Once again philatelists and first day cover producers have been frustrated by the inability of our Post Office to follow its own rules regarding Special Delivery mail.
Although the number of collectors of first day covers has been declining for some years, the die-hard collectors often go to extreme lengths and expense to produce something different for their collections. Some design their own first day covers and they, and others, often seek out appropriate post offices at which to get their covers postmarked on the day of issue with the office's counter datestamp (CDS).
This usually means paying more than the face value of the set, as normally only special delivery items (current minumum fee £5.90) are cancelled at the counter.
The London Underground stamp issue presented some perfect opportunities to get covers postmarked in this way. Relevant post offices included Boston Parade (London W7) - relevant to the 1st class Boston Manor stamp, Farringdon Road PO, relevant to the Metropolitan Line, and Canary Wharf PO, relevant to the £1.28 Canary Wharf stamp.
However, somebody in PO HQ has send an instruction of PO Branches which meant that yesterday some of those branches refused to accept first day covers for special delivery and cancellation with the branch's CDS.
One branch postmaster told one of our customer that he could accept other items with those stamps for special delivery and CDS postmarking, or could accept them on another day(!) but that any first day covers had to be sent to the special handstamp centre to get the official first day of issue postmark.
As this is now the subject of ongoing discussions you can expect to see more here soon. But if anybody has had their FDCs rejected from the special delivery service, do not despair - please let me know by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) which branch is involved so that we can establish how widespread the problem is.
UPDATE 11 January: We are still in discussions with Post Office Ltd who seem to be accepting that a misunderstanding occurred, and I am confident that we will see a resolution. More details will be noted as soon as possible.
Here is a Special Delivery cover which was properly serviced on 9 Janaury, at Walthamstow Central, E17. It was produced by Chris Sutcliffe and although he has none available to sell you can find his website here.
And here are some examples that we have done in the past, and some currently for sale on eBay.
Pub Signs set sent Special Delivery from Earl Soham PO (Suffolk) which is in the Brewery Shop:
Olympic/Paralympic set sent Special Delivery at Much Wenlock PO Shropshire
Burwash CDS on Rudyard Kipling set
Millennium MS with Greenwich CDS, showing reverse with SD label