Thursday, 30 April 2015

London 2015 - Europhilex - Post and Go stamps

As so often seems to be the case, the authorities have been slow to provide details of what Post and Go stamps will be available at the forthcoming widely-publicised London 2015 exhibition.

We cannot be sure that the information here is accurate and will remain unchanged, based on the situation in previous exhibitions and the Scottish Congress at Perth.

As far as we know machines from Jersey Post, Guernsey Post, Gibraltar PO, will join multiple Royal Mail machines at the Business Design Centre from 13-16 May 2015.



Royal Mail

The new Heraldic Beasts designs will be issued on the opening day, 13 May (click on the link to see the set and special day of issue postmarks).  Royal Mail will have three machines at the show, and the will dispense stamps as follows:

Machine
Reel A
Reel B
Overprint*
A006
Heraldic Beasts
Machin
Machin
A008
Heraldic Beasts
Union Flag
None
A009
Heraldic Beasts
Machin
Machin

* Overprint reads 'Europhilex London / Penny Black 175'

Stamps may also be pre-ordered from the back-office B001 machine - I have no idea whether these will also be available from the Royal Mail stand.  At some Stampex events they have been, at others they have not.  A009 will be alongside the stand with a bar-code scanner, so it may be expected that customers will buy their Post and Go stamps when they buy other packs, cards, albums etc which have bar-codes, via the machine.

B001 will produce Machin stamps with the Europhilex overprint, and Union Flag and Heraldic Beasts stamps without.

The usual exhibition Smilers sheets will also be available in 10s or 20s.



Guernsey Post

... will be selling their Guernsey Flag stamp with a Europhilex overprint from GG01.   I have asked for clarification regarding sale of the Union Flag stamp.  Collectors will recall that we were originally told that the Guernsey machine at Stampex would have a Stampex overprint, but stamps were sold without it from the Machine.  Stamps with the overprint produced from the back-office machine were sold at Guernsey's stand.


Jersey Post

We are awaiting confirmation from Jersey Post regarding their attendance and what they will be selling from JE01.  It is likely to be a Jersey Flag stamp with a Europhilex inscription and the Protected Species stamps which were launched at Spring Stampex.
Update: Jersey post confirmed the Jersey Flag with Europhilex inscription and Union Flag, but have now corrected this to Protected Species.  The Europhilex stamp will apparently NOT be available from their stand, only from the machine. 


Royal Gibraltar Post Office

We understand that Gibraltar will launch it's Post and Go machine at Europhilex with machine GI01 dispensing stamps showing the Gibraltar Flag from reel A, and the Union Flag from reel B.  We have been told that the Gibraltar Flag stamp will have a Europhilex overprint, but this seems unlikely in view of what happened with Guernsey at Spring Stampex.  I'm awaiting confirmation from RGPO.

Whilst we know that UK stamps are sold in the Channel Islands (for SAEs to the UK), I have no knowledge of whether RGPO also sells UK stamps.  The presence of British Forces in the colony would not make this a necessity as there is also a British Forces PO presence.

UPDATE from Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau 7/5/15
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.
According to the IAR website, GI01 will reside at Gibraltar House in London's Strand between Europhilex and Autumn Stampex.  So there will apparently not be a machine in the colony until later this year or even next.  So they are selling outside the colony a stamp which - presumably - will be valid for postage in the colony, but which is not available there.  
The sad thing is, to mangle a phrase, "You COULD make it up - and you would be right!"

UPDATE:
Thanks to readers who have pointed out additional information buried in the IAR website.  I'll leave the links in the comments, but will only be adding extra information to the blog post when I have it from the postal authorities concerned, given the conflicting information provided in the past.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Stamp, Postmark and Post & Go News update 27 April 2015

It's been another busy philatelic week while we've been away again.  Thanks to our readers for the following reports, linked to the original blog entry if relevant.  In most cases clicking on the picture will show an enlargement.

        Slogan Postmarks


Martin reported that these slogan postmarks would be in use last week:

1. Queen's Award on Monday 20 April, on iLSMs and IMPs.
(UPDATE:  John E writes: "slogan does not appear to have been used by IMPs on 20 April - only by iLSMs - despite the expectation it would be used on both.")

Adrian sent this example from Peterborough:



2. St George's Day on Wednesday 22 April, on IMPs only, and possibly only on mail addressed to English addresses.

I've seen no examples yet of the St George's Day postmark.
Thanks to John I can show these examples from Swansea and Preston.  John writes: "The slogan was used on 22 April by IMPs, only on mail to addresses in England - but this did include use by IMPs in Wales!", these using the English inscription.

The surprise is that this slogan was applied to 2nd class mail on 22nd, even though there would be no expectation of it being delivered on 23rd.  It would not have been surprising to have it used on 2nd class mail on 21st, and 1st class mail on 22nd.




3. Anthony Trollope from Thursday 23 April until 1 May, on iLSMs and IMPs
 
I received these in my own post, one type from Bristol Mail Centre and the other from Peterborough both on 23 April:



       Post and Go


Malcolm sent a photo of the Fleet Air Arm Museum Post and Go machine A003 which now correctly identifies the Museum (with it's harrier logo) on the screen.  No word yet on when the harrier will appear on the stamps.




The chaos of Post and Go at the 86th Scottish Philatelic Congress continued.  Several people reported the omission of the year on the Machin and Flag stamps produced to pre-order on the 'back-office' machine B001 in Bristol.  Jersey Post's machine also produced stamps without 2015.

In Perth, the stamps from machines A006 and A008 did show the year, but receipts from machine A008 initially showed this as the 85th Congress!  This was updated later on day 1.


After the debacle at Spring Stampex 2014 which included almost every conceivable type of error we were assured by Royal Mail that they would stress to the contractor the need for better quality control to ensure that such errors were fewer in future.  Of course operationally - to the extent that the stamps are used for postage - the errors do not matter to Royal Mail.  But RoyalMail are aware that the unintentional variations do reflect badly on them, with people suggesting that they are intentionally made to fleece collectors.  They are also aware of comments made by both collectors and dealers - and also recognise that with every such situation there are some collectors who decide not to continue with their Post and Go collections, so reducing revenue.

      Banbury Trials

John E was able to obtain some samples of the handstamps used in trials at Banbury as part of the revenue protection exercise on uncancelled mail.  As John wrote,"A shame that the 'Banbury Cross' will not be used generally!"

The three show Large Wavy Lines with Maltese Cross, same but smaller, and wavy lines with no cross.




      Machin definitives

John F reports another new printing date for the £1 M15L sheet stamp - 22/01/15.


This is in addition to the already reported 13/01/15 and 09/03/15.

Post and Go in 3 more Enquiry Offices - today at Kingston-upon-Thames

Following the trial use of Royal Mail II Post and Go machines at Crewe and Bradford North three new Enquiry Office Post and Go machines will go live from 27 April 2015 as part of the ongoing trial.

Details are:

Kingston upon Thames – Machine M004 – 27 April 2015

Croydon – Machine M005 – 28 April 2015

Doncaster – Machine M006 – 29 April 2015

Machines will vend Machin 1st and 2nd class designs.

UPDATE:
Due to training requirements, the new kiosk at Kingston-on-Thames will not be in available until 16:00 on the 27th and Croydon and Doncaster not until 13:00 - see comments below as they show that these dates and times are not set in stone (more, slow-drying cement!)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

UPDATE 1 May 2015
At last somebody has found a machine in operation!  Thanks to Melvyn for sending these pictures from 29 April of M006 at Doncaster Enquiry Office.  The 2nd class is badly misaligned but the 1st class printed correctly:



Thursday, 16 April 2015

Fleet Air Arm Museum Post and Go Launch

Royal Mail's latest venture into military museums didn't go entirely to plan as the machines did not produce the Fleet Air Arm Museum Harrier logo due to 'quality issues'.  Perhaps it was copied from their website - it doesn't enlarge well from there.  

The machine was operational from 12.30pm on 14 April 2015 after set-up problems. Thanks to several readers for pictures of the stamps and receipts, and photographs of the machine. Nobody mentioned year codes; as far as I can see the Machin is MA13 and the flag undated.



The machine identified itself as the National Museum of the Royal Navy, with the same logo as at Portsmouth.  This is probably an error which will be rectified, although the Portsmouth, Southsea and Yeovilton museums all fall under the same RN group.  (Click on the images for enlargements.)





Thanks to Trevor, Malcolm, and Roy.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

2015 Machin stamps in abundance! The list so far.

In the last three weeks the range of Machin definitives with 2015 year codes has increased substantially.  As well as providing pictures of the latest, I'm aiming with this post to also provide a complete list of the stamps that have appeared so far this year, including 2014 codes.

At the end of March the 2p, 5p and 20p counter sheets made an appearance, and this week the 1st class business sheet and 2nd class retail booklet have become available.  On most of these the M15L code is quite clear, although at first glance the 2nd class looked like M16L.  We will have to be careful next year!



The list of 2015 issues so far, with Norvic catalogue numbers - 23 new stamps:

2911.5        2nd counter sheet
2911B.5     2nd business sheet
2931.5        2nd retail booklet

2914B.5     1st business sheet
2936C.5     1st from mixed retail booklet (Alice in Wonderland or Comedy Greats)

2937.5        1st Large from retail booklet

2991.5        1st Signed For
2992.5        1st Large Signed For

3001.5        1p counter sheet
3002.5        2p counter sheet
3005.5        5p counter sheet
3020.5        20p counter sheet
3101.5        £1 counter sheet

3133           £1.33 counter sheet
3152           £1.52 counter sheet
3225           £2.25 counter sheet
3245           £2.45 counter sheet
3315           £3.15 counter sheet
3330           £3.30 counter sheet

4001P.4      1p M14L from Inventive Britain Prestige Book
4002P.4      2p M14L from Inventive Britain Prestige Book
4081P.4      81p M14L from Inventive Britain Prestige Book
4097P.4      97p M14L from Inventive Britain Prestige Book

Monday, 13 April 2015

A new slogan postmark next week - Anthony Trollope.

Royal Mail has created a special slogan postmark to mark the bicentenary of Anthony Trollope’s birth.  This will appear on stamped mail across the UK from Friday 24 April 2015 for one week.

We'll add examples here when received.

See more about Trollope currently at http://rmspecialstamps.com/


Post and Go News - Fleet Air Arm Museum and RM Enquiry Offices

From Royal Mail:

We are pleased to confirm the following update and developments for Post and Go.

New Static Location – Fleet Air Arm Museum (FAAM)
Machine A003 (last seen at Stampex) will go live at FAAM on Tuesday 14th April and will feature both the Machin stamps and the Union Flag stamp
 
The location ID will be “The FAAM” with a graphic device featuring the Fleet Air Arm Harrier logo on the Machin stamp and “The FAAM" overprint on the Union Flag stamp.

The address is
Fleet Air Arm Museum
RNAS Yeovilton
Ilchester
Somerset
BA22 8HT

New Operational Locations
Following the success of the existing Operational Kiosks in the Royal Mail Enquiry offices, three more sites are joining the trial.

Sites surveys have taken place and the three sites will be installed in April. Other developments including weight and vend will follow.


Revenue protection - Royal Mail phasing out the pen-cancel?

According to MyRoyalMail, the  business is reporting a 9% decline in the number of non-cancelled postage stamps in the network.

"We also cancel the stamp parcels that we get through the parcels pipeline, which has helped to protect our revenue.

A new hand-stamp tool has also been successfully trialled in Banbury and London delivery offices with a view to being rolled out nationwide in the new financial year. This will make it easier for teams to cancel stamps."

Operational changes to the mailstream should help to pull out uncancelled mail - although direction to Post Office branches to cancel mail on request would help collectable mail get a good postmark.

From the picture it still seems like a handstamp and an old-fashioned PO inkpad rather than a self-inking device which would probably be more efficient.

UPDATE
I've been sent this picture which shows what appears to be a self-inking wavy-line handstamp, said to have been chosen from one of 6 trialled at Banbury in Oxfordshire.



But anything that prevents stamps being cancelled like these below, has to be good.

The first of these already has the machine postmark; the second is uncancelled.

And this one, by Special Delivery, should have been cancelled at the Post Office branch counter - this is deliberate destruction of the customer's property.


UPDATE 1 July 2015
Thanks to an Anonymous comment, these from 'myroyalmail.com'

From today, delivery offices will start to receive the new hand-stamping tool. Non-cancelled postage stamps in our network lose the business significant amounts of money each year. This tool is designed to easily help our postmen and women stamp out this loss of revenue.
Last year, we asked you for your ideas about how we can protect our revenue. We listened to your suggestions and acted on your feedback and have developed the new hand-stamping tool.
We trialled six shortlisted hand-stamp tools at Banbury and Mount Pleasant delivery offices to arrive at the best model for the job.
Although the first opportunity to cancel stamps is in the mail centre, postmen and women are an essential last line of defence to tackle the issue. Remember: revenue protection is everyone’s responsibility.
Keep an eye out for the new hand-stamp tool in your office.
And:
While our new hand-stamping tool will help our postmen and women protect our revenue, mail centres are the first line of defence in making sure stamps are cancelled.
In a mail centre, it’s important that the stamp cancelling function on your machine is on and working properly at all times. Your machine works at the same speed regardless of whether the stamp-cancelling function is on or off.
Troubleshooting
There are a number of reasons a stamped letter may still be processed through the machine and not cancelled.
  • The letter is not processed through the correct machine configuration
  • It was not detected by the machine, for example due to a dirty scanner
  • The printer may have run out of ink
  • The printer may be faulty or not maintained
If you experience any difficulty with your machine, please speak to your manager.
In addition to machines, all mail centres should have their manual hand-stamp areas staffed at all times.
Revenue protection is everyone’s responsibility.
I'll be happy to report on usage of these new handstamps, especially if there is any clue as to where they have been used.  Let's award stars to the Mail Centres which use them, and raspberries to those which don't!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Easter Holiday arrangements

A reminder to customers especially outside the UK that there are some changes to postal and office arrangements this week.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland many Post Offices are closed on Friday and Monday, but will be open as normal on Saturday.  Some branches operating under new contract arrangements will be open for part or all of each day.

There will be no Royal Mail collections (even from POs which are open) or deliveries on Friday or Monday.

Different arrangements apply in Scotland where Friday is a normal working day, but there will be no collections or deliveries on Monday.

These changes will affect despatch and delivery of orders.

UPDATE:
Our office will also be closed until Saturday 11 April, and again from 18-25 April inclusive.

Comedy Greats Stamps one-day Slogan Postmark

As mentioned earlier, this slogan which is in use on 1 April only, is in use both at ILM and iSLM Mail Centres, and so can be found in more than one format.