Thursday 28 February 2013

Machin stamps from Doctor Who prestige stamp book

We can now show the Machin definitives from the Dr Who Prestige Stamp books to be released on 26 March.  These are all new stamps - gummed, with M12L MPIL security codes.  Thanks to Richard P for these images.

The format of the PSB is unusual - see original Doctor Who entry.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Update on Doctor Who stamp issue - PSB technical details

Only yesterday, I wrote Royal Mail have now confirmed the following technical details for the Dr Who Prestige Stamp Book:  except that my contact told me the credits detail shown in the book.  Collectors will know that the PSB details  often get the printer/process details wrong.

From another Royal Mail source, we have been told that this is the true situation:

Doctor Who panes on ordinary gum printed in lithography by Cartor Security Print.

Miniature sheet pane is self-adhesive, and printed in litho by Joh Enschede Stamps Cartor Security Print.

Machin/Tardis pane on ordinary gum printed in gravure by Walsall Security Print. Only the Machin stamps have security print - we expect these to be MPIL and M12L (now confirmed, by those who already have stock!)

Full list of the 30 stamps in this Doctor Who celebration:

11 x 1st images of Dr Who actors - ordinary gum, litho by Cartor

1st class 11th Doctor - self-adhesive in retail booklet gravure by Walsall Security Print
1st class 1st Doctor - self-adhesive in retail booklet gravure by Walsall Security Print

1st Tardis (self-adhesive) - in miniature sheet gravure by Enschede

1st Tardis (self-adhesive) - in PSB pane showing miniature sheet litho by Enschede Cartor

1st Tardis (self-adhesive) - in Generic Smiler Sheet - probably litho by Cartor

1st Tardis (self-adhesive) - in retail booklet gravure by Walsall Security Print

1st Tardis (ordinary gum) - in PSB definitive pane gravure by Walsall Security Print

2nd class Dalek - in miniature sheet gravure by Enschede
2nd class Dalek - in miniature sheet PSB pane litho by Enschede Cartor

2nd class Ood - in miniature sheet gravure by Enschede
2nd class Ood - in miniature sheet PSB pane litho by Enschede Cartor

2nd class Cyberman - in miniature sheet gravure by Enschede
2nd class Cyberman - in miniature sheet PSB pane litho by Enschede Cartor

2nd class Weeping Angel - in miniature sheet gravure by Enschede
2nd class Weeping Angel - in miniature sheet PSB pane litho by Enschede Cartor

5p Machin definitive with iridescent layer, gummed, gravure by Walsall Security Print
10p Machin definitive with iridescent layer, gummed, gravure by Walsall Security Print
20p Machin definitive with iridescent layer, gummed, gravure by Walsall Security Print
87p Machin definitive with iridescent layer, gummed, gravure by Walsall Security Print

Updated 27 February.

Monday 25 February 2013

Update to rules on International Signed For items.

We reported a while back that Royal Mail had apparently placed a blanket ban on sending items to PO Boxes using the International Signed For service.  We're pleased to be able to advise you of this upate:

From the Royal Mail website accessed 25 February 2013

Can I send International Signed For™ items to a PO Box?

International Signed For™ items require a signature to be taken on delivery therefore they cannot be sent to PO Boxes, unless the destination country is in Africa or the Middle East.

See ... signed-for

Friday 22 February 2013

London Underground stamp booklet variants explained

We reported earlier what appeared to be two different types of London Underground self-adhesive booklet stamp, as the dark blue 'caption' line seemed to be larger on some than on others.  True comparison was not made easy by the (what have become) usual poor standard of registration on Walsall-printed boookets.

Doug has sent us a further set of comparison image.  For the record, though I no longer think the source is significant, these are from Tallents House, Stampex, and  Harlow, Essex.  Note that the Tallents House supply has a significant shift of the grey to the left, producing double-rings for station interchanges, a shadow on the diagonal Picadilly Line, and a double-track Northern Line (oh that it were so!)  Note also the vertical white line below 1934 against the dark blue spur.

The white numbers are achieved by leaving unprinted spaces in the printed area of the grey, magenta and cyan, a technique known as 'reversed out'.  Clearly any misregistration (as on the left example) leaves a date with coloured edges, in this case grey, but regular readers will recall the magenta/white/cyan (or red-white and blue) face value on the 1st class Jubilee booklet stamp.

According to Royal Mail,  

the printers were concerned that the blue was a very tight fit with the reversed out text and could result in a white border showing. They used varying heat in the printing stations to adjust the print width of the blue and this has caused the variation in the two images – too much heat and the blue shrinks, too little and it spreads. Not ideal but preferable to a white border.

And the reason why the mis-registration occurs in the first place is that the job has to go through the press twice and the heat and tension causes the paper to move.

Thursday 21 February 2013

Stampex Faststamps - and Smilers Sheet

Thanks to our readers we can show you the Faststamps output from Spring Stampex even better than if we were there ourselves!  Thanks to Chris, Brian, and John for these pictures. 

We don't have these yet, and most of our stock was pre-ordered by regular customers.  If we have stock for sale a link will be provided in the blog.

Second Class Machin

a. with receipt

b. From machine A2

c. From machine A3, with the pair from the Bureau Pack for comparison.  The second line of text is indented on the Bureau pack.  It still isn't centred below the first line, so it's unclear what the actual format is intended to be, if indeed there IS a 'right' way.  And the year code is MA12 in the line leading up to the Queen's forehead.

Coronation overprint, with receipt, and then 1st class from machines A3 and A4.

Receipt showing purchase of Faststamps and Stampex Smilers Sheet.
John writes: "All three kiosks offer the option for a special Stampex Smiler sheet. - Pay via kiosk then see staff member who takes your photo for addition to sheet using i-Pad which then downloads to colour printer. The process takes about a minute." This is probably using the Smilers App developed by IntelligentAR referred to in an earlier post.

We've also been sent a picture of part of the Sheet, which shows that the captured image is only applied to 9 labels, with the 10th having the Stampex logo.

(And no, there is no prize for identifying the 'first-in-the-queue' customer pictured!)

Tuesday 19 February 2013

BPMA Robin Faststamps replaced by Flag stamp this week

I thought that the seasonal Robin would disappear from the BPMA Post and Go machine right after Christmas, but I was wrong.  Now Stuart has directed us to this from the BPMA's website. 

The Union Flag will be in use from Thursday this week, so if you are visiting Stampex, take a walk (or the bus) down to Freeling House, Phoenix Place, London WC1X 0DL.   It's a 15-minute brisk walk from the Angel Underground station.
21 February 2013
A new stamp design will be available at the Post & Go machine in the Royal Mail Archive from Thursday, 21 February 2013. The 'Christmas Robin' will be replaced by the Union Flag with the special overprint reading "The B.P.M.A.". 

Visitors to the BPMA can purchase the stamps by credit / debit card only during our opening hours. An official First Day Cover featuring the new Union Flag design will be available from the BPMA online shop from 25 February 2013.

We do not have any stock of these at this stage.  When we have stock available for sale we will announced it in the blog.

UPDATE: Thanks to Chris we can now show the Collectors set and receipt

Sunday 17 February 2013

Perforations are Go! Imperforate Thunderbirds miniature sheet reported! sheet

The Thunderbirds miniature sheet issued in January 2011 was notable for having lenticular images and thus being much thicker than normal stamps.

Some people thought it wasn't gummed and others thought that if individual stamps were used they would be pulled off the envelope by the sorting machinery.  Thankfully this didn't happen and examples exist on normal (albeit) philatelic mail.

Now two years after the issue Rushstamps have reported that an imperforate miniature sheet has been discovered on a combination FDC!

This sheet, like the only known mint example, was purchased on the day of issue at Tuckton, Bournemouth.  The collector who prepared the cover only recently realised that he had an error when he was mounting his mint stamps and miniature sheet - and realised that the sheet was different to the one on his cover.
Rushstamps will have this at Spring Stampex next week.

Friday 15 February 2013

Prestige Stamp Book errors - another duplicated page

In the period 2006 - 2009 several Prestige Stamp Books were found with duplicated stamp pages or other errors.  The situation was so bad that people came to expect an error as the norm, rather than something exceptional.

Now a collector sent us a picture of what is, as far as we know, a previously unreported duplication, in the World of Invention PSB from March 2007.

This PSB was bought at a stamp fair recently and the duplication was not revealed until the collector was studying the book at home! 

Earlier reports are on our website, because the blog hadn't started when they were discovered. 
Missing Gold error on Prestige Book Victoria Cross stamps

Duplicate pages in Machin Anniversary Prestige Book

Duplicate pages in Regional Stamps Anniversary Prestige Book

Duplicate pages in Charles Darwin Prestige Book

The most spectacular and valuable error was on the Victoria Cross book where the missing gold affects the Queen's head and value -

Books sold at auction have realised over £10,000; the most recent reported in Stamp and Coin Mart (Feb 2013) was handled by Grosvenor and made £11,934.

The most prolific set of errors was on the Machin book.  Examples exist with any of the stamp pages duplicated, but perhaps the oddest - given it's heavy card composition - was duplication of the front cover!

Quality control on make up (if not on print quality) has improved greatly since 2009 with no similar errors reported.  But we are always eager to report new finds!

Thursday 14 February 2013

2013 Stampex Faststamps - The Bureau Packs

We're now able to show you the actual stamps from the Bureau packs of Faststamps being issued later this month (details here).  The stamps are printed on Hytech machines.

2nd class - stamps are numbered 10 and 11

Pond Life - all 6 stamps are numbered 11

Contrary to expectations these do not have the NL code indicating printing in the Netherlands, but are coded A2GB13 indicating February 2013 in Great Britain.  Last September's Cattle were coded A9NL12.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

After six weeks it's A Happy New Year for the Red Machin stamp!

Yes, Six weeks is how long the 1st class Machin definitives in Royal Mail red have been available, and many of those are still not in every Post Office branch.  

But already Richard has reported that the retail booklet of 6 has appeared with a 2013 year code of M13L

These have phosphor bands short at the foot, without which they might have remained in the shop, as he was not expecting to see a new year code as soon as this.

It does pay to keep your eyes peeled!  We expect that this will be quite common at retail outlets, whilst the M12L version may not appear on the streets but only from Tallents House.  It is also quite possible that the Bureau has sufficient stock of M12L for all eventualities and will not get the M13L version for some months.

Only time will tell! We await your reports.

If you find M13L or MA13 stamps please let us know whether they are from Post Offices, Tallents House, or other retail outlets.  Thanks!

Friday 8 February 2013

Football heroes stamps include more Living Legends

Royal Mail is issuing a set of stamps and a Miniature Sheet on 9 May 2013 to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of The Football Association as well as 140 years of The Scottish Football Association.

The stamps feature a ‘dream team’ of legendary footballers selected from around the United Kingdom namely Jimmy Greaves, John Charles, Gordon Banks, George Best, John Barnes, Kevin Keegan, Denis Law, Bobby Moore, Bryan Robson, Dave MacKay,  and Bobby Charlton.

Royal Mail worked very closely with the National Football Museum and with its experts, archivists and curators, to establish a listing of the key great footballers to celebrate. The football museum itself has established a Hall of Fame and the players selected were from those who were inducted into the Hall of Fame when it began.

Royal Mail also looked at the history of UK football, but applied criteria to select players whose key senior career was within the years 1963-1990s, who will be much more familiar to present day footballers than those of earlier eras, and include many players who have a cult following and widespread agreement of genius on the pitch, such as George Best.

The stamps are 30 x 32mm and the miniature sheet is 192 x 74 mm.

There will also be a prestige stamp book (details to follow) and a series of retail stamp books, the first of which contains 4 x 1st class red Machin definitives and the football stamps showing George Best and Bobby Moore.

A second retail booklet will be issued later in the year* with the John Charles and Dave Mackay stamps.  * The issue date will be subject to operational need and may be in 2014.

The England badge on the selvedge for the Bobby Moore stamp in the retail booklet is very poor - it's hanging off the shirt! (Click on the image below for a yet larger one.)

Update 13 May:
John E has reminded me that I haven't posted details of the cylinder numbers on this booklet, so here is the image of a cylinder booklet.

All W1, the 'colours' are dark red, phosphor, iridescent, magenta, cyan, yellow, black - although the iridescent and phosphor are difficult to distinguish.

Update 1 June Phosphor shifts:
Colour mis-registration on this issue is less obviously wrong, but the alignment of the phosphor patches on the cylinder is most irregular.

We have many booklets with the phosphor on the Bobby Moore stamp only dropped by up to 2mm.  Other booklets have a downward shift of the phosphor on all 6 stamps, while some booklets have phosphor short on all except the George Best stamp!  Oddly all the booklets with cylinder numbers have accurately placed phosphor. 

With two booklets this will also mean two six new Machin definitives, which have the M13L year code; one from the retail booklet with MCIL and five from the PSB with MPIL.  The country definitive stamps in the booklet do not have security overprints.   Incidentally this will be the first time that the three flag stamps have appeared in a way to get full catalogue status, previous versions being in the 'Celebrating' miniature sheets and Generic Smilers Sheets.

Update 12 March
We now have images of the PSB panes.  The more I look at it, the more I think this issue is a good idea gone bad. The two definitive panes have been badly designed, as to their contents and layout. Pane 1 should have had the national stamps in the corners, or at N,S,E & W.  Pane 4 has values so low (total 34p) that they should require extra stamps for a FDC! (We are awaiting a decision from Royal Mail on this.) Royal Mail have confirmed that additinal stamps to the value of 16p must be added to FDCs bearing this 34p pane.

Update 28 April
We now have the actual PSB panes, and I am disappointed to say that the two Football Heroes stamp panes are self-adhesive.  Disappointed (a) because no data on this was provided by Royal Mail in the pre-release publicity, and (b) because this means that collectors will feel they have to buy twice as many of the footballer stamps as they thought they would!  

The definitive panes are gummed, with security codes M13L MPIL on all the Machins and no security printing on the country definitives.  

According to the credits in the book, the booklet is printed by Cartor Security Print.  But a second paragraph states that the definitive panes are in gravure by Walsall, which they are not.

I've also worked out why the price of this pane is odd - the whole booklet price is £11.11

Special postmarks for this issue are shown on our website.

For the specialist collector this stamp issue rivals Dr Who in its complexity and the number of stamps.  There are 34 individual stamps, a miniature sheet, retail booklet and PSB.  The individual stamps are:

Footballers - 11 gummed, 11 self-adhesive from PSB by Cartor, 2 self-adhesive from retail booklet by Walsall.  (Total 24)
Country definitives - 4.  The three flags stamps have never had individual catalogue numbers before. The gummed Northern Ireland stamp has been printed in litho before but not by Cartor.  There are also other differences, see below. [4]
Machin definitives - 1st class self-adhesive with MCIL M13L code (the MCIL London Underground stamp has the M12L year code), 1st class gummed, 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, gummed all with MPIL M13L codes. [6]

The new Northern Ireland stamp by Cartor, as well as being yellower than the earlier one, has no microprinted date in the figure of value: