Two weeks before this, I had asked RGPO for details of what would be available, and received the answer:
Of course it was the machine in London I was asking about! In the end, as we found, the stamps were dispensed from the machine, but none were available from the Gibraltar Stamps stand. There were no 'back-office' machine stamps, and no official first day covers of course.Unfortunately we do not have any information on the Post and Go stamps yet.Hopefully we will have some more info when the machines arrive to Gib hopefully very soon.Also the Gibraltar Post and Go will be available at Europhilex 2015 so you will be able to purchase them by the machine.
Imagine my surprise to receive an emailshot from Gibraltar Stamps this morning:
And on looking at their website, I find that they now have stamps with a GI country code, B002 machine number - and they also have first day covers dated 13 May. But none of these is provided with the customary receipt. The technical information on the website is totally missing, but the FDC is illustrated.
Sadly the most telling part of this is in their description:
Post and Go machines issue a new generation of self-adhesive postage stamps that are rapidly capturing the interest of stamp collectors.
OK, we know that first day covers are rarely produced on the day of issue, being prepared beforehand, or for some time afterwards, and in stock at most bureaux for many months or years. But is this the first instance of a first day cover not being available from either the philatelic bureau or its trade stand at an exhibition on the day of issue, but being contrived two weeks later?
I suppose RGPO had to wait for the IAR contractor to get back from London (after Essen) and reprogram B002 (which is located in Bristol) to pretend to be a Gibraltar machine. If the stamps are in Gibraltar, they weren't printed there, and were shipped there in bulk. Yes, many modern stamps are printed in another country - look how many Royal Mail stamps are printed in France. But the essence of Post and Go stamps is that the base stock is printed at the printing works (wherever that may be), and the black value and machine code is printed on site, the country code indicating the country in which they were printed. The datastring on these stamps is totally bogus - unless anyone knows otherwise?
This is a message I sent to the RGPO (not Gibraltar Stamps which is a separate company), on 10 May, before the exhibition. No answer was received, so I now make it an open letter to the Royal Gibraltar Post Office which, as far as we know, still doesn't have a public-access machine (if indeed they have any Post and Go machine) in the colony.
I am concerned that next week the Royal Gibraltar Post Office will be selling in London stamps which are only valid for postage in Gibraltar but which are not being sold in Gibraltar.
I understand that after the London Europhilex event the machine dispensing these stamps will move not to Gibraltar but to Gibraltar House in London, from where the stamps will continue to be available. Somebody in your organisation clearly thinks this is a good idea, and certain to attract collectors, but why would you produce stamps not available in the Colony for sale only in another country. That would be like Royal Mail selling a British stamp only in Gibraltar (or the USA, or Venezuela!), or the Canadians selling on only in Monaco or Ukraine.
What are you thinking?
Ian Billings, Norvic Philatelics.