Thursday, 16 November 2017

Post and Go: Poppies and Winter Greenery 2017 printings, and some others

We now have supplies of the recent Post and Go stamps issued for the period of Remembrance and for Winter/Christmas mailings.

As previously announced, the Poppy Post and Go stamp was reintroduced at Post Office branches, the Postal Museum, and Enquiry Offices from 24 October, and at Museums from 20 October.  The stamps at Museums were the residual 2015 stock coded MA15.  Those in PO branches and enquiry offices are a reprint with code R17YAL - this last one interesting because the twin digits have replaced a single letter.  (Click on any image for larger versions.)

PO SSK R17YAL collectors set
Machine M011 Ministry of Defence Abbey Wood - MA15
The default version has the Ministry of Defence de&s logo, but buyers can choose the 'posting to Northern Ireland' option, whereby the obvious origin is hidden and the stamps are printed without the logo.

On the other reel, the Machin Post and Go stamp has the same two options.  We already have the original MA13 version on our webshop but obtained some more with the poppies, only to find that they are undated.  The only other M-series machines which have produced undated Machins with the current range of 6 values were those at Mount Pleasant (from 3 June 2015, and BFPO Northolt (from 27 June 2016) until M011 had undated stamps added earlier this year.  Stuart Leigh's Catalogue only shows this with the logo, but the no-log version may have appeared before now.

UPDATE 18 November
Some of the latest Abbey Wood stamps are already sold out, at least in collectors's strips, though we have 1st class singles.  We are attempting to restock with the sets and will notify customers as soon as we have definite information'

A new printing of these stamps was introduced at Post Office branches from 13 November 2017.

The 1st class stamps have the year code R17YAL and 2nd class have CL17S.

These will be added to our webshop for sale tomorrow.

Machin Definitives from Star Wars Prestige Stamp Book

As we mentioned in September, the Star Wars Prestige Stamp Book will be issued on 14 December to coincide with the cinema release of the latest film in the series.

I mistakenly wrote then:
the PSB will contain 4 x 1st class, 2 x 2nd class and 2 x £1.40 Machin definitives which should be coded M17L MPIL.  This will give us three new stamps in the pane of 8.
I had overlooked, of course, that the Machin PSB also contained a gummed 1st class stamp coded MPIL M17L, so maybe there would only be two new stamps in the Star Wars pane.

Like the 1st class stamp in this year's Windsor Catle PSB we would expect all these to be the new darker red, also known as deep scarlet.  But the stamp in the Machin pane was lighter - presumably the original red colour as shown on the miniature sheet in the same issue, although some people thought that it was dark enough to qualify as the new colour.  Who knows what the ink mix was that time?

So what colour is the one in the Star Wars book? - Answer: Lighter than both the others!!

The picture shows: left, Windsor Castle M16L; upper right, the Star Wars M17L; lower right, the Machin Anniversary M17L.

In my view, the latest stamp cannot possibly be described as deep scarlet, it certainly isn't the same colour as the Windsor Castle one - arguably there's even less black in the mix than in the 2015 Star Wars stamp or even the 2013 Football PSB!

The lack of colour consistency extends to the new £1.40 stamp in the new book as well, the self-adhesive counter sheet stamp shown below on the left.  Maybe it doesn't matter because they are not supposed to be used for postage, but colour matching seems to have gone by the board.

For the record, here are pictures of the whole pane, and close-up of the three new stamps which we shall offer in our shop at the appropriate time.

The Norvic Security Stamp Checklist will be updated when I have finished dealing with the latest Post and Go stamps, and can get my head round these in the PSB.  Your thoughts, as always, are welcome!

Monday, 13 November 2017

Royal Mail Announce 2018 issue programme

The Pocket Calendar for 2018 has now been distributed by Royal Mail and lists the following:
Date Issue Comment

23 January To be announced

23 January Post and Go - To be announced

January (provisional) 150th Ann of Trades Union Congress [Com Sheet]

14 February Postal Heritage: Mail by Sea

15 February Votes for Women

20 March Royal Air Force Centenary

17 April Reintroduced Species

11 May The Old Vic

5 June Royal Academy

26 June Dad's Army

31 July Hampton Court Palace

16 August Captain Cook's Voyage

30 August Owls

12 September Postal Heritage: Mail by Bike

13 September First World War 1918

16 October TBA

1 November Christmas

14 November Prince of Wales 70th Birthday

November Lunar New Year of the Pig

A reader has commented:
I suspect Jan 23rd will be another biggie - stamps, minisheet, booklet, PSB, Smilers sheet and Post & Go.
I can't let the comment be published because it contains a coded reference to the January issue, and I can't let those through (Trelantis - you know that!)

Shop re-opens, new stock coming soon

After our visit to the Scottish borders, our shop is now open again, but there are no new stamps - yet.

By the end of the week we will have Poppies from the Post Office SSK machines, and also from machine M011 MOD Abbey Wood.  These come in two formats, with and without the Ministry of Defence de&s logo.  Those without are produced if the purchaser chooses the 'sending to Northern Ireland' option on the menu.  We will have collectors strips of 6 or 1st class singles.
Machin head stamps will also be available without the MOD logo using the same option.

Also available will be the Winter Greenery re-issue with 2017 code, issued today.  These will also be available in collectors sets of 16 or sets of 4 (2 x 2nd class and 2 x 1st class, one of each design).

Some of these will be reserved for overseas customers, but all could all customers please confirm their requirements as soon as possible.

Incidentally, I don't think I have ever seen quite so many pink-footed geese even in Norfolk!  As with most images, click on it to see it in larger format.


Surprise Christmas Sheet Format as well as Booklets

As described on our website and shown here in the earlier post, this years' Christmas booklets have both Madonna and Competition stamps in.   I hadn't realised (because I didn't read the advance information thoroughly!) the counter sheets also contain both designs. 

The 2nd class, 1st class, and both Large Letter sheets all contain both designs in one sheet.  Unlike definitive sheets of 50 (which are smaller stamps), there is no central gutter - which means that there is one novelty aspect which collectors might have bought but Royal Mail didn't think of.  The first image shows a photo of several sheets (Large Letter and two airmail). 

The other two are from the Post Office website and don't show the sheet margins.  I've only shown the 1st class sheet and the 2nd class Large sheets; the 1st Large and 2nd are similar.

From the first picture you can see that the printing date and sheet number are in the upper portion of the sheet, and the traffic lights and FSC logo are at the bottom.   The cylinder numbers are at the lower left, so there is no cylinder block for the Madonna & Child stamps (and no date block for the competition stamps).

I believe this is the first time that this country has ever had two stamps of different designs in the same sheet, other than in se-tenant pairs/strips.  If anybody does want se-tenant pairs or strips of 10, then I can order them.

Printing of the Christmas stamps usually starts in high summer.  What is interesting from these pictures is that the 1st class sheets available locally were printed in July while the 2nd class were printed in September.  There will be many other dates: I don't aim to record them all, but will list in this post, any more that people provide.

UPDATE 18 November
For the record, here are pictures of horizontal pairs from the centre of counter sheets - what would have been gutter pairs had there been a gutter!

Although delivered to many post office branches unfolded, these are often soon folded and thus less desirable.  This format is not available from Royal Mail at this time.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Poppy stamp reissue

A short note to point out that the self-adhesive Poppy stamp is on sale again - probably only until next week.  This was mentioned as the lead item in this post, but some people missed it thinking that that post was only about Post and Go stamps.

On Monday, Winter Greenery Post and Go start again, so probably this is the last chance to get the new Poppy Post and Go stamps from Post Office SSKs.

It's an appropriate time to draw attention to the box at the top left of the blog page.  This search box is very useful for finding particular words or phrases and will quickly help you find recent and previous instances of something that you are either sure has been mentioned but can't find it, or ought to have been mentioned and can't find it.  Remember that the listing generated may not be in chronological order.

Also, if you're just browsing, click on the "Next Blog": there is probably a 98% chance that it won't be about stamps, but you may find something else interesting!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Royal Mail Marks the Queen's Platinum Wedding Anniversary on 20th November 2017

The short answer to the many questions and enquiries is, YES, I do know what Royal Mail are planning for 20th November, and YES it is subject to strict embargo, and NO I can't tell you what's going on until the information is released by RM.

This is really frustrating for collectors - and us - because now that companies are obliged to inform customers in advance what they are planning to charge on their next invoice, or for their next sending which is on standing order(!), they are sending out these notices to tell you how much they will be charging you, but they can't print the details on the notification - and if you phone them up, they can't or won't tell you either.  Call centre staff are complaining (to callers) that they are fielding more phone calls about this than about anything else in recent times.

When in doubt, Wikipedia is a good source, so I suggest you look here and make your own mind up.   And maybe look at other postal administrations' websites. At least one administration in the British Isles has announced its stamps for that date, but this is not visible on their website.  I probably saw it on twitter.

According to (!) the Royal Mint and Royal Mail both have products for this 'event'/'anniversary' which is a surprise.  However, no pictures were shown of either, nor details given.

I am sure you can work it out if you have time.  I am equally sure that most people will think that the secrecy is unwarranted, and will regard this 'surprise' issue as a damp squib.

Sorry, I should have said that I won't be publishing the answer, even in comments, as Royal Mail have already got uppity when I had something on the website which suggested what the stamps will be for.   So, sorry 'Cruyff', that one's not getting through even though it is correct.

UPDATE 2150, 7 November 2017.

Although we understood that there would be no announcement until possibly the day before the anniversary, my thanks to MC for pointing out that Royal Mail have now added the Platinum Wedding Anniversary miniature sheet and other products to their online shop - but they still haven't told us the embargo is lifted - thanks a lot, guys!

Details of the stamp designs and other technical details are as follows:

Other products:
Presentation Pack, First Day Cover, Stamp Cards (7), Souvenir Pack (£14.99), Press Sheet of 14 MS (edition of 500) (£102.56).
Coin cover - edition 10,000 (£19.95) plus three more with proof coins:
Silver proof (500) - £82.50
Gold proof (500) - £1,975
Framed MS - £19.99
Limited edition framed print and stamps (70) - £119.99
Platinum proof (500) - £4,950

These can be ordered direct from Royal Mail - advance orders can be placed now.

We shall not be stocking this issue in any form.

Movember kicks off November Slogan Postmarks

The first slogan used in November seems to be for the annual Movember campaign to highlight and raise funds to fight men's cancer.

First reports were of difficult-to-read slogans, but thanks to Geoff (GBCC) on Stampboards I can show this fine example from Gatwick Mail Centre used on 1 November.


UPDATE: Thanks to a couple of readers who sent in the other version, which has no 'Delivered by' segment, but a Movember logo, here from Home Counties North on 2 November (the image has been digitally modified as it was very pale)

Hastings Pier
Several people have sent examples of this slogan from Mount Pleasant, Jubilee and Home Counties North Mail Centres, though some are almost unreadable.  JG tells us that the result of the RIBA Stirling Prize competition was announced on 31 October, but this slogan appears to have been used only on 6 November (ahead of the Christmas slogans - see below). (Thanks also to AB, GW & RW)

Hastings Pier - 
Winner of the 
RIBA Stirling
Prize 2017

The reversed version of the slogan applied to the side of a square envelope, from North & West Yorkshire Mail Centre.

As you know, two of this year's Christmas stamp designs were selected from schools competition entries.  According to Royal Mail's Press Release this will be marked in a special slogan postmark on mail arriving this week.
"In addition, to mark their success, a special postmark will feature on mail delivered to addresses nationwide. Each child will have their name on the postmark for a week in November with the message: “Ted Lewis-Clark/Arwen Wilson – Winner of Royal Mail’s Christmas Stamp Design Competition.” Ted and Arwen’s postmarks will feature on mail delivered from 7 November and 14 November, respectively. "
UPDATE 8 November.
Our post this morning brought two examples of the Ted Lewis-Clark slogan, from North & West Yorkshire, and from South East Anglia as shown below.  Both are dated 7 November.

Ted Lewis-Clark
Winner of
Royal Mail's
Christmas Stamp
Design Competition

And another version of this slogan, from Jubilee Mail Centre on 8 November.  Note the different layout of the slogan itself over 4 lines instead of 5:

Ted Lewis-Clark
Winner of Royal Mail's
Christmas Stamp
Design Competition

UPDATE 15 November:
The annual Remembrance slogan was used nationwide - however the only examples we have seen are both 2nd class from Peterborough Mail Centre, one on 9th and one on 10th November.

After that, World Diabetes Day (14th) was marked in a continuation of Royal Mail's health slogans.  One could build up an interesting thematic collection of slogans related to health!  This one is from Warrington Mail Centre on 13-11-2017.

Our right to
a healthy future
World Diabetes Day
14 November

UPDATE 18 November
The second Christmas Competition slogan has been in use this week and one arrived in the post this morning.  This is the 4-line version from Glasgow MC on 16 November.  [Thanks also to AB for one from Warrington, also 4-line, on 14th.)  The fact that Arwen's was announced as being from 14th suggests that Royal Mail operations already knew that they would run Diabetes Day on 13th, but they declined to make this public.  It's not rocket science to make the announcement: if nothing else social media would do.

Arwen Wilson
Winner of Royal Mail's
Christmas Stamp
Design Competition

As usual, your contributions of examples of this and other November slogans are welcomed and will be shown here.