Tuesday 25 August 2009

London 2012 Olympics - 2009 stamp issue.

I've published the Royal Mail press release in the previous message here, which describes the plan for the next three years.

The pictures of the 2009 stamps are now available to view:

Other products include the usual fdc, presentation pack, and a premium-priced commemorative sheet:

To clarify the way these are being issued (I wrote set of 10 in two sheets of 25) 5 stamps will be in one sheet of 5x5, and the other 5 will be in a separate sheet of 5x5. This will enable the purchase of vertical strips all in the same design (if your PO will do this for you!). This is the same format as the Eminent Britons issue and it may well be the format for all future "blocks of 10" first class stamps.

And better quality -


Monday 24 August 2009

2012 Olympics, first of three annual sets.

Press Release 24/08/2009

Royal Mail launches major series of Olympic Stamps for London 2012

Royal Mail has commissioned some of Britain’s most exciting artists and illustrators to create three sets of stamps to be issued in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

A total of 30 1st Class stamps will be issued in the Olympic and Paralympic Games series, with the first ten going on sale on 22 October 2009.

Royal Mail is working with illustrators and fine artists to create the stamps which will highlight both the sporting and cultural significance of this incredible event.

Each stamp will champion an Olympic or Paralympic sport and they will be issued in three sets in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Among the sports featured on the first set of stamps is diving, with a distinctive illustration by the leading contemporary artist Julian Opie, alongside the lesser known Paralympic sport of boccia.

Julietta Edgar, Head of Special Stamps, Royal Mail said: "Royal Mail has always been there to celebrate and commemorate significant moments in our history and the London 2012 Olympic Games is one of the greatest events on the planet.

"We hope these stamps play their part in the countdown to the Games, but also to highlight both the sporting and cultural legacy of this wonderful event."

The 30 stamps mark the 30th Olympiad and London 2012 Paralympic Games and are official products of the London 2012 Olympics. Each stamp will feature either the London 2012 Olympic Games or Paralympic Games logo.

London 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe welcomed the announcement: "I’m thrilled and proud that London 2012 is going to be working with Royal Mail to produce these stamps. It is a huge honour to have stamps created in celebration of the Games and we look forward to working with Royal Mail over the next three years. These stamps will be a wonderful way to celebrate the London 2012 Games and means that the whole country can get involved in this fantastic festival of sport between now and 2012."
I have full details and images, but dealers received explicit instructions from Royal Mail today not to publish anything until given full permission. The information has been published with a link to these two images.

Treasures of the Archive PSB - pane 1 variation

Although Royal Mail's prestige book FDCs have only a part of the Machin pane, early prestige stamp books were produced with no clean way of separating the pane from the book. Later panes were produced with rouletting against the binding edge, and later still a second set of rouletting just to the left of the stamps. (Most notably this meant that the official FDCs for the wilding pane of the 'Gracious Accession' PSB had only 8 of the 9 stamps on the pane, because the 2nd class red, with the diagonal watermark, was to the left of the right-hand rouletting.)

As many people know, registered dealers can buy loose panes from prestige stamp books, which enables us to service FDCs without having to remove the stamp panes from the books. This is why you often see panes with no stitching holes in the left (binding) margin. (These panes should not be available mint as they are supplied only for covers.)

The loose versions of pane 1 from the ToA booklet are markedly different to those in the books: they have no rouletting at all. This ought to be mentioned in some of the more specialist catalogues.

Friday 14 August 2009

Machin variations - latest Prestige Stamp Books

As must be expected the Machin definitives in Prestige Stamp Books are usually distinguishable from those issued in sheets, if only because of the different printing process. But colour shades, depth of shading on the portrait, and even positions of the face value also vary.

Here I'm comparing the 17p, 22p, 62p & 90p definitives issued in sheets on 31 March 2009, printed in gravure by De La Rue, with the latest booklets. All these images are scanned in the same session, so are directly comparable.

I have been advised by an eagle-eyed viewer that the Treasures book was in fact printed by Cartor, according to the imprint, and not by the parent company Walsall SP. I don't have time to change the captions, but it does mean that the two 17p stamps were printed by the same company - and they are different!

From left to right - De La Rue gravure sheet printing, Treasures of the Archive PSB (litho, Cartor), Royal Navy Uniforms PSB (litho, also Cartor):

22p - De La Rue Sheet printing and Treasures of the Archive PSB (Cartor litho)

62p - De La Rue Sheet printing and Treasures of the Archive PSB (Cartor litho)

90p De La Rue gravure sheet printing, Royal Navy Uniforms PSB (litho, Cartor):

1p - Royal Navy Uniforms PSB (litho, Cartor) version compared with 2006 sheet printing:


Monday 10 August 2009

Nearly Christmas!

Due to other commitments I've been unable to provide details here or on the website about the 2009 Christmas stamps, which feature stained glass windows.

Seven stamps this year -

2nd & 2nd Large - Angel
1st & 1st Large - Madonna and Child
56p - Joseph
90p - Wise Man
£1.35 - Shepherd
... as well as a miniature sheet and Smilers sheet, the last of which you can see here .

I must admit this is one of the better designed Smilers in recent years. OK some labels show only arms rather than heads, but better than the Pantomime of last year, I think.

As in previous years, the Madonna and Child stamps will be reissued though I'm not sure why, as both 1st class stamps feature the Madonna and Child and the rest are quite obviously religious?

Sunday 9 August 2009

Business Sheets: DLR using 2 different die-cuts at the same time?

Back in March we reported that the Security slits on the Business Sheets proved conclusively that they were printed by De La Rue because the semi-circular arcs were the same as those on counter sheets, ie one continuous unbroken arc.

Now we have news that the latest 1st & 2nd (small) Business Sheets have been found with split arcs, similar to those on the Walsall-printed booklets. We're referring to these, for the time being as
Type 1 (continuous arc), Type 2 (Split arc)

At first it appeared that Royal Mail had asked De La Rue to change the die-cut, and this suggested that we might also see changes on subsequent printings of the PO counter sheets of 50p - £5 and 1st & 2nd including Large Letter.

The dates first reported to me were

1st class - 13/02/2009 &
2nd class - 18/01/2009

Latest reports
2nd small -
14/01 Type 1
15/01 , 16/01, 17/01, 18/01 Types 1 & 2
09/03 & 10/03 - Type 2 only

1st small
13/02/09 - Type 1 & 2

No changes yet reported to the Large stamps.

It would not be economical to have a printing press printing business sheets in single columns and it must be assumed that they are printed at least two or maybe three or even four columns wide*. As long as all the die-cuts are the same this would be unremarkable. But if two different die-cuts appear with the same printing date it suggests that two different die-cuts were used in different positions on the machine.

* This is not to say that all four columns would be printing the same stamps: there could be two columns of 1st class and two of 2nd class.

If the Walsall/DLR differences are recognised or mentioned in the specialist catalogues it is probably fair to assume that these differences will be as well. And it makes it all the more important to look at ALL stamps received in the mail. Suddenly the 'boring' 1st & 2nd class Machins are starting to look interesting!