Friday 30 December 2011

Post and Go v2 - Birds 2 also exists with 40g Worldwide

We reported here on the upgrade and roll-out of Version 2 of the Post and Go software.  Who could have guessed that so many old birds were still lying around in Post Office branch store-rooms?

We've already shown the not-unexpected Birds 4, and the slightly-more-surprising Birds 3, but now we can show Birds 2.  As usual this is a strip of 5 plus a single.  We will be contacting regular customers about these early next month when we have caught up with email and post.

UPDATE 2 January 2012:
Our supplies of Birds 2 came from Grimsby.  I'm told that Plymouth also had some, to be precise:
only 30 strips of 5+1 printed before the roll ran out and was changed to Machin; they come with error of year on receipt 2006.  (Thanks JG for the update).


It is surprising that so many of the previous issues were still in post offices.  This suggests either that usage of the Post and Go machines for take-away stamps (rather than "post it now" labels) has been very low at these offices, or that they used the default Machin head stock, rather than the birds pictorials.  In theory the Birds 2 (issued 24.01.10) should have been used by 19.05.10 when the Birds 3 (Waterbirds) were issued; and they in turn should have been used by the time the 16.09.10 Birds 4 (Seabirds) were issued.   

Of course if one issue had not been exhausted by the time the next was issued, old stock should have been removed from the machines so that collectors could access the new.  It is more than likely that Birds 4 will still be in some machines when the sheep arrive on 24 February!

Thursday 22 December 2011

Festive Greetings! A Merry Christmas !!!

To all our readers, customers, contributors



Our offices will be closed from late tonight, Thursday 22 December, to Tuesday 3 January.

As we remember those who are no longer with us, and 
enjoy the company of the family and friends that we have,
we hope you will be able to enjoy this time with your family and friends as well. 


When we return it is certain that there will be more news - 10 days is a long time in philately! 

All emails will be dealt with as soon as possible after the holidays.
If you order through our online shop ( the stock will be reserved for you.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Golden Machin Horizon label mark III update

Steve has sent a picture of 4 new labels..... and another showing an earlier date of 21/11/11 17/11/11, so if anybody has an earlier date than this, please let us know!

Also shown below is an FP label that I sent to Australia

Friday 16 December 2011

Diamond Jubilee definitive confusion at Tallents House clarified

We have an update on the situation regarding the Diamond Jubilee definitive distribution, as reported earlier (see below).

Royal Mail have now confirmed at 1445 hrs today:
"As we are sending the Diamond Jubilee Miniature sheet to all regular order DS customers we opted not to send the new Diamond Jubilee 1st Class definitive as an individual item to avoid duplication and additional costs.  We can still fulfill requests from customers requiring individual stamps, formats or colour blocks on an ad-hoc basis  Any orders fulfilled under these circumstances will have the P&P waived."

I had checked the situation with Royal Mail Tallents House on Monday 19th, and was told that the normal 'ad-hoc' order charges would apply to any supplementary orders for the  definitive stamp from sheets.
I welcome this statement of Royal Mail's new position and am pleased that collectors, especially those without access to UK Post Offices will be able to buy the definitive sheet stamp at face value without incurring additional costs.

(Friday December 16th) A reader tells of his experience with Royal Mail's Tallents House 'Philatelic Bureau' on this new stamp.  His standing order statement was 46p short, lacking a single from the counter sheet:

After a certain amount of confusion I was informed that there will be no counter sheets, but they could supply a single from the business sheets, and a block of six if required.

He suggested, not surprisingly, that our website page and this blog might be inaccurate.  I checked the information we had received from Royal Mail Philatelic...

The associated stamp formats are a
POL counter sheet of 1st standard size,
100 x 1st business sheet, 12 x 1st book
as shown here.

As from 6th February 2012 this new
Diamond Jubilee Definitive 12 x 1st
Class book will be available and remain
so throughout the Queen’s jubilee year
thereby replacing the gold Definitive.

Later in March the 4 x 1st Large book, 1st
Large as a POL Counter sheet and the 50 x
1st Large Business sheets will be issued
(POL = Post Office Ltd, ie counters)

Our reporter was told by Tallents House that because of computer problems they could not see his statement at that time. Those same computer problems may have led to the misunderstanding quoted above in blue.

If you have a standing order, or want to order this from Royal Mail, the stock code for the stamps from counter sheets is DS461. Normal 'one-off' handling charges apply. (update 21 December - no further handling charges will apply.)

The Business Sheet is DS961, and the booklet is UB340.  These last two of course can only be supplied as complete sheets or booklets by Royal Mail, but we will be supplying them as singles if you don't want to shell out £46 and £5.52.  And we'll have the Large Letter versions in March.

Thursday 15 December 2011

2010 2nd class self-adhesive coil - nobody has any!

We have had several enquiries for the 2010 self-adhesive 2nd class coil stamp recently - people are missing it from their collections.

A reminder, then, that the reason you - and I - are missing it from our collections is that only FIVE copies are known, all used.

This is how we reported it back in July.  Apart from the few more that have been found after this one, as far as we know, nobody has any mint examples.  We'd love to be able to supply them to you, mint or used, at any price.  I've handled one of the used copies, but even that isn't mine.

Richard P has kindly sent this image of a 2010 2nd class self-adhesive coil MA10 MRIL on a direct mailshot.

This is a new find and suggests that the 1st class might also be out there.  We have reason to believe, from information supplied by Royal Mail, that the 2011 versions also exist. However, we have no way of knowing whether the part of Royal Mail which supplies these to the mailing houses has yet sold, or even received, any of the 2011 versions - which have been produced for both 1st and  2nd class values.

Christmas stamps with matrix removed

We mentioned the self-adhesive Christmas stamps with intact matrix in an earlier post.

We've now listed our stock from 2003 to date for customers on our e-commerce site here.


Olympic / Paralympic definitives update

As expected the colour of the new 1st class definitives is almost exactly the same as the 'flame' colour previously used for the Machin 1st class.

As indicated by Royal Mail, the 1st class stamps are in sheets of 50 with gutters.  This gives only one cylinder block and one printing date block per 50.  The 20g stamps are issued in sheets of 25, two different layouts matching the two panes of the 1st class.  But because there are two sheets there are two cylinder and date blocks per 50 stamps.  However because of the different layout of the stamps on the two panes, the set is actually three different cylinder blocks and three different date blocks.

The length of the sheet is just longer than A4 so the images are slightly cropped.

The stamps in the Presentation Pack appear to be torn from ordinary sheets rather than being cut.

While on the subject of cylinders I was disappointed that the two packs of 50 booklets yielded no cylinder numbers.  Although we know the two different booklets were printed side by side on the same web, the packing dates are 3rd & 7th November 2011. 

Friday 9 December 2011

Cross-blog promotion

A new post from Roy on MachinMania reminding his readers to look here for information about the new Machin stamps prompts me to remind you, my readers, to follow MachinMania where you often have background information and historic information about this long series.  MachinMania concentrates almost exclusively on Machins, but not just British ones, and there is much to be gained from dropping in their now and then.

Similarly for information on Faststamps and Post & Go in general, you should also have Brian Sinnott's Postagelabelsuk blog on your list.  Brian isn't always completely up to date and the requirements of his day job prevent him from updating as often as I'm sure he would like, but when he does post, there is always something groundbreaking.  

Today he has written about the 40g Faststamps for Birds 3 (but he hasn't got the Scottish offices on his list), and introduces us to the new 'Premier' PO in Birmingham which is almost exclusively self-service from what we can see.  10 Post and Go machines result in one having kiosk ID=0, and "a new, foldable, ‘mini’ date stamp, currently reserved for ‘customer side’ use on Post and Go receipts."  Certainly different.

Anybody interested in Smilers who isn't already aware of Graham Howard's website is missing out on all the latest news.  Not a blog as such, so without the usual search and keyword cluster features, you can keep updated on Smilers Info News by using the Change Detection box which we also use on the Norvic Philatelics webpages.

The British Postal Museum and Archive blog is full of interesting snippets (follow them on twitter as well), and if you are interested in GB Postal History - the stamped variety - and postage rates the Great Britain Philately blog is for you!

Post and Go v2 produces 40g Birds 4 - and Birds 3!

As reported here, the 40g Faststamps are rolling out.  

Thanks to a correspondent in cold and snowy Scotland we can now report that machine 2 at the St James Centre, Edinburgh PO, was dispensing Birds 3 earlier this week (shown below at left).  At the same time machine 3 at the St Vincent Street, Glasgow, PO was dispensing Birds 4 with the original Wincor font, thus printing over the picture.

Let us know of any other errors found after the v2 update!

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Golden Machin Horizon label mark III now in use.

The recent batch of Mark II Horizon labels were incompletely cut, resulting in a 5-8mm portion at the top of each label remaining on the backing if the label was removed from the foot.  Because of this many offices reverted to white labels - giving rise to many 'rare' narrow font labels and labels with the new VAT codes appearing on eBay.

The Mark III golden label is now in use.  This has die-cut curves at the left and right, and semi-circular ones in the corners, but no slits at all at the top and foot.   The serial number printed on the back of the one I used this morning is U082597507. I hope somebody will be able to provide a picture soon.

The picture here compares the Mk II version at the top, with the Mk III version below.

The concave (inward pointing) semi-circle starts immediately above the 'A' in the top image, two convex (outward pointing) semi-circles run below the ends of the concave one.  The one on the left runs through the A, just at the top of the triangle, the one on the right is in a similar position in the coronet, with the right end pointing to the cut in the corner.

In the lower example, the corner cuts are present but the other three are not.  This applies to the top and bottom of the label, but the similar cuts at left and right remain.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Machin M11L code continues in 2012 with Dahl PSB

Just when we thought we would see a new year code early in January in the Roald Dahl Prestige Stamp Book we find that they have the M11L code for 2011!

The conventionally gummed PSB pane has 2p, 10p & 68p stamps in, with the 68p having security features. The image shows all the stamps with security slits but that would only happen if they were self-adhesive.

So your 2011 Machin collection isn't finished yet!  The good thing from all points of view is that each pane provides 4 of these stamps with little postage left over. (Thanks to Richard P for the picture)

See Comments below about printing process and printer for this pane.

Post and Go version 2 update brings 40g for Birds 4

The delayed upgrade of Post and Go machines to software version 2 is now under way in earnest.  We're told that about half of the machines have now been upgraded in bulk by an internet download, rather than the attendance of an engineer to each machine.

Although many offices are using Machin Faststamps we have received Birds 4 and we're hoping to get Birds 3 later this week.  Just how many offices have Birds 4 is unknown, although as distribution was originally very limited (due to stock-control errors at Swindon which were later corrected) many offices will be back on Birds 4 after having initial stocks exhausted.  Just how many still have Birds 3 is more difficult to determine.  We had very few reports of Bird 3 continuing until September.

With version 2, the scanning equipment is now operative, so customers can purchase non-stamp products such as stationery which are on sale at many offices.  Shown here alongside the Birds 4 40g stamps is a receipt for a roll of tape from Old Street machine 1.

Spotted on eBay: Birds 3 40g from Ludgate Circus PO in London - 7/12/11.
Birds 3 also reported (10/12/11) from Dartford machine no 1. (Thanks KH)

December week 1.  - see separate blog entry for images
St Vincent Edinburgh dispensing Birds 3
St James Glasgow dispensing Birds 4 but with original font, printing over image.

6/12/11 - Paignton, Plymouth & Exeter on v2, but Paignton shut down on the same day - see Comment.

Further update 11/12/11 (thanks Malcolm)
Barnet EN5 5UU dispensing Birds 4
The following are dispensing Machins
Holloway N7 6HY,   Upper Holloway N19 5TA   Golders Green NW11 8RT
Balham SW12 9AF and Hampstead NW3 1QL
Clapham Common SW4 7ST is still version 1 dispensing Machins
Norwich both machines converted, one at least has Birds 4. (thanks to IS)
DR Confirms that Boston has 40g but no Birds.

Dartford v2 dispensing Birds 3
Orpington v2 dispensing Machin but wrong typeface (up to 40g seems correct though, see attachment)
Clapham Common still v1
Blackfriars Road and London Bridge v2 dispensing machins
Acton v2 dispensing birds 3
Sutton v1 dispensing birds 4

Christmas 2011 - staff bonus

For several years Royal Mail and Post Office employees (and sub-postmasters who are neither) have received a Christmas card from the organisation together with 50 1st class Christmas stamps.  

Since at least 2003 the self-adhesive Christmas stamps on sale to the public have had the paper surrounding the stamps (or 'matrix') removed to make it easier to remove the stamps from the sheets, and to make them easier to separate into singles/blocks at the PO counter.  But the 'staff' versions have been sent out with the matrix intact, providing a collectable variation.  Employees are not permitted to sell their stamps, but many are available to collectors either by exchange or through dealers.

We understand that there were production problems with the 2011 Christmas stamps.  Although most of the 1st class were printed in June and the 2nd class in July, we're told that some were printed in November.  And the ones included in Christmas cards - which are always split into two sheets of 25 - might be any combination of top sheet (with printing date and sheet number) and lower sheet (with cylinder numbers) - and more seem to exist with matrix removed than intact.  Despite the warnings to staff of dire consequences some have appeared on eBay, and we have seen 17/06/11 and 20/06/11 with both matrix removed and matrix intact.  

If you've seen any other dates - for staff freebies or those over the counter or from the Bureau - we'd be interested to know.

Christmas Madonnas - how many printings?

The Christmas Madonna stamps introduced in 2007 were "produced in reaction to a popular demand for stamps bearing an overtly Christian image" - this despite the fact that the main design for Christmas 2007 was Angels.

And each year since, these stamps have been reissued, with Royal Mail Philatelic telling us that "they are the same stamps as were issued in 2007."  But how many stamps can be printed from one set of cylinders, and how many did they stockpile originally?  We now know that there were reprints in 2008 and 2010 - does anybody have any other printing dates?

A close examination of the three lots that we have shows no appreciable variation, although colour mis-registration does produce slight differences.

Dates reported:

- 15/05/08 - Tallents House Dec 11
- 02/06/09 - Cambridge Nov 10, Enfield
- 08/08/10 - Dereham, Cambridge, Enfield Dec 11

- 19/05/08 - Tallents House Dec 11
- 18/05/09 - Enfield
- 24/07/10 - Enfield
- 26/07/10 - Cambridge Nov 10, Dereham, Cambridge Dec 11