Tuesday 20 January 2015

Greetings / Smilers Issue news - Generic Stamp Sheet temporary shortage; MS printers

This sheet is issued today, along with a miniature sheet and retail booklet.

Some collectors have got the impression from Tallents House that this is sold out and will not be replaced.

A Royal Mail spokesman has told me that the current stocks are indeed exhausted temporarily.  It is inconceivable that they would not get more stocks of something that was unavailable for casual sale by phone and from the website shop on the day of issue.  When I have more news I will add it here.

UPDATE 28 January.  Apparently Royal Mail reduced the print run compared to normal Generic Sheets because of low levels of sales previously, to improve stock efficiency. However the stamp trade pre-sale orders were far more than is normal for this type of product.(1)

Also, I understand that stocks were sent to some Post Office Branches which did not normally get Generic Sheets.(2)
 A collector at our club asked if I could supply one of these which was not supplied to him on his standing order.  He showed me this page from Royal Mail's 'Featured' brochure, which was delivered on Saturday 24th.

(1) Because there will be space for these in some pre-printed albums, dealer demand would have been higher.   Pre-printed albums tend not to have space for the single stamps from, for instance, each new Lunar New Year sheet stamps because the latest one is the same as the first - or at least uses the same basic stamp.

(2) I suspect the same reasoning may be behind increased distribution to POs.  It is a totally new product and Royal Mail may well have increased the coverage for publicity purposes.

The miniature sheet is printed by International Security Printers (Cartor).  John F has pointed out that all the publicity images, including the one that we have used and the one currently on Royal Mail's website shop show a mock-up of the sheet which seems to be printed by De La Rue, according to the FSC numbers on the margins.  The bar-code and short-name are also different.

Publicity image, FSC code C020244

Scan of actual sheet FSC code C100572

Using library or design-studio images is fine up to a point.  That point is reached when you start to sell the stamps, or offer them to others to sell.  Of course dealers can scan their own, but when we are provided with 300 dpi images it ought to make sense to use those.  Apparently not !


  1. It is also without the ellipses.

  2. Interesting to note that the presentation pack & the fdc have no barcode tab & no sign of there having been one.

    ie. no sign of the serrations that are present on orders for just the mini sheet which is as shown in your scan.

    1. Royal Mail made it clear last year that their FDCs and pack would have no barcode but the mint sheet would have; this applied to MS sold in POs as well as from Tallents House.

      Other FDCs may exist in either format,and of course collectors can do FDCs in both formats.

    2. I obviously missed R.M.s report Ian so thank you for clearing that up. My order was from Tallents House & was for (amongst other things) a presentation pack, 2 mini sheets, booklets, generic sheet & an FDC. It made for instant recognition that there was a difference between, on the one hand, the FDC & presentation pack & on the other, the mini sheet alone. If the one has no barcode tab & the other has then does this mean 2 different album places (I'm thinking SG/Davo block pages particularly but it could include others) given my original observation regarding serrations or lack of evidence there of.

      I know this is taking being pedantic to a new level but there are those that would argue that it makes a difference since a mini sheet with the tab removed would show signs of this, which the tab-less can't. Presumably they must come from 2 different types of sheet or coil, to start with?

      Of course we are all free to collect & enjoy as we wish & does it really matter anyway but that gives something to debate. Happy collecting one & all & thanks to Ian & John for all their hard work in keeping us abreast of news.

  3. Thank you so much for the update on the generic sheet, I will keep my eyes on this post all the time from now on, thank you!

  4. Thanks anonymous re debate on barcodes or not. I collected both last year (apart from Xmas which wasn't in the PP so not the same and only one variety i.e. barcode). Just bought both versions again for the Smilers issued yesterday - but still not clear whether it's worth bothering getting both or not?

  5. Re. Anonymous at 17:27 Minisheets and barcodes. Last year (2014) SG/Davo Luxury album only had a space for the Christmas 2014 minisheet with barcode strip.
    Ian - talking minisheets, any idea whatever happened to the 'series' for sporting achievements? Currently Andy Murray is in a series of just one! Do you know from your contacts in RM if this has this idea just faded away like the Smilers/Packs for Kids sheets of which I thought there were planned to be a lot more?

    1. Royal Mail's statement on barcodes last June was:

      "Following a request from Post Office Ltd to apply barcodes on all products we supplied minisheets with barcodes
      to Post Office Ltd for the recent Buckingham Palace and Great British Film minisheets. The traditional version,
      without barcode, was supplied to TH for these two minisheets.

      After reviewing this trial, and with effect from the Seaside Architecture stamp issue, all minisheets sold as mint
      from Tallents House will be the barcoded version. As the minisheets are simply guillotined and in order to protect
      the aesthetics of the products, non barcoded minisheets will still be used by Tallents House for the production of
      First Day Covers, Presentation Packs and Annual Products with effect from the Seaside Architecture stamp issue."

      So the standard practice is that MS supplied mint will have tabs, those in packs and annual products, and on FDCs will not.

      Subsequently mini sheets were available with and without barcode tabs for
      - Buckingham Palace
      - Great British Film
      - Seaside Architecture
      - Christmas
      - Smilers

      As for Sporting Achievements, I guess there has to be something worthwhile first, and then agreement has to be reached between RM, the relevant sporting body, and the player or players involved.

      Smilers for Kids was a foolish idea from the outset! See http://www.norphil.co.uk/2008/10b-smilers_for_kids.htm and http://blog.norphil.co.uk/2010/08/smilers-for-kids-limited-success.html

  6. Thank you so much for the update on the Generic Sheet!

    A quick question please… You mentioned about the 'Temporarily Out of Stock' note on the Royal Mail's 'Featured' brochure, was this 'featured' brochure sent to the public before or after the release/issue date of Smilers 2015 please?

    I am still puzzled of how and why the sheets are 'Temporarily Out of Stock' from Royal Mail even on the release date. Did Royal Mail print too little/too few this time, or did Royal Mail simply allow some buyers to buy hundreds/thousands of these sheets at once causing temporarily out of stock?

    Thank you!

    1. More information added since you looked. Registered dealers can buy in advance, partly for the production of FDCs but also so that they can start selling on the day of issue.

      I suspect that somebody at RM realised a potential problem before the date of issue, but I would have expected a solution to have been determined a bit sooner than this!

  7. Copied from another post:

    On a different note, this is the reply I got regarding the Smilers 2015 Generic Sheet (another area that is being kept alive artificially):
    "Dear Frank

    I regret that we have no date as to when if ever we will receive any further stock of the Smilers 2015 Generic Sheet and there will not be a reprint of this.

    I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful.


    Graham Tillie
    The Philatelic Enquiry Team
    Royal Mail"


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