Thursday 19 May 2011

What will follow Birds 4 Faststamps from the Post and Go machines?

No great queues at Norwich this morning, probably because collectors from other parts of East Anglia were able to buy the new Birds at their own Post and Go Post Offices, and we had birds in both machines, unlike day one of Birds 1 when the powers that be decided to leave Machin heads in one machine "for business people who might not like/want the birds."

I've been wondering for a while what will follow September's Birds 4 (Sea Birds) in 2012.  It seems sensible to perhaps change the Machin head for HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee (we will have a new 1st class definitive for that in February) - other countries run ordinary stamps in parallel with machine-vended stamps, so why not.

And on that subject, it would be missing a trick for Royal Mail/The Post Office not to take advantage of the Olympics to have games-themed Faststamps, especially if they have Post and Go machines in the Games Village and at games venues.  We know they failed to grab the opportunity to have a presence at the Centenary Scout Jubilee at Chelmsford in 2007, but surely they will be at the games?

And the A-Z of the UK subject sounds like a possible contender for Faststamps, though maybe single-design rolls at specific locations? Imagine, the Forth Bridge or Edinburgh Castle would have to be sold at Edinburgh, while Stonehenge could be sold at Salisbury, and the Giant's Causeway at appropriate local offices in Antrim, and Belfast.  But the idea might fall down if they choose Land's End.

As the artist for the Birds, Robert Gillmor, is local to us he once again gets a big spread in the Eastern Daily Press (best regional newspaper in the UK), where we also get some clues.  Don't be surprised if we have animals after the birds.  However the 2005 Farm Animals (also in woodcut  style) were not Mr Gillmor's creations.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Early birds all over the country!

We are getting several reports of the Birds 3 Faststamps being put into Post & Go machines early.   
Apparently some offices have loaded them immediately on receipt, others as the reel needed changing, and we don't know whether any of the mistakes was rectified.  Of course if a supply of Birds 2 was exhausted and there were no Machin head Faststamps in reserve, it make sense to use what is available rather than leave the machines 'out of service'.

So far we've been told about - 

Old Street, London EC1 on 28 April - earliest yet
Leeds on 7 May
Chichester some time last week
Walsall at least 17 May, exact date unknown.
Windsor - 18 May in machine 2 with machine 1 continuing with Machins (as Norwich did for Birds 1)
Aldwych continued with Machins on 19th when they should have switched to Birds 3.
(Thanks to John McCallum for these last two.)

Machine 2 in St James Centre Edinburgh (003824) had reverted to Birds 2, by 30 June.

An eBay seller reports also that Bath and Exmouth also had early release. (Bath now confirmed as 6 May.)

Here's one from Walsall with yesterday's date, 17 May 2011:
Addendum - odd goings on at Walsall, where they don't know what day of the week it is!

My correspondent who sent the cover image above also sent me two sets of 6 x 1st, in an envelope postmarked 18.05.11 at 08.51pm.  However the receipts accompanying the Faststamps show that they were purchased on 19/05/2010 - 13.38.  Walsall's machine is obviously set to the wrong date.  So anybody who bought these on the official first day (19th) probably has receipts dated 20th.  [And my correspondent has pointed out MY error, that the receipt is actually dated 364 days before the date of issue!!]

At Harrogate, stamps bought from machine 2 on 28 May had a receipt dated 16th May 2023.

Have you found any other machines which already have the Birds 3 set?  On the other hand, when you visit after 18th, have you found any machines without the Birds 3?  Let us know - leave a comment!

Monday 16 May 2011

Provisional Stamp Programme for 2012

Royal Mail has announced the programme of basic stamp issues for 2012 (edited to show dates):

10 January - Roald Dahl (author) - more children's books, or a tale of the unexpected ?

2 February - The House of Windsor (Kings and Queens 6) Set and MS

6 February - HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee definitive
23 February - Britons of Distinction

8 March - Classic Locomotives of Scotland MS

20 March - World of Comics (Dandy, Beano, Eagle, Bunty - or Max Miller ??)

10 April - A-Z of the UK, part 2 (14 stamps)

15 May - Design Classics, Fashion

31 May - HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee

19 June - Charles Dickens

16 July - Olympic and Paralympic Games (Welcome)

27 September - Olympic and Paralympic Games (Memories) [Stampex]

16 October - World of Dinosaurs
30 October - Space Science

8 November - Christmas 2012

Titles are provisional, and of course there will be the usual run of Smilers Sheets, Faststamps, retail booklets, prestige stamp books, and definitive variations to keep everybody busy.

Stanley Gibbons' new GB Concise catalogue - confusion ahead

The 2011 edition of Stanley Gibbons' Great Britain Concise catalogue has been published and, as expected, there is a wholesale revision of the Machin Security Stamps.

Many dealers keep their stock according to SG numbers because that is what the collectors use.  Others use Deegam, which is only useful for the really specialist dealer who also uses that; some use Connoissuer and some use the Machin Collectors' Club catalogue.  Many fall back on SG for at least the basic listing.

Well I started my numbering before Gibbons, so I had to guess!  And Gibbons acknowledge that the current numbers are only temporary - they will change them to accommodate new stamps.  In fact they have already had 3 numbers for the Recorded Signed For stamps, in only a year!

The smaller RSF stamp is listed as
Concise 2010: U2916a;
Collect British Stamps: U2940;
Concise 2011: U2981.

I must admit that using 2916a and 2916a.0 for the two versions so far issued is clumsy, and some of our listings will change.   (Gibbons haven't caught up with the 2010 printings yet, so they will need a new number.)  But nothing is happening this week, as a 2-week holiday starts at the end of the week and this subject is far too complex to rush.

So for the time being - and the forseeable future - our numbering will be unchanged, especially as it is more comprehensive that Gibbons.  But do look at their new prices, and also those for Faststamps!

Sunday 15 May 2011

Post and Go: In the beginning....

Before Wincor-Nixdorf, there was IBM and Fujitsu, but before them there was the Samkyung Hitech "Weigh and Vend" system.

This was trialled for a few months in 2004, at only three locations - Luton (Bedfordshire), Broadgate London, and Alfreton (Derbyshire).

Here is a picture of the Alfreton label used on 1 April 2004 (was this the first day??)

These are digitally printed like the present P and G labels, but in a layout which copied that used for the Horizon labels introduced in 2002.

The Alfreton label shown was used in connection with Manchester Postal Museum.

We'd be interested in showing any other early labels from the experimental period.  What have you got?

Friday 13 May 2011

The back of the Horizon

I've seen the back of some Horizon labels, but I've never seen this numbering before, and nobody else has reported it to me.
------ Front------------------------Back-------

Harry, the owner, and I want to know if these are common - have you found any?

Sunday 8 May 2011

Almost a week of silence

The blog has been quiet because at last all the 2011 Security Machin stamps are in stock, and I have spent several days preparing customer orders, all of which are different!

Some people want 1, others want 2 or 3 of each; some people have already found some of the variations but not those from, for example, business sheets.

Of course one should never say that the collection is 'complete'.  What is complete for this year are the 2011 versions of the 2nd & 1st class basic and Large Letter stamps from counter sheets, business sheets, and all the booklets.  In this round we have also finished the 2010 versions of these. 

But the arrival of the 2010 Recorded Signed For stamps reminds us that the valued stamps from 50p to £5 have not yet appeared with a 2010/MA10 or 2011/M11L code, and the Special Delivery NVIs only exist with MA10 so far.

So it is quite possible that 2010 or 2011 versions of the 50p & £1 workhorses will appear, and if usage of the Special Delivery stamps has been better than anticipated they may need a reprint as well before the end of this year.

And then there is innovation.  There have been suggestions that forthcoming mixed retail booklets may have an innovation in the security overprint, possibly to indicate from which edition they come. So will we see 'THOMAS' or 'OLYMPIC' in the overprint?  Remember the original purpose of the source code was to assist Royal Mail Production should there be any operational problems when the stamps were used.

Innovation such as that described would provide a more precise identification of the source of the stamps.  But one might wonder if the move would be to target the pockets of collectors?  If there is such a change, then in order to pitch the stamps to collectors Royal Mail would have to reveal the 'secret code'.  When I spoke to the Head of Special Stamps at London 2010 she was adamant that information about when each of the new versions became available could not to be revealed because it was part of the security process.   We have an interesting 7 months ahead of us for the rest of 2011.

Monday 2 May 2011

Security Machin - 2nd class large business sheet 2011

Thanks to Richard P we now have the image for this one, and I hope to have stock of this tomorrow. Stock of 2nd Large counter sheet 2011 and Recorded Signed For 2010 should be with us in 5-10 days.