Tuesday, 18 February 2020

25th James Bond Film Brings Stamps Galore on 17 March 2020

In celebration of the 25th James Bond film due for release in April 2020, Royal Mail is delighted to launch the official James Bond stamp issue.

The Bond films are the longest running film series in film history with James Bond known all over the world. The films are renowned for many features, including the musical accompaniment, with the theme songs having received Academy Award nominations on several occasions, and two wins. Other important elements which run through most of the films include Bond's cars, his guns, and the gadgets with which he is supplied by Q Branch and is the focus of the Minisheet in the stamp issue.

The six-stamp set features all six actors who have played James Bond, from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig.

Stamps in two se-tenant strips.
3 x 1st class - Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye and Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights.
3 x £1.60 - Roger Moore in Live and Let Die, George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and Sean Connery in Goldfinger.

Miniature sheet - Celebrating some of Q Branch’s most well-known gadgets, centring around arguably the most famous one of them all, Bond’s DB5. This miniature sheet isn’t quite as it seems; under a UV light detailed specs of each gadget will become clear. In another unusual feature the stamps carry a unique 007 perforation.

2 x 1st class - Bell-Textron Jet Pack, Thunderball, and Aston Martin DB5, Skyfall
2 x £1.55 - Lotus Esprit Submarine, The Spy Who Loved Me and Little Nellie, You Only Live Twice


Presentation Pack, First Day Covers, Stamp Cards
The presentation pack delves into the world of Bond; exploring both his relationships with key allies and villains, as well as providing an overview of all 25 Bond films including the latest No Time to Die. The inside of the pack elaborates on 6 of Bond’s most important relationships, whilst the back summarises the James Bond films in their entirety, beginning with Dr No. The pack comes with both stamps and miniature sheet. The miniature sheet comes in a specially designed carrier card with a brief overview of Q and his relationship with Bond.

Retail booklet of two special stamps and 4 x 1st class Machin definitives, and the 007 logo on the back cover.


UPDATE 20 February:  A reader has asked whether the self-adhesive booklet stamps have normal die-cut perforations or 007 as shown on the Royal Mail shop (see below).  The answer is that the booklet has normal die-cut perforations, as (almost) shown in the RM supplied image above, with no 007!

Prestige Stamp Booklet (PSB) A real treat for any James Bond fan, the Prestige Stamp Book is a 24-page booklet packed full of fascinating Bond facts and behind-the-scenes insight into the filmmakers, action and stunts, supporting cast and more.

The book includes all 10 stamps and a definitive pane containing 2 x 2p, 2 x 2nd class Machin, 2 x 2nd class Scotland, 2 x 1st class Union Flag.  Surprisingly, the Machin definitives have the M19L year code which - aside from any shade differences - means no new stamps as the 2nd class was in last year's Star Wars 3 book and the 2p is in this year's Visions of the Universe book.

NOTE:  There is one difference between the MS and the MS pane which is not shown in the pictures.  
Each of the stamps has part of the perforations showing 007 (click on the image to see it more clearly on the enlargement) and on these pictures although in different places on different stamps, the stamps from both sources are identical.  However on the actual Lotus Esprit stamp the 007 is top right on the MS and top left on the Pane.

The definitive pane of stamps, which lists the title and year of release of all 25 James Bond films, will be used on Royal Mail's FDCs in the usual way, ie without the list of films!

Press Sheet (of 8 x MS) in a limited edition of 500


Generic (aka Smilers/Collectors) Sheet This A4-sized collector sheet contains 10 of Royal Mail’s James Bond stamps in self-adhesive format* accompanied by a sticker featuring an iconic moment and vehicle from across the films.  Correction - Royal Mail have now advised that the James Bond Collectors Sheet (AT113) is PVA Gummed, not self-adhesive.

The sheet includes: 3 x 1st Daniel Craig stamps, 3 x £1.60 Sean Connery stamps, 1 x 1st Pierce Brosnan stamp, 1 x 1st Timothy Dalton stamp, 1 x £1.60 Roger Moore stamp & 1 x £1.60 George Lazenby stamp. The background is taken from the opening title sequence of Casino Royale and has the official 007 logo.

Limited Edition version of the James Bond Prestige Stamp Book features a special edition 007 silver foiled front cover. It comes presented in a special tin display case embossed with the 007 logo with just 1,962 of these Limited-Edition sets available to Bond fans – the number being the year of the first Bond film, Dr No.


Technical Details:
Stamps designed by Interbang and printed by International Security Printers. In 'Olympic Landscape' format (60 x 30 mm) the two values are in sheets of 36, printed in lithography with PVA gum.  The miniature sheet is 192 x 74 mm with stamps 60 x 30 mm or 40 x 30 mm.

Acknowledgements: 2020 © EON Productions Limited and Danjaq, LLC. 007 Gun Logo and related James Bond Indicia © 1962–2020 Danjaq, LLC and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. 007 Gun Logo and related James Bond Trademarks are trademarks of Danjaq, LLC. All Rights Reserved. George Lazenby as James Bond photo © Loomis Dean/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images. Digital image enhancement: Smoke & Mirrors London.

Products: First Day Covers not included; single design sheet stamps available in multiples of 6.
Stock Code
Stamp Set (3 x 1st, 3 x £1.60 se-tenant)
Character Set
Miniature Sheet Barcoded
Q Branch Stamp Sheet Set
Presentation Pack
Stamp Cards
Retail Stamp Book
Collector Sheet
Prestige Stamp Book
Limited Edition Prestige Stamp Book
Limited Edition Q Branch BU Coin Cover
Limited Edition Q Branch Silver Coin Cover
Limited Edition Q Branch Gold Coin Cover
Limited Edition James Bond BU Coin Cover
Limited Edition James Bond Silver Coin Cover
Limited Edition James Bond Gold Coin Cover
Limited Edition Press Sheet
Limited Edition Silver Miniature Sheet
Limited Edition Silver Stamp Set
James Bond Secret Dossier
Villains & Gadgets Complete Collection Set
Framed Collectors Sheet
Framed Stamp Set
Framed Miniature Sheet
Daniel Craig Framed Print
Piers Brosnan Framed Print
Sean Connery Framed Print
Timothy Dalton Framed Print
George Lazenby Framed Print
Roger Moore Framed Print


Monday, 10 February 2020

Letter sorting machines to be removed at High Wycombe Royal Mail office

The Bucks Free Press reports that some letter processing machines are to be removed from High Wycombe Royal Mail office.
ONE of High Wycombe’s delivery offices is to remove two letter sorting machines - as the number of letters sent has dropped by 50 per cent since 2004.
Royal Mail’s High Wycombe South office in Lancaster Road, Cressex, will see the removal of the two sorting machines because they need to make more room for managing parcels.
Letter sorting machines were designed to help Royal Mail sort letters in some delivery offices - but letter volumes have declined by 50 per cent since 2004 as people post fewer letters and receive more parcels.  Royal Mail expect letter volumes to fall by about 26 per cent over the next five years or so.
The initiative will reportedly have no impact on the quality of service for customers sending and receiving letters in the area, according to Shane O’Riordain, Royal Mail managing director of regulation and corporate affairs.
If you have any reports on changes to postmarking or on distribution arrangements we will record them here for the benefit of readers.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

New version of Norvic Machin Security Checklist - v 2.2.1

My apologies to the many readers who have been asking for a new updated version of the checklist which I promised in December.  Unfortunately non-business matters have taken a lot of time and will continue to do so, so I am fitting things in when and where I can.  

I'm pleased that I stopped supplying new Machins last year, because I certainly could not have continued to process as many orders as we had in previous years.

And for those who have trouble with Dropbox, I am pleased to say that for the time being the Checklist is back on our website, and can be viewed in your browser or downloaded (exact details depend on your browser and settings).

A number of errors have been pointed out; v 2.2.2 is now available.

Please visit this link

This listing is updated to the forthcoming (11 February) Visions of the Universe PSB (£1.35 stamp shown on the front page), and includes as far as I have been able new Stanley Gibbons Concise catalogue numbers and minor updates to booklet details.

If you spot any errors (and I've found some very old ones while doing this update!) please let me know.

The next major addition to the document will be postage rate tables to assist collectors of modern postal history.  
An increasing number of collectors are looking at the usage of stamps as well as just collecting them mint. When assessing whether a cover or parcel piece is properly paid for the time of posting, it is necessary to calculate the actual worth of NVI stamps - which may include those with international values - at the time. These tables will be provided to assist this.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

February Slogan Postmarks, etc.

The very first February slogan started in January so has been listed there as well.  It is not clear at this stage whether the LGBT+ slogan will continue, but it seems likely as it advertises the History Month.

The World Cancer Day slogan started on 31 January.  The CDS shows this and that it was posted in Northwich, so the Mail Centre was probably Chester.
World Cancer Day
4 February 2020

World Cancer Day in the other format from Plymouth and Cornwall Mail Centre and Gatwick Mail Centre both on 03/02/2020.  I've also been sent examples of the above format from Norwich, and the one below from Bristol Mail Centres but both are so poor that they are not worth showing.

Also in use on 31/01/2020, at Tyneside and Bristol Mail Centres is this new slogan for LGBT+ History Month.  Again, Bristol's impression is poor with the source appearing to be DA, DG, GL & TA - which is a very wide spread of postal areas!

February is
LGBT+ History

If any examples from February are supplied, I'll show them for the record.

Update 6 February - here's one from Southampton dated 05/02/20


UPDATE 10 February - here's one from IB with the other layout and taller font, from Jubilee Mail Centre dated 07-03-2020

UPDATE 10 February 2020

Royal Mail are cramming a lot of slogans into the month of February, with the latest one being for Valentine's Day.  It's reminiscent of the Greetings stamps issued in 2003.  This example arrived here from Peterborough Mail Centre dated 08-02-2020

I like you...
Do you like me?
☐ Yes  ☐ No
14 February 2020

Thanks to RW for a similar one from Exeter also dated 08-02-2020.

UPDATE 11 February.  My thanks to BM for this 'other format' example of the Valentine slogan from North & West Yorkshire dated 10/02/2020

UPDATE 18 February
Thanks to RW and CH for providing, on probably the first day, both examples of the new Climate Change slogan.  One would thing this must have been prompted by the government?  One format from Croydon Mail Centre, the other from South East Anglia, both on 17 February.

Working together to
tackle climate change
in this Year of
Climate Action -
search UKCOP26

Inkjet slogans will appear here for the whole of February.  Any Universal usage will appear in a separate block after the slogans.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Visions of the Universe 11 February 2020 issue.

Advance information was provided last month, and we can now show the stamps in full.  Once again Royal Mail have included 2nd class stamps, which is to be commended, and these are very colourful.  I predict that these will receive more positive comment than the Romantic Poets, although they will have a niche attraction.

In the year in which the Royal Astronomical Society is celebrating its 200th anniversary Royal Mail is issuing a set of eight Special Stamps, depicting various astronomical features and phenomena discovered over that time by British astronomers and astrophysicists. The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) was founded in March 1820 and is the leading learned society for astronomy in the UK, promoting the scientific study of astronomy, the solar system and related geophysics. It supports public education for students, teachers, the public and media.

Stephen Hawking was awarded the RAS’s prestigious gold medal in 1985 for his contribution to cosmology and his collaborations on the nature of black holes. He is commemorated in a special Coin Cover that includes a coin specially struck by The Royal Mint.


2nd Class - Cat’s Eye Nebula, discovered by William Herschel – first president of the Royal Astronomical Society.

2nd Class - Enceladus, Saturn’s Moon with water geysers (discovered by William Herschel, 1789; British team first detected water geysers

1st Class - Pulsar - The first Pulsar was discovered by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Anthony Hewish, 1967.

1st Class - Black Hole – the image is from an interpretation of the data from black hole by University College London, (In 1970 Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose published a scientific paper which was ground-breaking in predicting the nature of Black Holes.)

£1.55 - Jupiter’s aurora - the University of Leicester is closely involved in the understanding of the auroras.

£1.55 - Gravitational Lensing - An optical phenomenon where huge gravitational fields bend light and was first detected by team that included UK astronomers in 1979.

£1.60 - Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko - British companies and universities including the Open University involved in the Philae probe and imaging, as the lander descended sending back huge amounts of data from the surface of the comet.

£1.60 - Cygnus A galaxy - First radio source discovered from beyond our own galaxy, Jodrell Bank identified the twin sources of radio waves from it.

Prestige Stamp Book
This 24-page book celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Royal Astronomical Society. Written by astronomy journalist Dr Stuart Clark, it explores the history of the Royal Astronomical Society from its inception 200 years ago to the present day, including key discoveries, the growth of astronomical science and geophysics and recent space missions. The book contains all eight special stamps in panes not available anywhere else plus two panes containing eight Definitive stamps.


Shown above, panes 1 and 3 show the panes containing the special stamps.
Pane 4 (left) shows the Royal Astronomical Society logo, surrounded by 4 x 2p, 2 x £1.35 and 2 x 1p Machin Definitive stamps. 
Pane 2 (right) shows an image of a Black Hole - or probably a solar eclipse as on the front cover - surrounded by 4 x 1st Class Country Definitive stamps, 2 x 10p and 2 x 5p Definitive stamps.

These Machins are coded M19L, which is a shame, and the country definitives are new font. This means that we have only three new stamps 1p, 10p & £1.35 -  as the 5p was in the Star Wars PSB, and the 2p was included in the Queen Victoria PSB last year.  However, the shades are different, as shown earlier.

Technical details and acknowledgements
The 50 x 30 mm stamps are designed by True North and are printed in litho by Internatioanl Security Printers, with PVA gum in sheets of 70 stamps.
Acknowledgements: Black hole reference imagery © Dr Ziri Younsi, UCL; gravitational lensing black hole reference imagery (Cheshire Cat galaxy group) © NASA/Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center/Science Photo Library.


First Day Covers, Presentation Pack, PSB, Stamp cards, Framed set, Coin Cover.

James Bond - bumper pack of stamps and other products to be issued 17 March

The embargo date for this issue is 18 February, so I would not normally be writing now, but as Royal Mail's February Philatelic Bulletin lists all the products, it seems appropriate to write this now, but there won't be much detail!

In celebration of the 25th James Bond film due for release in April 2020, Royal Mail is delighted to launch the official James Bond stamp issue.

The Bond films are the longest running film series in film history with James Bond known all over the world. The films are renowned for many features, including the musical accompaniment, with the theme songs having received Academy Award nominations on several occasions, and two wins. Other important elements which run through most of the films include Bond's cars, his guns, and the gadgets with which he is supplied by Q Branch.

The summary in the Philatelic Bulletin lists the following elements:

Stamps 3 x 1st class, 3 x £1.60 in two se-tenant strips.

Miniature sheet - 2 x 1st class, 2 x £1.55

Presentation Pack, First Day Covers, Stamp Cards

Retail booklet of two special stamps and 4 x 1st class Machin definitives.

Prestige Stamp Booklet (PSB) which will include all 10 stamps and a definitive pane containing 2 x 2p, 2 x 2nd class Machin, 2 x 2nd class Scotland, 2 x 1st class Union Flag. (These ought to be coded M20L).
13 February - SHOCK UPDATE - the Machin definitives have M19L coding!

Press Sheet (of MS);

Generic (aka Smilers/Collectors) Sheet containing 5 x 1st class and 5 x £1.60 with attached labels.

Limited Edition PSB which contains same stamp panes but possibly a different cover, all in different packaging.

Various framed sets, prints, and other material for Bond fans rather than stamp collectors.

Readers may leave comments but I shall not be confirming any other details of the stamps or what they depict until the due date. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

London 2020 stamp issues - in more detail

As I mentioned previously, the US weekly stamp magazine, Linn's Stamp News, has published details about the London 2020 stamp issues which were taken from a Royal Mail press release.  The problem with a large organisation such as Royal Mail is that sometimes such a release takes by surprise the very people who are most affected.

No, I don't mean dealers and collectors, but some parts of Royal Mail.  Consequently the information now provided to dealers is still incomplete, but at least there is more of it, and it is out of embargo.

London2020 International Stamp Exhibition 

Major international shows have taken place in London for seventy years and attract visitors from all over the world. Britain holds a particular appeal for stamp collectors outside the UK because it has the oldest postal service and was the first country to introduce an adhesive postage stamp – the Penny Black. A key theme of the London 2020 show will be the 180th anniversary of the Penny Black which Royal Mail will marking with a number of special products. An additional theme of the exhibition will be the 150th anniversary of the British postcard which will be commemorated by Royal Mail with a show exclusive stamp sheet.

"Please note that issue dates are yet to be finalised. The original plan was for some of the issue dates
to be staggered across the show, however, this would mean day one visitors, who have paid for entry
to the show, would not be able to purchase some of the London2020 commemorative products. Full
details including postmarks will be published in due course."

10 March 2020 - Retail Stamp Booklet
This Retail Stamp Book of six First Class stamps includes two Penny Black, two Twopenny Blue and two Penny Red stamps first issued in 2015 and 2016. It also bears the London 2020 show logo as well as details of the venue and dates on which the exhibition takes place.

London2020 Souvenir Sheet

A sheet of 8 x First Class stamps featuring the show logo and comprising two Penny Blacks, 3 x Twopenny Blues and 3 x Penny Reds. In the centre of the stamp pane is a label featuring the old original die of Queen Victoria’s image. The sheet carries no new stamps so will not be issued to Regular Order customers automatically and as such has an individually numbered limited edition of 15,000.

The size of the sheet is 162mm x 96mm (landscape) and the stamps are gummed.

London2020 Show Exclusive Souvenir Sheet

The show exclusive version of the souvenir sheet is an individually numbered limited edition of just 7,500 and is available to purchase at the show only. To mark the 150th anniversary of the British postcard the label in the centre of the stamp pane comprises a reproduction of the Half Penny stamp design that appeared on the first postcard produced in the UK. 

The size of the sheet is 162mm x 96mm (landscape) and the stamps are gummed.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, this is the same format, the same size, and the same background as the 2016 prestige stamp book pane (see below).  One might have expected the Exhibition Exclusive miniature sheet, marking as it does the 150th Anniversary of the British postcard, to have more imposing caption, and maybe a different background.  Maybe the stamps could have been moved to the left, and the top right could have included the original stamp in it's original place?  It wouldn't have needed much effort to do the perforating the other way round - they've done it before by accident!

As the editor of the Modern British Philatelic Circle's Bookmark journal has written:

For a once-in-a-decade prestigious philatelic event, Royal Mail could have pulled something a little more imaginative out of the bag, as they did in 2010 with superb intaglio Seahorse engravings. The 2020 servings smack unfortunately of last year’s leftovers reheated in the microwave to cut the costs (and effort) of designing something really worthwhile. Instead we get cheap litho reprints of stamps issued to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black and its siblings in 2015 and 2016. Don’t we deserve better?

Here's one they produced earlier:

180th Anniversary of The Penny Black Stamp Sheet

Sheet of 25 x First Class Penny Black stamps marking the 180th anniversary of the first adhesive postage stamp.  Printed along the top are the actual dates of the anniversary and the instructions that appeared on the original Penny Black sheets is paraphrased on the left margin of the sheet. The size of the sheet is 121mm x 140mm (portrait) and the stamps are gummed and will be printed in litho.  So although this is in a similar form as ordinary counter sheet, the stamps are gummed, rather than self-adhesive.  

The 1d black marginal inscriptions are interesting as much for their impact on normal printing marks.  The cylinder numbers and FSC logo are now on the right hand side instead of the left, along with the barcode, date and short name.  The grid layout - now in the lower margin - is interesting because it shows these stamps were printed in FOUR grid positions, out of 8.  So what else was printed on the same master plate?


 London2020 Exhibition Sheet

For London2020 Royal Mail is issuing its last Exhibition Sheet in the Smilers format first established produced for the Pacific Explorer Exhibition in Sydney in 2005*. The sheet contains the show logo and 20 x First Class ‘Hello’ stamps with adjoining labels featuring images of Mail Rail, the Post Office Underground Railway and set against a background of the same. The sheet is A4 size

* I don't know why Royal Mail don't count the 2004 Hong Kong Stamp Expo sheet as the first - I certainly did, and produced a good first day cover!

There's no point in quoting prices for these, because apart from the retail booklet (£4.20) the other products are all subject to the tariff change at the end of March.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Special Delivery Labels - another new variant?

For many years our deliveries from Royal Mail Tallents House had the address and Special Delivery details combined into one label, with the tracking number in a unique series starting Y.

When they introduced the new accounting system a few years ago this facility was lost and they used ordinary SD labels just as you would find in any other business, or indeed in Post Office branches.  The ones I'm using on outward mail are P6598 labels prefixed AF and dated June 14.

The recent ones from Tallents House are prefeixed JS and have no date or form number, which may mean that they are using old stock not supplied to POs when the rolls were introduced, similar to this 12 noon one which has the form number and date on the reverse.

However the latest one from Edinburgh has a horizontal (or landscape) label which I haven't seen before, even though it is date February 2016.  Has anybody else seen one of these?

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Penny Black Plate 8 - bushfire auction ends Sunday 1 Feb, 11 am GMT.

I know that most of our readers are concerned with modern issues, but I equally know that a good number collect other stamps including older GB.

As part of the Stampboards Bushfire auction I have been sent a Plate 8 1d black by a collector who is remaining anonymous.   It's damaged (but of course repairable) but has a catalogue value of £525 in fine condition.

As you can see, it has margins most places, and it also has a lot of gum on the back - which could easily be cleaned off with hot water which would also improve the overall appearance.  What appears to be a thin at the middle-right (from the back) edge is actually missing gum,  When all the gum is off that will be just fine.

Price currently stands at AS120 (or just over £60).  If you wish to own this almost fine stamp, go and bid now.  The auction closes at midnight Sydney time (11 am GMT/UTC) on Sunday 1 February.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

American Magazine Linn's Reveals Royal Mail plans for London 2020 stamp issues

The US weekly stamp magazine, Linn's Stamp News, has published details from a Royal Mail press release about stamp issues related to the London 2020 International Exhibition, to be held at Islington's Business Design Centre from 2-9 May.

The only product pictured will be very familiar to collectors.  This is a miniature sheet to be issued in a limited numbered edition of 15,000. 

Remember this?

This was a pane in the Royal Mail 500 Prestige Stamp Book issued in 2016.  So we don't think that there are any new collectable stamps there, although collectors may want the miniature sheet itself.

We're already aware, from reader reports based on the latest RM Stock List, that there will be an Exhibition Sheet (the usual 20 self-adhesive 'Hello' stamps) and Linn's reveal that the labels will show images of Mail Rail.

The Linn's article also mentions the retails booklet containing six self-adhesive stamps, to be issued well in advance of the show on 10 March.  This contains one of each of the three stamps.  A booklet issued in 2016 contained 6 x 1d reds, and one in 2015 contained 6 x 1d blacks, so these are probably the same - but this is the first appearance of the self-adhesive 2d blue, except in the 2015 Smilers Sheet.

Linn's reports that

- "The remaining four panes will be issued 'for the exhibition', according to the Press Release, but no specific issue dates were revealed."  I've no idea what this means, but it sounds like an unannounced prestige stamp book.

- "A pane of 25 of the first-class Penny Black stamp will be issued for the exhibition."  This sounds like a counter sheet, so maybe the 1d black will replace - or be sold alongside - standard 1st class Machins.

- Two souvenir sheets with the modified classic stamp designs will have limited printings. Both will feature two of the Penny Black stamps, and three each of the Two-Penny Blue and Penny Red designs.  The first is detailed above.

"The second sheet will only be sold at the exhibition, Royal Mail advises. Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first British postal card, the 1870 ½d violet, the souvenir sheet label reproduces the imprinted stamp design from that postal card, and the sheet includes relevant anniversary text.
That second souvenir sheet will be available in a numbered edition of 7,500."

I understand that Royal Mail have not yet finalised sales arrangements for the exclusive-at-the-exhibition sheet, but I expect it to be available - as before - for the duration of the exhibition despite its 7,500 print run.  This may involve a degree of rationing.

As soon as we have more information from Royal Mail, we will be able to provide more accurate and exact details.