Friday, 17 May 2019

75th Anniversary of D-Day - the Normandy landings of World War 2

Royal Mail is marking the 75th Anniversary of the Allied Landings in Normandy in World War II with the issue of a set of stamps, a miniature sheet and a retail booklet.

Although we were told that we could not publish any details or pictures until 2 June, Royal Mail has now made the products available for pre-order on their website here.

The anniversary is marked on 6th June 2019 of D-Day, 75 years on since the largest combined naval, air and land operation in the history of warfare. On D-Day, 6 June 1944, Allied forces launched a combined naval, air and land assault on Nazi-occupied France. Codenamed Operation 'Overlord', the Allied landings on the Normandy beaches marked the start of a long and costly campaign to liberate north-west Europe from German occupation. Early on 6 June, Allied airborne forces parachuted into drop zones across northern France. Ground troops then landed across five assault beaches - Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. By the end of the day, the Allies had established a foothold along the coast and could begin their advance into France. Royal Mail is marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and its indelible impact on the outcome of WW2 with this set of stamps and products.

Set of six stamps
A pair each of 1st class, £1.35 and £1.60 stamps.  The £1.60 pays the rate for European letters up to 100g, and the £1.35 pays for European letters to 20g, Postcards and Worldwide letters to 10g.

Miniature Sheet

Retail booklet


More details to follow shortly.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Post and Go update

As readers will know there have been no new Post and Go stamps issued by Royal Mail, and none is in the programme for the current year.  Some agree with this, some would welcome more of these and fewer expensive stamp issues.

The British Postmark Society Journal report for April includes the following which may be of interest to those collectors still looking for Post and Go.  It is worth noting that if the reels are being used for the 'post an item' option, ie with a value on, use of old stock may produce something totally new, so it is worth looking in kiloware as well.  I was reminded of this by the receipt this morning of an eBay purchase with a MA16 1st class Machin with value, date, and weight shown - see picture.

No new designs appeared in the first quarter of 2019, but the Winter Greenery designs reintroduced on 1 November 2018 continued in use into the new year. Various older issues reappear as stock is used up – for example, on 10 April 2019 kiosk 68 at Chorley was issuing Symbolic Flowers (2014) for 1st class/international and Hibernating Animals (2016) for 2nd class.  Meanwhile, Winter Fur and Feathers (2015) was found at Camden High Street and undated Poppies were still being issued at South Norwood.
In a number of cases, rolls of Post & Go stamps are inserted in the wrong reel of a kiosk, either in error or because of a shortage of the correct stamps.  Two recent examples found were 1st class letter on 2nd class (blue) Machin stamps from Camden High Street and 1st class letter on 2nd (blue) Game of Thrones stamps from Slough.
I'm grateful to DP for sending some examples of various Post & Go stamps with old and new European postage rates:

Robin MA13 from Harrogate

Poppy R17YAL from St Albans

Poppy MA16

Machin M17YAL from Farnham

"It does raise the question do we collect the service type or the value of the label which echoes what someone wrote about the Post and Go Christmas tour a few years ago about receipts."

Receipts are especially useful for location confirmation as it is more and more difficult to keep track of where old machines have gone and more particularly where new machines are installed, sometimes without publicity if they are the smaller machines with a counter mini-terminal as well.

"I wanted to get examples from both Huddersfield offices, which was pointless as the Northumberland Street office’s three machines were switched off and the New Street office’s two were on but out of service. At New Street I was told that they didn’t have any stock for the machines. Otherwise they would have turned it on for me to get the collectors strip. Colchester and Ipswich both turned the machines on for me to get collectors strips. However Chesterfield wouldn’t. 

"From correspondence with the Post Office I’ve had questioning if the relocated Ealing branch would have SSKs, I was told that they don’t publicise that information and won’t be adding new location or amending existing branches."

I looked at the Post Office website Branch Finder page, and Post and Go is still listed in the filter selection and in Branch Details. If it is kept updated then that is good for collectors.

Monday, 13 May 2019

May 2019 slogan postmarks

May has got off to a very slow start: indeed I spent some time looking through the May blog looking for the right entry to add this to, but found that indeed this is the first for this month!

Royal Mail celebrates the birth of Archie Harrison, first son of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with the congratulatory slogan.  I don't know when it started: he was born on Monday 6th May and I suspect the slogan may have been in use as early as that the following day, as there were no mail collections on the Monday.
TRH The Duke and
Duchess of Sussex on
the birth of their son

UPDATE 14 May: On our own post and via email (thank you) we have received this year's Mental Health Awareness Week slogan.   I can't read the date on the Exeter Mail Centre one but it is probably 13 May, the same as that for Nottingham Mail Centre, which is in the other, four-line, format.

Mental Health 
13-19 May 2019

UPDATE 17 May:  BM has sent this further example of the Mental Health Awareness slogan, from Gatwick on 16th, applied to a prec-cancelled Machin PPI.  Strange how Royal Mail's machines miss so much stamped machineable mail, and yet postmark mailpieces which don't need it!


As usual I welcome other reports of this slogan to confirm its usage period (funny, nobody has mentioned it yet, a week after the event), and any other slogans which will be added here.

Additions to our shop today

We have added to our shop a few recent products and some earlier ones that have been missed.  You can always find the latest by clicking on the Recent Additions link.  There are several different categories updated this time (numbers indicate number of products in each category):

Harrier Jump Jet maximum cards (British Engineering MS) - [3]

Machin Definitive first day cover [1]

Red Arrows booklet stamps first day cover [1]

Machin 'dummy booklet' point of sale material [1]

1986/87 Christmas special packs - gutter strips and traffic light blocks with underprint [4]

Queen Victoria picture postcards [4]

Latest PSB Machins, Queen Victoria PSB, compared with earlier.

We can never be sure from Royal Mail's pre-issue publicity images, just what the stamps will actually look like.  While the commemorative/special stamps are generally faithfully reproduced, new definitives are usually depicted using mock-ups so when they actually appear it is always likely to be a surprise.

This is true again with the Queen Victoria Bicentenary prestige stamp book definitive pane. This is the publicity picture which we showed earlier. 

The 2p is quite unlike the one included in the RAF PSB (on the left) in 2018.  This must surely have a separate listing in the catalogue.

The 50p included in the Harry Potter PSB is a different shade to the current (gravure printed) counter sheet, so this is comparison with the 2017 counter sheet (SG U2925 on the left), which likewise ought to be considered a different stamp even if it were not for the year code.:

And this is the comparison with the Battle of Waterloo PSB (SG U3077)


The 1st class reproductions of Victorian stamps may not be regarded as sufficiently different, although the 2d blue especially is considerably darker - what do you think?  The phosphor is also different if viewed in the 'hold to light' way.

1d black SG3807, 1d red SG3808, 2d blue SG3809 - top row from Royal Mail 500 PSB (2016), lower row from latest book. 

 At least they didn't change the corner letters (hope they aren't reading this!).

Friday, 10 May 2019

75th Anniversary of D-Day, set of 6 and MS - 6 June 2019

It will be a while before we are able to show the pictures of these stamps, but you can see them on Commonwealth Stamps Opinion and also in the latest magazine of Buckingham Covers.

We'll show them in due course, of course.  This isn't like any of the stamps which all show contemporary photographs - another black and white issue.

French postcard by Festicart, Création FORE.

Details of this stamp issue can now be found here, with more details to follow.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

2018 stamps going off sale from Royal Mail soon

We are advised that the following sets will go off-sale from Royal Mail's website and for phone/email enquiries on 19 May 2019:

UPDATE 14 May:  
The 2017 tariff stamps (Machin and Country) also go off sale at Edinburgh on 19th May.

Owls set of 10

Royal Wedding miniature sheet

Old Vic set of 8


Wednesday, 8 May 2019

British Engineering Time Machine?

Following on from the early Birds of Prey, NC has sent a picture of the 1st class Raspberry Pi stamp from the British Engineering set issued on 2 May. 

I'm a little tardy in reporting this which was actually sent to me on 15 April 2019, so three weeks before the proper date of issue, and well before we were permitted to show the stamps on our website - not that it would have stopped me showing this one had we not been on holiday.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Phosphor - or non-phosphor error?

We know that all defintive stamps for decades have carried two phosphor bands, except for 2nd class which have one, usually at the centre.  There haven't been any missing phosphor errors for many years as far as I can recall. 

Many people still use the traditional 'hold-to-light' method for checking short or shifted bands, especially in the summer when the real darkness necessary for a UV-lamp is in short supply.  Years ago this method was also used as a first check to find out whether the stamp had phosphor missing altogether - we could even do that in the post office and I remember looking at my first 1980 £3 Wedgwood PSB and saying to myself - "oh, they've changed the phosphor bands again" as I found the bands on the se-tenant pane shifted.   I soon shifted that on my next trip to Stampex! 

So what do we make of this:

It's a mix of stamps, the 1p and 11½p definitely se-tenant and the 14p and 11½p maybe not.  Certainly the 11½p have left bands and if the 14p is - or was - joined as a pair, then that will have 2 bands - which are not visible by this method.

Fortunately the bands are visible to the Uvitec lamp, confirming that there is nothing amiss, aside from a lack of postmark on these!   It also makes it much easier to see that the stamps are joined, at least in  pair even if it is not a block of 4.

So remember, a UV lamp is a very worthwhile investment. What good finds have you made, with or without a UV lamp?

Friday, 3 May 2019

Royal Mail secrecy - it wasn't always so!

While it's raining I've been able to spend some time looking at the draft of SG's 2019 Concise catalogue and going back through old blog posts to check issue/discovery dates.  I was surprised to find two consecutive entries in February 2010 about the future stamp programme.

The second updated the 2010 stamp issues programme.  The first updated the 2011 programme - shown below.

I had forgotten how comprehensive the advance information used to be - not just special stamp issues but Post and Go, mixed booklets, smilers sheet setc.  So two of those categories have virtually disappeared from the modern stamp programmes, but this was 10 months before the year started.  Now we are lucky to get the outline programme before 31 December and even then there will be at least two 'to be confirmed' subjects about which even we dealers know nothing.  There are several reasons for secrecy, usually concerning copyright issues.

Royal Mail explain that they are reducing the basic cost to collectors by involving third party rights holders - Warner Bros, Disney, the music industry, etc - and that the additional income they get from people who don't normally collect stamps more than offsets the reduction in income from regular collectors.  As a way of increasing overall revenues this is a good thing, but the new policy is causing many regular collectors to either stop, or to limit what they collect to 'those that I like', only one of each stamp and not blocks', 'only definitives', or 'only up to last year", etc.

At the same time, they restrict more and more the availability of news from those of us who have it.  Restrictions over copyright and tie-ins with the royal family have, in the past few years, meant that ordinary collectors are left in the dark about what subjects are being covered, which makes innovation and personalisation of collections very difficult. Maximum card collectors have very little time to source the cards they need, and collectors who produce individual one-off or very low volume first day covers have far too little time to source their designs and produce the covers.

Little of the above is news to most readers so, rant over - just browse and remember the better days.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Great Britain 2011 Programme (updated)

Royal Mail have provided their outline programme for 2011 as follows:

11 January - Classic Children's Television: Gerry Anderson set, MS + retail booklet

24 January - Pictorial Faststamps - Birds 2

1 February - Classic Railway Locomotives miniature sheet

24 February - West End Stage Musicals - set & MS expected (postponed from autumn 2010)
24 February - Retail Booklet: Medical Breakthroughs Beta-Blockers, British Heart Foundation

8 March - Magical Heroes of Fiction
8 March - Low value self-adhesive definitives: 1,2,5,10,20p

22 March - World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund)
22 March - New retail booklets, 1st Large, 2nd Large

29 March - new Machins and Country Stamps on tariff change

12 April - Royal Shakespeare Company 50th Anniversary set & MS

21 April - Royal Wedding MS

5 May - William Morris & Co 150th Anniversary, incl PSB

19 May - Pictorial Faststamps - Birds 3

14 June - Rev Wm Awdry Birth Centenary (Thomas the Tank Engine author), set MS & booklet
14 June - Prince Philip 90th Birthday Commemorative Sheet

27 July - Olympics/Paralympics III, booklet 5, commemorative sheet and composite sheet

28 July - Philanippon, Japan, Exhibition Generic Smilers Sheet.

23 August - Crown Jewels
23 August - Classic Locomotives of England retail booklet

9 September - World's First Scheduled Airmail, Windsor

14 September - Arnold Machin Birth Centenary miniature sheet

15 September - Kings + Queens, House of Hannover (Stampex issue)
15 September - Olympics/Paralympics retail booklet 6
15 September - 350th Anniv of the Postmark - Generic Smilers Sheet

16 September - Pictorial Faststamps - Birds4

13 October - A-Z of the United Kingdom (A-L 12 stamps)

25 October - retail booklets with FSC Logo - 6 x 1st, 12 x 1st, 12 x 2nd, 4 x 1st Large, 4 x 2nd Large

8 November - Christmas (religious) [400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible]

This programme list will be added to and amended from time to time: there will be Smilers sheets, retail booklets and commemorative sheets.