Wednesday 19 October 2011

Postal Stationery but not as we know it - Special Delivery envelopes.

For some years Royal Mail has produced plastic Special Delivery envelopes in a variety of sizes.  Those that are prepaid for postage are rightly termed Postal Stationery, but many other types exist.

Firstly there are the unstamped ones which enable users to pay by stamps, by franking machine or by Horizon label at the counter:
These are not regarded as postal stationery by most collectors.

Another type is used by companies which send a lot of special delivery mail.  This is an old one from Crucial Technology which has the Postage Paid Impression on one side but the bar-coded special delivery label is on the reverse:


A fourth type is the 'Business Response Special Delivery' - only recently discovered by me but they may have existed for some time.  The two examples I have found are used by a company offering to buy your surplus gold. Two sizes have been found so far:

Are there other examples - or examples of recorded signed for reply envelopes?  Let us know by email or through the comments box.

Thanks Harry for showing me the first type with a Horizon label paying the fee; I should have included that as an option.

Thanks also to Paul D for sending this further example of a PGFC bag (note address now Poole rather than Bournemouth!)  This has the same sort of Royal Mail bar-code label but the only indication that this is to be sent by Special Delivery is in the top panel which reads

Special Delivery response
Licence no. NAT247817/PL1

The whole style is very odd.  Are there any others out there, in different colours?  Any more which just have the word ' Mail ' at top left, and no Royal Mail SD branding?  Paul says that "the reverse states: 'This envelope will be sent via Royal Mail Special Delivery' (Again not in red nor Royal mail font)."


UPDATE 24 MAY 2014
On a recent visit to a WHSmith I found a variant of the dark blue PGFC which shows the text at the top and right side on a plain background - and thus much easier to read.  A 'penalty' warning is also shown adjacent to the opening. The non-address side is also shown:

Do please let us know, using the comment link below.

Post and Go version 2 brings 40g - and premium services!

The delayed introduction of version 2 of Post and Go software has at last brought the Worldwide 40g Faststamp (current price £1.65).

The new value first appeared at London's Broadway SW1 branch on 13 October 2011.

At the same time changes to the Post and Go system also allows customers to post Recorded Signed For, Special Delivery, Airsure and International Signed For  Royal Mail products as well as Parcelforce Express items within the UK and to the EU.

Examples of the Recorded Signed For, 2nd class Letter <100g (£1.13), 1st class Large Letter 170g £1.86)

The machine dispenses a certificate of posting upon which the RSF label number must be affixed.  Unfortunately, but sensibly, the certificate has to be posted over the counter to receive the counter date stamp as proof of posting.  It remains to be seen whether there is a fast-track queue for this service, otherwise the benefits of speed by using the Post and Go will be lost.

Birds 4 are expected at Broadway soon.  Pictures when we have them.

Thursday 6 October 2011

New printings of higher value Machins at last?

We have heard that the first of the high values to be reprinted since the original issue in 2009 may soon appear.  The first is expected to be the £1 ruby, with the security code M11L:

The 2011 £1 stamp with year code M11L is now available with printing date 30/08/11.  This will be kept for existing customers and will be available in our shop as soon as we have time to scan etc.

Other new printings are:
1st class gold 24/08/11
68p 26/08/11
76p 31/08/11
1st class Large - a new MA10 printing has appeared, with a printing date of 17/09/10. (Our previous date was 25/04/10)
We have limited numbers of date blocks for these, and date and cylinder blocks for the £1.  Even if you are an existing customer, please let us know if you would like these blocks.

Thanks to Richard P for the picture.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Horizon Label Codes September 2011

There's not much detail about the new reasons for the new coding on Horizon labels yet. There is an extra letter after the Royal Mail line, and an extra number after the Postage Paid line.  The following noted so far:

Airmail (within the EU) International Signed for - Royal Mail h / Postage Paid 4
Special Delivery between 2kg - 10kg (ie £22.70 rate) - Royal Mail y / Postage Paid 4
Special Delivery Saturday Guaranteed* (ie £9.24 rate) - Royal Mail y / Postage Paid 6

1st Class Recorded Letter 1L Royal Mail b    Postage Paid 4
1st Class Recorded Packet in 251-500g price band (£3.25)- Royal Mail.d / POSTAGE PAID UK.4
1st Class Packet (£1.96 or £2.48) - Royal Mail d / Postage Paid 4
1st Class Large Letter (£1.46) - Royal Mail c / Postage Paid
2nd Class Packet - Royal Mail g / Postage Paid
2nd Class Packet (101-250g) - £1.72 - Royal Mail.g / Postage Paid UK  4
2nd Class Packet (501-750g) Recorded - £3.38 - Royal Mail.g / Postage Paid UK 4
If there is any pattern at all it is that, as far as I know, all the above except SDSG* are exempt from VAT, so that maybe code 4.  Saturday Guaranteed SD is standard rated for VAT (which might explain code 6). 
The alpha code doesn't change according to the weight, and is unaffected by the recorded signed for option.

Please let us know what codes you get on the labels! - ian at

Thanks to Sam (1st 1PK rsf), Jon (1PK, 1LL), Mike (1L rsf), Melvyn (2PK), and Chris (2PK and 2PK rsf) for their reports.

Saturday 1 October 2011

The Return of the Cash on Delivery Service will help save Royal Mail – Moya Greene

Many readers will be aware of the current government plans to split off the Post Office Branch Network from a to-be-privatised Royal Mail letter and parcel handling and delivery service.

Royal Mail's Newfoundland-born Chief Executive, Moya Greene, thinks that part of the future lies in e-commerce and a return of the Cash on Delivery service.

Royal Mail has consistently reported profits in recent years, but the UK Letters & Parcels and International business lost £120 million in 2010-11 (compared with a £20m profit the year before). So there is a comprehensive programme of cost-reduction, and automation (though that is not without its considerable capital costs) all of which helps to support Royal Mail's Universal Service Obligation to be able to deliver to every household in the UK every day, for as little as 46p (or less for contracted bulk mail).

One thing that bites into revenues and profitability is the current regulation, imposed as part of the mail competition process, to accept process and deliver mail from other operators even when the price charged to them for access to Royal Mail's network is less than what it costs to process that mail. (The system is similar to that used in privatisation of water, electricity and gas where delivery by any supplier is through a national grid owned and operated by another company, except that Royal Mail's National Grid is primarily manpower, which is inevitably more costly.) Ms Greene is aiming to have this regulation changed on privatisation to halt the losses on this part of the business.

But e-commerce and online retailing could provide the answer. This sector is growing, and although the competition of online payment for postage to Royal Mail is reducing the amount of cash taken at its own Post Office retail network, there may be another way to make money from it, according to Ms Greene.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail of Toronto the company head, formerly CEO of Canada Post, suggests that there is still some reluctance among web-users to actually purchase and provide their credit card details to online retailers.

Her idea is that postmen and postwomen would use electronic gizmos to confirm delivery and then initiate payment. The payment details would be handled only by Royal Mail, a very trusted brand, and she believes that such a system would see a growth in business volume as well as, presumably, commissions and fees adding to the cash flow.

Read the whole article here