Thursday 24 April 2014

Spring break.

Our office will be closed from now until 13 May.  There will be no posts unless something monumental happens when I will call a sub from the bench.

Comments may be added to existing posts, but I will not spend a lot of time looking at email, so please be patient if your comment does not appear until mid-May.

Meanwhile thank you all for your support so far this year: the hunt for NCR machines and for the stamps in use over the Tariff Change was quite fun - at least it appears that you enjoyed going around to different POs to see what was going on.

So now relax, and we'll pick up again in a while.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Another change to Post and Go on Monday 28th April

Readers will recall that the late decision to retain the 10g Worldwide and Postcard rate in the April 2014 tariff has caused some confusion over the validity of Post and Go stamps and the monetary value of older Faststamps and booklet stamps.

Now there is an unofficial report that there will be a further change on Monday 28 April*:

The Europe 20g NVI will change to show Euro 20g/World 10g. The value of the stamp remains 97p. No picture of this layout has been seen, and it's difficult to envisage just how this will be shown.  Also it is not clear whether this applies only to NCR machines and that at the BPMA or to all machines including Wincor-Nixdorf.  I shall be in Inverness on Monday, so will find out first hand what happens there.

More news as we get it, but look out for these at your Post and Go office next week.


* This was confirmed in an announcement from Royal Mail, but as everybody by now knows, this change was only effected on the RM2 machine operated by IAR at the BPMA.  No change was ever intended to the Wincor-Nixdorf machines (which are rapidly disappearing) and the change to the NCR machines was - according to Post Office Ltd - delayed due to technical difficulties.

We are hoping for a further announcement within the next month.

The change was implemented on NCR machines on 5 June - see new entry.

More postal forgeries - Red and Jubilee Machins !

It's nearly two years since we showed any new Machin forgeries, and although the 1st class gold are still circulating, it's high time we came up to date.

Spot the difference, on these 1st class red M13L from booklets of 12 coded MTIL

And in close-up

Bear in mind that it's impossible to get the microscope in exactly the same place for both stamps, but one of these is a forgery, and it's pretty convincing (oh and despite the images, the stamps are the same size!).

This Diamond Jubilee forgery, however, is easy to spot, with the iridescent printing more like the pre-issue publicity images than the real thing.  The 'perforations' are so wrong it rather makes you wonder why they bothered with the elliptical perforation at all, and the portrait is just wrong!

Can anybody NOT tell which is which ?

Happy St George's Day ! - and other news

Royal Mail intelligent letter processing offices applied a special slogan postmark yesterday for mail to be delivered today marking the English Saint's Day, here used at Tyneside Mail Centre (Newcastle Sunderland).

Other news:

Romford MC is stuck in the past and is still congratulating Rosie Hargreaves who won the Royal Mail Christmas Stamp design competition, this one dated 22 March 2014

And proof that not only are modern commemoratives used on social mail, but also that they are used early in some cases.  Here's the Barbara Ward 'Remarkable Lives' stamp used at South Midland Mail Centre on 24 March, the day before it's official issue.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Post and Go Puzzles at Truro

When is a set not a set?  When the Post and Go machine dispenses something really strange!

I've been sent these photocopies from Truro, where Birds 3 was still available on 10 April 2014.  Truro is undergoing refurbishment in anticipation of NCR machines being installed, with little lighting and a skip near the front door!  This may have affected the power supply causing the time in these receipts to suggest that the office was open in the late evening (23:07 !)

The collector used three separate transactions to buy one Collectors Set, one set of 6 x Europe 60g, and one set of 6 x Worldwide 60g.

All went well with the first set - all 6 values, on all 6 birds - session 33082

Session 33083 dispensed 6 at Europe up to 60g

In this case the Mute Swan has flown, and an extra Great Crested Grebe stamp makes up the set, so Grebes are in position 01 and 06. (right)

Note that there is damage to the surface of stamp 06, with the Queens' head missing, and some damage above the back of the bird.   Currently rolls are sealed with a small piece of peelable label, which - with care - can be removed without damaging the surface of the stamp. But if this roll is the remainder of one part-used when originally issued it could have been taped closed with totally different tape.

But why was the Grebe where the Swan should be?  The most likely explanation is that the Swan was damaged and was replaced by a different stamp from the (new) beginning of the roll.

Worldwide up to 60g strip of 6 produced in session 33084

How, then, can we explain a similar occurrence on here in which the Mallard (next in sequence after the substituted Grebe) was substituted for another Swan?

And there is another puzzle with the Worldwide strip: the receipt states that some items could not be printed - yet they all were, AND the message at the foot of the receipt states that 1 set of Letter Worldwide was presented !

Unfortunately the collector was buying so many different stamps that he didn't have a chance to examine everything until he got home.  Only then did he see these anomalies!

And I have absolutely no doubt that the collector concerned was not involved in interfering with the roll to change the sequence before printing.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games stamps to be issued in July

Royal Mail to launch special stamps to mark Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games 

Royal Mail will launch a special set of stamps in July to mark the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The vivid stamps will feature the sports of swimming, cycling, squash, judo, netball and athletics. Only the design of the airmail to Europe stamp (up to 60g) featuring netball is being released at this time today.

UPDATE: The full set of 6 has now appeared in the Royal Mail Philatelic Bulletin but we have not yet been granted permission to show them.  Postmarks etc are shown on our webpage.

UPDATE 4 July: Images of all the stamps, and other associated products are now shown on Royal Mail's online shop

All the images are now shown on our website.

The designs show Judo, Swimming, Marathon, Squash, Netball and Para-Sport Track Cycling.

The stamps will go on sale three months from today on July 17, six days before the Games begin. Customers can register their interest to buy the stamps at 

Andrew Hammond, Head of Stamps and Collectibles at Royal Mail, said: “Royal Mail is delighted to be issuing special stamps for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. We are sure that they will capture the imagination of people in Scotland and the UK as well as all those athletes who will be in Glasgow and want to send mail back home.”

“The Commonwealth Games is the third-biggest multi-sport competition in the world and the special stamp issue will be a lasting reminder of the occasion.”

Ty Speer, Glasgow 2014 Deputy Chief Executive, said: “The unveiling of these special stamps to mark Glasgow’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games is an exciting moment and will appeal both to people sending mail during the Games as well as those collectors seeking a lasting souvenir of the event.”

The stamps have created by Dutch illustrator Nanette Hoogslag. The original photography is by Andy Hooper, the chief sports photographer of the Daily Mail.

Norvic shop unaffected by Heartbleed Virus.

"Heartbleed Virus"

Our shop site (which uses encryption) is not affected by the Heartbleed security vulnerability.  Also, the main website ( does not need/use encryption and is thus completely unaffected by this issue.  You may shop with confidence at paying via paypal or manually (as many people have done over the last week since this news broke).

This blog is hosted by Google and if you use a Google password, or any other password (Wordpress etc) to leave comments, you should take appropriate action as announced by that organisation.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Spectacular Buckingham Palace Prestige Book and Miniature Sheet Errors

It's many years since we had any tasty errors from Prestige Stamp Books.  Back in 2007-9 it seemed to be happening all the time giving the impression that 'normal' books might be the rare ones!

The Machin Anniversary PSB was the biggest mess with multiple errors, but there were several others at that time including the Regional Stamps Anniversary, and in 2009 the Darwin PSB.

But today a lucky collector - who has one PSB on standing order and ordered two extra - found that the extra two in his delivery from Royal Mail's bureau both have pane 4 inverted!

For the last prestige book Enschede had the definitive pane flipped when they perforated it (or had the perforator inverted), now they have processed at least one sheet of stamps inverted.  That's Winston Churchill on the balcony... almost invites a caption competiton, doesn't it?

As usual, we will be pleased to hear of any more of these - or any other - errors on this book.

Meanwhile it seems that lightning does strike twice, even if the events are 5 years apart!

Back in September 2008 one of our readers was lucky enough to find the Regional Anniversary PSB with one pane duplicated:

Now the same collector has bought this Buckingham Palace miniature sheet, from the same post office!

As you can see, the sheet has not been trimmed at the left (the cutting guide line is shown 1mm into the coloured design), so the bar-code, FSC certification and short name are all present.  Like the Buckingham Palace PSB, the miniature sheet is printed by Enchede.

How lucky can some people be?  But it could as easily be you - visit your local post office and see what they have!

It now appears that all the stock in Post Office branches is with the selvedge (which is rouletted to allow separation) while that which came from Tallents House has the selvedge removed!

Updated list of Machin definitives issued in 2014 - new counter sheet stamps

I can now show pictures of some of the new counter sheet Machin definitives which have been added to the shop today.

The 10p, 20p and £1 values with M14L code, the first two from cylinders D2, the £1 from D1, are in stock. The 1st class and 1st Large counter sheets are expected soon.  Also added to the shop today are the 1st class from booklets of 12 and the 2nd class Large business sheet.

10p sheet

Close-ups of 10p, 20p and £1.
Printing dates 07/03/14, 14/03/14 and 10/03/14

Close ups of 1st class and 1st class Large (added 17 April)
Printing dates are 17/03/4 and 18/03/14 respectively

Machins first issued or discovered in 2014  - 20 so far !

2931R.2W - 2nd class coil 10,000 printed by Walsall - M12L MRIL

4002P.3E - 2p From Classic Locomotives of the UK prestige stamp book M13L MPIL
4005P.3F - 5p ditto.  4005P.3E was in the Merchant Navy PSB with inverted perforations

2911.4 - 2nd class counter sheet

3081 - 81p holly green
3097 - 97p purple heather
3147 -  £1.47 dove grey
3215 -  £2.15 marine turquoise

2913B.4 - 2nd class Large business sheet MBIL
2936.4  - 1st class red MTIL from booklet of 12

4010P.4 -  10p MPIL from Buckingham Palace PSB
4020P.4  - 20p  MPIL from Buckingham Palace PSB
4100P.4  -  £1 MPIL from Buckingham Palace PSB
2936C.4  - 1st class MCIL from Buckingham Palace mixed retail booklet

3010.4  -  10p M14L/MAIL from counter sheet
3020.4  -  20p M14L/MAIL from counter sheet
3101.4  -  £1 wood-brown M14L/MAIL from counter sheet

(3128.4) - £1.28 M14L/MAIL green from counter sheet
2914.4 - 1st  M14L/MAIL class counter sheet
2916.4 - 1st Large M14L/MAIL counter sheet

Monday 14 April 2014

Special Slogan Postmark in Scotland for Homecoming 2014

Scottish mail will carry a special Royal Mail postmark to celebrate Homecoming 2014 – a year-long programme of events and activities that showcase all that is great about the country.

The new postmark will be used on all Scottish mail being posted through the three main mail centres in April and in October as celebrations gear up and reach their peak in the autumn.

The postmark is in use from 13 - 30 April and for the whole of October 2014.

New slogan postmark marks 40 years of postcodes

In November 2009 we reported that Royal Mail were celebrating 50 Years of Postcodes with a series of national ink-jet slogans and the re-use at Norwich of a handful of pictorial slogan postmarks that had been used over the years.

Now, 5 years on, Royal Mail has introduced a new postcode to mark 40 Years of Postcodes.  So what is the explanation? 

Dathlu deugain mlwyddiant y cod post
Celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the postcode

It's not a blunder!  The 2009 campaign marked the first steps in the process when the first postcodes were introduced in what was then the NOR area, back in 1959.  The process of initial allocation of postcodes to all UK addresses took 15 years and finished when Norwich and Norfolk codes were changed to the NR format in 1974.

So far we've only seen the Welsh version of the new slogan, used on 10 April.  More information when we get it!

UPDATE 10.00: Thanks to John Gray for providing the English language version, also from Wales, this time without the 'Delivered by' portion.  I've adjusted this to enhance the image.

UPDATE 10.45
I have been told by Royal Mail that this postmark was used 10-12 April only.  This usually means 'for delivery on' those dates, which would mean 9-11.  We'll see what dates other reports bring, to shed light on this.

Intelligent Letter Sorting Machines produce the slogan in this form.


Thursday 10 April 2014

BPMA Post and Go machine produces split strip oddity.

From my brief attendance at Freeling House whilst at Stampex I was under the impression that if the P and G machine failed during a transaction requiring the machine to be opened, the transaction was cut short and the buyer rarely obtained all the stamps that had been paid for.  Maybe the new machine works in a different way.

Mike reports thus:

I visited the BPMA this morning and ordered a collectors set of each + 6 x 1st Flag to use for postage. The sets came out okay but the 'strip' of 6 x 1st didn't initially appear so I had to call the guy from the office. 

He saw a strip of 3 stamps still attached to the printer-throat. He then checked the machine and it said there should still be 100+ labels available to print. Nevertheless, he went and got a new roll then opened the machine and discovered it was indeed out of Flags. So he carefully removed the 3 that had printed from the old roll, inserted the new roll, and then set it 'live' again with the result that the remaining 3 Flags I ordered were delivered but with 2 'no value' stamps as well.

I'll leave it to somebody who visits these machines more often than I do to explain whether this would be normal for the type of machine now at the BPMA.

One of our many Anonymous reporters sent this picture from Friday 28th March and I didn't have time to deal with it on Tariff-change day - and the email then slipped off the radar.  The misalignment produced 'Vorldwide' (reminiscent of the Worldwid error) but self-corrected after about 30 stamps:

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Miscut Machin definitive counter sheet find

It must be many years since there has been a report of anything 'miscut'.  At one time machine-vended booklets were found miscut, with the vertical columns of stamps transposed, and occasional folded booklets were found with the rows of stamps transposed.  Now we can report a miscut counter sheet.

Most stamps sold at Post Office counters are in sheets of 25, but NVI values are distributed in guttered sheets of 50, two panes of 25.  These guttered sheets have the cylinder number, grid position, and sheet number and printing date against the lower pane.

Thanks to a reader we can now show a sheet of 1st class Large stamps, printed on 02/04/13 with all these details against the upper pane.  We understand that a number of these sheets exist, but we do not have stock.

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Updated list of Machin definitives issued in 2014

A number of new Machin definitive stamps will be available within the next week including those in the Buckingham Palace retail booklet and prestige stamp book, and more from counter sheets.

Issue date 15 April 2014 Buckingham Palace

Retail booklet 1st class code MCIL M14L, printed by Walsall Security Printers in gravure.

Prestige Stamp Book - 2 x 10p, 4 x 20p, 2 x £1 - MPIL M14L.  These are printed by Enschede in litho and as usual the text in the iridescent layer shows best under the phosphor.  This means that the MPIL shows quite well but the M14L is difficult to see.

Counter sheets

The following are expected very soon and will be added to our shop when available:

1st class red printed 18/03/14
1st Large red printed 18/03/14
10p printed 07/03/14
20p printed 14/03/14
£1 brown printed 10/03/14

Further printings of the new tariff stamps issued 26 March have also been made.  Date blocks are available on request.

81p - 11/03/14
97p - 10/03/14
£1.47 - 06/03/14
£2.15 - 12/03/14