Tuesday 31 March 2015

Another slogan postmark: Hampton Court is 500

Royal Mail are using another unannounced slogan postmark at mail centres around the country, this one marking the 500th anniversary of Hampton Court royal palace. (See the HCP500 website.)

Thanks to Trevor from this example from North West Midlands MC, I think dated 30.3.15

Update 1 April
.... from Royal Mail press release dated 30th March:

• Royal Mail is celebrating the 500th anniversary of Hampton Court Palace with a special postmark

• The postmark will printed on millions on items of mail delivered nationwide for six days from Monday 30 March

• The postmark includes an image of the palace alongside ‘500th anniversary Hampton Court Palace’

2015 marks 500 years since Cardinal Wolsey – Henry VIII’s trusted adviser - commissioned builders to lay the foundations of Hampton Court Palace. The palace will celebrate this historic occasion over the Easter weekend with a spectacular anniversary party.
Adrian sends a better example from Chester; perhaps somebody has one in the other format?

UPDATE 2.4.15
I've been told that the Hampton Court slogan is only being used at IMP* Mail Centres, and is being interrupted on 1 April only by the 'Comedy Greats Stamps' slogan. Here's an even clearer example from Preston:

Monday 30 March 2015

Post and Go Stamps Tariff Change News

As I mentioned a month ago, new postage rates came into effect today. Whilst the new definitive stamps were issued last week in preparation, Royal Mail Post and Go machines and Post Office Self-Service (NCR) Kiosks could only be updated after close of business yesterday in preparation for opening time in branches today.  The change in structure of the airmail rates required the introduction of Europe 100g and Worldwide 100g stamps, replacing the previous 60g stamps

Norwich had Machin definitive (MA14) and Working Sails stamps:

It is likely that other Machin versions will exist - MA13, MA12 etc.  Indeed MA13 stock was in the Royal Mail machine at Crewe Delivery Office.

But the surprise - and perhaps disappointment for collectors and dealers - was that the location identifier, introduced only with the new machines on 2 February, had been removed.  Thanks to Stuart and Alf for telling me about Crewe and Bradford North respectively.

Mike reports that Mount Pleasant, Camden, Baker Street, Great Portland Street & Trafalgar Square offices in London all have Machin stamps only. 

UPDATE 31 March
Thanks also to Stuart for pictures of Crewe (M002) and Bradford North (M003) stamps produced yesterday with no name. These are both MA13.

Sunday 29 March 2015

Machin Security Stamps coming thick and fast in 2015!

Three new 2105 Machin printings have been reported this week, and we can show two of them here.

The 2nd class business sheet was printed on 26/01/05 - my sheet number is 0372383.  (Norvic number 2911B.5 now available in our webshop but no top panels available.)

The 1st Large retail book of 4 has also been found, coded MA15 as is normal for Large stamps.  The cylinder numbers on these are hidden by the front cover, so careful examination of packs is required to extract cylinder booklets.  (Norvic number 2937.5, a few now available in our webshop: we hope to have more supplies and whole booklets.)

Somebody remarked to me this week that some of the M15L codes on other stamps have been unclear, the '5' looking like a '3' in many cases.  I think it depends on the angle you look at, and the magnification used.  Here are two pictures of the same stamp, with the light at different angles:

The other new stamp which has been reported to us is the 2p green counter sheet.  Pictures will be here as soon as we get them. Apologies, this was a misunderstanding; what was mentioned was a new late 2014 / M14L printing of the 2p.

BPMA Post and Go Stamps to have Penny Black 175 inscription

As part of celebrations to mark the 175th anniversary of the issue of the world's first postage stamp, the Penny Black, the BPMA will produce another new Post and Go stamp.

According to GBStamp.co.uk the stamps will include a graphic of the the Maltese Cross, the iconic postmark cancellation.

Stamps with the new inscription will be available on the 1st and 2nd class Machin Post & Go stamp designs. The inscription will read "The B.P.M.A. / Penny Black 175". The first day of issue will be 6 May 2015, and they will remain available until 7th August.
BPMA has released this picture of the Penny Black imprinted Machin Post and Go stamp, with a reminder that the machine will be unavailable from 3.30pm 5 May till 9.30am 6 May.

 We will not be providing these stamps from the day of issue.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Wincor-Nixdorf RIP

As expected all of the Wincor-Nixdorf Post and Go machines have been removed from Post Office branches.  Postagelabelsuk has reported that the plug was pulled at the WH Smith Swiss Cottage PO just after 4pm on Monday 23rd March 2015.

The following day the last operational kiosk – from Swiss Cottage - was removed to the BPMA store for preservation for decades to come.

I haven't received any details about any replacement machines.  From personal experience I would say that Perth (WH Smith) doesn't have room for an NCR machine, and Kidderminster does but only for one, so I don't expect either office to have them.   The final list provided by Post Office Ltd in November was:

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

Technically this is the end of Post and Go in branches as the new NCR machines are designed to cover so many more transactions that simply selling stamps and are designated Post Office Self Service Kiosks.  Nonetheless Royal Mail's RM2 machines are still designated Post and Go and that is how we expect them to refer to new stamp issues for the forseeable future.

UPDATE  25 March
An update from Roy S - Phoned Carmarthen, Perth and Keighley yesterday and they are not having replacement NCR kiosks fitted.

So presume that all the WHS offices that had a Wincor kiosk will not have NCR kiosks fitted.

Chester-Le-Street, now that it is not relocating, is going to get NCR kiosks.

UPDATE 26 March

My thanks go to a mystery benefactor (who is probably wondering why I haven't mentioned this earlier in the week) who sent this Last Day Cover from Swiss Cottage on Monday (it arrived this morning, obviously treated as 2nd class!)

Nicely cancelled by Swiss Cottage PO staff (thanks also to them!) this has one of the now obsolete 2nd class labels, as well as a 1st class stamp with the datastrings showing machine number 1.  The last machine number 1 in operation, all the replacement NCR machines being numbered 67 upwards.  

If you're thinking that you really ought to have had an example of the Label in your collection, we have a few left on our shop, still at the bargain price of £1.  These are from Kidderminster.

UPDATE 24 June:
The Crown Office at Dunfermline is to relocate to a branch of WHSmith, but will remain a Crown Office, according to Dunfermline Press

General manager of their Crown branch network, Roger Gale, said: “If the move goes ahead the branch would continue to be run by Post Office Ltd with the current post office team, but from within the WH Smith store. 

“This move is part of our ongoing modernisation of the network and will allow us to maintain a Crown post office in Dunfermline while providing a new, modern branch for our customers from a bright, new environment.” 

He added: “The new branch will operate from a newly-built dedicated open plan post office area located on the lower ground floor of the WH Smith store, which can be accessed by a customer lift, or stairs.”

Tuesday 24 March 2015

New postage rate stamps 2015

New Machin & country definitive stamps 24 March.

Pictures of the actual stamps are now included in the original post here.

Friday 20 March 2015

Commemorative Stamp Sheet marks Anthony Trollope Birth Bicentenary.

As forecast in the Daily Mail and reported here last year, Royal Mail are commemorating the bicentenary of the birth of novelist Anthony Trollope.  But rather than a set of stamps as forecast, this is a premium-priced Commemorative Sheet.

Issued on the bicentenary of the birth of Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) he was one of the most successful and respected English novelists of the Victorian era and had a long association with the Post Office.   Anthony Trollope began his career with the Post Office in 1834 when, at the age of 19, he became a Post Office clerk at St Martin’s-le-Grand in London. Though his early career was not especially distinguished, as his responsibilities grew so did his enthusiasm for the postal service during an innovative and interesting period of its history, with the introduction of the penny post and the steady organisation of efficient delivery routes.

One of Trollope’s key achievements was his determined lobbying for the introduction of pillar boxes into Britain.  Such facilities already existed in France and so during a review of postal services in the Channel Islands, he recommended that pillar boxes be trialled in St Helier, Jersey, in 1852. The following year they were introduced to mainland Britain, in Carlisle, and in 1855 London’s first pillar box appeared.

Special postmarks have been announced for the issue of this sheet:

Ref 13381 is available from London Special Handstamp Centre, Mount Pleasant.
Ref 13386 is available from the North of England Special Handstamp Centre, South Shields.

Royal Mail has created a special slogan postmark to mark Trollope’s bicentenary.  This will appear on stamped mail across the UK from 24 April for one week

Thursday 19 March 2015

2015 Machin Definitive Stamp reprints now available.

We can now show the 5 new stamps which were originally reported here.

The 1p, printed 21/01/15 - for sale in our webshop here.

The £1, printed 13/01/15 - in our webshop here.

The 2nd class counter sheet - 26/02/2015

1st class Signed For - 25/02/15

1st class Large Signed For - 24/02/15

New Tariff stamps.

These are expected in stock very soon.  If you would like date blocks of the above (we mainly have one of each) please let me know as soon as possible.  Otherwise if you wish to order the new values in addition to those shown here to be sent in one batch, please wait until the new values are added.  We have sufficient stock of the single stamps.

Known printing dates are:  
Updated 23.3.15 (thanks Brian)

£1.33         26/01/15 and 27/01/15
£1.52         15/01/15, 23/01/15 and 26/01/15
£2.25         14/01/05 and 15/01/15
£2.45         16/01/15
£3.15         19/01/15
£3.30         19/01/15 and 20/01/15

Any more dates found?

Stamps in Spring Blooms Post and Go Bureau pack also reprinted.

We reported that the Union Flag Post and Go Bureau Pack had been found with reprinted contents, the stamp being from the RM2 machine with a revised font for all text.  The Spring Blooms Bureau Pack (16) has also been found with stamps from RM2.

The change did not affect Symbolic Flowers or later packs which were all printed on RM2 machine C002.

Click on the image for an enlargement.

Both packs are available on our webshop while stocks last.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

New BFPS Cover: RAF Leuchars transfers to the Army

RAF Leuchars in Fife, Scotland will be formally handed over to the British Army on the 31ˢᵗ
March 2015. The base will be re-named “Leuchars Station” and will become home to a variety of military units. In recognition of this historic occasion the Forces Philatelic Bureau will be publishing a special commemorative cover.

The cover carries a stunning aerial photograph of Leuchars taken by Drew Dudgeon superimposed with the Station crest and the cap badges of the four main military units that will occupy the site.  This issue will include a limited edition of the cover signed by the RAF Station Commander, Wg Cdr Neville Clayton, and the incoming Commanding Officer of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Lt Col Ben Cattermole MBE. All versions will bear the unique BFPS 3183 special handstamp.

Lt Col Graham Meacher, Managing Director of the British Forces Philatelic Service, said “It is fitting that BFPS should commemorate this handover by issuing a special cover. Leuchars has played a major role within the Armed Forces in general and the local area in particular and will continue to do so with this change of use.”

The covers may be purchased from the BFPS online shop (www.bfps.org.uk/shop). They will cost just £6 for the unsigned version and £12 for the signed version (UK/BFPO postage and packing free). They are available to order now on a strictly first-come-first-served basis. The covers are also available by post by sending a cheque (payable to ‘BFPS CIC’) to BFPS The Old Post Office, Links Place, Elie, Fife, KY9 1AX Scotland.

Monday 16 March 2015

Commemorative Sheets going off sale

Royal Mail have announced that the early Commemorative Sheets will be withdrawn towards the end of this month.

I don't know anybody who has collected all of these, and the price has risen a few pounds since they were first issued.  But if you want these, now is the last chance to buy:

AV001  Territorial Army Centenary
AV003  Prince Charles 60th Birthday
AV004  Journey to the Moon
AV005  150th anniversary of Big Ben
AV006  Cambridge University

Update:numbers of 3-6 changed from 2-5, apologies for the error.

Buy here from the Royal Mail website, there are discounts for some sheets - until 27 March.

Friday 13 March 2015

Free wifi access in Post Office Branches

Post Office Ltd have just launched Free Wifi for customers in 18 crown and agency branches. This means anyone will be able to use Free WiFi in branch with a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

"This is part of #thinkdigital and the trial will determine the ways that WiFi can add value to the Post Office business, customer experience and brand.

"Just go to one of the 18 branches in the trial with your smartphone or tablet, connect to the hotspot ‘_Post Office Free WiFi’, then register with your name and email address to get online."

The trial branches are: Aldwych, Barking, Canary Wharf, Canning Town, City of London, High Holborn, Hitchin, Houndsditch, Kennington Park, Kings Cross, Kingston Upon Thames, Kingsland High Street, Old Street, Poplar, Shepherds Bush and Stratford in London, and Birmingham and Nottingham.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Mother's Day slogan postmark, and advance warning of another!

We have examples of another new slogan postmark in current use by Royal Mail, and advance notice of another for next week.

Announced for use for 10 - 14 March (but these are delivery dates) - Don't forget Mother's Day Sunday March 15th 

North and West Yorkshire 9th March

Peterborough 6th March 2nd class, so for Monday 9th March delivery.


A postmark marking British Science Week is scheduled for 16 to 21 March; again these are delivery dates so we can expect to see the first use dated Friday 13th.

Thanks to Martin and Adrian, and local readers for supplying more examples which can be seen on Stampboards.

UPDATE 18 March:
Peterborough Mail Centre 13-03-2015


Thanks to Barry for this one; also seen in the same style from Swindon.  Examples of the alternative layout have yet to be reported.

Remember also that the British Postmarks Database contains all these and many more right back beyond 1840, and more and better examples are always wanted if they are not already recorded.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Post and Go at the Scottish Congress, Perth 17-18 April 2015

Once again Post and Go machines will be at the Scottish Congress in Perth.  The organisers have again made arrangements to supply collectors with Post and Go and other souvenirs.  I'll not be stocking these and you are advised to make your own arrangements to obtain them.

     Final u                  pdate - see foot of post    
     Absolutely final update - see foot of post    
     Final                   update - see foot of post    

Press Release

The Association of Scottish Philatelic Societies

The Annual Congress of the Association of Scottish Philatelic Societies will be held at Perth on 17-18 April 2015. Once again there will be new items of interest to collectors.

Royal Mail Post and Go kiosk numbers A003 and A006 will be used at Congress for both Machin and Union Flag stamps. Congress overprints will be available from both machines for the Collector’s Strip (£7.68), or strips of six of each of 1st Class (£3.78), Large (£5.70), Europe 20g (£6.00), and 60g (£9.12), World Wide 20g (£7.98) and 100g (£13.50).

Also available are two Post and Go Smiler sheets (Union Flag and Saltire Flag) whose designs are being finalised. The sheets will each cost £18.65 (A4).

All items are charged at cost plus postage and packing as detailed below.
Rest of World
Up to 5 items
Over 5 items
Up to 5 items
Over 5 items
Up to 5 items
Over 5 items
Special Delivery up to value of
£1000: £10 extra
£2500: £15 extra
International signed for up to value of
£500: £15 extra

Purchasers will be advised if the weight of their order exceeds the above costs and additional payment is required.

Special posting requests for all the above items will be costed and purchasers advised prior to sending the items.

Large Orders

The Association is happy (as a service to collectors) to provide these items to collectors at face value with a modest additional charge to cover postage and packing. Where the order (or multiple orders) exceeds £100, we regard these as ‘trade’ orders and will make an additional 10% handling charge to reflect the time and effort involved in fulfilling the order.

Guernsey Philatelic Bureau

Will be attending Congress with Post and Go Kiosk number GG01. This will print stamps with the Guernsey flag and with an overprint. Collectors Strip: £3.73

{Update 12 March 16:00}  Jersey Philatelic Bureau

Will be attending the 86th Scottish Congress with Post and Go Kiosk number JE01.  This will print stamps with either the Jersey flag or the Protected Species stamps. The flag stamps will carry the inscription 86th Scottish Congress 2015.

Collectors Strip (including 20% VAT):  £4.88


Paypal account: dundeephilatelic@btinternet.com. Paypal surcharge on all orders: 4% of total order.   Cheques/Postal Orders in sterling should be made payable to ‘ASPS’.

Orders for Post and Go stamps should be sent to:
Norman Kelso, 28 Applehill Drive, Wellbank, Dundee DD5 3UD, Scotland, UK or use the ASPS Website: www.scottishphilately.co.uk/orders.html

Commemorative Cover 

The Falkirk and District Philatelic Society is celebrating its 50th birthday and hosting Congress. The Society has designed a commemorative cover which depicts Callendar House, located in Falkirk. The House is also featured on the special postmark being used at Congress.

Unserviced covers are available for 50p each. Serviced covers will be available for £1.50 each.

Postage and packing will be £1 (UK) or £2.50 (overseas) in addition per order.

For the covers, cheques should be payable to ‘Falkirk Philatelic Society' and mail orders may be sent to:Dr J M Anderson, ‘Taradon’, Wallacestone Brae, Wallacestone, Falkirk. FK2 0DH - ianma1999@hotmail.com

Please note that if you require a Post and Go stamp on a serviced cover you must specify this when ordering from the Society.

This item and more information on the ASPS Congress can be viewed at www.scottishphilately.co.uk

Updated: Now, here's a thing.  When the Congress organisers first sent me information to publish - which I am quite happy to do - they had had 'official' information about the machines to be taken to Perth.  But machine A004 was included, rather than A006, and the UK prices quoted were then current prices, which would increase as usual by April 17th.  There was also a discrepancy with the content of the Guernsey machine which, as we know had different service indicators at Stampex to those originally publicised by Guernsey Post.

The organisers have not received a requested update from official sources, so the Press Release above is based on logic and a bit of 'digging'.  But further exploration of the IAR site has quite different information, which cannot be verified from official sources.

According to the Events page on that site, machines A003 and A006 will be in Perth, and so will JE01 dispensing Jersey Flag and Threatened Species.  And on the 'Kiosks' page, no future events are shown for GG01 of Guernsey Post.

Update: Via Twitter, Jersey have confirmed the revised information in the body of the post.  Guernsey have now replied that they will not have a machine in Perth.

  Last update  -  18 March 2015 / 09:55
Although not yet announced by Royal Mail, pre-order facilities are now available. I originally said that this would be for the B001 machine, although as the form indicated A003 and A006 I changed it. Now, I'm told that it pre-orders are for B001 only.   As you have to collect them at Perth, it seems sensible to ignore the uncertainty and buy them from the A machines.  But if you do want to get them from B001 you can do so via the IAR website here.
This covers Royal Mail stamps and Smilers Sheets but not the Jersey stamps. 

Post and Go, Museums, Exhibitions and availability

A round-up of news from various sources including regular contributors and the Royal Mail Philatelic Bureau.  Thanks to all who have sent information or links.

Another Museum from the Navy Group.

Royal Mail have announced that a new Post and Go machine will go live at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton in Somerset 'later this month', ie March 2015.  The inscription will be 'The FAAM'.  This is expected to be machine A004, retired from mobile/exhibition use.  According to the IAR website, collectors and dealers visiting the (Salisbury) stamp fair at Andover on 14/15 March should not expect to find the machine running at Yeovilton that weekend.

More information and pictures in due course.  We will not be stocking these.

30th Asian International Stamp Exhibition Taipei 24-28 April

According to the Philatelic Bulletin a Post and Go machine will be at Taipei but will not be dispensing stamps. It will be part of the International Security Printers stand, and will dispense non-postal commemorative labels.

These will not be available from Royal Mail Tallents House.  We look forward to showing examples if any of our contributors are going to Taipei.  (See note at end.)

70th Anniversary of VE Day

Machines A002 and A005, located at Portsmouth's National Museum of the Royal Navy and Southsea's Royal Marines Museum respectively will carry the additional inscription 'VE Day 70' from 8 May to 29 May 2015.

Given the installation of A004 at Yeovilton in March it would be surprising if the Fleet Air Arm Museum did not also mark this anniversary.

We will not be stocking these.

International Stamp Exhibition Essen 7 - 9 May

Royal Mail will be attending the Essen show for the first time on 7-9 May 2015. Union Flag and Machin designs will be available on machine A006 with a ‘Messe Essen 7-9 May 2015’ overprint.

Guernsey Post will also attend with machine GG01, vending the Guernsey Flag and Union Flag designs.

Unlike the shows at Melbourne and Philakorea no GB versions will be made available from Tallents House.  We will not be stocking these, but we have a contact who will take orders for Taipei and EssenPlease ask if you are interested.

Saturday 7 March 2015

First wave of Machin security definitive stamps with M15L year codes

Well, perhaps 'first' is misleading as we had some in the Alice in Wonderland Retail and Innovative Britain Prestige Books, but these are the first stamps not part of a new issue.

We don't have them yet but some have appeared on ebay.  The full list of new counter sheet stamps, which I will show here and list on our shop are as follows:

1p printed 21/01/15 - Norvic 3001.5

2nd class printed 26/02/15 - Norvic 2911.5

1st Signed For printed 25/02/15 - Norvic 2991.5

1st Large Signed For printed 24/02/15 - Norvic 2992.5

£1 printed 13/01/15 - Norvic 3101.5

As £1 is the new Europe 20g Worldwide 10g letter rate it seems likely that the 22/12/14 printing of the 97p was the last and - if properly planned - was large enough to last until the new rate comes into effect at the end of March.

Friday 6 March 2015

New 2015 postage rates - more new stamps than expected

When I wrote about new postage rates a week ago we had not been told what new stamps Royal Mail had in mind.  These were obvious:

£1.33 replacing £1.28, £1.52 replacing £1.47, £2.25 replacing £2.15.

What I hadn't anticipated was that "Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd are working together to provide these stamps as an alternative to Post Office counter (horizon) labels.".

Even had I guessed that new stamps would be produced because of the new 'Pricing in Proportion' rules and rates being applied to international mail, I might have expected new NVIs, but in fact this will be one of the most expensive new Machin issues ever. It's the most costly event since 17 February 2009 when the set of the first security-featured stamps weighed in at £15.75.  This year's set - with no inland rate stamps - is £14!

There will be no new Machin stamp for the surface mail rate which rises from 81p to 85p.   

The new stamps (see better pictures below) which Royal Mail have announced are:

£1.33 Amber Yellow - Rest of World (ROW) Letter up to 20 grammes (previously used for the 88p in 2013) (Norvic number 3133)
£1.52 Orchid Mauve - Air Mail Europe Letter up to 100 grammes (previously used for the 78p in 2013) (Norvic 3152)
£2.25 Plum Purple - Air Mail ROW Letter up to 100 grammes (Norvic 3225)
£2.45 Spruce Green - Air Mail ROW Large Letter up to 100 grammes (Norvic 3245)
£3.15 Aqua Green - Air Mail ROW 1 Large Letter up to 100 grammes (Norvic 3315)
£3.30 Rose Pink - Air Mail ROW 2 Large Letter up to 100 grammes and Inland 1kg 1st Class Small
Parcel stamp (Norvic 3330)

The good news is that the £1 wood brown remains unchanged.  Bad news on Country Definitives is that there will be two new ones for each country - £1 Europe letter up to 20g, ROW letter up to 10g, and £1.33 ROW letter up to 20g.

My apologies for the quality of these pictures (see better ones below).  They are actually larger than those provided by Royal Mail, which accounts for the loss of quality.  Also I can't be sure of the colours; while most of the Country Definitives are correct, some of the Machins seem to close to each other.  I thought the palette had been designed to avoid such similarities.  More technical details will be added to our website during the coming week, together with any first day and other special postmarks that will be available.

One thing I failed to point out last week is that the surface mail rate rises from 81p to 85p - but this new range demonstrates that there will be no new Machin stamp for the surface mail rate.  

UPDATE 24 March 2015 - better pictures. 
From the actual stamps we can see that the £1.33 and £1.52 are the same colours as 2013's 78p and 88p respecitvely.  The £2.25 is, I think, closest to the 5½p of 1973! (Has that colour been used since?)

The £3.30 is close to the 7p of 2004, but the others are new shades of green, only slightly different from the 12p, 81p etc.

Country definitives in right colours, scans of actual stamps