Monday 30 July 2012

Stamp Programme for 2013 to include Dr Who anniversary issue?

Not for the first time a stamp issue associated with a third-party organisation has been leaked before Royal Mail have made a formal announcement.

According to the Dr Who News website, next year marks the 50th anniversary of the BBC television service and there will be a stamp issue to mark that anniversary:

The Royal Mail is to release a set of stamps to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who next year, with the first day cover reportedly due on 8th January 2013.
It won't be the first time that Doctor Who has been officially recognised in such a prestigious way. A Dalek was chosen by Royal Mail to represent television in The Entertainers' Tale issue that was released on 1st June 1999

Gold postbox finder

We're unashamedly still on the Olympic theme!  If you create your own Gold Medal first day covers, why not illustrate them with a picture of the postbox painted gold in honour of the winner?

Use Royal Mail's interactive Gold Medal Postbox finder, and tell us on twitter (@Ian_norvic) where they are - send a picture through twitpic or to

Friday 27 July 2012

Royal Mail Gold Medal Postmarks - details

Royal Mail have announced the design and reference numbers for collectors wishing to send Gold Medal stamped covers for cancellation. Note that all covers go to Tallents House Edinburgh from where they will be distributed to Special Handstamp Centres in rotation.

"First Day Covers - Royal Mail will accept customer FDCs until 28 September.  Covers for postmarking should be sent to Royal Mail Tallents House, 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 9PB    
Union Flag Postmark for Olympic Gold Medal Stamps.
Dates and Postmark Reference numbers

29 July - 12653
30 July - 12654
31 July - 12655
1 August - 12656
2 August - 12657
3 August - 12658
4 August - 12659
5 August - 12660
6 August - 12661
7 August - 12662
8 August - 12663
9 August - 12664
10 August - 12665
11 August - 12666
12 August - 12667
13 August - 12668

London 2012 Olympic Games Gold Medal stamps production process.

Royal Mail have produced this video which shows the production process for the Gold Medal stamps.   Thank goodness they are not selling press sheets of 4 x A4 sheets as well as A4 sheets of 4 miniature sheets of 6 stamps!

Thursday 26 July 2012

A milestone missed! Thanks to all our readers, and contributors!

Last Sunday while I wasn't looking, page views on this blog passed 400,000.  

As the 300,000 milestone was passed on 19 March, that's another 25,000 per month since then, or something in the order of 800 per day.

It is most gratifying to know that we have so many readers, looking not only at the (almost) daily news postings, but commenting, reading and answering others comments, and contributing news that we might otherwise miss.  The finds that you report from around the country are very useful to other collectors, and dealers, and we thank you, very much!  Thanks also to a couple of 'proof-readers': I'm doing my best to make you redundant (and just caught another typo!).

Keep watching, and onwards to half-a-million!

New Smilers Sheets at Olympic Village - Royal Mail ignore collectors.

As reported earlier, there will be a Smilers Booth at the Olympic Games Village in Stratford.

Graham Howard has now provided further information on this, and it represents another missed opportunity Royal Mail.
They are available in two denominations 1st class Olympic/Paralympic NVI's and Worldwide NVI.
The 20 x 1st class sheet bears a passing resemblance to the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games generic sheet but is on a green background not red. The Worldwide stamps are available in half sheets of 10 on a  sheet of similar design but in yellow instead of red.
The 20 x 1st class sheet has the legend: Hello from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  The graphics are the same as the red generic sheet but in a different order and there is no legend down the centre of the sheet - this is replaced by London Eye and Nelson's Column graphics
The 10 x WW NVI sheet has the same legend and the style is repeated on both halves of the sheet, one graphic top right - Houses of Parliament and the bottom three graphics are of St. Paul's, Battersea Power Station and The Tower of London.
The sheets retail price is as follows:
  • 20 x 1st class (green background) personalised sheet - £18.25 
  • 10 x WW NVI (yellow background) personalised sheet - £18.50
Whilst the WW NVI sheets are marketed as a 10 stamp, A5 sheet they are in effect half of 20 stamp A4 sheet separated in the middle. As collectors items they are best collected in sheets of 20 stamps which would increase the price to £37 a sheet.
That said, here comes the bad news!
The sheets are not being made available to the general public - only athletes, volunteers and visitors with an accreditation pass or an accompanied day guest invite within the Olympic Village Plaza!!  If you can gain entry to the Olympic Village then you can buy these sheets. Conversely, if you can't gain access then you won't be able to buy these sheets.
Graham has managed to acquire some sheets - we'll publish pictures as soon as we can after he does!

Royal Mail will probably argue that the Generic sheet will satisfy collectors. For most Smilers, the personalised sheets have different borders to the generic sheets, so the yellow and green backgrounds are no surprise - but normally collectors who want these variants can buy them through the Smilers service.  Not this time.  It would have been money for old rope, but it seems that they don't want the bother of handling these other than through their agent, Yink, with the booth at the Olympics.

Here's the rubber stamp that is applied to the inside of the Folder containing the Smilers sheets:


Wednesday 25 July 2012

2012 Machins nearly complete - 2nd Large booklet of 4.

The 2nd class Large letter stamps from booklets of 4 with MA12 year code has been spotted on eBay.  

This shouldn't be scarce as so many stamps were purchased in April before postage rates increased and stocks were seriously depleted.

Thanks to our reader for the tip-off.  We'll let customers know when this is in stock.

It's not vandalism, it's "Royal Mail" gold on postboxes!

Royal Mail yesterday revealed that it will be painting some of its iconic and much-loved red post boxes gold to celebrate every Team GB and ParalympicsGB gold medal win during the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

This will be a unique, highly visible and fitting way to recognise the successes of Team GB and ParalympicsGB during this summer’s global sporting events. The UK is believed to be the first country to paint its post boxes gold to celebrate Olympic and Paralympic gold medal wins.

A dedicated team will be on standby to transform the specially selected post boxes within days of a win.  The post boxes chosen will, wherever possible, be in the home-town of the winning athlete, or both home-towns for teams of two. To celebrate a gold medal win by teams of more than two competitors, the post box chosen to be painted gold will be in a location relevant to all team members.

The gold boxes will remain in use and customers will be able to post mail in these boxes as normal. Mail collections from the boxes will also be unaffected.  The boxes will be repainted in Royal Mail's traditional red in due course.

Royal Mail demonstrated how the boxes will change from red to gold by painting a box in near to Westminster Abbey, London.

Mark Thompson, Olympics Director, Royal Mail and Postman, Paul Sheldrake apply the finishing touches to a post box in Westminster, central London. Photo: Justin Grange


If you spot one, send send us a photo with location, we'll upload some here.

Monday 23 July 2012

Bradley Wiggins Tour de France miniature sheet?

It happened for the England Victory in the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and again for England's Ashes win at cricket over Australia in 2005.  I have to agree with Paul on his blog that this is another great sporting achievement which ranks with those as being deserving of a philatelic commemoration.

And I reckon if they weren't up to their ears in the Olympics, Royal Mail would be working flat out with Getty Images, one of the design agencies, and Walsall Security Printers to have a miniature sheet out in the post offices within the next month, showing Bradley Wiggins and his team-mates.

What do you think?

Smilers Stamps on demand in Olympic Athletes Village!

Copied from Graham Howard's Smilers-Info website:
    Smilers Booth at Olympic Village Post Office  
    Yink Ltd have tweeted us to advise that they will be manning a Smilers Booth in the Olympic Village Post Office. Unfortunately, access is provided to Olympic Village pass-holders only, i.e. athletes and workforce. Does anyone out there have access to the Olympic Village Post Office?  If so, can they get us a photo of the booth please and perhaps comment on the products available? (22/07)

Please help Graham, or leave a comment here - thanks!

Thursday 19 July 2012

Where to get the London 2012 Olympic Gold Medal stamps?

A list of the Post Offices which will be selling the Olympic Games Gold Medal stamps is now on the Stamp Magazine website for download.

Well-designed London 2012 Olympic stamp from Australia

It's not often I divert off to foreign parts, but I receive a big packet from Australia this morning, and the postage included two sheets of their first Olympic 2012 stamp.

I like this, because it is unmistakeably about London (routemaster bus and landmarks), Australia (flag) and the Olympics (rings), but at the same time due to the colours used it isn't fussy.

If you are interested you can see the whole sheets and the rest of the stamps on the Stampboards forum.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Diamond Jubilee Machin & Wilding from Prestige Stamp Book

I should have provided these Diamond Jubilee PSB images much earlier, my apologies to Chris who sent them on 2 June. 

The first shows clearly the MPND code on the Jubilee Machin from the 31 May PSB.  The other shows phosphor bands well clear of the perforations on the definitive pane in the booklet.   In my experience the shortness at the top is not matched by phosphor over-running the perforations at the foot of the pane, so the overall height of the phosphor band is less than the gap between the perforations.

If I could scan like this I could tell whether our stock is really as short as that!

Marshall Islands first to show GB Machins on stamps?

We think this is the first foreign stamp set to show Great Britain Machin definitives. Issued on 6 February 2012 the Marshall Islands miniature sheet marks the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and contains 6 x $1.05 stamps each illustrated with a British Machin definitive.

The stamp illustrations show the 10p orange brown, 20p bright green, 30p olive-green litho printing, 40p azure, 50p self-adhesive 2009 security issue*, and 60p light emerald. All the illustrations are slightly larger than life-size and have a line through the face value.

 * The security details are not very clear here but if you click on the image you should get a larger version.

Monday 16 July 2012

XXX Olympiad London 2012 Olympic Games 'postmark'.

I noticed this surprise 'postmark' on an internet forum.

I'm making enquiries as to what it's status is - postmark or cachet - whether it is actually used at the Games venue or applied elsewhere, and how to obtain more!

A similar rubber stamp is applied to the inside of the Smilers Stamps folder:


Sunday 15 July 2012

London 2012 Olympic Gold Medal stamps- as it happens

I wonder how many websites and blogs will be created to list all the Team GB Olympic medal winners, and how many of these will list all the gold medal winners with pictures of the stamps generated by Royal Mail?  (See our original report and the design of the Gold Medal stamps here.)

This blog doesn't lend itself to doing that.  If I constantly update a blog entry it will slip off the first page viewed as other philatelic news breaks.  As we get the pictures - and at the moment I don't know whether Royal Mail will send them to us by email every day - I'll update the page on our website, but it may not be possible to keep this up-to-the-minute.  For one thing the Norfolk and Norwich Philatelic Society Summer Stamp and Postcard Fair will be keep me busy all day on 4th August!

On the Smilers Stamps website, Graham Howard has set up a new page which "we hope to feature details of all these new stamps and sheets in a new page Gold Medal Winners", so I won't duplicate that in this blog.  There is also a link to Graham's page at the foot of this page ('links')

Thursday 12 July 2012

Is Norwich Sorting Office heading for 21st Century? YES!

Something's afoot at Norwich's Royal Mail sorting office, but we don't know what it is!

Mail originating in much of central and eastern Norfolk is usually postmarked in Norwich, using an old Universal machine which has seen better days and rarely seems to have enough ink to make a good impression.

If this was from Norwich (it's from Mount Pleasant) we would think it better than normal!

But this week our mail is receiving the new Peterborough ink-jet postmark:

This suggests that Norwich's old machine may be retiring at last, and that we will soon have an ink-jet machine.  It may be that our customers will know before we do!  Do let us know!

UPDATE: Our customer Stuart confirms that Norwich now has an ink-jet postmark.  I wish I'd used lighter-coloured stamps!
Royal Mail
Mail Centre

The 2012 Machin collection is nearly complete

The 2nd class Large 2012 stamp from counter sheets has now been released - and has security code MA12 (like the Enschede coil).  The small 2nd class stamp has code M12L.

These are in stock and will be reserved for existing customers.  The printing date is 29/02/12.  We'll show an image as soon as we have one. Thanks to Richard P for the image.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Paralympic 2012 Gold Medal issue

When Royal Mail told dealers that there would be stamps (miniature sheets) issued for each Olympic Gold Medal at London 2012 we asked whether the same would apply to the Paralympic Games.  

The answer was no, mostly I suspect because at the 2008 Beijing games Great Britain's Paralympians won no less than 42 gold medals and such a quantity would put even greater strain on printers, Royal Mail distribution, post offices, and collectors' pockets!

The Paralympic Games has always been the poor cousin of the Olympics in terms of media coverage. Whether this is because there is genuinely less public interest or because that interest has not been fired by the same level of media coverage is difficult to tell.  Nonetheless it seemed that in terms of stamp issues the Games would be covered only by the Welcome miniature sheet and the end-of-games souvenir.

Now Royal Mail has announced that the British Paralympic Games gold medal winners will be commemorated on a single six-stamp miniature sheet to be issued after the games:

With the growing excitement around the London 2012 Games we are delighted to announce that we will be celebrating the ParalympicGB Gold Medal winners with a Miniature Sheet. This will contain six special stamps which will feature the gold medal winning athletes on a single minisheet to be issued on 27 September 2012. This will be the perfect memento of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

This is the quickest turnover that Royal Mail could manage amid hopes that ParalympicsGB may repeat the medal success of the 42 golds it won at Beijing 2008 to come second in the medals table.

The Royal Mail is also handing over £200,000 which will be split equally between the ParalympicsGB gold medallists.

This summer's Paralympics, which can be traced back to a competition for the war wounded at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1948, are heading back home for the first time.

Friday 6 July 2012

Olympic Venues Generic Smilers Sheet - how to get from Royal Mail

Details of how to buy the 27 June Olympic Venues generic smiler sheet have been added to this post.

And following concerted action via twitter, the sheet is now on RM's shop site!

Thursday 5 July 2012

Updated list of Post and Go locations

Brian Sinnott has updated the list of Post and Go locations and a complete list is now on his blog here.

The latest office is Dorchester in Dorset, and there are now 239 machines in 148 publicly accessible* offices.  The number of machines in each office is shown but on my (Firefox) browser it almost clips the right-hand column.  It shows properly in Safari.  Most offices have 1 or 2 machines but there are 9 at Pinfold Street Birmingham,

Machines with codes 699010/699011 are at the Old Street PO Head Office and are also used at exhibitions.

UPDATE 16/7/12 -  Cambridge (St Andrews Street) 007113 now has a third machine in the refurbished office. (Thanks SM) 
This is a Post and Go Label from the new machine: 007113 3-PAG 

I hadn't seen the machine-vended Certificate of Posting, nor realised that the Post and Go labels now show a destination postcode - although not all of it is printed on the label (NR2 instead of NR20).

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Delivered by Royal Mail - from Bristol ink-jet (and updated to show others)

Here's the first image we have been sent showing the new 'attachment' to the traditional inkjet postmark.  (Thanks to John P).

The original story is here.

UPDATE: Some more, including one from Chester only partially bilingual - I wonder if this will change?   Also two covers from Bath Bristol Taunton, the 2nd class one showing what happens if there is no slogan - uncancelled stamp! Note these have 7 wavy lines.


Swindon also not yet using Delivered by slogan (thanks Rob) - this one with 9 wavy lines:

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Scotland 1st and 2nd class by Cartor - comparison with DLR.

We now have the new Scotland 1st and 2nd class stamps in stock, printed by Cartor and issued 27 June 2012 (first reported here)

The Cartor printings are shown on the right, original De La Rue at the left.

And in close-up

The printing date is on the plate, rather than being added by ink-jet, and so far only 24/04/12 has been seen - for both values.

Monday 2 July 2012

Machin 2nd class coil by Enschede - new 2012 code!

Machin coils of 10,000 have been a problem since Royal Mail refuse to split them even though we know and they know that they could sell singles and strips with no problem, to thousands of collectors all over the world.

Dealers bought the original 2009 coded 1st and 2nd class which have been available at a reasonable price.  The 1st class 2010 was also obtained, but the price was considerably higher.

Then the 2nd class 2010 was found on 'junk' mailings from a number of mailing houses.  This is known as the Sunday Times Wine Club stamp as it was first found on a mailshot from the club.  Prices achieved on eBay have been amazing, but settled down as more came to market.

Reliable information from Royal Mail said that both 1st & 2nd class were printed with 2011 codes, but none have so far been reported.

Earlier this year we learned that a new 2nd class coil was to be printed by Enschede, and thanks to dealer Alec Withell we can now show images of the stamp and the coil.  Oddly, whilst other 2012 stamps have appeared with the M12L code, this one is coded MA12!

Of course now we wait to hear which direct mailshots are using these - or the 2011 version in 2nd or 1st class !

While we were out......

Several items of news cropped up while we were away, and while we've been sorting out emails and post more has arrived, so here is a summary.

The Pre-Olympic 'Venues' Generic Smiler sheet has appeared, looking quite unlike the publicity images.  Here's the sheet

UPDATE: At the time of writing this is not on the Royal Mail shop website, nor is it mentioned in either the Olympic or regular Summer Collection brochures issued late last month.  So for those who want to buy it direct,

The Stock Code is AT072 and the price from Royal Mail is £15.22
Email or phone +44 (0) 131 316 7483

Further update:  
following concerted action via twitter, the sheet is now on RM's shop site!

See the original blog message, now updated, here.

For the 'Welcome to the Olympics' issue on 27 July there will be a miniature sheet and a prestige stamp book - see our webpage.  Two weeks ago no details had been announced and we didn't know whether the definitive pane would be Machins or Olympics or a mixture, and we expected that some of the stamps from (or the whole) miniature sheet would be included.

We now have the pictures - but no technical specification - and it's all Olympic definitives and no miniature sheet stamps!

As I said, no technical details so we don't know whether the definitives are gummed* (which would make them new) or self-adhesive.  If the book is printed by Cartor in toto then the definitives will be from a new printer; if the definitives are self-adhesive by Walsall then the 20g will be new but the 1st class were issued in booklets printed by Walsall.
The 'sports' stamps on the other three panes were originally printed by Cartor in sheet form so, again, if the PSB is printed by Cartor these are not prima facie new stamps - but the phosphor may be different - heck, the perforation could be different as well!

UPDATE 10 July: The panes (but not the book) are now to hand.
All panes are gummed.  The definitive pane has darker 1st class stamps than the pale orange shown, close to the sheet and booklet self-adhesive stamps but slightly paler.  The 20g airmail stamps are a good match.
The Sports stamps on the other three panes look very similar to the stamps issued previously in sheets and have the same perforation as before, with all-over phosphor.  The shade differences are minor, and the micro-printed years remain the same as on the original stamps. The se-tenant combinations are, of course, new.  

Sunday 1 July 2012

Four seasons in one day - England's Lake District

There will be a lot to post on the blog when I have finished reading the emails that have arrived in the last two weeks, and picked up the post tomorrow.

Over the two weeks we had sun, rain, hail, gale, though no frost. No floods in our village, but extensive laying water even on main roads, where rain was running off fields.

Picture 1 is Ullswater, from a steamer.
Picture 2 is low cloud and the resulting cascade down one of the hills.
Picture 3 is a tree downstream of the bridge at Ennerdale Bridge late last week - and we are certain it wasn't there at the start of the holiday!