Friday 28 June 2013

Our new e-commerce site: Faststamps, packs and covers added

If you have ever visited our e-commerce site (or 'shop') you will know that for about 3 years, maybe more, we have been writing about moving to a new one.  Late last year John found a new platform at Freewebstore and we have been developing it and adding stock ever since, in between keeping the website and this blog updated, and buying and selling stamps.   The home page for the new shop is here.

We've now got all the Security Machin singles and booklets listed, including the mixed booklets, but not yet the prestige stamp books, and the latest exercise has been to move all the Post and Go Faststamps from the old shop.  While doing this we've added some single sets with varieties that we have never listed before, and at reasonable prices (we think).  So if your Faststamp collection is missing anything, or if the basic collection is complete, take a look and find out if we can help you add anything.   Here's a sample:

Perth Scottish Congress 2013 pair on FDC

At the head of every page there is a navigation bar which includes 'Recent additions'.  This will be updated when we add each new group of stamps, covers etc.  Be sure to check it often.  This is the latest entry:

28 June 2013
All Post and Go Faststamps, packs and FDCs have been added to the shop: some of these have never been on our old shop.   Click here to view.  We recommend sorting into A-Z order as this will group types together.

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday 22 June 2013

Another Machin definitive stamp 2013 printing discovered.

The 2nd class Large stamp printed by De La Rue in counter sheets made its appearance in at least two different parts of the country yesterday.  Thanks to Richard for the images below.  My PO branch still has MA12 stock, but these are MA13 stock - and as with the other values so far available, has no printing date or sheet numbers.

Right hand side of lower pane on the sheet showing no inkjet printing.

Friday 21 June 2013

Olympic gold medal stamp trials, and publicity 'stamps' postally used!

Kiloware can be a source of rich pickings, and not only for the people who fraudulently re-use the very many uncancelled stamps that can be found nowadays.  We've been sent this scan of a 'stamp' found in kiloware - but if you look in your catalogue you won't see this one included in the 2012 Olympic Gold Medal Winners issues.

We've shown this design before, of course, because it was one of used in pre-Olympic publicity pictures.  Who used this example in the mail and where is of course impossible to tell.  But it's a good addition to any specialist Olympic collection - even better on complete cover of course!

These would also be of even more interest to the Olympic specialist, and many other Great Britain collectors.   

The inscription indicates that they were used to test the overprinting process, see the text Leopard Heading - Overprint text trial at the left.

The Leopard head is in place of the Olympic/Paralympic logo.  At the foot of the stamp the Royal Mail logo takes the place of the Olympic/Paralympic logo in the margin, and the gold text there indicates that the phosphor area is 29mm deep.  (Readers will recall that the phosphor is applied only to the white background area, and on the right excludes the area of black text indicating the winner and the event.  (Click on the images to see them much larger.)

The wildlife design is clearly intended to make them very readily distinguishable from the real gold medal winners stamps (unlike the one used for publicity purposes) but we were told that they were printed, perforated and finished on 100% authentic Royal Mail stock.

We have no way of knowing - and cannot find out - where they were printed, when they were printed, how many (and how many different designs) were produced, or even whether they still exist.  We were made aware of these in November last year and tried to find out more but to no avail.

Has anybody else seen anything like these - or with animals instead of birds, perhaps? Please let us know in the comments or by email.

UPDATE 9 October:
We understand that no designs other than the parrots were used in trials.

The Cyclist stamp is still being used for postage.  Although undated we believe this one was used in the August - September 2013 period:


New 1st class stamp forgery - Paralympic definitive

It has been rather quiet on the forgery front recently with no Diamond Jubilee Machins, nor the new red ones.  But the forgers have turned their attention to something much easier - the Olympic/Paralympic definitive.

My thanks to Richard P for sending this scan of a Paralympic 1st class stamp which is an obvious forgery - the die-cut perforations are similar to some of those which were used on 1st class gold stamps.

UPDATE 5 Feb 2014 - some of these are for sale here

It's not clear why the grey printing of the value and Queen's head has been disturbed, this may have occurred during soaking.  But this design is a much easier one to copy than the Machin, having no security features.   We don't know whether the Olympic version also exists.

Update 8 July:

It's no surprise that the 'other' stamp has also appeared.   Thanks to Paul F for this image of the Olympic stamp.  Paul writes: I noticed while handling it the silver* does rub off.  

A different die-cutter has been used on this one in that (even inverted) the corners don't match.

Paul describes this as silver, I referred to it on the Paralympic stamp as grey - I am surprised to see that in the SG Concise the colour of the original is listed as black!!

Thursday 20 June 2013

Merchant Navy issue also honours Arctic Convoys

The subject of the Autumn Stampex issue on 19 September is the Merchant Navy, and consists of a set of 6 stamps, and a miniature sheet.  We believe that there will also be a prestige stamp book, and would not be surprised to see a mixed retail booklet.
If you are a veteran or descendant of the Merchant Navy? Royal Mail want your help celebrate their 200th anniversary!   Click here for more.
This stamp issue looks at 200 years of the British merchant fleet, from the age of sail to the modern bulk carrier and marks the contribution made by the Merchant service. Some famous ships are included such as the Cutty Sark and the Queen Elizabeth. Also featured are Royal Mail Ships, including the renowned Britannia, propelled by both steam and sail, it famously made inaugural voyage for the Cunard line which had the contract to convey the mail.

The stamps show:
1st class - East Indiaman Atlas 1813; Royal Mail Ship Britannia 1840; Tea Clipper Cutty Sark 1870
£1.28 - Cargo Liner Clan Matheson 1919; Royal Mail Ship Queen Elizabeth 1940; Bulk Carrier Lord Hinton 1986.

The stamps will be printed in sheets of 30, being 2 pairs of se-tenant strips of 3 x 5 rows, and individual stamps can be ordered from Royal Mail in vertical strips of 5.

Update 19 August.  We have been told by Royal Mail each stamp is, in fact, printed in separate sheets.

The miniature sheet, titled The Atlantic and Arctic Convoys, focuses on the Merchant Navy’s vital role and sacrifice during the Second World War, when military supplies, foodstuffs and people were transported in large convoys to avoid being sunk by the enemy.

Four black-and-white photographs offer a look at the daily life at sea during this time.  2013 is Year of the Convoys – noting the year when the Battle of the Atlantic reached its height and the German U-boat menace began to be defeated. The mini sheet will be a tribute to the courage of the personnel of the convoys and the harsh conditions and terrifying risks they faced.

The quote on the minisheet, from Winston Churchill, is a chilling reminder of these risks – The only thing ever that really frightened me during the war was the U Boat peril.
The four 1st class stamps depict:
- Escorting destroyer HMS Vanoc in an Atlantic convoy;
- merchant ship passing the Naval Control Base in the Thames Estuary;
- naval convoy of 24 merchant ships in the North Sea;
- sailors clearing the decks of HMS King George V in Arctic waters.

Technical details:
Stamps printed in lithograhy by Cartor Security Print, 41 x 30 mm in sheets of 60 (2 x 30)
MS by Joh Enschede in lithograhy, 115 x 89 mm with stamps 41 x 30 mm.

A prestige stamp book will be included in this issue. Click on the images to see much larger versions. 

Pane 1 contains 4 x 50p and 4 x 5p Machin definitives - we don't know at this stage whether they will have conventional gum or be self-adhesive, but all panes are printed by Enschede, which will mean new stamps with security codes MA13 and MPIL

UPDATE 30 August:
Royal Mail have confirmed that FDCs will be accepted bearing just the 50p, or 5p and 50p stamps from the PSB.  (See further down for scan of actual pane)


Panes 2 and 3 have 1st class and £1.28 Merchant Navy stamps - we believe pane 2 will have the 1st class stamps.


As you can see Pane 4 has the miniature sheet stamps but with a new background which means that these stamps should be listed individually in the catalogues - and preprinted albums.

There will also be a retail stamp booklet containing 4 x 1st class red Machin definitives, and the 1st class Cutty Sark stamp - and, for the first time, a stamp from a different stamp issue, the 1st class Postal Van from the British Auto Legends issue on 13 August

In case anybody hadn't noticed, this is Royal Mail's 2013 Europa stamp, so the self-adhesive version will be a must-have for all collectors of Europa/CEPT stamps!

Official first day of issue postmarks are available from Tallents House and Clydebank:

There will be many special postmarks for this issue, the first will be added to our webpage soon.

UPDATE 28 August 2013
We can now show details of the retail booklet and the Machin pane in the prestige stamp book.  The colours of the Post Van stamp in the retail book are quite different to those on the original MS.  As is not uncommon, colour registration on the Walsall-printed booklet is also a bit hit-and-miss!

This is a scan of the actual Machin pane, but it shows the stamps darker than they are.  However, the elliptical perforations are at the upper end of the sides of the stamp, rather than the lower.  This suggests that the perforating frame was set up inverted in error.   But all the ones I have seen are the same, so I'm not expecting that this will be a scarce variety.

Royal mail have confirmed that the error affects all production:
"Enschede made a late perforating equipment change – they have two different machines. However, each feeds the sheets in different ways i.e. 180 degrees in opposition. They didn’t consider the impact of the change on the product anddidn’t identify the error during subsequent checking operations. The only ‘fortunate’ part is that all production was affected in this way rather than a small volume."

Friday 7 June 2013

Strange errors on Australian Post & Go stamps.

The Post and Go Faststamps have arrived from Australia at last.  We weren't lucky enough, however, to receive any with errors like those shown below.

My thanks to Brian W for sending this picture of a strange occurrence down in Melbourne, where the details of 6 stamps were printed on 5 labels (below left)!

We know that spreading 6 stamps over 7-8 labels has happened before, and not just because the strip was pulled, but this is totally different.  The individual numbering is corect - 07 through to 12.  I can only guess that it was caused by some sort of spike in the power supply. 

Alex, in Australia, sent the image of the '6 on 7' strip above right, and wrote:

"As you can see from the image it is a strip of seven, with one being totally blank.  As the machines have been modified since collectors found they were able to create errors by pulling on the strips, this is a legitimate error. 

I am informed that it was most likely caused by a "buffer error".

It is interesting that my error also comes from Hytech machine A3. Both machines worked only intermittently for the first two days of the Expo, but A3 was easily the most recalcitrant."

Thursday 6 June 2013

Always look at the postmark, it could be worth a fortune!

Whilst most of what I write about these days is mint stamps, I still take an interest in the postmarks on the mail, and indeed postmarks and postal markings in general.  So what would you think of this stamp?  (I didn't discover the listing, it was mentioned on the Stampboards forum.)

Queen Victoria 4d, SG 205/a catalogued at £40.  Nice circular postmark.  To be fair the picture on the eBay listing was bigger than this, but on my monitor the image above shows the stamp at about life-size.

So what's special?  Clearly visible in the postmark are the letters RICKET GRO - and in full, that's CRICKET GROUND.  Apparently in the 19th century there were post offices at many cricket grounds and some used several different handstamps.  Some had the place name at the foot, other at top like this which seems to be from LEYTON, the HQ of Essex CC from 1886-1933.

Other post offices were at Halifax, Sheffield, Brighton, Lord's, Bristol, Taunton, Derby, Dover, Huddersfield, Sheffield, Liverpool, Hull, Southampton, Nottingham, Bradford, Halifax, Tonbridge, and Manchester.  The one thing they have in common is that they are all scarce with in some cases only 10 copies being held by collectors - and cricket is a great thematic subject.

Which is why, although this started at a modest 29p which would still make a bargain possible for a £40 stamp, somebody bid this up to £1,800 !!!

Here's a bigger picture:

It will make many of us look closer at postmarks on stamps which normally wouldn't interest us, I think!