Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Still no Poppy stamps at most Post Office branches

I showed the new self-adhesive Poppy stamps when they arrived just before the issue date 23 October.


But my local post office branch didn't have any on the day of issue.  This seems to be a widespread problem.  One of our regular reporters wrote last week; I have removed the names of the branches for the time being:

I went to the main town Post office and asked for the Poppy stamps with the pictures from you web site.  The counter staff hadn’t heard of them and they certainly had none in stock.  The staff happened to question a young lady who was walking about (appeared to be a member of staff) and she categorically told me that they don’t have these stamps as they are only issued in a Post & Go machine!!

So I went to a second office (remember they should know something about stamps as they were one of the potential Sunday openings for the Olympic issues).  They were reasonable in listening to my request but was told that they don’t have them and they had not heard of them.  

I did enquire about whether they had received their allocation of Christmas Madonna & Child issue.  I think she mixed this up with the normal issue and I was told that the Christmas issue is not available yet.  I showed her the pictures and she said that these were an old issue and they wouldn’t have them.  I mentioned that these would be available and was only enquiring whether they had received their allocation.  Puzzled for a moment she replied “Oh I think these are the ones that are for sale to those on Pension Credit”  

So off I went to a third office, in Hertfordshire.  A nice large quiet office and very friendly staff.  They hadn’t heard of the stamps but ensured nothing had been received and missed.  

I then tried another main office in Essex.  Over the years it a bit hit and miss – sometimes really excellent but other times a disaster.  Today, the most arrogant and officious person I’ve ever dealt with.  She had the poppy stamps but said she didn’t think she should be selling them (I noted part of the sheet had already been sold).  I pointed to the printing in the margin “Sale Date 23-Oct-2012” and her arrogant reply – “that’s nothing to do with it – I haven’t been told that I can sell them”. She shrugged and she said “I’m just getting on with it”.  

I then enquired about the Christmas Madonna & Child and to ensure she knew what I was talking about I showed her pictures of the stamps.  Strange reply – “We don’t have them, the only ones I know about are these …” pointing to the picture from page 40 of The Philatelic Bulletin (showing the 2011 1st class) .   That’s odd as a) that Christmas stamp is the earlier issue coming off sale on the 8th November and b) just above that picture are details and issue date of the poppy stamps. 

My local post office branch still doesn't have any, so I decided to phone Post Office customer services on 0845 722 3344.  After a couple of menu options I was answered surprisingly quickly (quicker than Royal Mail CS usually are!).  I said I was enquiring about stamps, and said, "Every year you issue a Lest We Forget Poppy stamp but this year's doesn't seem to be available".  The immediate response was "Not every year."

So that lady got off to a bad start.  I told her that contradicting me was a bad start, and explained that not only had they been issued every year but that this year's was a new stamp, and that Post Office had told me on twitter that "They should be available at all branches."  Our exchange continued, including her assertion that it was Royal Mail on twitter, but I explained that Post Office were there as well.

My call to the Customer Helpline has now been logged as a complaint to PO Customer Services, and I should get an answer within 10 working days.

Let's see how widespread this problem is - have you seen any in your local post offices?

UPDATE:
Post Office helpline has called back.  Apparently these stamps have been distributed to around 1000 branches, including all Crown* offices, and those with philatelic counters.  They have also been distributed to selected offices near military bases and are available to all branches to order via the Horizon system.  (* According to the Post Office Ltd Network Reportthere are only 373 Crown offices left.)

UPDATE 2 November:
As these have started appearing on eBay it seems appropriate to say that the Royal Mail product code is AS841 - although they weren't on the RM shop website last time I looked, that's the code if you are ordering!  

See also comments received so far.  It would be useful to know whether those offices satisfy the above criteria?

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Perth Post & Go stamps - the machine had a choice of labels

Thanks to Richard I was able to post last Monday the pictures in the previous post showing both the Machin Head and Union Flag stamps with the Perth overprint from the Hytech version 2 machines previously used at Stampex.

As you will see, these are matching strips, the stamps being numbered 91-96 in both strips, from sessions 635 (Machin) and 616 (Flag).  Because Richard was buying in quantity and as Collectors Strips (ie multiples of 6) I didn't realise then what I deduced when I received my own stamps from the organisers.

I was interested to note that the single receipt showed the purchase of both types of stamp:

The receipt shows Machine number A2, session 730, and stamps from Reel and Reel B, leading me to the inevitable conclusion that the machine had, as well as a reel dispensing Post and Go Labels (for immediate posting), two rolls of Faststamps.

Examination of the stamps shows that they have follow-on numbers in the same session.


My Flag stamps are numbered 01-18 and the Machins 19-36.  I don't think any of the eBay sellers has, in the same lot, listed different stamps with the same session number.  I don't think it had been mentioned anywhere else until I asked around, and Brian has now provided full details on his postagelabels.uk blog.

Writing about the situation at Stampex, where the machines were used before being taken to Perth, Brian shows a picture of the inside of the machine:



In his report, Brian lists which labels were used in which self-service machines at Stampex on each of the days.  For example:

Fri 28 Sept
      Reel A
  C & F
     Reel A
  F-DJ

      Reel B
  C
     Reel B
  C

C = Cattle, F = Flag, F-DJ = Diamond Jubilee overprint on flag.

I wonder how many people actually bought different stamps with the same session number at Stampex?  Probably few.  Certainly I've not seen any sold with that mentioned.

As an identifier it is of little consequence as the new format of the coding on the Version 2 machines is sufficient.  But when these are introduced into Post Office branches to replace the Wincor-Nixdorf machines, it will present additional opportunities for Post Office to offer a wider range of labels, either pictorial/non-pictorial or maybe normal and 2nd class as currently 2nd class is only a 'Post Now' option on Post and Go machines.

Pairs of these stamps now on sale on our shop, as well as FDCs.
We now have no stock of the Perth overprints.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Perth Post and Go Faststamps

Thanks to Richard I am now able to show the Machin and Union Flag Faststamps from the Exhibition at Perth



UPDATE 22 October 21.00
If you wanted these and had read the original post in our blog, you could get them for face value plus postage and packing.  

If you didn't and buy them on eBay, you might pay these prices, which some collectors did this evening.  It pays to be informed, doesn't it?

Collectors strip of 6 on Union Flag £35.02 (face £6.42)
Ditto on Machin  £38.77
single 1st class on Machin £8.71
(face £0.60)
single 1st class on Flag £7.75 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Olympic definitives now available as Smilers - only on Smartphones so far?

We mentioned as the Olympics started that there was a Smilers booth on site, but bemoaned the fact that these stamps - as shown on the Olympic Venues Generic Sheet - were not available to collectors or the general public outside the Games Venue at Stratford.


Now, Graham Howard reports on Smilers-Info News (as a result of the eagle-eyes of one of his readers) that these stamps are now available to anybody, via the latest version of Royal Mail's Smartphone app which allows you to upload into a Personalised Smilers Sheet any photo taken on the phone or already stored there from other sources.

Graham has sought clarification from Royal Mail about whether the new additions to the Smilers Personalised range will be made available through conventional Smilers purchase routes, enabling many more people to buy them.  Watch this space, or Smilers-Info News on the link above.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

No Dinosaur Stamps from Royal Mail this year

My postmaster tells me that a number of people have asked him for this year's Dinosaur stamp set, based on the Stamp Calendar included in last year's retail book of 6 x 1st stamps.


A reminder, then, that this issue has been postponed until late 2013 due to the volume of stamps issued this year.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Updates on new stamp arrivals etc

The 16 October Space Science stamps have the year microprinted at the top right outside the design:



The Christmas stamps have the year reversed out of the phosphor bands, as usual.  On the 2nd class stamp the date is at top centre, on all others it is at top right.  The miniature sheet follows the same pattern except that the date is at the foot of the two Large Letter stamps.

We've added pictures of the Miniature sheet and Generic Smilers Sheet to the blogpost linked in the previous paragraph.


We have the Poppy Stamp and have added pictures and details to the original thread.
My apologies to readers and commenters - the original thread has been irretrievably deleted in error.  There doesn't seem to be any way to recover it.  A picture of the whole sheet has now been added as a new post.
 

As yet no special postmarks have been announced for 23 October.


Paralympic Gold Medal Winners 

Our webpage has now been updated to show all these stamps as they were issued, with details of when the medals were won.  That should make it easier for readers than working through the various blogposts.


Definitive stamp booklet - 6 x 1st Jubilee definitives - 1 October 2012

We can now show the latest 6 x 1st class retail booklet which will be issued to Post Office branches and other retail outlets to replace the Olympic definitive booklets which were reintroduced in some places during the summer. The official release date is 1 October.

The booklet is printed by Walsall Security Printers, with cylinder numbers W1 blue, phosphor, and iridescent in that order.  The source code is MSND to the right of the Queen's head.

Cylinder booklets appear to be hard to find in initial stocks.


Close up of the coding on the stamps, thanks to Chris and Richard:


We will obtain a few first day covers for these new definitive stamps.

UPDATE 29 Oct, from the comments attached:
I was able to order this from Talents House with no problems. The order code is UB355.

We have a very small number of First Day Covers for these on sale now. If when you click on this link there is no entry on our shop, that means they are all sold - SORRY!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Changes to Machin Definitive Stamps from 3 January 2013

On 3 January the colour of the 1st Class Definitive will change to the official ‘Royal Mail’ Red.  This is part of a large revision of all the colours used for the UK Definitive stamp in 2013.

According to Royal Mail:
"We periodically revise the colours of the Definitives due to operational changes and technological changes in print, although we have not done this for many years. In the current colour palette certain colours produced similar readings when scanned in our Mail Processing Centres and some colours also caused difficulties in reading the phosphor bars."

The new colours are £1 (Wood Brown) and the 50p (Slate Grey), 1st and 1st Large (Royal Mail Red).

The colours of the other values remain unchanged though the Royal Mail iridescent overprint is added on all values, which means that the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p (first issued as self-adhesive on 8 March 2011) will be new stamps.

Given that the earlier 1st class stamp was described by Royal Mail as 'flame', I think we can assume that this will be a different colour - although the picture provided doesn't actually prove that!


Other 1st class changes:
• 1st Class Business Sheet (100)

• 1st Class Large Business Sheet (50)

• 6 x 1st, 12 x 1st and 4 x 1st Large Retail booklets

• 1st Class Business Rolls -
Only 10k rolls will be produced, following a review of use of 500 and 1000 stamp coils
both of these varieties will be discontinued

The 2nd class values remain unchanged. The remaining stamps in the range will have new colours introduced at the next tariff change.

UPDATE 20 October:  I see from an entry on the MachinMania blog that these new stamps were printed in September and have the M12L year code, except for the Large Letter stamps which are MA12.
There has really been very little consistency regarding whether the year code indicates the year of printing or the year of issue, with some 'year' codes being printed as late as October of the previous year, whilst on occasion printings in January and February have had the previous year's code.  It's not helpful!

Monday, 15 October 2012

London - Rio Olympic Handover cover delayed; and Memories of London 2012 miniature sheet?

Royal Mail report that production of the Olympic Handover cover has been delayed, and delivery will probably not be until November.

If I understand the position correctly, this has also delayed delivery of the Memories of London 2012 sheet where customers ordered them together, as they are 'bundled' for despatch by Tallents House.  By the time people get them London 2012 will indeed be a distant memory.

I wrote in the original announcement:

Update: For those interested in special printings, consider the likelihood of Royal Mail staff tearing maybe 100,000 stamps of these stamps from the miniature sheets?  I think the £1.28 stamp for these covers will come from a special printing of just this stamp.

I wonder if this is the reason for the delay?

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Cattle (Faststamps) go astray at Stampex !

The Stampex Post and Go machines were not without their problems, it seems.

I don't know whether these are from the back office machine or the public machine.  I suspect the latter, although customers' ability to 'pull' the strip to create errors was supposed to have been eliminated earlier so I can only assume this was a machine fault (see comments, several people have confirmed the fault) - and a spectacular one at that, with the printing spread over 8 stamps instead of 6:


US collectors would categorise these as 'Errors Freaks or Oddities'.  Thanks to Greg for these and other similar pictures.

UPDATE 8 January:  A video of the Cattle stamps being dispensed at Stampex has now been loaded to YouTube.  The strips weren't actually held up to camera, probably for fear of alerting Royal Mail staff, but it is obvious that some of the strips coming from that machine are much longer than 6 stamps, especially one of the first to be collected. (Thanks to Vince for this.)


This one on the other hand is a clear variety.  Caused by an error in loading a roll into a back-office machine, the Cattle have the Diamond Jubilee overprint.  This one was spotted on eBay.


Meanwhile away from Stampex, several offices had software faults producing Large Font errors (and of course no 10g denomination), including Camberley:


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A flock of Robin Post and Go Stamps available for Christmas

Royal Mail have been asked to provide a Christmas Faststamp for Post and Go Machines. Rather than issue a Post and Go variety of the Christmas stamps or issue a completely new Post and Go design they have decided to reintroduce the Robin Post & Go stamp from Birds 1 originally issued in 2010.


These will be available in selected machines from early November.  This represents a new collecting opportunity - 5 consecutive bird stamps of the same design.  And although multiple values are available even TWO x 1st would be sufficient to show that they came from the new printing.

NOTE: As this is a reissue of a stamp that was in Birds 1, it is not available from Royal Mail's bureau, only from the machines.


UPDATE 1 NOVEMBER.
This notice has been sent to PO Branches recently:


On 6 November the Post and Go version of the Robin Stamp is due to be re-introduduced.
Unfortunately, we are still waiting for a delivery of stock from our supplier.  We do have limited stock, which will be distributed to branches, but it is possible that you may not receive your stock until a later date.
We will make every endeavour to have stock sent out to all Post and Go branches in time for the Go Live date, but this may not be possible in every case.  We will distribute any outstanding stock as soon as we receive it.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

First Local Overprint on Faststamps at Congress

The 94th Philatelic Congress of Great Britain will take place in Perth, Scotland, from 20-22 October 2012.  (see details on the Perth 2012 website.

For the first time outside London, there will be Post and Go machines at the Exhibition and Congress, and one of these will have a unique overprint available for only 3 days.

- Post and Go at Perth 2012 -

Royal Mail will be providing two ‘Next Generation’ Post and Go Units at Perth 2012. These units are A1 and A2 and had their debut at Autumn Stampex in September 2012. Each stamp purchased is vended with a unique number and optionally an overprint, depending on the reel chosen. Stamp reels may change during the course of an exhibition.

One of the machines will use the unique overprint available only at Perth:

PERTH 2012
  19-22 OCTOBER


The stamps to be used are the Union Flag and Machin head. Collectors may purchase individual stamps via on screen buttons or use the ‘Collectors Strip’ buttons to print all six price variants of the stamps on each reel.


Edit: Clarification of dates.  The dates on the overprint will be as now shown above.
The Congress runs from 19-22 October, but the Exhibition is only 19 & 20th. From this I believe that Congress Delegates will be able to access the machines on any day, but other visitors may only be able to access the machines on Exhibition days.


OBTAINING THESE FASTSTAMPS.

Now that Congress is finished, no more orders for these can be accepted by the organisers. Some are listed on eBay by people who bought at the Exhibition/Congress.

We have no stock of the Perth overprints.

As I wrote originally, we shall not be obtaining large stocks of these as a matter of course, though we will have a few. I suggest our regular customers should order direct in this case to save additional costs.  
Collectors can obtain them either mint or on cover.  Details are shown below. 

Covers
Cost of covers with the Post and Go stamp(s) and cancellation is £3.50 plus shipping (£1.50 UK / Europe and £2.50 outside Europe)

Mint
Post and Go stamps will be sent at cost plus shipping (£1.50 UK / Europe and £2.50 outside Europe)

Prices of stamps are:
1st class - 60p;  Collector's set of 6 values - £6.42

Payment
Orders with cheques/postal orders in sterling payable to 'ASPS' to Colin G Campbell, 11 Denoon Terrace, Dundee, DD2 2EL, Scotland, UK
Purchases can be made using the Paypal account dundeephilatelic@btinternet.com

(As stamps are being sold at face value collectors might like to send the money as a gift [fees paid by sender], or add an extra 50p to cover PayPal deductions.)

Email orders and enquiries should be sent to the same address.

Orders will be posted with a Faststamp if possible.  Orders which include covers will be sent after they have been postmarked by the Royal Mail special handstamp centre. As these centres are still busy with gold medal and subsequent new stamp issues this may take some time.  Please be patient !! 



Monday, 8 October 2012

Royal Mail's preliminary stamp programme for 2013

Royal Mail have provided this draft programme for next year.  The Dinosaurs stamps were originally due to be issued in October 2012.
 
Note: these dates are subject to change.  No details have been provided.  We expect to be able to provide more details and to confirm the dates and subjects 3 months before each issue.
Additional retail booklets, and generic Smilers sheets are expected.

3 January Definitive 1st class and 1st class Large red, sheet, booklets, business sheet 1p-20p with security overprint,50p and £1 colour changes
England and Wales 1st and 2nd class country definitives by Cartor some of which are already in POs in September!* 
9 January London Underground set, MS, retail booklet
7 February Year of the Snake generic smiler
20 February 2nd class Faststamp (Stampex issue)
21 February Jane Austen (Stampex issue)
22 February Faststamps: Freshwater Life - Ponds
26 March Classic TV 50 Years of Dr Who
27 March Machin and Country definitives, tariff change.
16 April Great Britons 10 x 1st
16 April Royal Yacht Britannia Commemorative Sheet 
1 May
David Livingstone, explorer Commemorative Sheet 
9 May Football Legends
150th anniv of the Football Association
10 May Generic Smilers – Australia 2013 Stamp Exhibition 
Post and Go Faststamps - Australia 2013 World Stamp Exhibition
30 May Her Majesty the Queen: Royal Portraits (60th anniv of the Coronation)
18 June Classic Locomotives of Northern Ireland MS
25 June Post and Go stamps: Freshwater Life - Lakes
11 July Butterflies
2 August Bangkok World Stamp Exhibition - Exhibition Smilers Sheet
8 August Andy Murray Tennis Champion MS
13 August British Auto Legends - and Europa issue
19 September Merchant Navy (Stampex issue)
19 September Mixed retail booklet: RMS Cutty Sark and Morris Minor Van (Europa)
19 September Bertram Mackennal Commemorative Sheet and Seahorses High Values facsimile pack
20 September Post and Go stamps: Freshwater Life - Rivers
10 October Dinosaurs
5 November Christmas (religious) and results of Children's Christmas stamp design competition.

* Addition in blue follows an enquiry by reader Chris to Tallents House: he was told that these visible change stamps will be distributed to customers on 3 January.  This is in contrast to the Scotland stamps which had an specific availability date which was, as far as we know, before they were distributed to POs. We've now had confirmation from Tallents House that distribution of these will be with the new Machins as they had not already been distributed to Bureau customers.

150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LONDON UNDERGROUND ON FIRST STAMPS OF 2013

The oldest and one of the most famous railway networks in the world, the London Underground celebrates its 150th birthday on Royal Mail’s first stamp issue of 2013.


Issued on 9 January, London Underground features ten stamps; six charting the history of the network, alongside a miniature sheet of four long-format stamps focusing on the design heritage of its iconic posters.  The issue date coincides with the precise anniversary in 1863 of the first part of what was to become London’s Underground: the steam-driven Metropolitan Railway running between Paddington Station and Farringdon Street via Kings Cross.  

Fittingly it’s the Metropolitan Railway that features on the first of two 2nd class stamps, while the other shows railway workers, or Navvies as they were known commonly, excavating a tube tunnel.

Edwardian commuters travelling in from the suburbs are depicted on one of the 1st class pair of stamps, while the other features the Piccadilly Line’s Boston Manor, an example of many art deco stations built in the 1920s and 30s.


Classic rolling stock travelling on the tube’s ‘deep cut’ lines in 1938 and Sir Norman Foster’s Canary Wharf Station make up the £1.28p pair. Each of the stamps features a timeline across the lower quarter of the stamps using different livery colours taken from London Underground lines.


The miniature sheet features a total of 12 classic London Underground posters across four long-format (60mm x 30mm) stamps. 



Philip Parker, Royal Mail Stamps spokesperson, said: “The London Underground has a unique status as the oldest and one of the busiest underground railway networks in the world.

For this first stamp issue of 2013 we have tried to capture the incredible history behind ‘the Tube’, which for millions of people is an integral element of their daily lives and an iconic part of London’s identity.

Both London Underground and Royal Mail share a rich and extraordinary design heritage, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate a dozen classic Underground posters, featuring several artists who also designed posters for the GPO.”

Retail booklet - 6 x 1st.

A stamp book will feature two London Underground 1st Class stamps and four 1st Class Machin definitives.  The definitives will be in the new red colour.

Technical Details

Individual stamps: Designed by Hat-trick the 35mm square stamps are printed in lithography by Cartor in France. Stamp Images © Transport for London, except the 1938 image © Ian Allan publishing and 1999 photography by Paul Grundy © Royal Mail Group Ltd; London Underground & logo are registered trademarks of Transport for London.

Miniature sheet:  Size 183 x 74mm with stamps 60 x 30mm.  Designed by NB Studios, printed in lithography by Cartor in France.  All stamp images © Transport for London and Royal Mail.

Products available from Royal Mail

Stamp set, miniature sheet, 2 x FDCs, Presentation Pack, Coin Cover, Retail booklet, Stamp Cards.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Q. When is a Smilers stamp not a Smilers stamp?

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.


Although some resellers wrongly describe this sort of cover as having both modern and older stamps tied by a current official datestamp most collectors know the true nature of the earlier stamp and cachet, and are not misled.  The combination of old and new often works very well, especially with royal subjects.

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 option."

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!

Stamp news: A summary of reports from our readers in my absence.


This being Sunday, I have not been able to verify any of these reports with my contacts at Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd. - I'll be trying to get the official story this week.


Cattle Post and Go
Brian P reported that he "visited Durham PO on the issue date, 28 September, only to find that they still didn't have them and had not been given a release date. The two machines are offering the Pigs issue from one and the Machin Head from the other and they didn't even have the packs in yet."

Well, as I was in Kent last week I decided to get the Cattle I needed there rather than making a special trip into Norwich.  Surprised that Canterbury (located in WHSmith) had no PoGo machine, but I was told there that Whitstable and Faversham did have.  A tortuous journey to the Whitstable (not signposted from Canterbury) revealed that that Crown office wasn't a Post and Go location.  And so to Faversham on Saturday 6th October (ie a week after the Cattle were 'issued'), where I duly selected 10 Collector's Sets, only to find that they were dispensing Union Flags.  My thanks to Faversham PO for the refund on the unwanted flags!


Various delays from Tallents House and at POs

Trevor J reports that "there was a problem with the printing of the PHQ cards (Stamp Cards) for the Olympic/Paralympic memories issue. They are currently at Tallents House awaiting packaging and probably won’t be available until mid/late October.  Same applied to the Cattle blank FDCs. 
Also, they weren’t surprised that the 6 x 1st booklet (Diamond Jubilee Machin definitive) has not appeared at philatelic outlets yet. They suggested that might well be linked to the Space Science issue date on 16th!"

A delay in production of the PHQ cards for the Memories issue is regretable though maybe not so surprising given the fast-track nature of the product.

On the other hand the Cattle designs and date was well-known and the FDC design is the same as all other Post and Go covers, only the insert card being different, so they should have been printed when the sheep were printed.  I can only assume that the delay is either with the printers in north Wales who were printing Gold Medal and Memories FDCs, or with Tallents House not having the manpower to provide new issue materials while still working on the London 2012 issues.  Not having collected our mail from the PO yet, I don't know whether any are waiting for me.  But RM must have lost FDC sales at Stampex if the blank FDCs were not available there either?  Reports anyone?

The 6 x 1st retail booklet was due for issue on 1 October, but we would expect them to appear at most POs on replenishment from Swindon, as and when needed.  They should have been at Philatelic POs unless the actual philatelic availability date has changed.  I suspect the 'link to the Space Science' issue refers to when they will be distributed by Tallents House to their standing order customers - but we have already reported that the despatch of the Space issue from Tallents House might be delayed as they are still catching up.

Meanwhile, on the blogpost linked in the previous paragraph, Ian N has commented:

"The guy I just spoke to at Tallents House (when phoning to find out where my Memories of London2012 standing order was) told me that the Memories issue will be despatched later in October and Space Science will be similarly delayed. 

Handstamp deadlines appropriately extended. Be nice if they published this information somewhere! "

Paralympics MS shortage from Tallents House.

On this blogpost regular reader Erikbloodaxe reports: "I received four sets of Paralympic sets today. Unfortunately, one mini sheet missing from all four sets. It is stamp #6, TX006, PGMWC4 - Richard Whitehead - Track Athletics Men's 200m 42. I suggest you all check your sets, sooner than later."

Mistakes happen, but if you are missing any stamps you should contact Tallents House without delay.

Poppy Stamp 23 October

Finally, for now, Chris reports:
"Having spoken to the Philatelic Bureau today (05/10/2012), they confirm the issue of this stamp on 23/10/2012.

However, they will not be sending it out automatically on standing orders. So a separate order will have to be placed."

So apparently a stamp issued in counter sheets doesn't constitute a 'visible' change for Royal Mail's standing order customers.  And they probably can't decide whether this is a special issue or definitive either.  To my mind instances of stamps not being automatically supplied is happening far too often!