Thursday, 28 March 2013

Doctor Who Tardis Smilers stamp now on iPad, Android to follow

The Tardis stamp from the Doctor Who stamp issue, which is in the miniature sheet, retail booklet and generic Smilers Sheet is now available on the iPad app.


As with the 'Future Gold Medal' label, this one allows for additional text to be added to the label (see above).


Not only does this system include the add-text option, but the postage and packing appears to be cheaper than buying online through the Royal Mail/Snapfish link up. 

This version is available for V4.0 iphone 3GS and later.  The Android version will be released soon.

UPDATE 30th March

A new Android version of Smilers (with Dr Who), is now on the Android Play Store, for phones and tablets.

In addition both Android and Apple releases also have Dr Who accessories which can be added to the ‘normal’ stamp image. Scarves, Bow tie and Glasses.

This is just the latest in a series of innovations being added to Smilers.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Look out for local postmarks for Doctor Who

In addition to the Dr Who stamps, Royal Mail is also creating unique postmarks in each of the Doctor’s hometowns, meaning that post mailed in Northampton, for example – where Matt Smith is from – will feature a postmark with the actor’s name and the length of time he’s played the role.

This is where the postmarks are in use (two in Liverpool, a clash of the Time Lords?)

William Hartnell London St Pancras NW1
Patrick Troughton London Mill Hill NW7
Jon Pertwee London Chelsea SW3
Tom Baker Liverpool L
Peter Davison Knaphill Surrey GU21
Colin Baker Rochdale OL11
Sylvester McCoy Paisley PA23
Paul McGann Liverpool L
Christopher Eccleston Salford M
David Tennant Dunoon PA1
Matt Smith Northampton NN5

We'll be looking our for these on our post, but can't recall any customers being in these areas!  We'll be pleased to post images here if anybody sends them to us.

Update 5 April
Thanks to Mike B we can show two examples of the Dr Who postmarks for Christopher Eccleston.  Mike writes:


The first one is one posted in Manchester with a Sylvester McCoy stamp (Dr Who No. 7)
The second one is one sent from Lancashire & South Lakes again with the Christopher Eccleston postmark.
This one I cannot understand since Manchester is 100 miles south of the Lake District (although this letter was posted in Lytham St Annes, which is 55 miles from Manchester)




Surprise omission from Royal Mail Signed For Stamps!

The new tariff and Royal Mail Signed For stamps have arrived in Post Office branches on the day of issue, enabling collectors and dealers to get their first day covers with CDS postmarks.

But for those collecting date blocks, or simply recording printing dates there is a surprise, as these details are missing from both values that we have seen.


These strips are from the lower pane of the guttered sheet of 50.  The sheet number and printing date would normally be in this margin.

Perhaps some exist with the date?  I'm sure somebody out there will tell us - and send pictures.  Thanks!

UPDATE 28 MARCH:
1. All reports so far indicate that the date & sheet number are absent on all stocks.

2. My postmaster told me today that Branches were told yesterday afternoon to stop selling these Royal Mail Signed For stamps and that they should not be sold until Tuesday 2 April.   Tallents House subscribers will have received their 'first' announcement of these stamps: I've sent this image to Post Office and Royal Mail Stamps by twitter.
This explains one of our correspondent's experience at York where he was told that they would not be on sale until Tuesday (and they didn't have any anyway).  Distribution seems to have been sporadic with rural sub-post offices receiving them but Norwich's main crown office (said they) had not.

Post-Easter update:  As Brian reports in Comments, below, the instruction to postmaster was to hold back the Stationery associated with the new branding ie Royal Mail Signed For, not the stamps. My postmaster sheepishly admitted this today - and also said that they hadn't had any of the new stationery anyway!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

BPMA to sell rare stamps to fund new home

From a Press Release 26 March 2013:


SOTHEBY’S TO SELL DUPLICATE STAMPS FROM
THE BRITISH POSTAL MUSEUM & ARCHIVE
IN LONDON IN JULY 2013


The Most Important Archival Sale of Stamps Ever To Take Place

Auction To Benefit a New, Publicly Accessible and Permanent Home for BPMA’s Collections at Calthorpe House in London, Due To Open in Early 2016

Second Auction To Take Place in February 2014


Sotheby's is delighted to announce a sale of stamps from The British Postal Museum & Archive in London on 11 July 2013. The auction will comprise material duplicate to the archive collection, with proceeds to benefit the new home of The British Postal Museum & Archive, which will be situated at Calthorpe House on London’s Mount Pleasant site and is scheduled to open in early 2016. A second sale, comprising entirely different duplicate material to the first auction, is scheduled to take place at Sotheby’s in London in February 2014.

Stamps from ‘Registration’ or ‘Imprimatur’ sheets are among the most highly prized items among stamp collectors. Only two of these special sheets were ever produced for each stamp in this sale. The BPMA is to retain the original sheet which, due to its protected status, will never be sold; Sotheby’s will present for sale elements of the duplicate Registration sheets. Sotheby's auction is a unique event, since no other examples of these items will be made available, and as such, represents a once-in-a-lifetime event for collectors.

Commenting on the collection of stamps to be offered for sale at auction, Richard Ashton, Sotheby’s Worldwide Philatelic Consultant, said: “This selection of material from The British Postal Museum & Archive includes numerous items that are of the utmost rarity. Now in my 50th year as a professional philatelist, I have never seen such an important sale of its type. Many are the only examples of their kind ever to come on to the market. Quite aside from their rarity, these extraordinary stamps are also of great beauty – engraved to the highest standard by leading masters of the day. There are magnificent sheets of the 'Seahorse' stamps of King George V, and important blocks with Registration Certificates on the reverse of the reigns of King Edward VIII and King George VI. Collectors will never again have such an opportunity to purchase such rare and beautiful items.”

Commenting on the sale, Adrian Steel, Director of the BPMA, said: “As well as offering collectors an exciting opportunity to acquire rare and important philatelic material, we are thrilled that this sale will directly support the development of the BMPA’s new home. Whereas currently our world-class collections are held in storage and therefore largely hidden from public view, the new British Postal Museum & Archive will make our collections, and the story they tell of British communication, industry and innovation, available to everyone. We hope that everybody who supports this sale will feel proud to be playing their part in restoring Britain's postal heritage to its rightful place on the national and international stage.”

The first stamps printed from an approved and finished printing plate are called ‘Imprimaturs’. Once printed these would be taken from the printers to two receiving 'officers' who would subsequently type an endorsement on the reverse of the sheets and would often pencil annotations on the front side. The resulting sheets are called ‘Registration’ sheets; they are characterised not only by the endorsements and annotations mentioned above, but also by the fact the sheets have no perforations. These magnificent signed and dated 'Registration' blocks have never previously been available to collectors. The sale will include some 50 or so complete Registration blocks, as well as stamps (‘Imprimaturs’) taken from the Registration sheets: single stamps, pairs, blocks of four, and larger blocks which contain important archival notes in the margin.

In the July sale, collectors will have a choice of selected issues from the reigns of King George V (Seahorse issues), King Edward VIII and King George VI (definitive issues). The auction comprises 191 lots and is estimated to bring in excess of £5 million. Details of these stamps will be available in due course. The second sale in February 2014 comprises entirely different material.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

27 March New Tariff Machin and country definitive stamps

Thanks to Richard we can now show scans of the new stamps scheduled for issue on 27 March - they may or may not be available in your post office branch!
78p Orchid Mauve, 88p Amber Yellow, £1.88 Sapphire Blue.


Sheet format showing printing by Walsall Security Print, with italic date and sheet number



England 88p Cylinder block showing sheet grid layout.

UPDATED 25 March
Royal Mail have now confirmed that the valued stamps were printed only by Walsall Security Print, the country stamps only by Cartor (in litho), and the Royal Mail Signed For by De La Rue (in gravure).
I have had confirmation from Post Office sources that the Signed For stamps have been delivered to the Swindon Supplies Depot and are being distributed to Branches by special delivery this week.  My local office has no Signed For yet.

Printing dates seen so far are:
78p - 05/02/13
88p - 04/02/13
£1.88 - 07/02/13 (06/02/13 has been reported by Stamp Magazine)
England 14/01/13

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Post and Go Faststamps from the Scottish Congress in Perth

Edited From a Press Release:

The Annual Congress of the Scottish Philatelic Societies at Perth on 19-20 April 2013 will again have new items of interest to collectors.

Post and Go Machines numbers 3 and 4 will be used for the first time in Scotland and Collectors Strips with a Congress overprint will be available from both machines.


As before the ASPS has made arrangements for collectors to buy these direct to avoid the long trek to Perth.

EDIT: Royal Mail have advised the organisers that both Machin and Flag stamps will be available. 
Collectors Strips will be available at cost (£6.42) plus postage and, if used, a PayPal surcharge as shown below.
Also available are ‘Post and Go Smiler sheets that will have a unique Panda image alongside each stamp. The sheet will cost £10 plus postage etc as detailed below.
  
POSTAGE for Collectors Strips and Smiler sheets

UK
Up to 10 items ------  £2
Over 10 items -------  £5
Special Delivery if required £7.50 extra for £500 value; £10 extra for £2500 value.

Europe*
Up to 10 items ------  £4
Over 10 items -------  £6

Rest of the World*
Up to 10 items ------  £6
Over 10 items -------  £9
*Signed For covering a value to £500 - £15 extra.

PAYMENT

PAYPAL Surcharge
Payment may be made by PayPal to dundeephilatelic@btinternet.com
4% must be added to the payment amount to cover PayPal deductions.

Cheques/Postal orders in sterling should be made payable to ‘ASPS’

Orders should be sent to
Colin G Campbell, 11 Denoon Terrace, Dundee DD2 2EL, Scotland, UK

For more information on Congress see www.scottishphilately.co.uk

Other souvenirs:
 
Commemorative cover or postcard cancelled with the Congress handstamp
Cover or postcard with one Post and Go stamp: £4 each inclusive of postage for up to 5 items.
Cover or postcard with both Post and Go stamps: £6 each inclusive of postage for up to 5 items.
Note: the covers and postcards are limited in number and orders are accepted on a first come basis.

Special posting requests for all the above items will be costed and advised prior to sending the items.

All readers requiring any of these items should order direct.  We will have very few sets for local customers.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

New stamp sheet will feature Northern Ireland Classic Steam Locomotives

Following on from the Great British Railways set of 6, and the subsequent Classic Locomotives of England and Scotland miniature sheets issued in 2011 & 2012, this year sees the Classic Locomotives of Northern Ireland miniature sheet which will be issued on 18 June.


Designed as before by Delaney Design Consultants and printed in litho by Cartor Security Printing, the 179 x 74 mm sheet contains four stamps 41 x 30 mm.  The picture shows pre-increase postage rates as originally designed.

These show:

1st Class – Ulster Transport Authority W Class No. 103
The W Class locomotive Thomas Somerset pulls an up-express through County
Donegal in 1950

78p – Ulster Transport Authority SG3 Class No. 35
The SG3 Class locomotive shunts wagons at Portadown in 1963.

88p – Peckett No. 2
Peckett No.2 reverses wagons into the British Aluminum Works at Larne in 1937.

£1.28 – CDRJC Class 5 No. 4
The Class 5 locomotive Meenglas shunts a carriage at Strabane in 1959.

The Miniature Sheet Background image is: Glynn Lagoon, Larne Line, 1968

Booklet
The associated retail stamp booklet will be issued on the same day, containing 4 x 1st class red Machin definitives (which should have codes MA13, MCIL) and 2 x 1st class UTA W Class stamps, all self-adhesive in gravure by Walsall Security Printers.


FDCs, a Presentation Pack, Stamp cards and a nameplate cover will also be available from Royal Mail.

Photo Acknowledgements: UTA W No. 103 © Dr C Kenneth Benington; UTA
SG3 No. 35 © Colin Boocock; Peckett No. 2 © railphotolibrary.com/Richard Casserley; CDRJC Class 5 No. 4 © Colour-Rail; background image of UTA
Class Z No. 27 Lough Erne crossing Larne Lough courtesy of and © Derek JA Young. 

Official first day postmarks




Special postmarks for this issue will be shown on our website in due course.

Post and Go stamps (Faststamps) news round-up

A number of people sent information and images during and immediately after Spring Stampex and the Salisbury Stamp Fair, but it seemed sensible to wrap the news into one consolidating news item rather than scatter them in daily posts.

The first Stampex report is here.  This shows the 2nd class and Machin Coronation stamps and receipts, and a photo of the Smilers sheet.

These are the Pond Life stamps from the Presentation Pack, Stampex Hytech machine, and Trafalgar Square PO's Wincor-Nixdorf. (Click on any for larger images):


The presentation pack was printed using unit C2 and retained the indented second row of text. Stampex had kiosks A2-A4 with the second row of text as normal.

The Coronation overprint exists in two forms, as did the Diamond Jubilee; oddly these are both from machine B1, the later one (on the left) showing a more balanced alignment of the commemorative lines.  Now all we need is for the standard service indicators to show some balance.  You'll note that the 'Worldwide' line seems to be inset from the weight indicators all the time.


As previously mentioned the option exists on the Exhibition Hytech machines to pay for a half-sheet of 10 Smilers stamps.  Here are some images of the screen displays, the printer and a sheet showing a Hytech screen shot.


Thanks to John McC, Malcolm B and others for new images here.


Salisbury Stamp Fair.
Most of the detail is shown on Brian Sinott's postagelabelsuk blog but here are some of his pictures.  The Machine set-up at Salisbury, and a Smilers Sheet.  Although photographs of the customer are the norm, sometimes an alternative is a good idea.  I believe some alternative images were available on the Royal Mail iPad.


Brian also reports that some 2nd class Post & Go Faststamps sold at Stampex (identified by the coding at the foot) have appeared with a Salisbury Stamp Fair overprint, postmarked Southampton.  I have a good idea who might have produced these, but investigations are continuing.

UPDATE:
I discussed this with Allan Grant of Rushstamps earlier this afternoon but decided at the time to wait to see if anybody else had the same guess as I did ! Now that the story is also on another forum, we can tell you about it here.


Rushstamps purchased the labels at Stampex so that they could overprint them using a 100-year-old letterpress machine.  This was a deliberate decision once it was clear that the Faststamps sold at local events such as York, Midpex and Salisbury would not have overprints.

These were used on mailing out Rushstamps pricelists as promotion for the fair.  Remainders were used on ordinary mailings, which is why this piece has at least 3 or 4 examples.

No mint copies exist. Allan subsequently told the Royal Mail representative at Salisbury about the overprinting. Clearly RM Southampton revenue Protection is used to Rushstamps' mailings and didn't give them a second glance.  

No mint copies exist, and none have been available for sale.

Comment.
Although the overprinting of miniature sheet margins and 'Boots' sheetlets was accepted, these overprints are on actual stamps so it would not have been surprising if they were rejected by Royal Mail's revenue protection department as defaced stamps!


Salisbury a success!
I wasn't able to go to Salisbury but both dealers and collectors have heralded it as a huge success.  One of the organisers, Tony Hender of Arun Stamps, told me that the attendance was over 1,500 - about 1,000 on Friday and 500 on Saturday, so clearly some collectors had a day off work to be there for the early bargains.

Speaking to the Salisbury Journal, Tony said:

“There has been so much interest already shown,” he said. “Dealers came from across the country, and there is a significant need for the two-day event.

“It’s the biggest stamp show in the south of England, and based on today’s popularity we will hopefully have another show next year.”

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Delivery of the new tariff stamps will be delayed

Delivery of the new tariff stamps from Royal Mail Tallents House will be delayed

Malcolm put this comment on our original post:

"I have today received a letter from the bureau that dispatch of this issue is delayed from the 27th March until the 11th April due to circumstances beyond our control.
It also states that stamping facilities will be extended to the 24th April for those who want to create their own FDCs"

I checked with the trade side of Tallents House and received this reply:

"Unfortunately I am unable to guarantee that the issue will be with you for the 27th March (dealers normally get them well in advance) we will however endeavour to have them with you as soon as we can. I am led to believe that the stamps will be available at PO Counters on the 27th. (however, no packs or other products will be available). "

As Royal Mail knew that the tariffs would change around the end of March, requiring a number of new stamps, one might question the choice of the 26th March as the issue date of the Doctor Who commemorative issue, which has surely placed Tallents House under the same sort of pressure as previous big issues - The Beatles, the Gold Medal stamps? 

UPDATE 24 March
We understand that printing problems are the cause of the delay. We have been told, but not officially, that while the valued stamps are in POs already, the Signed For are being printed in Litho by Cartor and they will be late. If that is the case, then once again the dating of First Day Covers for 27 March would seem to be wrong.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

'Delivered by Royal Mail' now on franked mail

As forecast, the 'Delivered by Royal Mail' slogan is now being applied to mail items where postage is paid by a franking machine or postage meter.

This isn't very clear but as it is local mail we think it was applied either in Norwich or Peterborough.


Commemorative and Exhibition Stamp Sheets

Royal Mail have released images of some of their stamp sheet products for the first part of 2013.

16 April 2013
50th anniversary of the launch of the Royal Yacht Britannia.  Price £14.95


Two special postmarks have been announced for HMY Britannia, ref 12843 Clydebank and Ref 12848 Leith both from Royal Mail Tallents House, Edinburgh



1 May 2013
Bicentenary of the birth of David Livingstone, explorer.  Price £14.95

A special postmark has been prepared for this sheet.  Ref 12836 from the Midland Handstamp Centre in Birmingham.
Ref M12836 Livingstone Road, from Royal Mail Midland SHC, Birmingham.


Ref S12855 (Glasgow - map) and S12856 (Blantyre - portrait) from Royal Mail Tallents House.

10 May 2013
Exhibition sheet - Australia 2013 in Melbourne



Monday, 11 March 2013

Dr Who: Early release or time travel?

Last week Stamp Magazine reported an example of a Doctor Who stamp used already - see their news here.

We made our own enquiries and can show another example used on a newspaper competition entry - again the date is not clear but ours seems to be 27 February, and the location 'Home Counties North'.


This is quite remarkable.  Either the Post Office branch had no other 1st class stamps to sell (which is unlikely) or they misunderstood the release date.

The story was picked up by a German Philatelic magazine.  And they've acknowledged the source.



Post and Go machines on tour in 2013

Royal Mail have given us a schedule of events at which there will be Hytech v2 Post and Go machines this year. 

There will be no overprints on Faststamps produced at these local events:

Salisbury Stamp Show - 15/16 March - Union flag / Machin

Midpex - 6/7 July - Union flag / Machin /
                                Freshwater Life 2: Lakes, first day of availability in Hytech machines

York Stamp Fair - July - Union flag / Machin / Freshwater Life 2: Lakes

There will also be machines at:

84th Scottish Congress Perth in April, with '84th Scottish Congress' overprint on Union Flag and Machin.

Australia 2013 International Exhibition in Melbourne Australia in May, with 'Australia 2013 World Stamp Expo' overprint on Union Flag and Machin.

UPDATE 8 May: The UK-printed versions of the Australia 2013 stamps (with code GB) may now be ordered from Royal Mail Tallents House, in collectors sets of 6 at £6.42 ONLY:

Stock code ZS022 - Union Flag with Australia 2013 overprint 
Stock code ZS023 - Machin head with Australia 2013 overprint

We are hoping to have very limited stocks of similar stamps printed at the show with location code AU soon, for regular customers.  Any surplus will be made available on our e-commerce shop.

Autumn Stampex, London, in September, with 'The Coronation 60th Anniversary' overprint on the Union Flag stamp.

If we get supplies of the overprinted Faststamps we will provide details later.

By the way, if you visit these events, don't forget to look out for the Smilers option as well, as Royal Mail usually take their iPad and printer as they did at Stampex.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

IMPORTANT NEWS FOR UK SENDERS - and their customers!

As noted earlier, UK inland and international postage rates will change on Tuesday 2 April 2013. 

{updated} There are plans by Royal Mail (see below) for international mail to be priced in a similar way to inland (Pricing in Proportion) and it has been suggested that this is a hidden change to take effect from 2 April.  However we have now been told that the change will be introduced at a later date:

From a reliable source in PO Ltd:
"This size limit for 'letters' is not part of the changes for the 2nd April and the 'Tariff Leaflets' do not include any reference to this.


No communications to POs have been issued for size checking of international items."

{Original Blogpost}
The new rates leaflet is available on Royal Mail's website, but some key information is not included on that leaflet, and that directly relates to this discussion. Enclosures per se are no longer a problem, nor a factor in determining whether the item is a letter or a small packet.

The leaflet includes a guide to sizes. For Inland items this is the familiar PIP for letters and large letters, with new information about the new small/medium/large packets:


For International items the following guidance is given:

But earlier this year Royal Mail published a consultation paper on the Overseas Letter Post Scheme 2013. There's one every year and it enables them to consult on things that they don't need Oftel approval for but which they do consider they ought to ask about. However, they had no responses on this carefully hidden consultation paper. And here we find the distinction between Letters and Small Packets.


When asked to clarify when this took effect, Royal Mail said that it was 2 April.  But in their 'Recent Changes to Terms and Conditions' I found this:

The new dimensions driven definition of formats will not be applied immediately. Customers will be given time in which to adapt to the change and will be informed before the new pricing methodology comes into force.

So it's not in the rate leaflet, and 'customers will be informed' before it comes into force.  It remains to be seen whether and how Post Office branches will deal with this.  If past experience is anything to go by, each Post Office branch will use it's own interpretation of the rules, as described in this discussion on the Stampboards forum.

Watch this post for updates on this topic.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Another 2013 Machin Security Stamp has appeared

With the recent arrival of the 1st class book of 6 with the M13L year code, we guessed that it wouldn't be long before more arrived, and the 2nd class from books of 12 has now been seen on eBay (thanks IR!)

We will have these in stock in due course.


Friday, 1 March 2013

HM The Queen - 6 decades of Royal Portraits stamp issue

A set of special stamps will be issued on 30 May 2013, a few days before the 60th Anniversary of the Coronation.  The set celebrates six decades of Royal Portraits.  Details provided by Royal Mail are shown below.


Printed by Walsall Security Printers in gravure, in sheets of 25/50, perforation 14.
Stamp size 27 x 37mm; all-over phosphor except for 2nd class, single bar.

Acknowledgements.
2nd class study for The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II by Terence Cuneo, 1953 © Royal Collection Trust/All rights reserved;
78p portrait by Andrew Festing, 1999 © Royal Hospital Chelsea;
88p portrait by Pietro Annigoni, 1955, Camera Press London/The Bridgeman Art Library;
£1.28 portrait by Sergei Pavlenko, 2000 © The Drapers’ Company;
£1.88 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Richard Stone, 1992 © Richard Stone (presented to Colchester Borough Council by the artist).

UPDATE 30 April
As many people suggested, it makes no sense to have a set of 5 stamps to celebrate 6 decades, and there is no 1st class stamp in the original set.  This is because the 1st class stamp uses a brand new portrait; the first Royal Mail has commissioned. The stamp, which is a detail of the portrait is shown here.


Pictures of the full portrait will be released at the end of May.

No change to basic inland letter postage rates this year

The announcement on New Postage Rates effective 2 April 2013 is on Royal Mail's website here.  This is a summary of the rate changes.


Inland Services

Royal Mail have rebranded the inland service into UK Standard, UK Confirmed and UK Guaranteed.

UK Standard is the basic service. 
The price of 1st and 2nd class letters remains unchanged at  60p and 50p;  the price of Large Letters also remains unchanged at all weight-steps.

The item headed 'UK Confirmed' was Recorded Signed For and will now be branded as Royal Mail Signed For.  It offers a signature on delivery for £1.10 (increased from 95p).  Two redesigned stamps will be issued for this 'Signed For' service - see below.  The new stamps will be priced at £1.55 and £1.85 on issue and £1.70 and £2.00 from 2 April.

UK Guaranteed includes the Special Delivery 9am and 1pm services for letters.  The cost of the minimum 100g 1pm service is £6.22 (old rate £5.90).  The 500g rate is £6.95 (up from £6.35).  The 100g 9am service rises from £16.70 to £17.64.

Inland packet and parcel rates have undergone a radical overhaul and it is best to download the Rate Leaflet as a pdf file here .

International services
The current 87p airmail rate for worldwide postcards, 10g letters Worldwide and 20g letters to Europe increases to 88p with a new Machin definitive and new Country definitive stamps.

The current £1.28 rate for Europe to 40g and Worldwide 20g letters remains unchanged.

The Worldwide 40g letter rate is reduced from £1.90 to £1.88 (so a new stamp).

The category previously known as Small Packets up to 100g is now referred to as Small Parcels up to 100g.  The prices increase from £2.70 to £3 Europe and from £3.30 to £3.50 rest of the World.

Airmail rates over 100g are reduced to 8 steps of 250g, replacing 21 steps. This means some complicated changes, some up some down.  Whilst the current rates to Europe are £2.93 (150g), £3.16 (200g) & £3.39 (250g) these all rise to £3.50 for 250g.

On the other hand the Zone 1 rate for most of the rest of the world becomes £4.50 for 250g, replacing £3.86, £4.42 & £4.98 for the same three weight steps.  This pattern is followed for higher weight steps: Europe is more expensive, many rates for the rest of the world are lower at the top of each step (say 900g & 1kg), but higher than the lower weights (800g).  Mail order suppliers will need to examine their products and packages to assess what to charge from April.

International Signed For rises from £5.15 to £5.30; Airsure is complicated by VAT within EU countries, but the rates appear to be the same.

Surface mail - the basic 20g rate increases from 77p to 78p (new stamp). Weight steps above 100g are regrouped in 250g steps as for airmail.  The 500g rate is 1p cheaper than before.

The new Machin Definitives and official colours out 27 March 2013:

78p Orchid Mauve, 88p Amber Yellow, £1.88 Sapphire Blue.
The NVIs are Flame with a Yellow Flash - there, we thought they would change to red!  The inscription is changed from RECORDED SIGNED FOR to ROYAL MAIL SIGNED FOR (wonder why they didn't use ROYAL MAIL CONFIRMED?) 

Some images of actual stamps are now available.

UPDATE 22 March (see below)
Although the official information from Royal Mail was that these would be printed by De La Rue as normal, we now understand that the new value Machin definitives are printed by Walsall Security Print (in gravure).  The Signed For may be printed by Cartor - which means in litho as far as we know. One report said that Enschede were involved as well, but we haven't had any of this confirmed by Royal Mail. 


These studio mock-ups show all the stamps coded MA13 in the conventional positions.  All stamps have been printed by De La Rue in gravure.  The 88p country stamps showing the Oak, Thistle, Daffodil and Linen Slip Case are printed by Cartor Security Print in litho.

UPDATE 12 MARCH:
We now have images of the 88p country definitives.  As with the Machin images above these are studio mock-ups not actual stamps:


[22 March] We've been told unofficially that these are printed by Cartor on one primary sheet of eight grid positions, five grid positions for England, one each for Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales in sheets of 25.

UPDATED 25 March (and edited)
Royal Mail have now confirmed that the valued stamps were printed only* by Walsall Security Print, the country stamps only by Cartor (in litho), and the Royal Mail Signed For by De La Rue (in gravure).
I have had confirmation from Post Office sources that the Signed For stamps have been delivered to the Swindon Supplies Depot and are being distributed to Branches by special delivery this week.  My local office has no Signed For yet.
* As with many 'confirmations' this was only the partial truth.  Whilst the stamps distributed to Post Office branches for the issue date were as stated above, the distribution from the Royal Mail Philatelic Bureau was:
- FDCs and presentation packs: all De La Rue
- single stamps to standing order customers: mainly De La Rue but some Walsall SP
- blocks to standing order customers: Walsall Security Print

Distribution to registered dealers was the same as to PO branches.