As you probably know, the 'high value' definitives (£1.50, £2, £3, and £5) originally issued in 1995 and converted to security format in 2009 are no longer stocked by most post offices because there is no operational need for them. Indeed many no longer have the £1 or 50p stamps either for the same reason. The days when the counter clerk would calculate what stamps to use for a £4.95 parcel are long gone. (I would use £3.30 plus 3 x 2nd class.)
Now they simply press a button and print a label. Even if some of the postage is already paid, this can be deducted from the total and a label printed for the balance. So you can look in vain for these at most post offices - and on Royal Mail's collector website, which only lists definitives for 2015 and 2016. (To be fair, these can be found on Royal Mail's webshop for business users, but only in multiples of 10 or 25, not singles.)
SO what possessed the Stamps and Collectables team to decide that it would be a good idea to resurrect the 1977 Machin format for high values (when £5 was worth £5!) and use it for this commemoration? And is it a definitive or a special stamp? It's been announced to us as a definitive, but it has a commemorative iridescent printing, and a commemorative inscription in the margin, like a special stamp. Like other special stamps, there is no printing date or sheet number. Like other definitive stamps the year of issue/production is included as a secret code in the iridescent print.
And how are ordinary collectors to obtain these? If you have a standing order with Tallents House for special stamps you will probably NOT get these. If you have a standing order for High Value Definitives you probably WILL. I can't be sure, but the lass in Sunderland (didn't know that was an outpost of Scotland, did you? That's where Tallents House calls are handled now.) thinks that they are probably regarded as definitives for standing order purposes.
But if you gave up on Tallents House standing orders last year because of their (still) astonishing accounting systems change, and lamentable service, you can buy them at your post office, right? Wrong!
Of course we know that since Post Office Ltd moved your friendly sub-post office into the nearest convenience store it now opens all hours so you don't need time off work to buy your stamps. But under the new Network Transformation 'Locals' scheme these branches no longer stock special stamps - except at Christmas, when 'ordinary' customers would complain. The dwindling number of collector customers don't matter.
But that still leaves about 8,000 out of the roughly 11,500 branches? Well no. If you live in England outside Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, County Durham, Devon, Essex, Gloucestershire, Greater London, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Isle of Wight, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Surrey or Wiltshire you are out of luck. Likewise in Scotland if you are not in Edinburgh or Glasgow. And if you are in Wales or Northern Ireland, forget it - neither the Post Office nor Royal Mail want your money.
The FULL list of Post Office branches which are stocking these stamps is:
Bristol (The Galleries)Cambridge (City St Andrew's Street)Chester (St John Street)Colchester (North Hill)Croydon (High St)Durham (Market Place)Edinburgh (Princes Mall)Exeter (Bedford St)Glasgow (West Nile St)Grimsby (Victoria St)Harrogate (Cambridge Road)London: Eastcheap (City of London BO)London: House of CommonsLondon: William IV St (Trafalgar Sq BO)Newport IOW (Pyle Street)Norwich (St Stephens St)Nottingham (Queen Street)Plymouth (New George St)Portsmouth (Slindon St)Southampton (Above Bar St)Southend-on-sea (High Street)Stevenage (Queensway)Stroud (Russell Street)Trowbridge (Temp Unit Lovemead Car Park)Truro (High Cross)Windsor (Peascod St)York (Lendal)
Yes, the full list of 27 includes the House of Commons (so that makes 26), and the Isle of Wight (well, that saves locals from having to pay for a ferry).
UPDATE: Add Goring-by-Sea, Sussex, to the list because they are selling them as well.
So, in answer to questions, yes I'm sure it qualifies for catalogue status because it is readily available at some Post Office branches. It would be a serious and significant step if the Stanley Gibbons catalogue editor decided to relegate any modern British stamp sold at a post office to a footnote in history. But maybe that is the wake-up call that Royal Mail needs? Maybe I'm shooting myself in the foot by putting of genuine collectors, but there are plenty of older stamps around to collect, and to deal in. SO will this be in your collection?