Thursday, 31 October 2013

Christmas Stamp Competition Winners Announced

As promised Royal Mail has today announced the winners of their Christmas Design-a-Stamp Competition.

The designs were chosen from 240,000 entries and were selected by a panel of judges including His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. The stamps will be on sale from November 5th.

Molly Robson's stamp has been chosen for the 1st class value


Rosie Hargreaves' design has been chosen for the 2nd class value


Here's Rosie's postmark, sadly we don't have a good one for Molly!


Congratulations to the winners!

Product Details

The 1st and 2nd class stamps will be issued on 5 November alongside the Madonna and Child stamps.   There is a FDC and a Presentation Pack but no stamp cards.

The competition stamps are self-adhesive and have been produced in what is described as 'a concertina-style' sheet of 25 stamps, similar definitive business sheets.  We don't have an image of this yet, but it seems they will be similar to booklets issued prior to 2006, when stamps were larger than definitive size.  Despite the printing format, these stamps will be sold singly.

The 47 x 30mm stamps are printed in gravure by International Security Printers (probably Walsall).

These stamps were not distributed to dealers on a standing order basis, and Tallents House have confirmed that no stamps, covers or packs will be sent to standing order customers: they must be ordered separately.  Whether blank FDCs are available at POs I cannot say. 

Thanks to AP for this picture of the sheets, and what is probably the presentation pack



Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Small Parcels just got bigger - Royal mail changes parcel rates

Royal Mail's 2013 tariff changed left basic letter rates unchanged but made major changes to packets, with the 1st class and 2nd class Packet rate being changed to 1st and 2nd Small and Medium Parcels.

The Small Parcel size was limited to 45 x 35 x 8cm, with an exception for 16cm cube parcels which would also go at the Small rate rather than Medium.  Now the other dimensions of this 16cm 'deep' Small Parcel have been extended from 16 x 16cm to 35 x 25cm.   The rates of £2.60 (2nd) and £3.00 (1st) for up to 1kg remain the same.

In April reaction to the new rates from customers in Post Offices was adverse.  With the Medium Parcel rates being £5.20 and £5.65 for 2nd and 1st respectively, eBay sellers found that some of their shipping charges had more than doubled, with some courier services offering a better deal.

Now Royal Mail has moved to grab back some of the lost business, by extending the Small Parcel option to cover bulkier items, like trainers, and fashion accessories.  For stamp collectors and dealers the news is good: the new size limits allow for a 32 page or 2 x 16 page stock-books, or similarly-sized albums, or a box of first day covers or postal history.

Collectors of modern postal history will find it difficult to display items which take advantage of the new sizes.  But these things need to be recorded for future postal historians who might wonder why a box which cost £5.20 to post last week costs only £2.60 to post this week!



Monday, 28 October 2013

British Stamp news update 28 October

No new stamps have been discovered in the last week but correspondents have provided a couple of items of news.

Robert reports that the self-adhesive poppy stamp is back at a local post office.  He mentions the date of 11 November but I suspect they will be on sale before then.  We haven't been given any official issue date.

Adrian reports that

'there has been an update to the Smilers App for the iPhone on 25 October, including adding in the ability to order multiple designs in the same transaction.
Also, there is a new "Happy Halloween" template for the labels, and the ability to add witches hats, pumpkins, etc to the image.'


Norvic shop
We're transferring the pictorial country definitives to our new shop, which means adding some values which were never included in the old one.

What shall we add next?



Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Royal Mail Design a Christmas Stamp Slogans - Part 2

Having used special slogan postmarks for the 11 Doctor Whos, and the 11 Football Legends, Royal Mail has now used similar postmarks for the finalists in their Design a Christmas Stamp Childrens Competition.

This is part 2 of the listing; the first part is here


The campaign started on 3 October, with each postmark being in use for one day only (at least that is the plan, but see the detail below), running up to the announcement of the two winners on 31 October, and the issuing of the stamps on 5 November.

Latest text additions will be in blue; images will be slotted in more or less in order.  I've arranged to have covers sent from Shropshire/Wales for the rest of the campaign and hope to be able to provide examples of all.

21 October Danielle Lockie from Newtown St Boswells at Chester and N Wales MC


Here's a better example of that from Cambridge MC - thanks JG!

Also from JG, the 22 October Kristina Pavic from Sheffield slogan from Cambridge MC; also seen from North West Midlands MC but date unclear (could be 23rd).


and 23 October Thomas Donaldson from Hull also from Cambridge MC.


24 October Daniel Payne from Rainham also from Cambridge MC.


25 October Thomas Gaynham from Chelmsford from Chester and N Wales MC (one of mine) and Gatwick MC seen (thanks JC); Bath Bristol Taunton MC reported here;
and also
26 October from Gatwick MC (thanks JG)


28 October Ava Reynolds from Norwich - Chester and N Wales MC, and Cumbria Dumfries and Galloway MC; also Lancashire and South Lakes MC (delivered a day late).
Error - Ava Reynolds from Norwich also used 29 October at Nottingham MC



29 October Ethan Mahal from Derby - Chester and N Wales MC 
(see also 28 October entry)


30 October Morgan Spink from Newark - Cambridge MC

31 October Oliver Miller from Oswestry - Cambridge MC
1 November at Nottingham MC who seem to have been in a different time zone for this campaign

1 November Fred Egerton from Newcastle-under-Lyme - Cambridge MC. Also seen from Cornwall MC - postmarked 5.11pm didn't arrive on Saturday :-(


Most of the Cambridge ones thanks to JG.  And that completes the series.  But if anybody in Wales has any more to show, please send us copies, which will help us to see where they were applied.

Not quite the end, as JG has now sent the last Welsh-language ones from Cambridge to Cardiff, copies dated 30 and 31 October and 1 November.  We still need to see some from Welsh offices other than Chester.

31 October Jayden Roberts / + Nicola Murphy / o Gymru / rhestr fer Cystadleuaeth / Dylunic Stamp Nadolig y / Post Brenhinol



LATE USAGE:
The Fred Egerton postmark, due on 1st November (and 2nd) has been seen in use at North & West Yorkshire on 2nd and 4th, and at North West Midlands on 4th and 8th!

But really late usage goes to North and West Yorkshire who seem to have restarted the campaign after the winners were announced.  Olivia Heller's postmark was supposed to be in use only on 7 November!  (Thanks Bob M)



This list from Royal Mail shows full details with the intended dates of use.  What has been found, however, is that some slogans have been used on more than one date, not always the expected ones.  § Friday dates seem to continue to Saturday (4/5, 11/12, 18/19, 25/26)

Region
Location
Name
intended date
Actual dates
South East
Horsham
Molly Robson
3 October
3 October
South East
Royal Tunbridge Wells
Olivia Heller
7 October
7, 8 October 
25 November!                     
North West
Bamber Bridge
Tia Dann
8 October
8 - 9 October
North West
Blackburn
Adil Hanney
9 October
9,10 October
Northern Ireland
Holywood
Corin McCrea
11 October §
11,12 October
Northern Ireland
Armagh
Niall Conn
10 October
10,11 October
North East
Darlington
Faye Hughes
14 October
14,15 October
North East
Berwick-upon-Tweed
Rowan McAlpine
15 October
15 October
South West
Devon
Rosie Hargreaves
17 October
17 October
South West
Taunton
Finn Alexander
16 October
16,17 October
Scotland
Banchory
Archie Hilton
18 October §
18 -19  October
Scotland
Newtown St Boswells
Danielle Lockie
21 October
21 October
Yorkshire and Humberside
Sheffield
Kristina Pavic
22 October
22 October
Yorkshire and Humberside
Hull
Thomas Donaldson
23 October
23 October
London
Rainham
Daniel Payne
24 October
24,25 October
London
Wandsworth
Natacha Simpson
4 October §
4-5 October
East of England
Chelmsford
Thomas Gaynham
25 October §
25 - 26 October
East of England
Norwich
Ava Reynolds
28 October
28 October
29 Oct @ NG
West Midlands
Oswestry
Oliver Miller
31 October
31 October
1 Nov @ NG
West Midlands
Newcastle-under-Lyme
Fred Egerton
1 November
1, 2 November
4 @ NW Yorks
4,8 @ NW Mids
East Midlands
Newark
Morgan Spink
30 October
30 October
East Midlands
Derby
Ethan Mahal
29 October
29,30 October
Wales


Jayden Roberts

Nicole Murphy
Oct 3-17 in English
Oct 18 – Nov 4 in Welsh
11 October (E)

18,31 Oct (W)
4 Nov (W)
Wales


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Another new Machin definitive stamp has appeared

We can now report (thanks to IR) that the 1st class Large business sheet with MA13 year code has appeared with a printing date of 04/03/13.  Thanks to Richard P for the pictures:






Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Machin MA13 2nd class definitive from counter sheets has now appeared

We are now able to show the latest addition to the 2013 Machin definitive stable, the 2nd class from counter sheets.


This is now to hand, and have been added to stock.  Some blocks and gutter pairs are also available.

Some values with MA13 have been found with new printing dates and the following have been added to our shop today.

20p now with printing date 09/05/13
88p now with printing dates 30/07/13, 29/08/13
£1.28 now with printing date 24/04/13
2nd Large now with printing dates 26/07/13, 29/07/13
Others will be added as acquired - click here.

Collectors who wish to illustrate their collections with images similar to the above, might like to look at Maplin's USB Microscope.  Designed for the Windows-PC it comes with software on a mini-disc. This is no use for Macs but software for the Mac can be downloaded.  I find that it works best if the application is loaded before the device is plugged in to the USB port.  Magnification on mine is 20x and 400x - that's not the range, those are the two in-focus extremes.  The stand is useful, but to get a complete stamp in-picture the scope needs to be further above the stamp, perhaps on a thick book.  The microscope has a clicker button to capture the image, but this does not work on Macs (in my experience) and a free hand is required to click on the ImageCapture option in the menu.  Trial and error is the only way.  But the results are good enough for most purposes.


Country definitive stamps 88p (and other) reprints - grid positions now known

We reported in August that an eagle-eyed reader had sent us a reprint of the Scotland 88p stamp with plate numbers in a different font to the original January printing.  The new plate block also demonstrated that the plate was a totally new one, despite still being plate number C1.


The 14 January printing on the left had Scotland's stamp printed in grid position 8 only. The 31 May printing has the Scotland stamp printed in positions 3, 6 and 7.


We can now show the grid positions for all four stamps, and these show that

England is in positions 1, 2 and 5;
Scotland is in 3, 6 and 7;
Northern Ireland is in 4, and
Wales is in 8. 

But there are noticeable differences in the actual stamps as well.

Cartor Security Print have produced the original and the new printings.  In all cases the original 14 January printing is on the left, and the 31 May printing is on the right.


Northern Ireland, original is noticeably greener or bluer depending on your eyes/monitor. New print is grey.

Taken in isolation the original Wales stamp seems normal but against the reprint it has a touch of pink to the blue.


The Scotland stamp is probably the least distinguishable but the new one is lighter.


The new print of the England stamp is notably lighter than the original.  Over the years there have been many variations in the colour of this design, as different processes and printers are used, but this is the most noticeable variation on the same value.



The question remains, though, how many times do the printers need to be told that a new plate should not have the same number as the one it replaces???


Scotland 2nd class
Examples of a new printing by Cartor of the Scotland 2nd class are also in a distinct shade, with  more magenta*.  On the left, De La Rue; centre the 1st Cartor printing (24/04/12); right the 2nd Cartor printing (28/06/13).  The gird formation on these is the same as before so they may be the same plates, with just a different ink mix.
* 1st class second Cartor printing. This was also reprinted on 28/06/13 (both values are on the same press plate) but no there is no noticeable difference, suggesting that rather than 'more magenta' there is less cyan.





More woe for postmark collectors, with no-notice postmark for Children's Stamp Competition

The people involved must be very honoured, but it's not much good for collectors.  Having used special slogan postmarks for the 11 Doctor Whos, and the 11 Football Legends, Royal Mail has now used similar postmarks for the finalists in their Design a Christmas Stamp Childrens Competition.
When the short list of 24 designs was announced, Royal Mail included this statement:

"To celebrate the children being the 24 finalists, their achievement will appear on a special postmark that will feature on mail delivered to addresses nationwide. Each postmark will feature one day over the next month. Two of the national finalists are from Wales and will have a Welsh postmark sent to addresses in Wales."

To avoid making this blog entry too big, the remaining postmarks will be shown on a new one here; the table at the foot will continue to be updated. 

Apparently the campaign started on 3 October, with each postmark being in use for one day only (at least that is the plan, but see the detail below), running up to the announcement of the two winners on 31 October, and the issuing of the stamps on 5 November.
Latest text additions will be in blue; images will be slotted in more or less in order.

Thanks to John G and John A we can show these examples. 
Natacha Simpson from Wandsworth 4 October, Molly Robson from Horsham 3 October



ADDED from contributions - thanks to Bob M, Dominic P, Boweevil, John G, John C, Mike C, 
(apologies to anybody not credited!)

4 / 5 October Natasha Simpson from Wandsworth used on a second day (Bath, Bristol Taunton MC and Greenford/Windsor MC) 
8 October Olivia Heller from Royal Tunbridge Wells from Romford MC with a clear (wrong) date (Thanks JE)
9 October Adil Hanney from Blackburn (Cornwall = Truro MC)
9 October Tia Dann, from Bamber Bridge on a Post and Go stamp so mostly illegible (Nottingham MC) and from Bath, Bristol Taunton on 8 October
10 October Nial Conn from Armagh - Chester and N Wales MC
11 October Corin McCrea from Holywood - S W Wales MC and on 12th from South East Anglia MC (thanks KC)
14 October Faye Hughes from Darlington  Cambridge MC
15 October Rowan McAlpine from Berwick-upon-Tweed, at Manchester MC 
16 October Finn Alexander from Taunton, at North and West Yorkshire MC 
17 October Rosie Hargreaves from Devon, at North and West Yorkshire MC, and South East Anglia MC
18 October Archie Hilton from Banchory, at Cambridge MC (I've also been sent examples from Bath Bristol Taunton MC, S W Wales MC and Chester and N Wales (both in English) on the same date; and Chester and N Wales and Gatwick MC on 19th.

However, the finalists in Wales seem to have drawn the short straw, both being named on one postmark with no precise location, but that postmark has been used (unless there was a machine error) on 11 October and 18 October at Cambridge MC
Jayden Robens and Nicole Murphy from Wales (og Cymru)  









UPDATE 10 October:  Collectors with more knowledge than I have - and who have seen examples - have said  that, unlike the previous two campaigns, these slogans are being applied on all IMP-processed mail to any address nationwide. That should mean that we all see some, although it's hit and miss given the amount of mail that comes through with no postmark at all!

Fortunately the British Postmark Society will collate reports and publish the full results, but they still need help from all of us, not just from their members, so please send scans of any examples you see.

UPDATED 21 October. We now have a list from Royal Mail of all the finalists, locations named on the slogans, and dates.  What you have found, however, is that some slogans have been used on more than one date, not always the expected ones.  § Friday dates seem to continue to Saturday (4/5, 11/12, 18/19, 25/26)


Region
Location
Name
intended date
Actual dates
South East
Horsham
Molly Robson
3 October
3 October
South East
Royal Tunbridge Wells
Olivia Heller
7 October
8 October                      
North West
Bamber Bridge
Tia Dann
8 October
8 October
9 Oct @ NG
North West
Blackburn
Adil Hanney
9 October
9 October
Northern Ireland
Holywood
Corin McCrea
11 October §
11 October
Northern Ireland
Armagh
Niall Conn
10 October
10 October
North East
Darlington
Faye Hughes
14 October
14 October
North East
Berwick-upon-Tweed
Rowan McAlpine
15 October
15 October
South West
Devon
Rosie Hargreaves
17 October
17 October
South West
Taunton
Finn Alexander
16 October
16 October
Scotland
Banchory
Archie Hilton
18 October §
18 -19  October
Scotland
Newtown St Boswells
Danielle Lockie
21 October
21 October
Yorkshire and Humberside
Sheffield
Kristina Pavic
22 October
22 October
Yorkshire and Humberside
Hull
Thomas Donaldson
23 October
23 October
London
Rainham
Daniel Payne
24 October
24 October
London
Wandsworth
Natacha Simpson
4 October §
4-5 October
East of England
Chelmsford
Thomas Gaynham
25 October §
25 October
East of England
Norwich
Ava Reynolds
28 October
28 October
29 Oct @ NG
West Midlands
Oswestry
Oliver Miller
31 October

West Midlands
Newcastle-under-Lyme
Fred Egerton
1 November

East Midlands
Newark
Morgan Spink
30 October

East Midlands
Derby
Ethan Mahal
29 October
29 October
Wales


Jayden Roberts

Nicole Murphy
Oct 3-17 in English
Oct 18 – Nov 4 in Welsh
11 October (E)

18 October (W)
Wales



Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Children's Television makes a come-back to launch 2014

Royal Mail starts 2014 with a set of 12 self-adhesive 1st class (60p) stamps showing Classic Children's Television characters from Andy Pandy in the 1950s via Camberwick Green, Greendale and Wimbledon into the 21st century.  The stamps will be issued on 7 January 2014.

The set of 12 - Andy Pandy, Ivor the Engine, Dougal (Magic Roundabout), Windy Miller, Mr Ben, Great Uncle Bulgaria (Wombles), Bagpuss, Paddington Bear, Bob the Builder, Postman Pat & Jess, Peppa Pig, and Shaun the Sheep.



The self-adhesive stamps will be printed in two sheets of 30/60 by International Security Printers, in gravure.

The Royal Mail first day cover