Thursday, 11 April 2019

Spring break 12-24 April

Our office will be closed from 12-24 April, although we may be able to access the internet and allow blog-comments through to be published.

The shop will remain open and we will be dealing with orders as quickly as possible on our return.

British Engineering 2 May, Queen Victoria Bicentenary 24th May 2019, Stockholmia.

As usual cover producers have started putting online their offerings for the next two stamp issues.  You can see those of Adrian Bradbury FDCs here.

British Engineering set

British Engineering Harrier Jump Jet miniature sheet

Bicentenary of the Birth of Queen Victoria set

Ditto - Prince Albert MS

As usual, we will provide information and images when we are permitted to which in both cases is the date of issue, or when Royal Mail put them on their website, which should be earlier, but who knows!

To coincide with the Stockholmia 2019 World Stamp Exhibition, which is also marks the 150th anniversary of the Royal Philatelic Society London (RPSL), Royal Mail will issue the usual type of Exhibition sheet containing 20 Hello stamps.  The labels have images of Stockholm and artifacts provided by the RPSL.  This will be issued on 29 May 2019 priced at £15.10.  The Royal Mail stock code is AT108.

New Machin Security Checklist available now

The Machin Security Checklist has been updated with the 2019 printings, including the 20p counter sheet and recent mixed booklets, as well as the late M18L stamps from this year's prestige stamp books.

There will be at least one more PSB this year, in May, and maybe more later in the year for the (expected to be) blockbuster issues currently listed in the autumn as TBA on Royal Mail's programme.

The latest version - 2.0.23 - can be downloaded from Dropbox in the usual way.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

How many definitive make-up values are needed?

Looking back over 2018, there was an interesting pattern for printing of the low 'make-up' values of Machin definitives: the 1p, 2p, 50p 10p, 20p, 50p and £1 values.

The new tariff stamps were first printed (in, presumably, small quantities) in January.  The second printing of these was in February, along with all the make-up values except the 50p - which hasn't been printed since autumn 2017 - and the 1p.

May brought some more reprints, including the 1p, but not the 5p.   And in August the 1p, 2p, 10p and 20p values were printed again.  So the 2p, 10p, 20p were printed three times, the 1p and £1 only twice, and the 5p was only printed once.  Which suggests that Royal Mail had a huge quantity of 5p printed in February.

Of course all this does depend on demand/usage of the lower values.  But so many 'gaps' require several make-up values (all these are 2018/19 rates):

– between 2nd and 1st the gap is 9p which needs at least three stamps (5+2+2)
– between 1st and 1st Large the gap is 34p which needs four stamps (20+10+2+2)
– between 2nd and 2nd Large the gap is 21p which needs only two stamps (and no 5p).

Upgrading a letter to Europe, if already stamped with a 1st class stamp, was easy - add a 2nd class stamp.

So is it fair to assume that Royal Mail production got their forecasts right for the 5p and not the others, or were there good reasons for the variability of the production dates?  We'll never know, but it will be interesting to see how things develop in 2019.

I wonder how many values were actually printed on or around 19 February when the 20p was printed?

Monday, 8 April 2019

First new counter sheets printed in February

The first Machin definitive reprint with M19L coding is the 20p counter sheet, which join the new tariff stamps printed in January. The other M19L stamp issued so far is the 1st class red MCIL from the Marvel Comics mixed retail booklet.

The Marvel Comics stamp (Norvic 2936aC.9) was shown earlier, but the 20p (3020.9) was actually found in Post Office branches before that was issued.


The printing date for the 20p is 19/02/19, and the backing paper is suLUsiLI.   

Full list of M19L stamps so far:

Counter Sheets
3020.9 - 20p green reprint, first on 19/02/19
3135 - £1.35 orchid mauve
3160 - £1.60 amber yellow 
3230 - £2.30 gooseberry green
3280 - £2.80 spruce green  
3345 - £3.45 dark pine green 
3360 - £3.60 bright orange


2936aC.9 - 1st class MCIL from mixed booklets, Marvel Comics 14.3.19 and Birds of Prey 4.4.19.

A new version of the Norvic Machin Checklist will be published soon.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

First suggestion for 2020 Stamp Programme

According to The Mirror, who have their story from Talk TV, the 60th Anniversary of TV soap Coronation Street will be marked with a set of stamps next year, 2020.

Talk TV can exclusively reveal ITV bosses are in talks with Royal Mail over the anniversary collection.
Likely to be featured are iconic couple Jack and Vera Duckworth - who were played by the late Bill Tarmey and Liz Dawn.
And Corrie icon Hilda Ogden - who arrived on the street in 1964, played by Jean Alexander - is also in line for the accolade.
“It’s a huge honour,” a source tells me. “The collection would be an acknowledgement of how beloved Corrie is in this country.
Whether ITV is talking to Royal Mail, or to Isle of Man Stamps or another producer, none of the postal operators has made any comment yet.

A set of Coronation Street cinderella 'stamps' was produced in 1995 for one of the Scottish islands, and the programme was left out of the Royal Mail ITV anniversary commemoration in 2005.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Birds of Prey have flown early - at old prices?

It's a while since anybody has reported the early release of any of our special stamps, but DB has provided a picture of this torn off corner of an envelope showing one of today's new Birds of Prey stamps.

Of course it could have been as recently as this week if one of the Mail Centres was still using the Red Nose Day slogan in error. 

But it seems more likely that this was used in the week 9-15 March, nearly a month before the issue date, and presumably sold at the old price!

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

April Slogan Postmarks

Royal Mail has started early with a new slogan on 1 April. 

World Autism Day is marked today on 2 April and we have received the first example on our mail today from Jubilee Mail Centre on 1 April.

World Autism
Awareness Day
2 April 2019

UPDATE 8 April:
I've added some more to March's post, and MM has also sent this for April.  Yesterday (7th) was UN/WHO World Health Day and this slogan was used at Tyneside MC on 4 April

Health Day
7 April 2019

As usual we will add further slogans as received or reported to us!

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

New Tariff FDC coil stamps not as different as last year

Royal Mail's standing order first day covers have stamps affixed from coils rather than sheets: these coil stamps are not available to collectors except on the FDCs.  Regular readers will recall that in 2018 the coil stamps (allegedly printed by ISP/Walsall as were the sheet stamps) were quite different in having much larger gaps in the U-shaped cuts.  (See here.)

This wide gap isn't present on the 2019 tariff stamps, but they are still different.  I don't know whether it is because of a different direction of print (coils are nearly always printed from right to left or vice versa) or slightly more/less ink, but to the naked eye they just look different.  (FDC stamps above sheet stamps here).

And close examination shows that the shading is different in many places (sheet above FDC). As always, click on the images for larger versions.  Note also the face value is 'softer' on the sheet-printed stamps.

I'll only show two 'heads' but you'll get the idea; the colours are slightly variable (£2.30 and £1.60 especially) when seen in close-up - click on to see the each stamp on its own.)


So, are they different?  Well not different enough for basic catalogues, and not for intermediate-level specialism.  But if you want the stamps on the FDC, then please let me know by email to  They will cost £20 due to the high face value, plus postage and I can add them in to any other order, or they can wait for more stamps that you want.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Birds of Prey stamps, 4 April 2019

Royal Mail have now opened their shop up for orders for the 4 April Birds of Prey stamps, so I have no problem with showing them here.

The set is of 10 x 1st class stamps, and there is also a retail booklet containing two self-adhesive birds stamps and 4 x 1st class MCIL M19L stamps.   Click on the lower-right image to show the identities of all the birds.

UPDATE 3 April
The Royal Mail Postmark Bulletin for this issue has been posted but has not yet been added to the website.  We've reminded them (a) that handstamps are supposed to be added to the website as available, and (b) that the Bulletin should also be updated.  I've also asked via Twitter when this will be done - no reply at all.  So here are the handstamps; they are screen captures for my benefit so take them as they come.  14853/4 & FD1909PL are available from London SHC, 14850-2 and both FD1909 are available from Northern SHC/Tallents House, addresses in previous Bulletins.  The non-pictorial FD1909NP is not shown here.