Friday 29 October 2010

More Garden Birds Faststamps in January 2011.

The second set of Birds Faststamps will be issued on 24 January, featuring 6 more garden birds, the Blackbird, Magpie, Long-tailed tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Collared dove.  As with the first set, I'm pleased to say that these are all regular visitors to our Norfolk garden.

As before the stamps sold from Post & Go machines will be overprinted with one of 5 service indicators, producing a further 30 possible combinations.  I suspect some collectors will be content with an example of each bird, rather than each value. 

A presentation pack will be sold by the Philatelic Bureau with gravure-printed service indicators all 1st class.  The 'branch code' is now 002011 rather than 002010.  See the rest of the designs and technical information on our webpage

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Bird Faststamp - phosphor short at top

I suspect few people have had these on postage so far (although I am doing my best!). The first one I received, this week, was unpostmarked but the branch code is 009420, indicating a Liverpool label.

It's also the first I've seen from any source with short phosphor - being 2mm short at the top, with no phosphor above the bird illustration (goldfinch).  The session number is 01012 so if you have any with numbers close to this, check them!  We reported short phosphor bands from Liverpool earlier, so maybe this was bought at the same time.

The Machin head Faststamps produced several similar varieties, notably in the presentation packs where it was almost impossible to find a set of 5 labels with full phosphor!

Have you found any phosphor - or other - varieties on the Birds?  Let us know by leaving a comment.

Thursday 21 October 2010

What's in your kiloware? How the Machins are spread.

Interesting results from the latest batch of office clippings I've been given.  Not a huge amount - I don't have time to plough through sacks of kiloware - only a c5 envelope-full.

The results were largely what I expected: mostly 1st & 2nd class Machins, with a few Christmas stamps, and just three recent special issues.  A closer examination of the Machins showed that most of them were of pre-2010 printings (ie without the MA10 code, but one piece had a 50p and £5 value, so they are around, albeit hard to find.

The MA10 stamps included about 10 each of 1st MTIL, 1st MSIL, and 2nd MTIL - with just one 1st class MBIL, ie from a Business Sheet.  A much larger proportion of the 2009 mix included 1st & 2nd class stamps from Business Sheets, suggesting either that businesses or post offices still have good stocks without acquiring the new versions.

One of the big surprises was finding 5 stamps from counter sheets - code MAIL - all second class.  This supports the view expressed by many people that Post Offices are selling special 1st class stamps (of which there have been many), or booklets and have no need to order recent printings of 1st & 2nd class Machins.  Indeed some are still using PIP self-adhesives from 2006, and (from local knowledge) some still have pre-self-adhesive stamps.  My mix included no Large Letter stamps from any source.

The special stamps included one wildcat from the Mammals issue, and two Olympics stamps from mixed booklets - but no 1st class MCIL stamps from those booklets!

The other surprise was finding that most of the stamps were postmarked: this is different from our own incoming mail, much of which is not postmarked.

What comes in to your office?  Or what have you found in kiloware?  Let us know in the comments box. 

Tuesday 19 October 2010

FAB - Thunderbirds are go!

No, the blog hasn't been hijacked by Supermarionation fans!  Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's characters will appear on the first of Royal Mail's output for 2011, Children's television.

The miniature sheet shown above features a first for Royal Mail, lenticular printing, showing the Thunderbird vehicles in their launch sequences.   In addition to the MS, there are separate stamps, one for each of the TV series that were so popular back in the 60s.

The stamps are shown in chronological order (but listed in reverse order):
1st class - Joe 90 - 1968 to 1969
1st class - Captain Scarlet - 1967 to 1968
1st class - Thunderbirds - 1965 to 1966
97p - Stingray - 1964 to 1965
97p - Fireball XL5 - 1962
97p - Supercar - 1961 to 1962

There will also be a self-adhesive retail booklet containing 2 x Thunderbird stamps and 4 x 1st class gold Machins.  The latter, of course, should have a year code of MA11 so will be in demand by Machin specialists.   See this and more details about the stamps on our webpage.

Edit: See the lenticular stamp sequence and more about the issue on the Creative Review blog.

In this month's Stamp Magazine, editor Guy Thomas writes in his leader that television now seems to be dominating the stamp programme, with Wallace & Gromit in November for Christmas, Gerry Anderson in January, and Thomas the Tank Engine in June.

Certainly this poses insurmountable or very expensive problems for first day cover producers and the sponsors of special postmarks, due to requiring permission from copyright owners for showing anything remotely connected with the subject matter.  As you can see from the special postmarks published yesterday for the Wallace & Gromit Christmas issue, producers are now avoiding the issue altogether and their covers and postmarks have only a remote connection with the stamp subject.

This is one of the reasons why Norvic Philatelics stopped producing our own design FDCs (the other being the sheer number and insufficient time between stamp issues).  Now Steve Oliver has decided that it is time for Phil Stamp to close his album, and there will be no more PhilStampCovers after the end of 2010.   Farewell Phil/Steve, you have given us some laughs and produced some very attractive covers in the last 10 years.

And how will this affect your collecting?  Certainly if your theme or topic is 'television' or 'entertainment' there is much to add to your collection, certainly in 2011.  But if you are a completist Royal Mail just doesn't want to know.  They are supplying collectables to an increasing number of discreet groups of people, but certainly to fewer and fewer long-term GB collectors.  I suspect that even Machin specialists will eventually pull the plug on the succession of year codes.

Let us know what you think - leave a comment!

Monday 18 October 2010

Christmas comes early in Cornwall - and Pooh is out!

I have a report of total confusion in a Cornwall PO last week.

A customer was intending to buy Winnie the Pooh stamps for use on Postcrossing postcards - they had all been sent back but the PO sold her - and she used - Wallace and Gromit Christmas stamps 3 weeks early!


Early use is not uncommon but this is very early - if you here of any other early uses please let us know where and when, though the Comment facility below.

Friday 15 October 2010

Perforated and imperforate Golden Horizon labels in Wales

As reported earlier POs in Wales are using a variety of labels.

One office, which has closed since my visit, was still using white labels.  Others reported having had no problems at all with the perforated labels, but whilst one of these was still using perforated the other had done as directed and switched to the imperforate labels.

On one of two Mobile Post Office vans I discovered, I found both perforated and imperforate in use.

Genuine use, unlike some you see offered on eBay, with a bilingual Signed For label:

More to follow when they return from international destinations.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Faststamps can be used forever anywhere

A correspondent reports confusion at his local post office over the validity of Faststamps.  

I suppose it is understandable that some sub-postmasters are unsure about restrictions which apply to methods of postage with which they are unfamiliar because they don't sell them.

Post and Go Labels have a 'use by date' which should be the day after purchase:

But these can be applied and posted anywhere: they do not have to be posted in the Post & Go box, they do not have to be posted at the same post office, nor even in the same town.  They can be used the next day hundreds of miles away, and handed over the counter.

Post and Go Stamps, known to all but Royal Mail as Faststamps are valid for all time, anywhere, for the current value of the service shown, in the same way that 2nd & 1st class stamps, and NVI airmail stamps, are.

To help collectors using old Frama labels, I'll add that these are also valid, still, for the price shown on them, in the same way as old (decimal) stamps are - and ½p values are also valid if used in even numbers to make up whole pence:

Let us know of any problems you have had using P& G labels 'out of area', or using old stamps: use the comment button.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

From our Correspondent in Wales

The big man sends this short update to his followers via the wonders of modern telegraphy:
"Not all Welsh offices are using imperf labels. Some are using up perforated ones, and others using up white."
I am sure he'll get samples scanned up and on the blog once he's waded through the piles of mail both virtual and physical that await his return.

- Billings Junior, out.