Monday, 21 August 2017

Machin news - 2nd Large booklet and SG catalogue numbers.

The latest new Machin definitive to appear is the 2nd Large booklet printed by ISP/Walsall, for which we hope to have stocks soon.   This is Norvic 2933.7, from booklet RA4.7.  

Thanks to RP for the images.  Images for the 1st class business sheet will be added soon.

Stanley Gibbons catalogue numbers

The latest issue of Gibbons Stamp Monthly includes basic catalogue listing for the Machin Anniversary definitives, excluding those in the miniature sheet.  The only stamps to get a new listing are:

SG 2133 - 20p double-head from PSB (the original 2133 was for the 1st class which becomes 2133a)
SG U3003 - 1st bright scarlet MPIL M17L (gravure) *
SG U3007 - £1 magenta MPIL M17L (gravure)

SG U3966 - £1 gold embossed from PSB (which SG records as having clearer embossing than the same stamp on the MS).

The stamps from panes 1 & 2 of the PSB (the 'Design Icon MS' stamps) are numbered 3958-63.

* Although listed as 'bright scarlet' this stamp is actually the original vermillion (red) colour.  When this is corrected the number should remain unchanged. 
The bright scarlet stamp but in litho was in the Windsor Castle PSB and is numbered SG U3016b.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

What purpose do country definitives serve?

Country definitives were introduced as Regional Definitives in 1958 to appease the Welsh, Irish
and especially the Scots, who thought they should have their own stamps rather than national symbols on UK definitives and the occasional 'special stamp' issue with one stamp for each country.  This is quite well written up on Wikipedia where there are also many external references, for example to the BPMA or Postal Museum.  Their 50th anniversary was marked with the miniature sheet and a prestige stamp book in 2008.

From 1999-2001 the old-style regionals were replaced by a set of four 'Country Definitives', for 2nd class, 1st class, and the European and basic worldwide letter rates.

Initially issued with all-over colour, they were re-issued with white borders in October 2003. The designs have remained basically the same since then, although the values of the two airmail rate stamps have increased alongside the Machin definitives.  Various values have also appeared in miniature sheets and prestige stamp books, presenting an interesting collecting area.

But are they used - or even available - now?  The answer, it seems, is not very much.  Mike writes about his experience in Scotland.
In a post office in Deeside I was told they had NONE.   In another branch near Dundee didn’t know what I was talking about. Even when I mentioned the thistle and the tartan they were mystified, until they opened their stockbook and I showed them the £1.17 and the £1.40. They had no 1st or 2nd.
Last week the Western Mail carried a letter of which this is an extract:
I am writing to express profound dissatisfaction with the inability to buy or use the main Welsh definitive stamps, 1st and 2nd class, the green 1st class one with the dragon and the 2nd class brown one showing a wilting leek.
For some time now I have been unable to buy regularly these stamps, even at my local crown post office in Bridgend.
When my recent stock had run out, I visited the post office a couple of weeks ago only to be told they had none (and the assistant checked all the counter books) but that they were “on order.” Earlier this week, I went in - still not delivered, should be in a week on Friday (August 4). This is not only not good enough but at best seems a sign of inefficiency or, at worst, an attempt to rob Wales of its distinctive stamps on the grounds of “lack of use”.
Earlier this year, I was told by a post office assistant that the reason they had none was the customers preferred the peel-off UK ones. Even if this is true, the question arises: why are the Welsh stamps not available as peel-off stamps?
A follow-up letter reported on a reply from Royal Mail
I am told that for “cost and efficiency reasons”, the definitive stamps of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are still gummed stamps rather than self-adhesive. The quoted phrase is not in itself convincing, of course – merely an unsupported assertion.
The spokesman also said that all Welsh post offices, big and small, are at liberty to order the Welsh 1st- and 2nd-class stamps as they wish.
I have replied to Royal Mail that I am still dissatisfied, not least because someone somewhere in England might eventually assert, “Oh, there is so little demand for the Welsh definitive stamps, we’ll discontinue them”. The reality is that the Welsh stamps are perhaps less popular by virtue of being still gummed rather than the self-adhesive.  And the Welsh versions are so damned difficult to buy, most people are probably unaware they exist.
The writer has been on this campaign for at least a couple of years, but it does seem that this is not uncommon.  When I asked a Northern Ireland customer to send his cheque using a (maybe not as inspiring as the others) NI country definitive a few years ago he had to visit several branches to find one.  And with the vast number of 1st and 2nd class stamps sold in booklets (or 10 x 1st special issues) it's little wonder that many branches in England don't have the England lion definitives either.

I'll be happy to report some positive news - that you are regularly able to buy the country definitives (of any value) at your local Post Office branch.  Do let us know what you find and where.  We'll keep the reporter and branch anonymous!

Late Start to August for Slogan Postmarks: Paradise Lost

After the Mental Health Awareness slogan at the end of July there was nothing reported before our holiday break, and we came back to an unannounced commemoration of John Milton's Paradise Lost.  Unannounced because there have been no Royal Mail press releases added to their media website since 3 August!

I've been sent one image from Edinburgh Mail Centre with an illegible date, but fortunately both types have arrived here.  We have Warrington Mail Centre dated 14-08-2017 and South East Anglia Mail Centre dated 16.08.17 (note the word 'of' is on line 2 at Warrington and line 3 at SE Anglia).  Peterborough dated 15-08-2017 is also reported and I suppose this slogan was in use for mail delivered last week (ie posted 11-17 August) - I'll try to get confirmation.

350 years since
the publication of
John Milton's
Paradise Lost

John Milton was featured on this miniature sheet issued for the House of Stuart in 2010, recording the publication of Paradise Lost in 1667:

This blogpost will be used to record any other slogans used in August.

Post and Go News: Postal Museum, Guernsey, Jersey, and others

Press Release:

Change of Overprint and New Post and Go Stamps at The Postal Museum

LONDON, 16 August 2017 – The Postal Museum has announced today that its ‘Official Opening’ inscription will end on all designs on Tuesday 12 September. It will be replaced with the words ‘The Postal Museum’ (without the organisation’s envelope logo) across all designs the following day, Wednesday 13 September.

Coinciding with the first day of Stampex, there will also be changes to the designs available from The Postal Museum’s A0001 machine. Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Air (six designs – first class only) will replace the Union Flag (all values), which will no longer be available.

The following stamps will be on sale from Wednesday 13 September:

  • Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Air (six designs – first class only)
  • Machin 50 Commemoratives (six designs - 1st class only)
  • Machin (2nd Class only)
  • Underground Railway (all values)
  • Mail Coach (all values)

Inscription Errors for Guernsey Visiting Liners

GM from Jersey writes:

The uptake on the current visiting cruise ship issues from Guernsey has not been great. My agent over there has picked up errors in the spelling of the ships names, most recently Sliver Spirit  instead of Silver Spirit, which was spotted and corrected on the day.

He also writes about various errors on Jersey Post and Go stamps, including

    combinations of blank and correct printings
    Battle of Hastings underprint with sword but no descriptive lettering.
    half printed underprint lettering due to slipping within the roll of  stamps
    error, underprint RAFA on endangered species issues.

Is Post and Go worthwhile for Jersey?  Apparently only if collectors buy the stamps, as GM also reports:

JE02  is very little used except by me. For example I have experienced the session numbers increase by only 1 or 2 over a period of 10 days!

For more on the dubious output of Jersey's Philatelic Bureau and that of the Isle of Man, take a look at the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion Blog.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy

Kiosk A002 in Portsmouth will have the following inscriptions starting Saturday 19 August and ending 18 September to celebrate the arrival of the HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth.

Union Flag
Royal Navy
QEII Carrier 2017

Royal Navy
Queen Elizabeth II Carrier 2017

These stamps can only be obtained from the Museum.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Chris for sending these images:

As before, we will not be stocking these Post and Go stamps.  An announcement about Autumn Stampex will be made shortly.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Before we go, one more Machin business sheet

Before we venture west to the highlands (well, the Welsh Marches) we had the local club's Summer Fair.  Nowadays I don't look for many stamps, but I do look for modern British postal history, which I write up on the other blog here.

This is the best find for many years, an insured parcel to South Africa franked at £3.35.  Read the postal history blog to find out whether this was right, and why.

I was also told of another find in a local post office, the 1st class business sheet with M17L coding.  Printed on 22/02/2017 this is on SBP2 of course, and will be added to our webshop for purchase on our return.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Summer Break

Now that the school holidays are here we are taking a summer break, and our office will be closed from 4 August for approximately 3 weeks, reopening 24/29 August (Public holiday 28th). 

As most of the Machin definitives for this year have now appeared and been offered on our shop, the shop will also be closed for this period.  In the past (apart from last year's long break) we have allowed orders to be placed which results in a big backlog on our return.  After the June break a customer in the USA responded to the despatch email with a comment that he was about to cancel the order as he had not heard from us - which goes to show that not everybody reads the order akcnowledgement email (in which we clearly said that we were away for 2 weeks)!

We will be out of wifi and telephone contact for much of the time - one of the pleasures of being in a rural valley in the sparsely-populated Welsh borderlands. 

Emails and blog comments which have not been processed by 2G-mobile or dodgy internet-café connection will be dealt with on our return.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Norfolk and Norwich PS Summer Fair 5 August 2017

If you are visiting Norfolk this weekend you will be welcome at the Norfolk and Norwich Philatelic Society Summer Stamp Fair.

Click here for map