Friday, 17 June 2016

Important Announcement from Royal Mail regarding World War I stamp issue error

Readers may have already read the comment on the blog posted this morning:

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.

UPDATE 21st
1. Reports from all quarters say that PO Ltd have told their branches not to sell the Presentation Pack OR the miniature sheet.  Seeking clarification from Royal Mail. 
     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!

UPDATE 8 July
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.

44 comments:

  1. I've already picked up two copies of the 2nd Queens Birthday retail booklet from a Post Office so that is already out.

    If the stamps, the MS, the PSB and the First Day Envelope are unaffected. What's left? Presentation Pack? PHQs?

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    1. The Queen's Birthday RB was issued on 9 June, but to avoid having two distributions (how ironic) Tallents House decided to combine sending it to their SO customers with the WWI issue.

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  2. I went in to my local Crown Office this morning and was told that they had to remove the presentation packs from sale but not the sheet stamps or the miniature sheets. I was shown some presentation packs and could see nothing wrong with stamps so I guess it might be a problem with printing on the packets its self.

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  3. Could it be that in order to fleece customers RM may be trying to create more issues than the are capable of managing without cock-up? I have an order for envelopes mini sheets and PSB. All I've received today is the letter. If only some of the products are defective why not distribute the others? This hobby is hard work.

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  4. Ian

    2 local post offices have been told to withdraw MS and PP. I think both were deleted from the Horizon system to make it impossible to sell. Curiously the PP does not seem to be listed on Ebay. However Packs & Cards still have it listed on their web site

    John Embrey

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  5. Has any one got a clue as to what the error is ? Thanks !

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    1. The field post office frank on the presentation pack is dated 1915 instead of a later date of 1916!

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    2. Well spotted! The year is now 2016. Therefore, anniversary dates should correspond, i.e. in this case 1916 and NOT 1915!

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    3. Not important enough to reprint, in my opinion.

      And other dates on the pack/insert of 1915 and 1918 are accurate in their context and therefore not the reason for the block on sales.

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  6. I was told in one post office that the mini sheets had been sent back and the second that they had them but couldn't sell them - they said to me they may able to soon, but I don't know if this was a hope or because a non-design issue might be being resolved? Got the stamp set ok though.

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  7. Both this and the Queen's 90th birthday FDC's (which we FINALLY received a few days ago) makes an absolute joke of the nature of a first day cover - what's the point of a first day cover that is sent to you two months on - surely then it is just a cover? Hope they resolve this issue in a more timely manner!

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  8. On attending the post office in W H Smith Hastings (now the main post office in Hastings ) I was not able to buy any stamps. I was told that they had received a memo at 1600 hrs the previous day stating that they could not sell any of the new products out today. The staff member thought it was something to do with a spelling error? There seems to be a mixed message out to the branches or a break down in communications when looking at previous blogs/messages

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  9. To be honest with all of you guys it's really funny. Since 9:00 am 21st June 2016 I've visited 10 post offices in north London, 6 of them said the issue have been withheld. But the rest selling stamps and the barcoded mini sheet. Just the presentation pack is not for sell. Various memo been sent to the Verious post offices by POL. And I've to mention that pack & cards take their listing off and one person selling it for £999.99 on eBay.

    Good luck lads
    Happy collecting.

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  10. “A mystery!
    We had a small stock that got depleted almost instantly when we listed it for sale yesterday. So have just a handful left with no means of getting any more until August.
    The RM spokesman would not be drawn on whether there was a problem with the text or it was just poor quality print (which it doesn't seem to be). But it is clear that the problem is not with the stamps themselves. Our guess is that there is a factual error that is embarrassing and they cannot be seen to ignore it so are reprinting. As both the pack and the first day cover are withdrawn it would seem likely that the common element is the text on the insert card describing the 6 single stamps. The same text is on the back of the mount in the presentation pack. That's our best guess. In the meantime, until the mistake comes to light, as we had a few left we have listed two on ebay with no reserve. Can anyone see a problem with any of the text? Does anyone have any ideas what the error might be? Ian Andrew, Packs and Cards.”

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    1. Indeed. I examined the 'acknowledgements' etc on the pack and the insert card yesterday and found nothing that was different to what I had written on our website. As this was taken from the information provided to the Trade I suppose that is not really a surprise as the text comes from their common library as their images come from their common gallery.

      I noted that the Solider Writing a Letter was attributed to the National Library of Scotland but not to the photographer. The NLS have the image available for ALL use without license payment under Creative Commons. Nothing else was obvious, but it is obviously serious.

      Oddly Tallents House have not recalled the pack, so we can still sell it to our customers, which does seem odd.

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  11. Hi, the Horizon instruction tells us to withdraw AW024 Stamp Souvenir, AW025 Stamp Souvenir Mini Sheet and PPGW16, the presentation pack. Dont sell these products, abilty to sell and reorder has been removed from Horizon ( only the PP icon was removed though, not the mini sheet or the Stamp Souvenir)and more information will be sent out shortly. I tried to put a pic on but it wont let me. lot of confusion because the new terms are confusing some of us.I have my stock sat in the safe waiting for more details. My customers are annoyed but see it as another example of Royal Mail incompetence. I try and look after my philatelic customers, I keep back issues of stock but always struggle to get stock from post office supply team. If you want me to update you as new information comes along, respond to this comment. Steve

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    1. hi Steve, thanks for the comments from the retail side. You can't add a pic as a comment but you can send it to me (email address at the top of the page) and I can add it to the blog as an update.

      As you will be aware we knew of this on Friday, and it is unfortunate that when POL did tell branches (1600 Monday!) the information was wrong. As far as I cam concerned, from our point of view, most of Royal Mail's products are absolutely fine to sell, and the only items that should not be sold are the PP and the FDC insert.

      Selling the FDC would at least allow people to get their covers postmarked in a timely fashion, instead of loading the Special Handstamp Centres with a peak in their workload to coincide with the Landscape Gardens issue in August,.

      Always grateful for any news from people on the front line, so please do keep us up to date. Many thanks.

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    2. PS: odd that they have held back on the two 'souvenir covers' (ie unpostmarked FDCs) but not the blank covers!

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    3. I had trouble getting them yesterday - the one main post office had sent everything back, yet another little one was able to sell me miniature sheets and 1st class (didn't check for £1.52 as that is a value I use maybe once or twice a year) but the lovely subpostmistress said it had been the presentation packs recalled. Now I know of a nice little post office to visit for my postal stampy needs (two of my favourites closed due to retirement and another one relocated and retired).

      Sounds like Steve has a great post office - if you were in my little northwest corner of Wales, I'd visit you!

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  12. Thanks M, appreciate the compliment.I work in a city centre PO for WHS. Since i got a display cabinet off ebay the philatelic stuff has really taken off, can't sell it if its stuck in a safe.
    The Beatrix Potter release was delivered today and the presentation packs were cut from 100 to just 23,so I'm on the case as to why that is.

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    1. Oh good. Most people wouldn't have a clue that there was a stamp issue out and there was no sign of anything about stamps on the advertising screen I was subjected to in yesterday's 15 minute+ wait (the main post office was moved into a WHS too). The first they see about stamps is sometimes when it is mentioned in a national newspaper on day of issue.

      I have ordered stamps online (not feasible now as I don't need sets) and also ringing RM up, but it is far nicer to speak to a nice little post office person (I keep bumping into my really lovely retired sub-postmaster in a supermarket who had been given a regional "loveliest" post office award one year and had worked for Stanley Gibbons...), but finding a nice little post office can take time and effort.

      I'm not really a collector (OK, I do have a used stamp collection) but I am a stamp user. I have snailmail penfriends around the world and I used to be really active on Postcrossing (a project for the sending of postcards all around the world, and has been featured on some countries' stamps) - over 36 million postcards have been received in over 10 years.

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  13. In my observation on the Great War 1916 Prestigebook on the back page there seems to me a type error: Under Stamp panes the sentence reads The Great War 1915 stamps etc... should be 1916 in my opinion. Might it be this also was the case on the other now withdrawn items??

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    1. Not the problem on the FDC insert, and the PSB has not been held back, it is the Presentation Pack which has been held back.

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    2. Am I the only person who noticed the back cover of the First World War Prestige Book for 2016 has "16" on the front cover and "19" on the back cover? I doubt I have a great rarity here, so I'm thinking someone proof read the back cover looking in a mirror.

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  14. Reply from Royal Mail re my question as to why I could not get any new stamps at Hastings
    Hi Geoff.

    Please find below listed product availability for the new range:

    Presentation Pack, not currently available due to production issue.
    Miniature Sheet, available as stand-alone product.
    FDC and single or strips of stamps, available.
    Souvenir Sheets, not available.

    Many thanks

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    1. Geoff,
      Thanks. But there is no such thing as a Souvenir Sheet for this issue.
      The 'Souvenir' items are the unaddressed FDCs for both the set and the miniature sheet. To market them to non-collectors RM refers to them as 'Souvenirs' which causes widespread confusion.

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    2. Ian, Precisely, This whole matter in my view has come about due to poor communication by an organisation that delivers 'Communication' Putting to one side the late notice of an error.

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  15. Just spoke to one TH, It seems like the problem is with printing in PP info card and first day cover insert. But not confirmed =)

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  16. Still waiting for mine to be delivered, spoke to TH twice and informed them that I know about the errors but I would like the remainder to be sent. No response so far, this is a total fiasco, the correctly printed products should be issued.

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  17. Hi Peter
    I still don't know what is the error in FDC insert. Have you figured it out ?

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  18. I've had nothing, no stamps, mini sheet, booklet or prestige book. Spoke to TH on the 23rd where I was told 'your not first today I've put a note on your file'. 1st July and still nothing, and it would seem some people have had a letter explaining the delay, I didn't. On the Royal Mail website the stamps in all formats are still for sale and no message on that site explaining why we have not had them. Been a customer for over 50 years and this has to be the worst it has been. Royal Mail state the customer comes first, so why are they leaving everyone in the dark.

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    Replies
    1. This may affect you: http://blog.norphil.co.uk/2016/07/update-for-stamp-collectors-buying-from.html

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    2. Just checked my bank account to find over £30 was taken from my account for these stamps on the 23 June. I sent an email on Friday but as it's the weekend I probably won't get a reply until Monday. I'm not very happy that they have taken the money knowing there was a problem with the stamps.

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  19. I have received my covers back from the Royal Mail Handstamp unit in London.

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    1. I had mine back last week, Tuesday or Wednesday. As I indicated, there would never be a problem with having covers postmarked, only in getting the covers in the first place.

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  20. I've received the FDC's, but nothing else, even though I was told that the stamps etc., had been sent out at the beginning of the week. If that's not bad enough, I'm still waiting on the Scottish Tariff Change FDC's from March. Four times they have been reordered, and four times they have become locked in the system. Further attempts to get them released for despatch have failed. There appears to be a huge gremlin in the new computer system which is just stopping the release of new items. RM have yet to find a solution. In the meantime RM should inform customers of these problems, without us having to revert to the phone, as they don't respond to emails or complaints.

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  21. Were many of the PP sold? I ask because I managed to buy one on 21 June from my local PO.

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  22. key accounts from Europe
    I did not receive my standing order for the PP (all the other items well) Why Not , I ask?
    Since others did receive them and they are being sold on Ebay for Hundreds of £'s !!!!

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  23. To 'Anonymous' who had trouble expressing himself without using an expletive, I can't edit comments, so I won't let through anything like that.

    The error is known - but we are making sure that the error that has been found is the one that Royal Mail have found before writing about it.

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  24. can anyone tell me when pp and mini sheet re-prints are on sale at post offices

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  25. The mini sheet does NOT need reprinting, will not be reprinted and has been in sale at POs since 21 June. See detailed instructions above to POs as to what should not have been on sale.

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  26. the biggest thing that is wrong and still is wrong is the 1916 timeline....28th August Italy declares war on Germany...True it was 28th August but 1915 NOT 1916..

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  27. Spoken to TH today for the fourth time chasing my First day cover, say that they don't know where it is as it was sent in July, although twice in August I was told it was still in warehouse awaiting dispatch. Now told they will resend but not for another 4 weeks. It seems to be utter chaos

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