckingham's website still reads:
It features a stamp and label from our sheet and is postmarked on 13th May 2012.
So if you bought one of these expecting it to bear the stamp as sold in the sheet, you might like to take a closer look!
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