Thursday 31 March 2011

Faststamps: Full list of Post and Go machines

As previously reported, the Birds 3 Faststamps will be dispensed from all Post & Go machines in the UK.

We now have a full list here.

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Royal Wedding stamps announced for 21 April - another MS

It's far easier to do a rush job with a miniature sheet than with a set of stamps so despite the wedding being announced months ago, Royal Mail is issuing a miniature sheet for the wedding of Prince William of Wales to Miss Catherine Middleton on 29 April. The sheet will be issued before Easter on 21 April.

For more details and (later) associated postmarks, see our website.

Monday 28 March 2011

More news on Royal Mail London changes

Financial reports on Royal Mail's rationalisation in London.

Significant decline in the number and changes in the mix of items mailed in the capital means that fewer Mail Centres are needed, and this will see the phased closure of the East London and South London (Nine Elms) mail centres to commence immediately. The mail centres remaining are: Croydon, Greenford, Jubilee (Feltham), Romford and Mount Pleasant.

New accommodation is also being sought for the administrative and support staff based at Rathbone Place, Islington.  The savings are expected to be £30million, but.....

"Mount Pleasant is a large facility which needs significant investment to handle the postal volumes in London, including the change in the mix of items. Royal Mail expects to invest £69 million in Greater London as part of the UK-wide modernisation programme; of this, £32 million will be invested in Mount Pleasant. The latest automation equipment will be installed there; working conditions will be significantly improved."

Obviously they know their business better than I do, but whilst Mount Pleasant is ancient, Nine Elms is relatively new.  Maybe some of the Nine Elms equipment will move to Mount Pleasant: certainly MP is reminiscent of inter-war government buildings that so many of us worked in in the 60s.

(Edited - images no longer available)

And on the subject of the BPMA, how does this affect the future, now that the move to Swindon has fallen through?

Saturday 26 March 2011

Pythonesque start for Musicals stamps - out early!

With so many stamps available in Post Offices now, pre-relase of special issues is almost no longer news.  Here is an example of the Spamalot stamp used on the first day, and another on the previous day from the North-West:

Thursday 24 March 2011

Nostalgia, not news - looking back to 1998.

Thirteen years ago today this set of 5 Lighthouse stamps was issued.  



It was the first set of stamps shown on our website, the first that people in other countries asked me to send to them.  There was a terrific selection of special illustrated postmarks available - about 25 in total.  When only 5 or 6 were shown on the site, one collector in Canada wanted all of them on full-set FDCs. As the number of postmarks rose, so his wallet guided his order, and he decided that having one FDC and all the other postmarks on plain envelopes and single stamps would be much better!

UPDATE - the page has now been reconstructed here.

So greetings and thanks to Michel F in Canada and Dalene T in the USA, and those who followed during the Millennium time of 1999/2000, who got the Norvic business started.

It's been fun!

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Machin Security stamps - wrapping up 2010

Now life is getting complex and confusing.  No sooner have we had a clutch of 2011 stamps, the 2nd class Large stamp from Business Sheets of 2010 has appeared:

We hope to have these before the end of the month: we will keep them reserved for existing customers, and others will be added to our online shop.

The M11L 2nd class (small) from booklets of 12 will be in our online shop later today.  Again, we have reserved copies for existing customers.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

50th Anniversary of WWF - their own newsfeed with animal videos

Comprehensive launch of WWF stamps by WWF UK with details of the animals concerned, and video clips of some on their newsfeed here

Friday 18 March 2011

Birds 3 Waterbirds Faststamps - Post & Go nationwide

On his PostagelabelsUK blog, Brian confirms that Birds 3, Waterbirds, will be available from ALL Post & Go Kiosks.  (A full list is on PostagelabelsUK at that link.)

This means that the software on all these will be changing and collectors of different types should be able to get the Machin first font now, the Machin second font when the software has been updated, and then Birds 3 on 19 May.  See details of the birds on our website which will show postmarks nearer the time.

The birds are the Mallard, Greylag Goose, Kingfisher, Moorhen, Mute Swan and Great Crested Grebe.

This is what inflation and unchanged designs produces

No, it's not an error, simply the March (29th) of time - the 68p stamp was originally issued on 4 July 2002 without white borders, and there was even time to reissue it on 14 October 2003 with white borders.  But now what previously paid the Rest of the World 20 g airmail rate now pays only the Europe 20 g airmail rate.  [Sad face!]

Wednesday 16 March 2011

WWF stamps pre-released

We've been told by a contact in the Netherlands that he has WWF stamps used on mail to him already. That means they must have been sold at least a week before the proper date.  Sadly the photo doesn't show the date or place of posting:

Details of Machins in WWF Prestige Stamp Book

At last we have the Worldwide Fund for Nature stamps etc.  The colours used on the Machin pane in the prestige stamp book are interesting.

The 67p and 97p are very similar to those in the London 2010 Festival of Stamps Exhibition Sheet.  The colour of the 10p is completely different to the sheet stamps and the Exhibition Sheet, and similar to that in the Album Covers psb.  Specialists would certainly treat it as a different stamp, though which catalogues will distinguish it with a separate listing, even as a minor variety, remains to be seen.

The 5p - this time using the correct font as on the sheet stamps - is quite unlike the ordinary sheet stamps and the 5p on the Exhibition sheet; it's similar to the 5p in the Album Covers psb, but possibly even closer to the colour of the 54p!  Scanning and computer monitors don't always reflect the subtleties, so I'll leave readers to look at the real thing when you get it.

On the left, last year's Album Covers 5p, on the right the one from the WWF book (these were not scanned at the same time, and settings were probably different):


WWF - friction between WWF International and WWF UK

Our original blogpost about the comment of the WWF Philatelic Agents has been edited on the request of the WWF in Switzerland. 

We said nothing incorrect or untrue and our fundamental comment remains the same.  Please read the revised blogpost, and the comments made.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

New Counter 'Post & Go' stamps at Stampex - 6-strip

I can now show the strips of 6 labels dispensed on the second day of Stampex.

Edit: I made the mistake of leaving some images on other hosts rather than having them hosted on the blog.  I'm correcting these as I can, but there may be a period when some images are missing. Apologies for this.  Only one strip and one receipt shown for the present.

And the receipts from the two strips:

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Machin 2011 booklets, new discoveries

Ahead of the scheduled release of the Large Letter retail booklets, we have news from One Stop Stamp Shop of the 2nd class book of 12 and the 1st class book of 6.

Thanks to Rob for the image of the 2nd class MTIL which he has, the 1st class (MSIL) he has only seen on eBay (I couldn't find it when searching today).


The 1st class booklet of 6 image has been found.  This is wrongly listed on eBay as having been issued 19 August 2010.  True it has no printer's imprint and the small 'p' in the advert, but it is a sub-version of the one issued that date which was definitely MA10.  These were probably printed and packed in November, like the counter sheets.  (New image from Richard Parsons - thanks again!)


Please let us know if you find any new versions on your mail or in your post offices or other outlets.  It seems that this year the distribution is much earlier than last year, and - if distribution is on a first-in-first-out basis - old stocks should be out there already.  Leave a comment!

Sunday 6 March 2011

Machin 2011 Large Letter booklets - they're making us work for this!

ON 22 March two new booklets will be issued, the Large Letter booklets with no printer's imprint.  As expected these carry the 2011 security code of MA11, and the source code of MFIL.  The source code is in the lower right slit area, the year code above the 'ge' of Large, as before.  Thanks Richard P for the images - we'll have these for sale on the date of issue.

Thursday 3 March 2011

Low value Machins - remember, no official FDC for these!

The new low-value self-adhesive Machin stamps are not being distributed to Post Offices until they are needed, so there is no official first day of issue.  They are available from 8 March.   One special postmark is available, at Birmingham.  Note that as special postmarks can only be applied to 1st class mail, additional stamps to the value of 3p must be added to FDCs:

Limited number available in our online shop from 8 March.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

New Counter 'Post & Go' stamps at Stampex last week

Royal Mail are trialling a new counter-based stamp printer, and one was installed at Spring Stampex in London last week. 

Filled with Machin Faststamps, the Hytech Postal Vision (HPV) machine was operated at the Royal Mail counter, and dispensed 'collector' strips of 5, one of each value.  But late on the opening day somebody discovered that it could also be set to dispense a strip of 6 - which would have been very useful had they switched to Birds pictorial Faststamps.  (You can see the machine on the blog)

This is the strip, together with the receipt - only strips of 5 mixed were produced, with a receipt after each strip:

Although the labels look very similar to the Wincor-Nixdorf (WN) ones, the shape of the 0 is different, and the spacing of the numeric code at the foot is also different (WN on top, HPV below):

The "Branch Code" shows the year (002011), as for all event-based machines, and the machine number (22) is two digits rather than 1).  Possibly because each strip is a single session (ie you cannot at present order 99 labels, the P&G maximum), the session number (002699) is 6 digits.  The style of the figure 1 on the data line is most noticeably different.

The base stamp, printed by Walsall with two phosphor bands, appears to be from the same stock.