Wednesday 28 August 2013

Merchant Navy stamps update

We are now able to show some scans of the actual booklet, and especially the Machin stamps from this issue; more have been added to the original blogpost.

5p & 50p Machin definitives from prestige stamp book with iridescent text showing M13L MPIL as expected.

Comparison of 5p from prestige books.  On the left, the Walsall printing from the Footballers PSB.  On the right, the Enschede printing from the Merchant Navy PSB. Of course the perforations make them easy to identify but there would have been plenty of other characteristics to look for had Enschede set the perforator in the conventional way.

Saturday 24 August 2013

We thought 2012 was all over - new gold Machin security stamp!

Last year, the year of the Diamond Blue 1st class stamps, we were surprised by the appearance in the spring of the 1st class book of 12 stamps containing gold stamps coded M12L/MTIL.  This was the only gold stamp with a 2012 year code - until now!

The 1st class gold coded MRIL MA12 from self-adhesive coils of 10,000 intended for bulk mailing houses has been discovered on a mailshot from Barclaycard - not a statement, but a circular.  Be sure to check your incoming post and any kiloware carefully, as codes are more difficult to see on the 1st class stamps - and they aren't often used for mailshots.

These are now available - order yours here

Also new for 2013
The 2nd class large booklet of 4 with MA13 code has been reported from the Midlands.
And, just a couple of days later the 2nd large MA13 from business sheets printed 03/03/13 has been reported.  
We don't have any supplies or pictures of these.   We'll add the pictures here and the links to our stock when we have it.

Thursday 22 August 2013

De La Rue 2013 stamp printings with and without printing date, sheet number

As reported on 17 July the new tariff stamps from the spring, originally printed by Walsall with year code M13L were later printed by De La Rue with year code MA13 as intended.

At that time we had the 78p with a printing date of 24/04/13, but we now know that - despite this being an low demand surface-mail rate stamp - DLR started printing even this value before they had the inkjet attachment working, and thus the sheets also exist with no sheet number or printing date.  You can buy these here.

Friday 16 August 2013

Christmas is coming - only 130 collecting days to go!

Well, much fewer if you are thinking of the Christmas issue from Royal Mail, which will be issued on 5 November 2013.

This year the theme reverts to Religious with the stamps depicting again the art of the Madonna and Child as seen across the centuries.  One of these is a brand new design especially commissioned for Royal Mail.  The designers are once again Robert Maude and Sarah Davies, who designed the Auto Legends Workhorses miniature sheet.

The Christmas stamps from now on will be larger than the Definitive size used in recent years with each stamp both standard and large letter being 4mm wider and taller than recent years at 24 x 28 mm for the standard size and 34 x 28 mm for the Large stamps. 

As usual there will be separate sheets of stamps for each value, the miniature sheet shown above, at least one generic sheet, 1st and 2nd class retail booklets, stamp cards, first day covers, and a presentation pack.

Given that the stamps will be taller than the Machin definitives it will be interesting to see how they are supplied in booklets and the generic sheet.  Although larger stamps could fit onto the sheet, with smaller decorated margins, the standard size booklets would be too small for 12 stamps, as have been issued in previous years.

UPDATE 23 October
Pictures of the individual stamps and the generic sheet have now been added to the webpage, along with special postmarks for the day of issue.  Royal Mail have also provided the following technical details:

Miniature Sheet     Printed by De La Rue - Gravure
Retail Books          Printed by International Security Printers - Gravure
Generic Sheet        Printed by International Security Printers – Litho

Retail Book dimensions:  W 89mm; H 65mm

As well as the stamps shown above, Royal Mail organised a competition for school-children to design festive images for a second set of 1st and 2nd Class Christmas stamps.  These will be issued on the same date, and there will be an official first day cover and further presentation pack. Some designs are shown on the page linked above, the short-listed designs are shown here; the winners of the competition will be announced in the autumn. 

Update 25 September:
The Generic sheet will contain 8 each 2nd and 1st class stamps, 2 x 88p, and one each of the £1.28 and £1.88 which means that there will only be one set of stamps in the sheet.  The £1.88 will not be available for personalisation in the Smilers service.

Royal Mail have advised that the new 2nd and 1st class stamps will be reissued in subsequent years, replacing the ones issued in 2007.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Scotland 88p country definitive stamp - new cylinders, or just redrawn numbers?

The postage rate increase in the spring required new country definitives, as well as Machins.

The Scotland 88p was printed on 14/01/13 with cylinders C1 phosphor, silver, yellow, magenta, cyan and black.

Unusually the black had a different font, with a narrower 'C' and with the figure 1 pointing down, rather than ending horizontally as on the other colours.  Close examination of the phosphor cylinder number shows that to be the same as the black, but the phosphor 'C' is of a third type, being similar to the colours but with the two ends truncated and pointing only slightly down and up, ie ending almost horizontal.  This is impossible to show in an ordinary scan.

With the fonts available on this blog, the black C and 1 are similar to Arial, the phosphor C is closer to Verdana.  What you see, of course, may depend on your browser settings.

Thanks to AM we can show the cylinder block from the 31/05/13 printing.
This scan shows that the black is the same as the other colours, but also the grid layout has changed, with the Scotland 88p now in positions 3, 6 and 7 instead of just in position 8!

But this begs the question, do cylinder numbers really mean anything now, to Royal Mail or the printers?   Why were the cylinders not changed to C2?

Monday 12 August 2013

More Machin stamps - 1st Large from booklets has appeared

The 1st class Large booklet has now made an appearance in supermarkets in the south. 

Now on our shop here.

Cylinder details: cylinder number W2 (red), W1 (phosphor), W1 iridescent.

Thursday 8 August 2013

Australia 'GB' Faststamps - how many produced?

I'm trying to establish the highest session number used on machine B1 to produce the UK versions of these stamps.  This is for Machin and Union Flag stamps.

This is the version inscribed World Stamp Expo on the stamps, with GB in the data string, and the session number is the 6-digit number shown - A5GB13 B1-003881-22 (and itemised at the foot of the receipt).


The highest number reported to me so far is 4974

We have been told that "5,000" were produced, but I think this refers to 5,000 sessions.  As it is possible to get 99 stamps per session, it seems likely that 16 strips (x 6 = 96 stamps) were produced for each session, making a total of 80,000 strips produced for each design.

Demand from Europe would have been high as always, and the dealers didn't even have to make the trip to the UK for Stampex! 

Many thanks to those who contributed by comment or email.

Auto Legends Stamps available from Tuesday 13th, not Monday 19th August

As we have indicated in our earlier blogpost and on our webpage, the British Auto Legends set of 6 and miniature sheet will be issued next Tuesday, 13th August.

This is also the information on Royal Mail's website:

However, when you go to the Post Office on Tuesday you may be told that the stamps are not on sale until the following week.  If so refer the branch to the Helpline where the correct date should be confirmed.  This is the reason that there may be confusion:

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Stamp round-up; reports from our correspondents

Reports from our readers on recent - and future stamp issues.

Freshwater Lakes 25 June  [JC]

"Darley Street PO Bradford the new labels had not even been inserted.  Apparently there was a fault with its alarm and an engineer was coming out to fix the problem BUT was not expected until dinnertime or early afternoon.

"Leeds The Markets Post Office I did a test purchase of 1 x 1st class to check the contents. The result was one Union Flag stamp and the receipt shown at right. One of the machines had already broken down the previous day and because the main person responsible for the machines was on leave, a substitute had filled up the alternative machine. Unfortunately she had put the roll of new labels in the receipt paper section with the results as seen. I can't even guess how many misprinted receipts must have been produced prior to my arrival.

"I pointed this malfunction out to the poor lady and she immediately tried to rectify matters but only succeeded in rendering the second machine unusable. Guess what, she would have to send out for another engineer - she wasn't too happy when I suggested she ask him if he could open safes and I declined to hand back my 'receipt' for the test purchase.

"Leeds St Johns PO - no problems, purchased the Lakes with no problems."

"Yeovil apparently didn't have Freshwater Lakes initially and were still dispensing Union Flags until 2nd August when they added the Lakes stock."  [RW]

Andy Murray sheet - issue date 8 August 2013   [MC]
"Visited the village PO and the lady said that, in accordance with the information they had been given, she put the Murray stamps out on her counter on 1st August. It wasn't until 11.30 that morning that POs got a 'broadcast' telling them to remove them as the release date wasn't until the 8th.!"
Update: the sheets are now properly on sale - but the branch has no blank first day covers - nor have others in the area.

Another reader mentioned the Murray sheet at his sub-post office and they denied all knowledge of it, even after he had shown them the picture.