Tuesday 30 March 2010

Do you collect Postal History the Modern way?

Many people think that stamps issued these days are only for collectors.   There certainly isn't much variety on the mail these days, unless you count the variations in the 2nd class blue and 1st class gold.  Incidentally, how often do you see these stamps from ordinary counter sheets, ie without any hidden security code?  Most of the ones I get are from booklets, with business sheets a close second.  Ordinary sheet stamps could be quite scarce!

Over on my other blog, I'm showing stamps actually used.  I'm stuck in the late 1960s/early 1970s at present but will add to it from time to time, and I'll be interested to have your reactions.  Some of these stamps are not in many collections - on cover, doing the right job!

If you're interested in this aspect of collecting, please follow the Postal History blog as well as this one.

Friday 19 March 2010

Battersea Cylinder update

We've had a response from Royal Mail about the Cylinders used on the Battersea issue, and have amended the original message here.

Temporary website for Norvic

As announced on our website, we will be undertaking some technical changes this weekend involving moving servers.

There will almost certainly be an interruption in service on our e-commerce site (www.norphil.co.uk/catalog).

Update: although the e-commerce site is visible, the search facilities, the country-drop-down and some other aspects are broken: actual products cannot be seen this way. They can be seen by clicking on "What's New".

Later Update: we believe the broken aspects are now fixed - those that we have tested are.  If you find something wrong, please do tell us.

We'll have all sections back to normal as soon as we can and apologise for any inconvenience.

Sunday 7 March 2010

Multiple Cylinders for Battersea Dogs & Cats

Most people know that Litho plates or cylinders don't last as long as those used in gravure printing, meaning that for long runs, multiple plates or combinations of plates might be necesssary.

Way back in 1969 Harrisons printed nearly 140 million of the 5d Christmas stamp from one set of cylinders - though apparently they had to have two tries at making the brown. According to Stanley Gibbons specialised catalogue the cylinder numbers are:
1A blue, 1B yellow, 1c magenta, 1d green, 2E brown, 1F light blue, 1G red, 1H gold.

The 271 million 4d second class stamps resulted in two combinations of cylinders:
1A brown, 1b vermillion, 2C orange, 1D purple, 1E blue, 1F or 2F green, 1G violet, 1H gold

In the 21st century few stamps are printed for each issue, and it seems that one set of gravure cylinders or litho plates is usually sufficient. But it would seem that Cartor have had some trouble with Battersea's Dogs & Cats - either that or there are many more millions printed than usual.

We've now had a response from Royal Mail which explains why this problem occurred, and they have provided a full list of the 9 cylinder combinations used.

"The reasons for this unusual range of plate combinations are twofold. Firstly, this issue was printed fine screen litho to get the best translation of the images as we could get. Because of the delicacy of the images on the plates this results in a shorter life for each plate. The second impact was the phosphor ink. At the time these were printed we were having problems with the quality of the phosphor ink on hand. Cartor's attempts to compensate for this resulted in a number of plate changes before a new batch of the ink was received."

Thanks to Martyn for providing this information which is, I'm sure, of interest to many collectors.

So far the combinations found by us or reported to us are numbers 1 to 8 in the above list, leaving number 9 still to be found. (Type 3 just reported in a delivery from Tallents House - thanks, Marc.) See comments for locations of some combinations.

Please let us know what you have found; remember you need two sets to include the phosphor and gold numbers.

Friday 5 March 2010

Pink Floyd Souvenir Album Sheet - 6 March 2010

From a Press Release:

Royal Mail and Pink Floyd have teamed up to produce a unique souvenir stamp product featuring the band’s final studio album, The Division Bell (which featured David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright), issued tomorrow Saturday March 6.

[Blog Note: by 'issued' Royal Mail means 'made available' in that the sheet will not be available at Post Offices. However, see note below in red.]
Issued on guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour’s birthday, the sheet’s design mimics a 7” record cover and features ten of the 1st Class The Division Bell stamps, first released as part of Royal Mail’s hugely successful Album Covers issue of January.

The sheet also features the lyrics of ‘High Hopes’, the final song on the band’s final studio album, along with a Pink Floyd emblem against a background of the astonishing metal heads which featured on the record’s cover. And to celebrate the stamp sheet, fans can watch the band playing the song on Pink Floyd’s official website.
Since its release in 1994, The Division Bell has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide, and the sheet is issued as part of Royal Mail’s Big Month of Music which runs throughout March 2010.

The Sheet will be available to order from Royal Mail online and from their Philatelic Bureau but not apparently from Post Offices. Priced at 85p over face value, it is unlikely to appear in standard stamp catalogues.

To see Pink Floyd performing High Hopes live visit www.pinkfloyd.com

These sheets were delivered to us on Friday 12th March, a week after the official 'issue' date.