Friday 30 April 2010

Quality reproduction of PUC £1 !

These are scans of the PUC £1 facsimiles.  The printing on the reverse is over the whole block, so the GvR cypher is in the centre of the block.  I'm impressed!

Thursday 29 April 2010

Cartor heavy with the ink in Souvenir Sheet?

We now have copies of the London 2010 Festival of Stamps Souvenir Sheet, containing 11 Machin definitives printed by Cartor.  As is to be expected, these show marked differences to the normal sheet stamps printed by De La Rue.  Although Stanley Gibbons' Concise catalogue will probably only assign a number to the whole sheet, specialist catalogues should allocate numbers to individual stamps.

Here are the stamps, Cartor Souvenir Sheet stamps first, followed by the separate DLR stamps:

In fairness I ought to compare the Cartor printings of values they have printed before with their previous versions, but that can come later.  I think the comparison of the 20p & 60p values is most interesting!

Tuesday 27 April 2010

London 2010 Festival of stamps - 1st class double-head

Proof that the 1st class double head stamp really is being sold in sheets, contrary to Royal Mail's stock list, but as mentioned in an earlier reply to correspondents:
The stamp is printed in sheets of 25, formed into 6 sheets, three across and two down.  Twin-pane sheets are available but Post Offices will generally have sheets of 25.  Sheet markings:

- the caption is above columns 1 & 2,
- the sale date below columns 4 & 5,
- the cylinder numbers to the left of row 4 (C1 phos, C1),
- the traffic lights to the right of row 4 (phosphor above red),
- the barcode and short title to the right of rows 1 & 2, and
- the positional grid to the left of row 2.

If I had been involved I would have made sure that Festival of Stamps was fully capitalised, but maybe I'm just old fashioned?  How about you?

Monday 26 April 2010

The truth behind the MA10 security code?

I have been advised that the previously reported security code MA10 is regarded as a production date, included on these stamps in the same way that the year is included either as a microprint in the design of, or reversed out of the phosphor on, special and commemorative stamps.  As such the production date will be included on all future security printings, this year and in subsequent years, in any format that needs a reprint.

(My response to this when told, was that production dates are only added to commemorative or special stamps.  They are not even included on the Madonna Christmas stamps, whilst their secular counterparts in 2007 did have the year shown in the phosphor.  Similarly Royal Mail didn't see the need to include the year in the original security stamps.  You can draw your own conclusions as to why this change has been made: but it can't be only because collectors will want them, though.)

As Royal Mail no longer provide a true philatelic service, only a sales and marketing function to collectors, it will be up to dealers and collectors to find them, as they will not be regarded as new 'visible change' stamps by Royal Mail for standing order purposes.   I can easily anticipate their response to any challenge on this position, based on previous responses to similar illogicality: the stamps are not sufficiently different to previous stamps and we didn't want to send them to collectors who didn't want them.  (Note: this is not a quote, it's a suggested response.)  I did ask a Royal Mail trade manager about these changes over 2 weeks ago, but have not yet had a response.  I suspect he is busy getting ready for the London 2010 Festival of Stamps.  Guess what?  So are we, and we are dealing with current orders at the same time!

As regards the 2nd class x 12 booklets, we have been advised that, having sold the booklets at Stampex, Royal Mail's Tallents House 'Philatelic Service' is refusing to sell them either to collectors or to dealers by mail order even though they have them and can, we understand, easily identify them.  We've also been told that the cellophane wrapping on the packs of 50 indicates if all booklets inside have Cylinder numbers.  People who buy all their new stamps by mail from Tallents House rather than spending time queueing at Stampex may have to reconsider their tactics - or their collecting interests!

Thursday 22 April 2010

King George Accession surprises

Our supplies of stamps etc for the May Festival of Stamps are starting to arrive from Royal Mail, and are bringing some surprises with them. The colour of the 1st class double-head stamp is not 'flame-orange' as originally described, and as pictured on the Stamp Cards, the colours of the PSB panes are different, and the PSB panes are guillotined into the designs (as we were told they would not be). The one non-surprise so far is the predicted security codes on the PSB Machin pane.

You will recall earlier pictures of the new 1st class double-head 'flame-orange' stamp: the later image of the full sheet being quite different in shade to the publicity photos of the single stamp.

Well we don't have the single stamps yet but we do have the miniature sheet.  As you can see from this scan of the actual sheet, the colour is very similar to that of the 'whole sheet' image shown above, and totally different to the publicity image and the Stamp Cards (see below).

PSB Panes:

The publicity image for the Machin pane is probably closest to the actual thing, with the background printed silver on white.  The perforations are as usual, with two holes beloe the elliptical hole.  As predicted these new self-adhesive stamps have security features (uninterrupted cuts of type I as on sheet stamps), security code MPIL (for prestige book) at top right, and MA10 (for 2010) to the left of the forehead.
Close-up of the stamps:

The Seahorse PSB pane is printed silver on cream, not silver on white, and the loose ones we have been supplied with barely include the whole diadem, whereas in the book the full pane includes the whole of the left frame of the original stamp design.  The stamps are well produced, but.....

There are no extension holes to the perforations as shown in the publicity images for panes 1 & 2.

Plans, intentions, publicity, marketing and reality.
Mock-ups are just that - we shouldn't put too much reliance on them actually showing how the stamps/panes will turn out in reality.   To be fair, Royal Mail always say that they are working images - in the 6-12 months before they are actually issued - but is it too much to hope that the images and descriptions in their own Philatelic Bulletins might be accurate as soon as the stamps have been approved and printed?

The stamp cards for the 6 May stamps show the 1st class stamp in the colour we thought it should have been in - and possibly the colour that Royal Mail intended.  Sadly the actual stamps are rather insipid compared with these:

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Golden Machin Horizon labels in Wales - update.

We have news from the principality that the introduction of gold Machin Horizon labels to Wales was delayed by a week. 

The image shown, courtesy of Brian on the PostagelabelsUK blog shows usage at the Senghenydd PO near Caerphilly.   The office CDS has been applied, as well as the Cardiff machine postmark for 20-IV-2010.

Brian has reported that some of the gold labels were mistakenly sent to POs in Kent.  Some may have been used before instructions were sent to withdraw them, so keep your eyes open!

'Kent' referred to above turned out to be two branches in Orpington.
Bassett Avenue sub-PO in Bicester (branch 170137) also has them (before 8 May), as well as one in Norwich (before 14 May) and one in Stockton-on-Tees (posted 12 May).
In use 8-15 May at London 2010 Festival of Stamps PO - branch code 27508 London N1

20 May update: reported posted from Horsham, Surrey.
Also one from Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 dated 12 May.  Branch 362832.
22 May update: Lower Castlereagh (Belfast), branch 249704 - 1 May 2010. (Image to follow)

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Machin MA10 usage record - 2010 security print

I've been asked by several people just when these new stamps were available, and what is likely to be the earliest known use.

We know for sure that the 6 x 1st (MSIL) with new postcode advert had a philatelic distribution date of 26 January, and dealers may have been supplied a week or two earlier.  We prepared one FDC for a customer who wanted the booklet advert and 6 stamps.   These stamps could have been used from this time.

We know for sure that the Olympic Booklet 2 (MCIL) was issued on 25 February and first day covers were produced by many people.  We produced some with all 6 stamps and some with only the Olympic stamps, putting the remainder aside for postage.  We used some of these in February and March, though not many as we tend to use special stamps to our customers.  I don't know how many were used, nor where they were sent!

The 12 x 1st and 12 x 2nd (MTIL) booklets were available on the first day of Stampex 24 February, but it is unlikely that any were used postally.   As we indicated earlier, the 1st class book was released by Royal Mail to collectors as a visible change with no printers imprint on the back of the book.  Oddly in the January Stock List there were two entries for this - UB309 dated 15.12.09 and UB310 dated 26.01.10.  This duplication was explained away as an error, and UB310 is missing from the April Stock List.  But there are two versions of the booklet!

I spent an hour looking through the kiloware - stamps that I had torn off incoming mail since Christmas - and found no MA10 stamps.  But two did arrive in the mail this week, so the earliest known dates so far are shown below.  Do let me know what you find, so that the record can be updated.

MCIL - 11.3.10 - philatelic use for special handstamp.
              7.4.10   Leicester.

MSIL - 30.3.10   Ipswich  (from the Postcode advert booklet)
             12.4.10  Medway & Maidstone

Scan of 2nd class from book of 12 to demonstrate how easy the codes are to see.  The security layer on the 1st class gold stamps is also much easier to see on these recent printings than on some of the 2009 printings where deciphering the code was almost impossible.

Now on Sale
We have a limited supply of these and other stamps with security features now listed on our e-commerce site.

Thursday 8 April 2010

London 2010 Festival of stamps - 1st class double-head

A contact in Finland has pointed out that Royal Mail's minimally informative mailshot 'first' fails to mention that this stamp is available as a single stamp and is not just in the miniature sheet.

I checked, he's right - and it's also not included in the April 2010 Bureau Stock List although the other Festival products are.  

The stamp should be on sale at all UK post offices but for those who can't get to a PO, and for international customers, the Royal Mail stock code for the single stamp is DS414.  Gutter pairs are also available.

Security Machins - four new stamps discovered!

Yesterday morning I suggested that the new coil stamps with security features might have a new security code.  Yesterday evening came news of a new discovery that makes this almost certain!

Dealer Alec Withell reported that the retail booklet of 6 x 1st with the London 2010 Festival of Stamps advert has an additional year code, the word MAIL to the left of the Queen's forehead reading MA10.  This is in addition to the normal code for a book of 6, MSIL in the top right corner.

Apparently the other 2010 retail booklet, with the postcode URL changed from 'P' to 'p' also has this year code, even though it must have been printed in 2009 (for a 25 January 2010 distribution).   So the code indicates the year in which Royal Mail intend that the booklets will go into distribution?  Maybe!

But that is only the start.  Looking back at the other 2010 booklets, it turns out that the Olympic/Paralympic booklet 2 also has the MA10 code, but this time with MCIL at the top right.

And there's more!
A new printing of the 12 x 2nd booklet also incorporates the MA10 code, with MTIL at top right, as normal for a book of 12.  This booklet, however, has very limited availabilty.  It was available at Spring Stampex from special packs containing 50 booklets all with cylinder numbers.  People who buy all their new stamps by mail from Tallents House rather than spending time queueing at Stampex will be interested to know that these booklets have an edge strip which is 7.5mm wide instead of 5mm wide.  Whilst some might consider this just a minor difference, to others it is a fundamental change.

But here's the rub.  The new booklets obviously have a different overlay cylinder showing MA10 - but the cylinder number has remained the same!   Blue W4, phosphor W2, security W1 - the same as the regular booklets of 12 printed in February 2009.

At this stage the 2nd class stamp will be the key to find, and as these booklets have not - as far as we know - been distributed to post offices, the stamps are unlikely to be found in kiloware.

Lastly, the 1st class book of 12 exists with MA10 code as well.  Announced for mid-December, but not distributed to us until mid-January, the 12 x 1st book was re-released without the printer's imprint on the back.  These books do not have MA10, although they do have the 7.5mm strip.  But similar booklets bought by dealers at Stampex from 'cylinder only' packets, not only have the wide strip, but also have code MA10.

So we have a booklet with a new cover, under which condition Royal Mail decide it is a separate product and allocate it a new product code;  But when it is issued with new stamps, they don't consider it necessary even to tell us, let alone make it available as a new product!

Thanks to Alec for providing all the pictures.  All these are our copyright: may be reproduced elsewhere on the web provided the source and Alec Withell as the copyright holder is acknowledged.  Reproduction in printed media, please write first.

Now on sale in our ecommerce site.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

New Security Machins on 13 May - 1st & 2nd class coils

You might think that these are not new, as a big fuss was made last year about the coils with security code MRIL.  Those were self-adhesive coils of 10,000 stamps and no singles or strips were made available through Royal Mail's philatelic service despite the stamps being "visibly different" (to use their own terminology).

Now they have produced coils of 500 and 1000 - but these are different from the ones produced last year so if you collect them, you will want both!  Coils are on sale from Tallents House; in the past these have been available as singles and strips as well as complete coils.

The new stamps have

- conventional gum

- security overprint (exact details not known)

- no security slits.

It has been suggested that these are mostly used in dispensers inside and outside post offices, and that may be the case.  However, in post office branches which have Post & Go machines the coil dispensers have been removed, as they have in many branches without P&G machines.  But if you know where coil dispensers still exist at POs, do let us know, and check out which stamps they have - they may already have the new stamps!

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Airmail NVIs - 20gr Europe and 20gr Worldwide

As most readers will know, the 40gr airmail NVIs are being replaced by these 20gr stamps which, like the earlier ones and the airmail postcard NVI, are sold in booklets of 4.

These are scans of the actual stamps from the Presentation Pack.  Unlike the earlier stamps included in packs, these are not die-cut through the backing paper.  (The original 40gr stamps were on booklet stock and die-cut through, and the postcard stamp - like these - was on unprinted backing.)

Most collectors will also know that Royal Mail made the 40gr and postcard stamps available, not only to dealers but to collectors, as singles.  At least until 2008 (maybe later, but not now) the 40gr and postcard airmail NVIs issued in 2003/4 were sold from Tallents House as product codes US001 (40gr set) and US002 (postcard).  The point of this was that collectors who only wanted one example of each stamp and had no use for the other three in the booklet, could obtain singles without incurring undue expense.

That isn't happening this time.  If you want these stamps (face value £1.57) for your collection you have three options:

- buy the booklets at £6.28 (most POs don't have them yet.)
- buy the presentation pack at £6.05 (more POs have this than the booklets)
- buy from dealers at a premium over face.

When I pressed Royal Mail's philatelic service on this point of inconsistency, I received this reply:

Whilst it is appreciated that collectors will want to collect single
stamps, the product is a book of four stamps. International NVIs are not
available as sheets and therefore we do not supply them in that format. If
collectors want a single example, the presentation pack provides that

So there you have it.   Personnel change, policies change.  They want you to buy stamps, and to do so you will buy more than you want, or be forced to pay the excess for the presenation pack.  Meanwhile at the London Festival of Stamps, they will be selling pre-packaged cylinder blocks, gutter pairs, etc, of some issues.  Think about why - it's only so that the queues don't get too long.  But the queues of people wanting one of each definitive but not a presentation pack will be lengthened as the Royal Mail people explain for the nth time why they can't sell single 20gr airmail stamps.

Saturday 3 April 2010

Golden Machin Horizon labels coming to Wales soon.

Aur Machin Horizon labeli yn dod i Gymru yn fuan.

According to the Postagelabelsuk blog, April 12/13th will see the Horizon labels with Gold Machin printing introduced to Wales.   

The overprint that will be bilingual from some offices, although some offices in Wales print only in English for some reason.   There are currently also two types of overprint in use – one from the original Horizon-enabled Post Offices and the other narrower typeface on some lines in Branches that have been upgraded to ‘Horizon Online’. 

Unlike the Camden trial, these labels will be used for all classes of mail, not just Special Delivery.

There is no official first day of issue of these as they will be supplied to replace white labels as needed. Distribution will commence from April 12th 2010, giving a potential First Day of Use of around the 13th April.

The labels are from a different print run than that used as Camden Town, but it remains to be seen if there are any visual differences!   Watch this space - tell us what you find!  A prize for the first person to send me one, or a genuinely used one you have received.

Update 20.4.10
Received a packet (1PK) today from LL30 (Llandudno, Conwy), with branch code 27614 - they are still using white labels, although I was pleased to see it is bilingual.  Last one I sent from north Wales near Llangollen was in English, even though the PO was in Wales!

Thursday 1 April 2010

London 2010 Festival of Stamps - stamps and other products

Royal Mail has made a significant investment in this year's international exhibition, and seems determined to recoup as much as possible from visitors and other collectors.  Prices shown here are face value or Royal Mail retail prices.

I posted some of this information in February with the pictures we had then, but more (I daren't say 'complete') details are now available, so this is an illustrated summary.

6 May 1st class single stamp (41p) showing the Machin head of Queen Elizabeth II and the Mackennal profile head of King George V.   Now that we have these stamps I can tell you that they - and the one in the MS - are red, not orange/flame - click on the image to see the full double-pane sheet, with gutter in the actual colour. (Edit: the Royal Mail order code for the single stamp is DS414 but at the time of writing it isn't possible to purchase it online with the rest of the stamps in this series.)

6 May Miniature sheet (£1.41) with two stamps, the 1st class shown above and a £1 brown showing both Downey and Mackennal George V heads.  Royal Mail standing order customers will apparently only get a First Day Cover of the miniature sheet, and not of the single stamps.  

6 May Uncut Press Sheet containing 20 of the above Miniature sheets, in 5 rows, and two se-tenant tete-beche columns. (£31)

6 May George V British Rarities ingot cover and Commonwealth Rarities ingot cover, priced at £32.95 each. 

8 May Miniature sheet (£2.82) with four stamps.  2 x 1st class showing the two 1924 British Empire Exhibition (BEE) stamps, and 2 x £1 showing the 10/- blue and £1 green Seahorse definitives.

8 May Uncut Press Sheet of 9 of the above miniature sheets (3x3). (£27.90)

8 May Presentation pack containing both 6 May and 8 May miniature sheets. (£4.75)

8 May Stamp card set of 8,, ie one for each of the 6 stamps and one each for the miniature sheets. (£3.20)

8 May  Prestige Stamp Book with 4 panes of stamps.   Pane 1 has 3 each of the 6 May stamps arranged checker-board fashion (£4.23); Pane 2 has the two seahorse stamps (£2.00); Pane 3 has four BEE stamps arranged checker-board fashion (£1.64); and Pane 4 has self-adhesive (for the first time) Machin 2nd class (2), 1st class (4) and 50p (2) definitives with security features (£3.28) (Total £11.15!).

8 May Prestige Stamp Book first day cover set.  Royal Mail will produce a set of 4 FDCs for all the panes in the book.  This may be a first.  In 2000 Royal Mail produced three FDCs for the Profile on Print PSB panes containing oversized stamps (these were new stamps not previously available elsewhere).  I have a recollection, however, that Royal Mail also produced FDCs for either the very first PSB - the 1969 Stamps for Cooks book - or the £1 Wedgwood PSB issued in 1972.

8 May Exhibition Souvenir Sheet containing 1p, 2p, 5p, 9p, 10p, 20p, 60p, 67p, 88p, 97p, £1.46 Machin definitives and perforated label with London 2010 Festival of Stamps logo. (£5.05)
EDIT: This sheet will not be sent to Royal Mail's regular customers as part of their Standing Order, but must be bought at the show or ordered separately from Tallents House - stock code S1003.

8 May Exhibition Overprint Sheet: 6 May sheet overprinted (or maybe the legend is incorporated into the printing?) BUSINESS DESIGN CENTRE, LONDON 8 - 15 MAY 2010 in the top right corner.
EDIT: This sheet will not be sent to Royal Mail's regular customers as part of their Standing Order, but must be bought at the show or ordered separately from Tallents House.  
Update: Two sources, a collector in the UK and a dealer in Australia, told us that they had been told by Royal Mail that this sheet would be available after the show, from the Bureau at Tallents House - we are now advised that this is not so.  Royal Mail also told dealers, before the show, that this sheet will be in the Year Book, due in November.  It remains to be seen whether this information turns out to be true. 

8 May Collectors Pack containing most of the current Machin definitives.  The low-value collectors pack will contain all the definitive stamps still on sale at post offices (as listed above) plus the self-adhesive 20 gramme, 40 gramme and postcard airmail stamps, the 2nd*, 1st*, 2nd Large* and 1st Large* NVIs, and the 1st and 1st Large Recorded Signed For stamps.  Not shown in the publicity picture, but included in the pack, will be the 50p* & £1*.  *Self-adhesive security definitives (£16.10).

8 May  Postal Union Congress Facsimile Pack Non-postally valid facsimile sheet of the 1929 PUC £1, printed from copies of original plate, in blocks of four in a pack.  (£4.95)

8 May  London 2010 Exhibition Generic (Smilers) Sheet.  A new-style Exhibition sheet, self-adhesive for the first time, with the definitive-size 1st class Hello stamp and twenty different pictures, iconic of London, on attached labels (£8.50)

8 May 10th Anniversary of Smilers® Generic Sheet, containing an assortment of stamps available in the Smilers service, including the new 1st class Birthday cake (x4) and Present (x4) stamps, 20gr Europe (x2) and 20gr Worldwide (x2) stamps, and the 1st class Union Flag (x3), Balloons, Firework, Thank You, Love, and Robin.  This will also be available for personalisation at the London 2010 exhibition, and these sheets will be overprinted with the Exhibition Logo (£10.00).
8 May George V Postcard Pack.   A pack of 6 picture postcards which will enable collectors to make their own maximum cards with the stamps and special postmarks available.  (No details or image so far provided.)

8 May Philatelic Bulletin Supplement - The George V Royal Cypher Issue.  A5 illustrated booklet "which provides a highly detailed look at many of the stamps issued during George V’s reign starting with the Downey head."  (£2.95)

13 May  Britain Alone.  Set of 8 stamps and Miniature Sheet of 4 stamps, the latter marking The Dunkirk Evacuation.   (£5.30 and £2.86).   Also a set of 13 Stamp Cards (one for each stamp and one for the MS - 35.20), a presentation pack (£8.70), and a Prestige Stamp Book (£9.76) containing the 8 stamps from the set and 4 from the  miniature sheet on 3 panes, plus a pane of Machin definitives 4 x 5p, 2 x 10p, 2 x 60p.

There will also be a Dunkirk Medal Cover at £14.95.

13 May  Also on this day, but totally unrelated, Royal Mail will issue coils of 500 & 1000 1st class and 2nd class definitives.  These will be conventionally gummed with the ROYAL MAIL* security overlay, but no security slits.   (*As reported in the Philatelic Bulletin - however, it is quite likely that one of the letters will be changed, maybe to MRIL, maybe not!) 
Keen observers will note that the 1st & 2nd class Large Letter booklets with source code MA10 should also be added to this list, having been found in Royal Mail's stock on 8 May.

To hold all these products there will also be 
- a London 2010 Album binder at £12.95
- slipcase for the above at £9.00
- inserts for George V - £4.99
- inserts for The King's Stamps - £4.99
- inserts for Exhibition items - £4.99
- inserts for Britain Alone - £4.99