Thursday 27 May 2010

KEEP SMILING! 10th Anniversary sheet has two unique stamps

Royal Mail's booklets of definitive sized Greetings Stamps started with conventional perforations on the first [SG QA1&2] using old designs (SG 2567-72)

- and the second [QA3] which used 6 new designs (2672-77).  The associated generic Smilers sheets were also with conventional perforations.

The third booklet [QA4] contained 'the most popular of the first 12' but this time with elliptical perforations, bringing 6 collectably new stamps (2819-24).

The two Love booklets [SA1 & SA2] also brought new stamps (2693).

The Smilers for Kids marketing exercise (which thankfully hasn't been repeated in 2010) included the 'New Baby' stamp with elliptical perforations, but as this is only available in the premium-priced sheets it doesn't achieve a separate catalogue listing.   The other three designs in the S4K series (Flower, Hello & Balloons) had all been in QA4 so do have separate listing.

Now, to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Smilers there's a sheet which contains an odd mix in odd quantities -
4 each of the new Birthday Cake and Present stamps,
2 each of the 20gr airmail stamps,
3 Union Flag, and
1 each of the Robin, Love, Thank You, Fireworks, and Balloons stamps.

All these are litho with elliptical perforations, so the Robin, Fireworks and Thank You are new, not having been included in the 'most popular' QA4 booklet.  But these shouldn't be getting a separate catalogue listing either, so make sure you get yours now from this high face value sheet.  If you don't get them now, they will be even more expensive when the preprinted albums are published in May 2011 and these are no longer available.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

More changes to the 2010 GB stamp programme

More news from the '2010 programme changes' department:

10 August 2010 - Commemorative Sheet: 10th Anniversary of the London Eye

19 August 2010 - Retail booklets with printer's name removed 12 x 2nd class and 6 x 1st class*

* These are counted as 'Visible change' items and Royal Mail standing order customers should get them automatically, unlike the booklets containing new stamps with a visible year code which, are not regarded by Royal Mail as a visible change, because they concern the Security features - as if that makes them any less visible!

Monday 24 May 2010

Machin MA10 - 1st class counter sheet appears

A correspondent reports the 1st class gold counter sheet (no source code) has now appeared with security code MA10, and a printing date of 10/03/10.  It appears that these have been in stock for 2weeks.

As BM has pointed out "The security slits on this new printing now have nicks in the top and the bottom of the slit. This brings them into line with Walsall booklet printings."

But look around now for the 2nd class!

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

Sunday 23 May 2010

Litho ring flaw on London 2010 Festival of Stamps Souvenir Sheet

Two different ring flaws have been found on the 1p stamp in this sheet. 

From the position they could have the same origin - or they may be from two different parts of the press sheet.  We have seen several of each in our stocks - also on FDCs, now available on our e-commerce site.

Send us your finds!

Golden Machin Horizon labels nationwide - update.

I still haven't received an example of the Gold Label from Wales, but the rest of the United Kingdom is catching up fast.

Label from London, the London 2010 Festvial of Stamps on the first day of use, 8 May 2010:

Label from Lower Castlereagh, Belfast on 1 May 2010:

Label from Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow 12 May 2010
Label used from Bassett Avenue sub-PO Bicester.  With no phosphor bands it was not machineable in the normal sense but still received a poor 'Thames Valley MC' machine postmark on 11 May 2010, and a census-diamond - all examples seen are like this to some extent.

Packet Label from Senghenydd, Wales, image kindly supplied by Kevin B.

London 2010 - more covers

This is one of the actual gold horizon labels I posted to myself from the London Festival of Stamps post office.

It is not possible to produce Horizon labels for normal letter postage (less than 100gr, ie 41p 1st & 32p 2nd class), so the £0.81 label shown above is the minimum solo use.  However, you can use Horizon labels to make up the postage on letters also bearing stamps.  So I produced this novelty item using a Faststamp from the Post & Go machine for the basic 41p, with the balance of 56p on the Horizon label to make the 1st class Large Letter rate.  Note that, in accordance with the rules, the Fastamp is handstamped at the counter (in this case the PO service at the show was provided by the postmaster from Leytonstone, so these have the branch CDS).   Normally mail posted with Horizon labels would not get a machine postmark as most are non-machineable but this went through the Mount Pleasant machine on the first operational day after the mail was collected from the show at 5.30pm on Saturday 8 May.

Set of 5 Faststamps from London 2010 Post & Go machine (branch code 002010) cancelled with special show handstamp.

And a set of 3 Post & Go labels from London 2010 Post & Go machine (branch code 002010) cancelled with special show handstamp.  These would not normally be cancelled in normal postal operations, but an exception was made for items posted at the show.

Thursday 20 May 2010

Machin Security Coils 2010

Thanks to Richard P we now have good pictures of the 1st & 2nd class stamps from the new coils.

These are not self-adhesive and have no security slits, but they have the MRIL code at top right and MA10 code to the left of the head like the others with this code.  Stamps from the coils of 500 and of 1000 appear to be the same.

We'll be interested to know if any of these turn up in vending machines in or outside post offices, and if any are found on mail - other from dealers and other collectors, of course!

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

Machin MPIL variations - accidental or deliberate?

The George V prestige stamp book predictably contains a Machin pane which, predictably brought us some new stamps.  This is a scan of the actual pane, containing 2nd & 1st class stamps, and a 50p, the first self-adhesive PSB pane with small Machin definitives.

Of course these have security features, so the source code, at top right is MPIL and the year code, to the left of the eye, is MA10.  So far so good.

Collectors of Smilers Sheets - especially collectors who have used these stamps on FDCs, know that at an early stage either the printers or Royal Mail's production department recognised that there was a chance that in use the labels could become detatched from the stamp, thus destroying the link and purpose of the personalised stamps.  So these sheets included 'hangers' - interrupted die-cut perforations which were designed to keep the label and stamp together.  This is an enlarged image from the 2003 Christmas Robins sheet.

It was no suprise, then, that the same features exist in this PSB pane - after all, Royal Mail standard PSB FDCs always use the definitive pane, and they couldn't have their machinery gummed up with stamps which should be on the covers.

The first panes we received had a single hanger in the perforation hole immediately above the elliptical (long) perforation hole.   These panes also had the security slits in two types - at the bottom the divided 'paperclip' and at the top, a continuous paper clip.

The panes in the books - and later loose panes - are completely different.  Both 'paperclips' are divided, but more significant are the three additional hangers (see type B to the right of the illustration).  An additional hanger is in the 5th hole from the top on the long sides of the stamp, and two more are on both the short sides, five holes in from either corner, making 8 hangers in all.  These differences apply to all three stamps, so if you are a specialist collector for this sort of detail there are 6 new stamps, not 3.

So -  a deliberate change because either the printer had problems preparing the books or Royal Mail had problems with the handling & FDCs for this pane, or just a minor variation.  Or is it, perhaps, something that Royal Mail's production department have introduced to make Machin collectors even more interested, something to get you keenly examining every copy of every new stamp to find out whether there are unannounced differences ? 

I'd be interested in any further variations to this pane either in the hangers or the paperclips.

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

Sunday 16 May 2010

Another change to the 2010 GB stamp programme

Announcement from Royal Mail:

Due to circumstances beyond Royal Mail’s control, the issue dates for some stamp issues later this year will be interchanged and a stamp issue planned for 2011 will now be issued this year. 

2010 and 2011 changes
The Musicals
* issue originally scheduled for 19 August will now be issued on 22 February 2011.
The Great British Railways stamp issue originally scheduled for 16 September will now be issued on 19 August 2010.
The Medical Breakthroughs issue that was planned for February 2011 will now be issued on 16 September 2010. This stamp issue does not feature an anniversary.

* As advised in the preview briefing in February, this is to feature publicity posters of current West End musicals.
This is the latest change to the programme, in a year which has seen unprecedented variations to the original published programme, the first of which delayed distribution of the usual annual booklet from January until March!
The Britain Alone set just issued last week was originally slated for September (Battle of Britain time) and the Railways issue was originally listed for issue during London 2010.
The House of Stuart issue was originally listed for 12 October but was moved to 15 June, switching with the Children's Books Europa issue.

Monday 10 May 2010

More New Security Machins on sale at London 2010 - update

FOYAL becomes MFIL !

We can't spot everything - most of you know that I am not so much a Machin specialist, but more  conduit for all the news that we and others find!   The Large Letter stamps with MA10 code have the point of origin code changed - see the now edited original post and comments.

Sunday 9 May 2010

London 2010 Festival of stamps - Smilers photobooths

Visitors are probably aware that Royal Mail will have two Smilers photobooths at the show (like the 1 they have at Stampex).

You should be warned that there is no facility to use digital images on flashdrives etc.  The system is set up only to take images from the camera - although it is possible that a photograph could be placed before the camera and used for personalisation of these sheets.

Having taken my flashdrive, I shall now print the images, and on Wednesday test whether fixing them to the wall behind where my head would be will be sufficient!   Somehow I doubt that they would allow the production of (effectively) "blank" labels by focussing just on the white wall of the booth.  :-(

More New Security Machins on sale at London 2010.

Dealers and collectors have been discussing at length which would be the next Machin stamps to show the new MA10 year code.  And we found out sooner than expected.  Not only did we find new stamps, but also found that they had been packed in 2009!

The 1st class and 2nd class Large booklets of 4 are now available with code MA10 to the left of the eye (adjusted in Photoshop Elements).
Eagle-eyed Robert has commented on something we all seem to have overlooked!  The year code MA10 to the left of the eye is not the only change.  On the 2009 booklets the text to the top right is 
...YALMAIL at the top, followed by
...LFOY... followed by
.. MAI...

As you can see the FOYAL has been replaced with ROYAL in the 2010 stamps, and the line below it now incorporates the origin code, MAIL now reading MFIL.

Both booklets have been printed with W1 cylinders - base colour, phosphor and overlay.

The packing caption shows that the 2nd class booklets were packed in February, but the 1st class booklets were packed in December 2009!

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

London 2010 Festival of stamps - Post Office presence

The key here is the difference between Royal Mail and Post Office (Counters Ltd).

Royal Mail were always going to have a big stand selling all their philatelic products as part of their support for the international exhibition and festival.  The presence of Post Office Ltd was by no means certain.  For Stamp World 1990 at Alexandra Palace there was a Mobile Post Office trailer in the car park.  I can't remember a presence at StampShow 2000, although there probably was one.

But as recently as late February Post Office Ltd couldn't tell us whether they would have counter facilities or even Post & Go machines at London 2010.  It does seem that the arrangements were made quite late in the process, but we did indeed have a Post Office presence, albeit in some fits and starts!

At the left, off shot, the Post & Go Machine.   At the right, the counter with scales, horizon desk and printer.   Not full facilities, but certainly I was able to draw cash from my bank account (avoiding a trip across the road to Barclays' ATM), stamps could be bought, letters and cards posted.  And, of course, the Horizon machine could produce the much-derided white label - but these labels were not white - Islington joined Wales in having the golden Machin labels!

No copies of my own to show here as they have to be posted and are not handed back, so here is one from Brian's postagelabelsuk blog:

The system produces receipts and certificates of posting which identify the branch location:

Meanwhile on the other side of the booth, the Post and Go machine was finally persuaded into life.  The Post & Go label (this one for Airmail) shows the branch code 002010 for the Festival:

The Post & Go stamps (known almost universally as Faststamps) also bear this code:

With appropriate juggling it was possible to produce the collectors-favourite strip of 5 different Faststamps:
But the Post & Go machine hasn't been programmed to show the Branch Location, although it does show the Branch code:

Some first day covers have been prepared, and some letters sent through the ordinary mail. It will be interesting to see if there are any problems with the time-limited Post & Go labels which, issued on 8 May, had to be posted by 9 May. But there are no collections on 9 May, so the ones I posted this morning will be picked up on 10th May! Examples of actually posted, and first day, envelopes will be added when received.

London 2010 Festival of stamps - photo-gallery

Had an enjoyable trip to London yesterday and the Festival of Stamps and the Business Design Centre in Islington.  Lots of news, but first a gallery of first impressions.

09.30 Ticket Holders starting to enter the building.

The queue extended round the corner and alongside the Hilton Hotel.

Auction House Spinks advertise on a London cab - it's a long-term arrangement but the driver now appreciated why he was parked up outside the Hilton!

10.15 After a breakfast break at the conveniently placed and friendly Cafe Uno, our first view of the main hall, with Royal Mail's stand in the far distance.

Royal Mail's huge stand with many serving points which kept queues quite short.
... with some super-large stamps (even if this one is in the forecast colour rather than as issued):

And lastly - discovered mid-morning by some and not until the afternoon by others!  The Post Office counter, with malfunctioning Post & Go machine off-screen at the left.