Friday 28 November 2014

Post and Go News: A Christmas outing for UK and Jersey exhibition machines

Hidden away in Royal Mail's website Shop is this news:

Post and Go Latest News
Royal Mail will be temporarily installing Post and Go machines (A003 and A004) at its Enquiry Offices in Crewe and Bradford North from 3 December 2014. The machines will be in situ until the end of January 2015. The machines will carry the Winter Greenery stamps.

These machines will be the only source of the Winter Greenery without additional inscriptions from IAR machines. 

The addresses are:
Royal Mail Crewe, Weston Road, CW1 6AA
Royal Mail Bradford North DO, Inkersley Road, Bradford BD1 4RS

On the iAR Post and Go website, there is news also from Jersey Post

Jersey Post’s JE01 series Post and Go machine will be arriving at Jersey Post Headquarters for the lead up to Christmas. The machine will be temporarily located in the foyer at Rue Des Pres from Monday 1 December until the New Year.

The machine will vend stamps featuring Jersey’s first Post and Go design, the Jersey flag, as well as Royal Mail stamps depicting the Union flag. Both stamp designs will carry the unique location identifier ‘Jersey Post HQ’.

To celebrate the festive season, and spread some Christmas cheer, the Jersey Post and Go stamps will also feature a special ‘Merry Christmas’ overprint during the month of December. The message will be printed on Jersey stamps available from the JE01 machine at Rue Des Pres and the static JE02 Post and Go machine located at Jersey Post’s Broad Street Post Office. The Union flag stamps in both machines will not carry the overprint but will still feature their respective location identifiers.

Jersey Post has plans to widen its Post and Go product range for 2015 with a beautiful new stamp design planned for February and some exciting overprints, the first of which will be available from the JE02 kiosk from the 24 January for one month only.

We will not be stocking the stamps from Crewe, Bradford or Jersey.

From the Crewe DO:

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Self-Service Stamp Machines - now Welsh receipts

Coincident with the issue of the Winter Greenery Faststamps on 13 November, machines in Cardiff's St David office have started producing bilingual receipts.  Thanks to Stuart for these pictures.  As this change was unannounced he may be the only person who collected sets with the Welsh receipt on the first day.  (Most users buy stamps for immediate posting, rather than Faststamps.)

This odd error was also produced !

Wincor-Nixdorf Post and Go, the latest list

Thanks to our friends at Post Office Ltd we can now show their list of Post Office branches which still have Wincor-Nixdorf machines.

Branch Code
Branch Name §
Address 2
Address 3
Post Code
Chester Le Street
137 Front Street
Chester Le Street
27 Strait Bargate
PE21 6EG
7/8 Guildhall Square
SA31 1PN
Crewe Town
13 Victoria Centre
Farringdon Road #
39-41 Farringdon Road
116-120 Seven Sisters Road
Holloway, London
N7 6AE
27 Cooke Lane, Airedale Centre
BD21 3PF
19/20 Vicar Street
DY10 1DD
Model office   ±
148 Old Street
91-97 High St
22 Chapel Street
Swiss Cottage
9/10 Harben Parade, Finchley Rd
South Hampstead, London

* WHS = Post Office is in WHSmith.  § Chester-le-Street is the only Crown Office.
± No Public Access.

# - There is one machine at Farringdon PO and three at Ludgate Circus (see below).  It's suggested that these will be the last four in operation (at least it will make maintenance easier; the engineer can just take his sleeping bag!).

Thanks to Anonymous for providing this. The timetable seems to ensure that no Wincor-Nixdorf machines will dispense any 2105 Faststamp issues, if the POL suggestion that Farrington and Tudor Street will be last to close is right.

Dear Customer
Ludgate Circus Post and Go service
Tudor Street, London, EC4Y 0AA
Proposed Permanent Closure

I’m writing to let you know that we are proposing to permanently close the Ludgate Circus Post and Go facility, which offers basic postal services and postage to customers.

Our contract with our existing supplier is coming to an end which means that the Post and Go machines at this location will be withdrawn from service in February 2015. Alongside this, since the facility opened in 2009 there has been a significant decline in customer usage which means that this type of service is no longer commercially viable in this location, either for Post Office Ltd or the Postmaster who operates the service on our behalf.

We have looked at a number of options that would provide a viable alternative, but we have been unable to find suitable premises in the area to accommodate a Post Office, either from existing nearby retailers or from potential new operators willing to take on vacant premises.
Post Office services in the area

We have therefore reviewed our services in this part of London and we are satisfied that the five Post Office branches which are all within a mile radius of this facility will be able to meet customer demand in the area. Details of the three nearest branches, all just over half a mile away, at Blackfriars Road, Aldwych and Farringdon Road, along with other branches in the area that customers may find convenient, are provided below.

Some of the branches such as Blackfriars Road and Aldwych have recently benefited under our modernisation programme, providing an improved environment for customers. These branches also offer enhanced facilities such as self-service kiosks where customers can pay for postage and send most mail items, including Special Delivery and Signed For items, without having to queue at the main counter. Also available at these branches is our free-to-join Drop and Go service, where customers can hand over their mail and pay with a prepaid Drop andGo card; more information on this service can be found on our website.

Monday 17 November 2014

Website and e-commerce site problems - solved!

Yesterday were problems on many internet sites in the UK, caused by a failure at one of the major server hosts.  

The problems described below have now been fixed.

However, there may be unrelated PayPal problems.  If you find that you cannot pay via PayPal, please select 'pay by cheque', send us an email or put a note in the Additional Information box, and we will send a PayPal payment request.

Apologies for the inconvenience caused: all the stock which we held back has now been made available again.

This affected us morning, and made it difficult to access the admin side of our shop, to add new products.  I believe this is now all settled, but there may be some textual errors in descriptions/titles or images or pricing.  Edits, for which saves had been attempted failed, and had to be redone.

A further unconnected problem now seems to have affected out shop, causing much frustration.  IT appears that the first stage of checkout has a coding problem, in that when customers enter their ID and password, the LOGIN button doesn't do anything.  Unfortunately failure to complete the checkout means that everything in the shopping cart will be lost, requiring reinput.

We reported this to the technical support people who host our shop, and are hopeful of an early resolution.  Meanwhile we have suspended all the latest additions (500g Special Delivery and all new Winter Greenery Faststamps.

Sincere apologies for these difficulties, we will make the new stock available as soon as possible.

Friday 14 November 2014

Stamps Update: Winter Greenery Post and Go Faststamps

Winter Greenery Faststamps will have taken many collectors by surprise because there are only four designs instead of 6, and collectors who only have access to Wincor-Nixdorf machines will find that there are probably only 2!  But this does make the collection cheaper, with a basic set of 4 now costing only £2.30 (although the bureau pack is £2.81), and a full set of 16 from NCR machines having a face value of £17.36.

The Bureau Pack contains 1st, 1st Large, 2nd and 2nd Large stamps.

From reports received so far it would seem that all offices, including the BPMA, received the new stamps. These are the NCR Collectors sets:

Of course they are also available with open values (used on first day).

These are the sets from Wincor-Nixdorf machines:

A number of branches still have Wincor machines, I am waiting for a list from PO Ltd.  The latest I have heard of is Perth.

Farringdon Post Office loaded 2nd class into their Wincor-Nixdorf machine.  Can we blame them for making this mistake?  No, central stores should never have sent them to Wincor branches because they couldn't be used.  I know that Farringdon wasn't the only office to receive 2nd class in error.  Thanks to Dominic and Mike for pictures:

Incidentally, a detailed report on the developments at Farringdon suggests that individual collectors each bought one or a few sets, with nobody getting a bulk supply, mainly because most of them didn't realise the error in time.  Sadly one of the buyers spilled the bins to the staff and the machine was taken out of service until the roll could be changed.  Nothing yet on eBay, which tends to confirm the above accounts.

Balham Post Office was selling the 1st class type from their Wincor-Nixdorf machine a day early on 12th.  Listed on eBay they close on 19 November).   Update, per a comment from a reader: this error was Balham's swansong as the machine was removed today (14th).

The stamps were also in use at the BPMA, presumably replacing Poppies and the 2nd class Machin.  Thanks to Chris for this:

Stamps - but not BPMA or Farringdon - will be in our webshop on Monday.

UPDATE 18 March 2015
I'm sorry not to have reported this at the time, but for the record the Winter Greenery stamps were available in Edinburgh's Princes Street Mall Post Office on 12th November, one day early.

Manic Friday - so much stamp news to report!

Post and Go Faststamp News

Earlier this month Alf sent me a picture of a pair of Post and Go flowers Faststamps, printed in sequence but with a blank stamp between them.  They are numbered 01 and 02 (click on the images to see larger versions).

I had a similar situation from one of Norwich's NCR machines yesterday with the Winter Greenery, with a collectors' set of 6 spread over 7 - except that the 2nd stamp was missing!

As I was buying collectors' sets in both formats (ie with the Holly at the top on some and Butcher's Broom on top on others) this could have had serious implications.  Any subsequent sets would have Holly at the top instead of Butcher's Broom, so matching those I had already bought, rather than being in the other order.  Fortunately this was the last of a batch, but it's worth remembering if you buy several sets.

The assistant told me that he thought that if a stamp was missing the machine could recognise the fact and skip the printing down to the next stamp.  I can think of a way in which this could be achieved but will ask Royal Mail before committing myself!

A more comprehensive report about Winter Greenery is in the next post.

Another Machin 2014 definitive.

It really is no surprise that following the appearance of the reprinted 100g Special Delivery stamp, the 500g has now appeared, with a printing date of 16/09/14.

This is numbered 2986.4 in the Norvic Catalogue and is now available in our webshop.  A limited number of cylinder and date blocks will be available.

Slogan postmark for European Space Agency

Royal Mail have announced a special slogan postmark to mark the landing of the Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko following the Rosetta orbiter’s 10 year mission across the Solar System.

The postmark will appear on letters delivered Friday and Saturday 14/15 November 2014, which implies that it was only used on 13th, but see below!

Thanks to Martin for these pictures and to everybody who sent emails about the announcement whilst I was 'enjoying' myself, shopping in Norwich.  (Well, I had to go to get the Winter Greenery stamps, so saved myself a second journey into the teeming city later in the month!)

And thanks to Bob for these including Swindon MC on 12th

Here is an example in the other layout, which also shows time in addition to date

This Welsh one is also dated 12 Nov, just 4 hours after the landing

The postmark has continued in use after the weekend.  Swindon, South East Anglia, North & West Yorkshire, SE Wales and Exeter Mail Centres.  This Swindon 17 November copy from a square envelope.

The only one I have seen on a Space stamp (with thanks to member

GERMANY has also marked this event with a special handstamp:

UPDATE 30.8.18.  A very late addition to this post as AM has sent this crop from a cover he produced which shows the Welsh 'Delivered By' from SE Wales on 14.11.14.    As well as the 1st class stamp he has used the Joddrell Bank stamp from 1966 (no longer valid of course) and Machin definitives adding up to 67p in honour of Comet 67/P.   

Novelties like this don't have much value to the world at large (unless one of the big cover producers makes them and charges a tenner!) but they add individuality to a collection.  Well done!

Sunday 9 November 2014

Post and Go and other Stamps News round-up

As reported elsewhere I was fortunate to visit Kidderminster last Sunday and buy some different Euro20/World10 Faststamps from the Wincor machine in the WHSmiths branch*.  It seem unlikely that any more new stamps will now be found (other than Winter Greenery perhaps) so it is a useful time to summarise and link to the stock we have on our shop.

Click on the image to go to that stamp in the shop, and click on Recent Additions when there to see the others - while stocks last!

Spring Blooms
Spring Blooms Faststamp Euro20/World10 from Wincor machine.

Machin undated and MA13
undated Machin Faststamp Euro20/World10 from Wincor machine.Machin MA13 Faststamp Euro20/World10 from Wincor machine.

Sheep and Pigs
Sheep Faststamp Euro20/World10 from Wincor machine.- Pigs Faststamp Euro20/World10 from Wincor machine.

Freshwater Lakes
Freshwater Lakes Faststamp Euro20/World10 from Wincor machine. 

Also reported but not yet stocked by us, Cattle, Union Flag and possibly other Freshwater Life.

It's not clear whether the Winter Greenery stamps will appear in Wincor-Nixdorf machines.  The manager at Kidderminster told me that they had not had Poppies or Symbolic Flowers, so it seems unlikely.  The situation is not helped by the Royal Mail Post Office split, the official response from Royal Mail being:

The intention was for Symbolic Flowers to be followed by the Poppy and then, on 13 November, to be replaced by Winter Greenery. Maybe some offices didn’t receive the information and therefore didn’t order the stock.

This indicates that the PO Supplies Department at Swindon is not sending the stock out automatically (although I think they ought to for new issues).  If we are reliant on individual branches ordering new stamps then it may be difficult in the future to be sure what will be on sale where, unless concerned collectors and dealers approach the branches a couple of weeks before a new issue is due.  Even then, it's reported that NCR offices, which mostly have at least 3 machines, received two rolls of Poppies and then were unable to order any more, meaning that some have no Poppies on sale in the period immediately before Remembrance Day.

* For those visiting Kidderminster, the branch is about 150 yards from The Bullring, where you can also find J D Wetherspoons Penny Black pub which serves a good all-morning breakfast and Sunday Roast!

New printings of reissued stamps

I checked Norwich's stock of definitive-sized Lest We Forget Poppies stamp on 21 October and found that they had a 2013 printing.  However, the 1st and 2nd class 2013 Madonna Christmas stamps are also reissued this year (the 2007 stamps having been retired), and the ones that Doug has sent pictures of are new 2014 printings, 11 June for the 1st class, and 23 June for the 2nd.  
UPDATE: Robert reports 12 June for 1st class and 20 June for 2nd.  (21st & 22nd were weekend)

These top-half sheets do not have the cylinder numbers but I don't expect any changes there, especially given the 5-Nov-2013 Sale Date still present in the left margin (but who knows otherwise?)

Thanks to John F for pointing out that on the examples he has seen the date in the phosphor is still ‘2013’ for both first & second class. This points to the same cylinders being used and means that there will be no new catalogue entry for these.  However, it doesn't mean that there will be no shade variations, as happened with the various printings of the previous long term 'alternative' Madonnas.