Tuesday 30 April 2013

Stamp News roundup 30 April 2013

I'm aware that finding all the news when it is scattered through many posts is difficult, and leads to mutliple duplication of comments, or comments where the answer is already shown on a different post.  So I've simplified things this week by putting all the news back in the original posts.

Details of the Football Heroes isssue, including pictures of the definitives from the Prestige Stamp book - which we now know has self-adhesive footballers in - are here.

The picture of the 1st class stamp in the "Queen's Portaits" set has now been released and can be seen here.

We have images of the Perth Congress Faststamps and will add these when there is time.
There are also some more new Machin definitives but we don't have all details or images yet.   To whet your appetites here is the first of the new high value printings - remember these haven't been printed since 2009 when they were in cylinders of 6 panes, ie 3 guttered sheets of 50.  Now the £2 has been printed in a cylinder of 12* panes/sheets of 25 stamps.
* - see comments.

With De La Rue's MA13 code, and - we're told - with no date or sheet number in the margin.  It seems that DLR still haven't got all their kit in order - or else Royal Mail have told them that this data is no longer necesssary.

We've been told that this stamp is now included in the High Value Definitive presentation pack The writer has withdrawn the statement.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Freshwater Life and Butterflies stamps coming in the summer

We're now able to show you the images for two sets of stamps to be issued in the summer.   On 25 June the second set of 'Freshwater Life' Faststamps will be issued from (Wincor-Nixdorf) Post and Go machines in Post Office branches throughout the country.  

Water creatures from Lakes are, shown from upper left to lower right:
Perch, European Eel, Crucian Carp, Cadis-fly Larva, Arctic Char, Common Toad.

As usual these will be available for 6 service-indicators, with a total face value of £6.42.  At Autumn Stampex it is expected that these will be available from Hytech v2 machines.

Official First Day Postmarks (other special postmarks will be on our website)

The 10 x 1st class Butterfly stamps will be issued on 11 July just before the National Butterfly Count campaign run by charity Butterfly Conservation.  

These are now images of the actual stamps (click on the images to see enlargements):

 Row 1: Comma, Orange Tip, Small Copper, Chalkhill Blue, Swallowtail

 Row 2: Purple Emperor, Marsh Fritillary, Brimstone, Red Admiral, Marbled White.

The 37 x 35 mm stamps will be printed in two sheets of 25/50 by Cartor Security Print in litho.  The design agency is MARCandANNA.

Royal Mail have sneaked into the programme another mixed retail stamp book: the Chalkhill blue and Comma will be issued in a self-adhesive booklet of 6 stamps with 4 x 1st class red Machin definitives which have code M13L MCIL.

A very colourful set which ought to be popular.

Monday 15 April 2013

Two/Three more new Machin definitive stamps for 2013

Following the issue of the Royal Mail red series of stamps on 3 January (with 2012 year codes) we reported the sale of the 1st class booklet of 6, and the 2nd class booklet of 12 with M13L codes.

As reported last week, the new tariff stamps have MA13 codes, except for the Walsall printing of the specific valued stamps which have M13L.  Apparently all should have had M13L but for some reason De La Rue used cylinders with MA13 on.

Late last week came the discover of two more M13L/MA13 stamps.  The 2nd class Business Sheet M13L was first discovered in used condition (so remember to look at all your incoming post, carefully!), and then the £1.28 sheet stamp was found from a new De La Rue MA13 printing with no date or sheet numbers.  (Thanks again to Richard P for these images.)

UPDATE: De La Rue's printing of the £1.88 has now been found, still with no sheet number or date.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Doctor Who gets more complex: Tardis has two perforations!

In an earlier report we calculated that there were 30 different stamps in the Doctor Who issue, although there is still some confusion about who printed what. 

But amongst all the confusion we dealers and collectors often forget philatelic basics - and we have to acknowledge that we were not the ones to discover that the Tardis stamps exist with two different perforations!

The stamp from the miniature sheet is perforated 14¾ x 14, whilst the one from the miniature sheet pane in the prestige stamp book is 14¾ x 15.   (The perforations of the 2nd class 'Enemies' stamps are the same from both sources.)

The difference is easy to spot without even resorting to a perforation gauge because the miniature sheet stamp has 11 holes above the elliptical one, and the pane stamp has 12.  The stamps in the Retail Booklet & Generic Smilers Sheet also have 11 holes.

Royal Mail have usually made it easy for the self-adhesive sheets and panes to be removed from the backing paper for fixing to FDCs (or even postal packets) by ensuring that the die-cut perforations are interrupted.  And this factor also demonstrates that perforators were used.

On the Miniature sheet the Tardis stamp perfs are interrupted on the end of the 3rd tooth in from the corners, on each side, except that the interruption is on the 2nd tooth from the bottom on each vertical side (8 in total).

On the PSB pane there are just four interruptions: top left and top right are on the lower side of the first tooth, lower left is on the upper side of the last tooth, and lower right is on the lower side of the last tooth.  There are no interruptions on the short side of the stamp.

Thus 3 are within the sides, and the lower right is right on the corner.  This can be seen in the images as an uneven tear of the paper, rather than a clean die-cut, most noticeable on the top of the right-hand stamp in the image.

Similar differences occur on the 2nd class stamps.  The MS has interruptions on the top of the 4th tooth on each side (hence 8 in total).  The stamps on the PSB pane have just 4 interruptions, in various positions and various sizes, on the last tooth on each vertical side (as with the Tardis).

Incidentally the size of the Tardis stamp image is different on the Retail Booklet.

The stamp design on the Retail Booklet is 17.5 x 21.5 mm but on the stamps on the Generic Sheet, Miniature Sheet, and MS pane from the PSB have images only 17 x 21 mm.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

2013 New Tariff definitive stamps: De La Rue printing in Presentation Packs

Readers will recall Royal Mail's warning that delivery of the new tariff stamps to collectors would be delayed but that stamps (but not presentation packs) would be in Post Offices by the issue date.

We later found this was because of De La Rue's production difficulties associated with the move from Dunstable to Gateshead, difficulties which saw production of the 78p, 88p and £1.88 stamps sub-contracted to Walsall Security Print.  De La Rue printed the new Signed For stamps.

Now that the Presentation Packs are available, we find that that they contain stamps which are not the same as those printed by Walsall SP, which almost certainly means that they were printed by De La Rue.   How can we tell, from single stamps?  The Walsall stamps have a year code of M13L - those in the pack have a year code - like the Signed For stamps - of MA13

Presentation pack (with guillotined edges)

Original supplies:

We don't of course, know the printing dates for the De La Rue printings yet but will report them as soon as we do.

Meanwhile, can anybody tell us which stamps are on Royal Mail's official FDCs?

UPDATE 11 April
Thank you all for the contributions, we now know that Royal Mail's official FDCs have the De La Rue printings of all stamps.  The presentation packs were available from Friday 5th April, which ought to make that the official first day of availability of the 78p, 88p and £1.88p despite the 27 March date that will be on those covers.  

The stamps on the FDC received here are noticeably different to those in the pack. The text in the iridescent layer is noticeably 'blotchier', reminiscent of the late printings of the 2009/10 stamps.  On most values the M of MA13 is almost a rectangle of dark, with very little definition. 

The Walsall and Signed For stamps, of course, were available on 27 March, so those should be more collectable.  Anybody doing double-dated covers?

UPDATE 12 April
It is now clear that some Tallents House subscribers for single stamps are receiving De La Rue (cut) examples whilst others are receiving Walsall examples.  This may be because the DLR stock left over from producing FDCs and Presentation Packs is now all exhausted, or it may just be that the stock of singles is mixed and customers will get one or the other or a mixture.  It seems that at this stage there are no sheets of De La Rue printing available.

De La Rue sheet printings are now appearing in post office branches.  The £1.88 (and £1.28 MA13) were reported in mid-April, the 88p (and £2 MA13) at the end of the month.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

End of Packets and Standard Parcel Post service means more Horizon Labels to collect

Yesterday's change to postal tariffs meant little to ordinary users of the letter post, but those who send small and larger packets now find that the Packet and Parcel Post services have changed with some very high increases for bulky lightweight packets.  This is because transportation costs vary by volume more than by weight.  1 kg packet that was £3.50 last week is £5.20 this week if over the size limits for a small parcel.  (More on Royal Mail's website.)

Letters are now confined to ordinary and Large Letters (1L, 1LL, 2LL) and the 1PK. 2PK, and SP codes have been replaced by 1SP, 2SP, 1MP, and 2MP codes for small and medium parcels.  As the size-based-prices system also applies to British Forces mail corresponding indicators of BSP and BMP were also introduced.

Here are examples of some of the new indicators, including examples on white labels so that they can be seen more easily.  As usual the changes exist in both English and bi-lingual versions.  More on this website, where they are also for sale.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

M12L high value Machin definitive stamps WERE printed on 25/01/12

The 2011 new tariff stamps included 76p, £1.10 and £1.65 printed side-by-side on a single 3-value cylinder, with a 68p printed in three columns on a single-value cylinder.  (The stamps are shown on our website.)

Further printings took place through the year including 10/01/12 all with the M11L year code.

Later in the year, it became obvious that Royal Mail would not be able to change postage rates again at the end of March 2012, and that the announcement of new rates and implementation of the change would be delayed. A further printing of the much used 76p (airmail letters outside Europe 10g and worldwide postcards) was necessary.

This printing took place on 25/01/12 but despite the fact that the grid showed this to be a 3-value printing (as above), the £1.10 and £1.65 values were apparently not placed on sale at post office branches, and they were never on the date/cylinder list provided to dealers by Royal Mail Tallents House.

However we have now been sent a scan of the two values from that printing.  Sheets from this printing are not, as far as we know, in the hands of any collectors or dealers**, although it has been suggested that they may have been obtainable from Royal Mail's online shop.  However, as the values ceased to be available there with effect from the introduction of the new tariff when they were replaced by the £1.28 and £1.90 values, I find this hard to believe. 

These sheet numbers (007319-) are higher than the ones we have in stock for the 76p (0039977) so a considerable number of sheets were printed.

It made economic sense to continue to use the D1 cylinders even if a new iridescent M12L cylinder was needed, even if it meant some stamps would never be sold.  (Indeed if what we now know was correct then, that the year code depends on when the contract was placed, which would explain why the 10/01/12 printing had the M11L code.)

But if these stamps from this printing were made available to anybody, then they should have been made available to everybody.  If they were sold from Royal Mail Direct (in Edinburgh) then they should have been available from the Philatelic Service (in Edinburgh).  After all, the Philatelic Service stands to profit from sale of stamps which won't be used, so it makes much more sense for Royal Mail to sell them to collectors.  The gap between the left hand and the right hand seems to be one into which any number of stamp printings could fall.

If anybody does hear of the £1.10 and £1.65 M12L stamps existing with collectors or dealers we would be delighted to know more, and we would protect our sources as always.  Do let us know.

**And note: we do not have any of these; and to the people who read about them here and then go to Richard P in Norwich as their usual supplier, he doesn't have any either!

Following the comment regarding scans of the iridescent code on the above, I'm adding the 76p image which we know came from the same date's printing.  The iridescent cylinder is one cylinder across all three columns so they must all be M12L.

(To wrap up the story so far, eventually an extra single-value printing of the 76p from cylinder D2 was made on 30/03/12.)