Thursday 10 January 2013

Post Offices refuse to accept Special Delivery London Underground FDCs

Once again philatelists and first day cover producers have been frustrated by the inability of our Post Office to follow its own rules regarding Special Delivery mail.

Although the number of collectors of first day covers has been declining for some years, the die-hard collectors often go to extreme lengths and expense to produce something different for their collections.  Some design their own first day covers and they, and others, often seek out appropriate post offices at which to get their covers postmarked on the day of issue with the office's counter datestamp (CDS).

This usually means paying more than the face value of the set, as normally only special delivery items (current minumum fee £5.90) are cancelled at the counter.

The London Underground stamp issue presented some perfect opportunities to get covers postmarked in this way.  Relevant post offices included Boston Parade (London W7) - relevant to the 1st class Boston Manor stamp, Farringdon Road PO, relevant to the Metropolitan Line, and Canary Wharf PO, relevant to the £1.28 Canary Wharf stamp.

However, somebody in PO HQ has send an instruction of PO Branches which meant that yesterday some of those branches refused to accept first day covers for special delivery and cancellation with the branch's CDS.

One branch postmaster told one of our customer that he could accept other items with those stamps for special delivery and CDS postmarking, or could accept them on another day(!) but that any first day covers had to be sent to the special handstamp centre to get the official first day of issue postmark.
Attractive as it is, that isn't what the customers wanted.  The customer called Post Office Helpline from the branch, but was unable to make the customer services assistant understand the nature of the problem.

As this is now the subject of ongoing discussions you can expect to see more here soon.  But if anybody has had their FDCs rejected from the special delivery service, do not despair - please let me know by email ( which branch is involved so that we can establish how widespread the problem is.

UPDATE 11 January: We are still in discussions with Post Office Ltd who seem to be accepting that a misunderstanding occurred, and I am confident that we will see a resolution. More details will be noted as soon as possible.

Here is a Special Delivery cover which was properly serviced on 9 Janaury, at Walthamstow Central, E17. It was produced by Chris Sutcliffe and although he has none available to sell you can find his website here.

And here are some examples that we have done in the past, and some currently for sale on eBay.

Pub Signs set sent Special Delivery from Earl Soham PO (Suffolk) which is in the Brewery Shop:

Olympic/Paralympic set sent Special Delivery at Much Wenlock PO Shropshire

Burwash CDS on Rudyard Kipling set

2005 Trafalgar MS with Trafalgar Square CDS:


Millennium MS with Greenwich CDS, showing reverse with SD label



  1. Sadly this is just another example of how many of the good people in management at Royal Mail and the Post Office neither try to understand or even care about the interests of philatelists.

    They don't seem to understand that we aren't all silly enough to buy mass produced wallpaper or collect the same postmarks as everyone else and expect them to appreciate in value.

    1. Its not only an example of Royal Mail/Post Office's attitude to the needs of philatelists, but attitude to their customers in general. I wonder how much Moya Greene, the Chief Excutive, is aware of how her staff treat customers. Perhaps people should contact her rather than the inappropriately named Customer Care. I did last week, and guess what, I got an immediate and satisfactory reponse. Try it. probably the more emails and letters she gets, the more likely our postal service will change its mind set.

  2. FDC's with the RM Bureau postmark aren't worth the value of the stamps on them (especially those personally adressed)

  3. correction : Canary Wharf stamp = £1.28

    1. OOPS! Thank you; I must have glanced at the date by mistake. 0/10 for accuracy.

  4. Ian - is there any update on this story?

    1. Yes there is; arrangements are being made for backdating at Canary Wharf. We're trying to ascertain the extent of the problem ie how many collectors went/sent and were rejected.

      Did you send any or take any SD covers to Canary Wharf or other offices?

  5. I managed to get a cover done elsewhere, but would be interested to know how people will be able to prove they tried at Canary Wharf or elsewhere? Surely backdating just negates the point of collecting genuine FDCs (ie covers with a CDS). It it wasn't available on the day, the opportunity has passed. It devalues everyone else's efforts to do this.


Thank you for reading the blog and commenting: please use an identity (name or pseudonym) rather than being Anonymous; it helps us to know which 'anonymous' comments are from the same person to avoid confusion. Comments are moderated to avoid spam, but will be published as soon as possible.