Just to let everyone know I have just spoken to Tallents House and they told me that the 1st World War issue will be delayed by up to 8 weeks caused by a printing error. They could not tell me if the 2nd 90th Birthday booklet due to be issued with it will also be withheld. More bad news from Edinburgh.This comment was made in good faith, and the information was provided by Customer Services in Tallents House in good faith, but there is no printing error as such.
Royal Mail have confirmed to me that:
- the stamps, miniature sheet, PSB, and first day envelope - which are already with dealers and Post Office branches are correct in every way.
- the date of issue remains 21 June, next Tuesday and all first day and other special handstamps will be applied to first day covers sent to special handstamp centres.
- a minor production issue has affected some products not mentioned above, and this will have to be corrected. Consequently the distribution of these stamps to Tallents House ordinary customers, and casual buyers will be split, with the products mentioned being distributed as normal (ie on or for Tuesday 21 June). The distribution of the affected products only will be delayed by up to 8 weeks.
I am assuming that the second Queen's Birthday Retail Booklet, which somebody said was being distributed at the same time as WWI, will form part of the first distribution.
1. Reports from all quarters say that PO Ltd have told their branches not to sell the Presentation Pack OR the miniature sheet.
Clearly a misunderstanding between POHQ and branches, and possibly RMHQ and POHQ, not helped by the fact that the miniature sheet appears not to have been in the PO Horizon System this morning.
Despite that some people have managed to buy all mint stamp products with no problem.
2. This is the letter sent from Tallents House to standing collector account holders re the items which would be delayed.
As is always the case, RM Special Handstamp Centres will accept covers for processing when they are eventually sent, ie in a couple of months' time.
However, the Trade has not been told to hold back on distribution of serviced Royal Mail FDC.
UPDATE 22 June:
This is the notice that was sent to Post Offices on Monday. The layout could cause confusion and may be the reason that some offices decided that the Miniature Sheet could not be sold. But anybody who read the whole instruction would have got it right. Of course it doesn't help that the product codes are not on the actual products, otherwise there might have been less confusion.
1. It states three items.
2. It shows which items they are - and most offices do not get any stock of the first two.
3. The last line shows that 'all other products supplied should be sold as normal'.
4. There is no mention of the blank first day envelope, which has the same insert as the souvenir products, and so the same error!
But if you don't get right to the end, the eye will settle on 'Mini Sheet' and 'Pres Packs'. The notice may (or may not!) be easier to read on the Horizon screen, but the way it translates to the paper makes it open to misinterpretation.
Meanwhile, as indicated in the comments, dealers are happily selling both the pack and the first day covers, because we have not been asked not to.
UPDATE 23 June
I had the opportunity to ask my village postmaster (who wasn't on an Outreach this morning) what he thought of the notice above. He looked at it again and said, "I didn't understand it... I don't know what these things are, so I took everything off sale." He said that it seemed clear that the Mini-sheet (and hence the Presentation Pack) were wrong. I explained what the 'souvenir' items were - things which he didn't get anyway - and told him what he was able to sell. He shrugged and said that for the time being they can stay in the safe!
16:00 Latest update from Post Office is a new instruction to make sure the things which should be on sale are on sale:
UPDATE 7 July
I remember when a certain south of England company used to 'tip' certain stamps as being 'hot' and worth much more than the catalogue value, and urged people to buy now, and later making good buying offers for the same stamps. A few years later the advertising referred back to those adverts with messages on the lines of "did you listen to us when we said...." and now the catalogue value had gone up much more.
Well, popular as this blog is it seems there are many people who don't read it - or they think that the demand for the Presentation Pack with the error will far outstrip supply. Top achieved price seen so far is £175, although a current eBay auction has over a day to go and the bidding has already reached £182. And the dealer who made the four highest prices shown here didn't even mention the error!
Whilst we have been told of a couple of possible causes for the reprint, I have refrained from writing about them in case (a) Royal Mail haven't found them (b) these are not the cause of the reprint.
In an unexpected email this week I was told that a first day cover had been purchased through eBay which showed a corrected version of what we regard as the most likely reason for the reprint. According to the seller, this cover was purchased from a PO on 21 June and then serviced in the normal way. The card insert has the what we think is correct text; mine have the wrong text.
I don't think it possible that both error and correct cards were printed at the same time in the same master sheet. Unlike old stamps, where each would be a separate cliche and each could be different, presentation pack carriers and FDC insert cards are printed in sheets, the plate for which is generated by what we used to call 'step-and-repeat': in other words each one is exactly the same unless an extraneous matter intervened.
This suggests that the error was spotted by Royal Mail early enough for a reprint of the FDC insert to be arranged well before distribution to POs, and it may well be that the supplies which went to POs were correct. Only later did RM realise that the same text was on the pack carrier, which would have to be reprinted as well, and they took the opportunity to prevent the sale of these at Post Offices. (Hence POs were told not to sell them - although some did.)
UPDATE 9 AUGUST 2016
Just for the record, although many people will know the reason for the reprint by now, here are the wrong and corrected versions of the presentation pack carrier card for the miniature sheet. The original wrongly identifies the well-known Post Office Rifles VC recipient as Albert Knight instead of Alfred Knight (as shown in the 2006 Victoria X Prestige Book!)
Keywords: royal mail, presentation pack, world war I, error, first day cover.