Wednesday 15 October 2014

Poppies sold early - Faststamps and counter sheets; other Faststamp news

As previously announced the definitive-sized self-adhesive Remembrance Poppy stamp is to be available from all Post Offices again on 21 October.  On the same date Post and Go machines will have 'Poppy-only' reels in the lead up to Remembrance Day.

Except that things at Post Offices don't always go to Royal Mail's plan.  On Saturday I was told by an American tourist that she had bought the Poppy stamps 'a couple of weeks ago' - so they were either early, or very old stock.

And I have also been told that some London Post Office Post and Go machines have been dispensing the Poppy-only Faststamps last week or earlier.  What I didn't realise when I first wrote this is that the early release was on a Wincor-Nixdorf machine which may have been removed by 21 October. There are few W-N machines remaining and getting solo-Poppy stamps from such a machine may be difficult.

Of course the Poppy stamp was included in the Symbolic Flowers set issued in September and all values could be obtained on the Poppy stamp, so 21 October was not intended to be a first day of issue or even philatelic availability - just the first day that all six values could be bought in a strip, and with NCR 'open values'.

In other Faststamp news, new installations at Inverness (3) and Norwich (4) are loaded with MA14 Machins, brown and blue, with no Symbolic Flowers delivered and (I understand) only 2 rolls of Poppies supplied (for the branch, not per machine).

Based on information from the unofficial IAR website, there will be a further short-term inscription on the NMRN Portsmouth machine:

The Poppy stamps will be available at the NMRN from the 21st with a ‘Remembrance’ inscription replacing the current Machin stamp from 11-13 November 2014

... that is, for just two or three days.  However, advice from the Museum Shop is that these will be available ONLY on 11 November.

Although the regular issues are on the Museum shop website, the short-term specials will only be available in person or by telephone 02392 727596 or possibly email: They are taking advance orders, but take particular note of the following:

The price shown on the Museum website is £15 for a Collectors Strip.  For some reason this includes 20% VAT which does not seem appropriate,  (see also the comments by readers)

The price includes the Museum charge, to people who cannot attend, for the service of getting the stamps from the machine.  My understanding now is that Royal Mail regards the Museum as a secondary seller; being registered for VAT the Museum also charges 20% on the goods including their charge for the service.  So £7.42 + £5.08 = £12.50, plus VAT = £15.00 plus postage and packing.   Explained that way the charge does not seem as bad.

But the appeal of the Post and Go stamps must exceed that of the HMS Victory stamps from Universal Mail UK, also sold by the museum.   To a postage price of probably £4.85 (5 x 97p) the museum adds only 57p, plus VAT of £1.07 to arrive at a selling price of £6.50.

As collectors you have the choice, to vote with your feet rather than your hearts!


  1. And a 2day (or 3day depending on how you read the announcement) inscription:

    NMRN Portsmouth. The A002 kiosk at the NMRN in Portsmouth will have a ‘Trafalgar Day’ underprint on the Union Flag on the 21st October until the end of 10th November. The Poppy with the ‘The NMRN’ Static location identifier will also be available from the 21st with a ‘Remembrance’ underprint replacing the current Machin stamp until 13 November 2014.

    1. Thank you for alerting me and our readers to this. As you will see I have updated the blog, with the information from the Museum that the Remembrance Day inscription will be available only on 11 November.

      I am also investigating the price-setting and inclusion of VAT by the Museum.

  2. Poppy Post and Go from Kensington on Ebay with a couple of sellers. From Kensington (12006)

    And Blanks!

    1. hi Ian

      The NMRN’ fast and go from the shop when I brought the first set were regarded as exclusive as only being available from the museum and yes £15 per strip and £5 tax but it does not end there they then charge £5.95 post and packing and it comes in a large A4 envelope, its expensive and when you consider what you got from BPMA for £15 in terms of a pack then it makes one wonder why so expensive not good news for us collectors

    2. This farcical pricing policy needs to be addressed. It will kill off the hobby if it is allowed to continue. All very well attending the site in person and getting your collectors strip at face vale (£7.42), but that is not always possible for customers from around the country. But then to be confronted with a hyped up price to be sent a collectors strip via the Museum shop is an insult to the genuine collector.
      Is this the fortaste of things to come ?

    3. The decision is the Museum's not that of Royal Mail. The museum is providing the service and I think they are overpricing, considerably.

      The best collectors can do is to ignore them all if they don't like the price.

  3. Shouldn't Royal Mail be looking into this. Effectively a private supplier of RM products is setting restrictions and inflating prices purely for a profit for themselves. This almost sounds like an abuse of the 'franchise' they have been given. Only allowing availability for one day effectively says from now on anyone who gets a P&G machine has a licence to print money - at the expense of the philatelic market and their own visitors. They can print anything they want! This must be a nail in the coffin for the collectability of these surely?

    1. I think it's misinformation. All the information about these is on Royal Mail's website, albeit hidden away in the shop section (where they are not going to be selling them) added into the description on some of the Post and Go products. Dealers have not been told formally, and we are the least likely to look at their online shop because we buy our stock in other ways!

      Every time I asked a question at the Museum the assistant had to go and ask a manager - would have been better just to pass me on in the first place. I think they will be available with the Remembrance inscription from 21 October as Royal Mail indicate, but it's unfortunate that the Museum staff are not well-informed. From what others have said and written, the Museum staff really have no interest in the machine or its contents, although the shop manager and treasurer may have.

      As for pricing, I think there is more to come on that.

  4. The National Museum of The Royal Navy appears to be an all-round greedy institution when it comes to philatelic items - it also sells Universal Mail UK strips of 5 "Bespoke" stamps and the NMRN charged more for its strips than anywhere else - I paid about £6.70 (plus postage) from there compared with £4.35 from Warwick Castle, £4.85 from "Discover Stratford", £5.50 from Birmingham Library and £6.25 from the English Heritage sites. Only Cawdor Castle approached NMRN at £6.40. I suspect that NMRN's brush with philately will be brief if collectors see that they are being ripped off.

    1. The correct 'postage' value for the UMUK stamps is the same as for Royal Mail postcard rate, ie 97p each, and they are sold in strips of 5 which totals £4.85 as I put in the latest amendment to the blog itself. At Bridgnorth (Severn Valley Railway) they had been told to charge £1.28 each, but I suspect that was based on the initial rate in April when RM forgot about the postcard rate and had 20g as the first step.

      Locations selling at less than the current postage value may be selling old stock. On UMUK stamps the Portsmouth Museum is reasonable: if their accountant says VAT is charegable there is nothing to be done about that element. It is the discrepancy between their surcharge for UMUK and RM stamps that I have issue with.

    2. Surely the VAT is only chargeable on the service offered by the museum and not the cost of labels issued by the machine, which are payments for Vat exempt services ( Other secondary sellers such as corner shops, newsagents, supermarkets and other outlets which sell stamps don’t add VAT to the price set by Royal Mail.

  5. All of the above mentioned UMUK strips were issued at the same time and none of those items were old stock. I bought them all within a 2 week period. I can not say why Warwick Castle undercharged - perhaps it was an error - but the price I was charged by the Portsmouth museum was higher, in some cases by a considerable amount, than any of the the other sites and surely that must represent unreasonable profit. The mark up is £1.85 (38%) which is almost double VAT.

  6. Excuse the ignorant question, but…
    If the BPMA and like are sending the order internationally does the VAT still apply?
    The postage/pack seems unreasonably high. If the P&G stamps were used for postage [or at least given the option to so do] it might be more palatable


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