Friday 29 May 2015

Set of stamps picturing closed Post Office branches

Although the programme of Post Office branch closures has reduced in recent years, the move to the 'local' system of combining an existing self-standing branch into a local mini-market or other shop to the detriment of the established Postmaster, who loses his livelihood, continues unabated.  (See This is Money)

This A4 poster was spotted recently in a local church hall.  I have no idea when it was produced, or where.  But it is quite clever.  Does anybody know if actual 'stamps' were produced?  They would be cinderellas, of course, but they would be quite collectable!

UPDATE 31 May 2015
It was reported in the GBPS Newsletter 303 as having appeared in Private Eye for 27 Oct–9 Nov 2006. And from the 'comments' below (thank you Adrian):
Not sure about the bottom left, but the other post offices (clockwise from top left) are:

1. Ludford, Lincolnshire
2. Hixon, Staffordshire
3. Clovelly, Devon

Gibraltar Post and Go Stamp First Day Covers now available - but not from us.

As readers will know, The Royal Gibraltar Post Office (RGPO) joined the Post and Go family when the first machine in its livery was present at London 2015 Europhilex on 13 May 2015.

Two weeks before this, I had asked RGPO for details of what would be available, and received the answer:
Unfortunately we do not have any information on the Post and Go stamps yet.

Hopefully we will have some more info when the machines arrive to Gib hopefully very soon.

Also the Gibraltar Post and Go will be available at Europhilex 2015 so you will be able to purchase them by the machine.
Of course it was the machine in London I was asking about!  In the end, as we found, the stamps were dispensed from the machine, but none were available from the Gibraltar Stamps stand.  There were no 'back-office' machine stamps, and no official first day covers of course.

Imagine my surprise to receive an emailshot from Gibraltar Stamps this morning:

And on looking at their website, I find that they now have stamps with a GI country code, B002 machine number - and they also have first day covers dated 13 May.  But none of these is provided with the customary receipt. The technical information on the website is totally missing, but the FDC is illustrated.

Sadly the most telling part of this is in their description:
Post and Go machines issue a new generation of self-adhesive postage stamps that are rapidly capturing the interest of stamp collectors.

OK, we know that first day covers are rarely produced on the day of issue, being prepared beforehand, or for some time afterwards, and in stock at most bureaux for many months or years.  But is this the first instance of a first day cover not being available from either the philatelic bureau or its trade stand at an exhibition on the day of issue, but being contrived two weeks later?

I suppose RGPO had to wait for the IAR contractor to get back from London (after Essen) and reprogram B002 (which is located in Bristol) to pretend to be a Gibraltar machine.  If the stamps are in Gibraltar, they weren't printed there, and were shipped there in bulk.  Yes, many modern stamps are printed in another country - look how many Royal Mail stamps are printed in France. But the essence of Post and Go stamps is that the base stock is printed at the printing works (wherever that may be), and the black value and machine code is printed on site, the country code indicating the country in which they were printed.  The datastring on these stamps is totally bogus - unless anyone knows otherwise?

This is a message I sent to the RGPO (not Gibraltar Stamps which is a separate company), on 10 May, before the exhibition.  No answer was received, so I now make it an open letter to the Royal Gibraltar Post Office which, as far as we know, still doesn't have a public-access machine (if indeed they have any Post and Go machine) in the colony.

Dear Sir
I am concerned that next week the Royal Gibraltar Post Office will be selling in London stamps which are only valid for postage in Gibraltar but which are not being sold in Gibraltar.
I understand that after the London Europhilex event the machine dispensing these stamps will move not to Gibraltar but to Gibraltar House in London, from where the stamps will continue to be available.  Somebody in your organisation clearly thinks this is a good idea, and certain to attract collectors, but why would you produce stamps not available in the Colony for sale only in another country.  That would be like Royal Mail selling a British stamp only in Gibraltar (or the USA, or Venezuela!), or the Canadians selling on only in Monaco or Ukraine.
What are you thinking?

Ian Billings, Norvic Philatelics. 

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Another new 2015 Machin definitive appears.

The latest Machin security stamp to appear this year is the 1st class Large from business sheets.  Both this and the 2nd class Large have a printing date of 23/02/15.

This new stamp (Norvic 2916B.5) will be listed in our shop as soon as we have sufficient stock.  Like the 1st Large booklet stamp, although some stock has been found, these stocks are very small.

As the microscopic images show, we will need to be very careful next year identifying MA16 stamps, as these MA15 are not very clear.

Meanwhile we have more of the 2nd Large business sheet which is back once again available on the shop.

Post and Go on the move

Two pieces of Post and Go news this week.

Royal Mail will be attending the MIDPEX Stamp Show on 4 July at The Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, Fosse Way, nr. Leamington Spa CV31 1XN.

There will be two Royal Mail Series II Machines A006 and A008, which will dispense Machin and Union Flag designs. There will be no special inscription for the event.

For details of Midpex: location, 73 dealers and the 42 specialist societies attending see the website.

Enquiry Office machine on the move.
I'm reliably informed that, despite the apparent success of the trial at Crewe enquiry office, Machine M002 is being moved from Crewe to Mount Pleasant in London.  It will be removed Wednesday 27 May and after an upgrade, will be relocated.

Mount Pleasant enquiry office, of course, is a very short distance from the BPMA, and between there and the Business Design Centre at Islington, so all three could be visited - if anybody is still interested, that is.

Friday 22 May 2015

The Gurkhas: 200 years service - BFPS commemorative cover

2015 marks the bicentennial of loyal Gurkha service to the British Crown. For the past 200 years, Gurkhas have served with British forces in every major conflict, most notably in the two World Wars where they suffered over 40,000 casualties, gaining renown for their courage and loyalty. Indeed, Gurkha soldiers have accumulated 13 Victoria Crosses for their acts of supreme valour.

To commemorate this long and faithful partnership BFPS has produced a special commemorative cover to be released on the 9ᵗʰ June 2015.

This beautifully designed cover uses images that show the Gurkhas in both their infantry and ceremonial roles. A 1st class postage stamp also bearing the image of a Gurkha soldier (Rifleman Kulbir Thapa VC) will be cancelled by a handstamp specially designed for this occasion.

This will be a numbered limited edition of just 200 covers. They will cost £10 each and £6 of this will be donated to the Gurkha Welfare Trust to help them with their vital relief work in Nepal. If all 200 are sold we will be able to donate £1200 to this extremely worthwhile cause.

The covers may be purchased from the BFPS online shop ( from the 9ᵗʰ June 2015. However they are available now to order on a strictly first-come-first-served basis. See the BFPS website for details (

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.

New slogan postmark for the Irish Golf Open

Royal Mail is marking this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by the Rory Foundation, by issuing a special postmark to commemorate the event at Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle from 28-31 May 2015.

"The postmark, which says ‘Dubai Duty Free Irish Open’, will appear on stamped mail across Northern Ireland for the duration of the event. "

Royal Mail's Press Office confirms that this postmark will only be applied on domestic mail within Northern Ireland.  This picture has been extracted from a publicity photograph of a mock-up envelope.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

VE Day and Trooping the Colour Covers from BFPS

The British Forces Postal Service has announced two new commemorative covers.

VE Day Cover re-issued for 70th Anniversary

Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day as it was known, was the public holiday celebrated on the 8th May 1945 to mark the end of WWII in Europe. To commemorate the 50ᵗʰ anniversary of VE Day the British Forces Post Office produced an official commemorative cover, which was issued on 8ᵗʰ May1995 and sold at the celebrations in London.

To celebrate the 70ᵗʰ anniversary the Forces Philatelic Bureau has created some double-dated some covers from the 8ᵗʰ May 1995 issue and produced a unique collectors’ item that covers 20 years of national commemorations for this very significant historical event.

The covers are available to order now on a strictly first-come-first-served basis from the BFPS online shop ( They will cost just £6 (UK/BFPO p&p free).

Welsh Guards ‘Trooping The Colour’ in their Centenary Year

1915 saw the raising of the Welsh Guards by order of King George V. A few days after the Battalion mounted its first King’s Guard at Buckingham Palace. Later that year they found themselves in France ready to do battle. A century on and celebrating their 100 years the Welsh Guards have once again the honour to parade before the country’s reigning monarch as part of the Queen’s Birthday Parade and Trooping The Colour.

To mark both of these historic occasions BFPS, in partnership with the Welsh Guards, is producing a special commemorative cover to be released on the 13 June 2015. 

The cover carries superb past and present images of the Battalion on ceremonial and combat duties. Signed limited editions will be available to buy. A Welsh regional definitive stamp will be franked by the unique BFPS numbered special handstamp, the centre of which shows a silhouette of a leek, the emblem of the Welsh Guards.

The covers may be purchased from the BFPS online shop ( will cost just £6 for the unsigned version and £12 for the signed version (UK/BFPO p&p free).  
They are available to order now on a strictly first-come-first-served basis.  

Both 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.

Friday 15 May 2015

London 2015 Europhilex Post and Go report.

As has sadly been the case of late, pre-event information proved to be inaccurate or difficult to obtain once again for the London 2015 event.  (See original information)

Royal Mail's 'Post and Go News' webpage was silent about the whole event which meant that we had to rely on the IAR website or unpublished information from Royal Mail, or contact with the postal authorities.

Two days before the event started the IAR site announced that machine A009 would not be at the exhibition, and would be replaced by A004, which would then move on to a new 'to be announced' static location.  The Royal Gibraltar Postal Service could tell us nothing about the Post and Go stamps - not what would be sold, nor what 'values'.  Information from Jersey about the content of their machine varied according to who was asked!

So what we found was:

The Gibraltar machine GI01 dispensed stamps with their own flag and with the Union Flag (see below for pictures of an original error on some sales):

The Gibraltar stamps are:
Local Standard (22p), UK 20g Letter (64p), UK 40g Letter (88p)
EU 20g letter (70p), Worldwide 20g letter (80p), Registration Fee (£3.00).

The Guernsey machine GG01 produced their own flag with London 2015 inscription, and Union Flag without.

The Royal Mail machines dispensed, variously, Heraldic Beasts, Union Flags, and Machins with a London 2015 inscription.  Some Machins with year code MA13 were available on the first day (13th May) but they were replaced with undated Machins which were still in use on 14th.

The Jersey machine JE01 dispensed Jersey Flag stamps with the Penny Black 175 inscription, and Protected Species stamps launched at Stampex.

As before the Receipts carry the logo of the postal administration - except that for Gibraltar which is anonymous.

Errors and omissions

Mike reports that his receipt from machine A006 is dated 10/05/15 - going by eBay listings session 586 was incorrect but the error was corrected by session 606 (see receipt above).

Robert reports: "As you may know on Wednesday at the start of the Europhliex 2015 on the Gibraltar stand the P&G kiosk was printing a mistake on the Collector Set  i.e the "WORLDWIDE up to 20g Value had "WORDWIDE up to 20g - I understand this was fixed later on Wednesday, but as can be seen on the enclosed Photos.   This was still happening at 12:52 on Thursday 14th."
     ... but clearly it had been fixed by the time I bought mine!


London 2015 Europhilex - Special Handstamping Report.

As well as the Royal Mail philatelic stand, and the late announced but unadorned (no colourful banners) pop-up Post Office at the exhibition, operators from Royal Mail's London Special Handstamp Centre were present, providing postmarks on covers and cards with a hand-back service.

As well as a selection of actual self-inking handstamps, the stand also used an American Tampoprint Entrance 90 machine from Tampotech Ltd.  Ironic really, as I had only just posted to our reference site, a write-up on the machines that are currently in use and which have given stirling service at Special Handstamp Centres for many years!

I understand that this machine - which uses basically the same but improved technology and ink - is being evaluated, with the hope that they will be acquired for the handstamp centres.   Improvements will mean that postmarks can be applied more accurately especially on larger covers.

I am grateful for permission to take pictures and a video of the operation which isn't as large as I wanted it to be, but is too blurred at full-screen.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Will this be the design of Royal Mail's 2016 60th Anniversary Europa Stamp?

With the United Kingdom's 'Toys' Europa stamp issue for 2015 still to be revealed - although look at the gap in the calendar in October - PostEurop has revealed the common design chosen for 2016.  And this may be the first common design that Royal Mail has followed since 1984.

PostEurop is proud to announce Cyprus Post as the winner of the “Think Green” joint design competition.  The design from Cyprus Post artist, Ms Doxia Sergidou, was chosen amongst 24 outstanding entries. Posta Slovenije and Magyar Posta followed in second and third place respectively.

A total of 24 designs were submitted based on the chosen theme, to compete for the honour of having their image on the 2016 EUROPA stamps.  Up to 216 confidential votes were received from 36 PostEurop members whose designs were anonymously published.

The stamp motif is the work of Ms Doxia Sergidou who explains that “the main purpose was to show that it is in our hand to create a greener planet.  Thus, I have placed a hand on the top side of the stamp which basically represents anyone of us, actively replacing the grey colour (the environmental pollution) with the green colour which symbolizes environmental living and hope, and in turn inspire us for a better world.”

“The left side of the stamp represents the polluted side and is painted grey showing us the tremendous disaster caused by the industries, automotive vehicles, power generation and inefficient waste.  It also shows how the human activities are negatively influencing the environment. In contrast on the right side of the stamp, is the green side which shows us how using renewable energy resources, acting in a more environmental way and becoming more environmentally aware could positively affect the environment. This will not only have a positive effect in our generation, but it will also help the future ones to co-exist in harmony” adds Ms Sergidou.

“The impact of our activities on the Environment is an area of high priority for European postal operators and the multitude of initiatives across Europe inspired the theme linked to Europe’s ecology - Think Green.  Once again the designers pulled through taking on this challenging theme and produced some magnificent entries.  A lot of thoughts have gone into the designs and we would like this special 60th issue of EUROPA stamp to help build a legacy for the future generations” exclaimed Anita Häggblom, Chair of the PostEurop Stamps and Philately working group from Ǻland Post.

“In the last 60 years, Europe has gone through a tremendous change but the initial concept still remains.  We are happy with the outcome of this design competition and would like to thank all 24 entrants for taking the time to articulate in a special design what is quite complex in today’s world.” concludes Mr Botond Szebeny, PostEurop Secretary General.


The Europa theme in 2017 will be Castles and in 2018, Bridges.... which makes Royal Mail's choice for March this year slightly unfortunate.  Doubtless they will restrict their Europa issue to one stamp to avoid further collector criticism that "bridges are being overdone".

One of my twitter followers writes:
"I tweeted on the 20th asking RM stamps about the Europa toys issue - had a direct message reply - RM are not participating this year."
So no Europa stamp this year, and from what I was told last week, "there's no way we would go with that design from Cyprus even if it is the common design for the 60 years". 
Well, if Royal Mail stop producing Europa stamps that will benefit Europa collectors who normally have to buy a complete set/block for one stamp, or pay a high price to get a set split.

Updates to reference sources for Security Machins and Exhibition Faststamps

In addition to the new Post and Go catalogue mentioned below, a new version (v1.2.2) of the Norvic Machin Security Stamp Checklist and version 32 of Vince Patel's Post and Go Exhibition Issues are now available to download at

And if you collect first day covers or other special postmarks and don't know what this diagram represents ...

... you might like to read/download 'Special Handstamps - The Padcanceller' from the same link.

Update:  See also this report.

Monday 11 May 2015

Post and Go Faststamp Checklist now available

I am very pleased to report that the Post and Go Checklist is now available to examine online* or download.  A tremendous amount of work has gone into it and it is a worthy addition to your Philatelic Library!

After we produced the Machin Security Definitives Catalogue last year, several people asked about a similar list for Post and Go Faststamps.   I made it clear in October that this was not something I would undertake and invited interested parties to contact me about production and distribution of a new list.  As I wrote at the time, "There is a demand out there - who's up for it? "

I'm happy to say that Stuart Leigh has produced a comprehensive illustrated check-list in multiple parts with a section for each stamp set/design - so if you aren't interested in the Channel Islands, you don't have to download those parts.

Visit the website, click on 'CHECK LISTS' below the page title, and then choose the sections that you want.

Part of Title page (right) and sample pages on the machines, and on the Union Flag Faststamps (below).  Click on these images for larger versions.

* Depending on your browser settings you may be forced to download these pdf files, or you may be able to see them in your browser and then decided whether to download them.

Like our own Machin checklist, there may be errors or omissions in the Stuart's list despite the assistance of some well-known authorities on the subject so do use the contact form on the website, to help make sure this is the definitive reference material.

Royal Mail competitor Whistl (TNT) suspends mail delivery.

Private postal business Whistl - formerly known as TNT - has suspended its door-to-door delivery service in London, Liverpool and Manchester and is consulting 2,000 workers on redundancy.

Whistl will continue to provide a service, but will revert back to using the Royal Mail for the "final mile".  Shares in Royal Mail rose 3.3% after the news was announced.

TNT Post UK launched its end-to-end delivery service in West London in April 2012, and by the end of 2014 had expanded within London and Manchester, as well as to Liverpool.  Under its new name, Whistl, it has been delivering to 2m households, around 7.4% of all UK households, compared to 4.1% in 2013.

But the news will probably be welcomed by London householders, companies and local authorities who have been using the service, as there have been many reports over the last year or so about mail being dumped in hedgerows instead of being delivered.

- BBC News, Sky News, Post and Parcel.

UPDATE 9 December 2015
Example of the whistl PPI (right), on a label stuck over the TNT PPI printed on the envelope.

General Election slogan postmark in use last week?

My fertile imagination thought that this might happen, and I have been told by somebody in Royal Mail that there was a slogan postmark used last week in connection with the General Election.

It would have been used on 5th on 2nd class mail and 6th on 1st class mail - and this would have been after the Penny Black finished and before VE Day 70 was used!

Has anybody seen an example?  Please send pictures by email!

"Post and Go" of a sort at Taipei show

As reported here, Royal Mail were not selling Post and Go Faststamps at the 30th Asian International Stamp Exhibition in Taipei in April, but International Security Printers did have a machine dispensing souvenir labels.

We can now show examples of these labels which - as it is the Chinese Year of the Goat - show Goat 'stamps' in the illustration, and have the additional printing:

Goat Label

Of additional interest is the CARTOR caption on the goat, suggesting that these - and possibly our own Post and Go Faststamps - are printed not by Walsall in the UK as previously thought but by Cartor in France.

Maybe somebody can confirm which one of the International Security Printers factories actually prints for Royal Mail?

UPDATE 15 May.
Royal Mail have confirmed that although the labels advertise Cartor they were printed by the Walsall arm of ISP in gravure.  Cartor do not have the capacity to print reels.

Thanks to George Wu of Taipei for sending more pictures including photos of the machine.  George runs the Gulfmann ATM website, covering machine-vended postage stamps/labels from all over the world.

"France's Cartor Security Printing joined with British Royal Mail setting an exhibit booth at the 2015 Taipei Asian International Stampex from April 24 to 28, 2015.
"Cartor provided specially printed self-adhesive commemorative labels (no country name and denomination), and the Royal Mail’s Post & Go Series II machine was public demo during all the five days from April 24 to 28, 2015.
"It's a really new experience about the Post & Go system to all Taiwan philatelic collectors."

Many thanks George!

Sunday 10 May 2015

Another Post and Go stamp error - system reset again?

As reported elsewhere the Royal Marines Museum, National Museum of the Royal Navy, and Fleet Air Arm Museums' Post and Go machines were reprogrammed to incorporate a new additional inscription from 8 May 2015.

V.E. Day 70

It barely needs saying now that as this was a Post and Go machine change involving the Royal Mail Series II machines, all did not go well.

For some reason the machine at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth reverted to the £7.42 set of labels which ceased to be dispensed on 30 March when postage rates increased and the 60 g weight steps were abolished and absorbed into the 100 g weight steps.

As Chris reports, "it was not until 13:56:12 Session 0522  that the correct rate and price was available. In the time before the change £1500 + worth of stamps were printed by collectors."

(Note that if these were used, the 60 g stamps would be valid for weights up to 100 g!)

The stamps from the Royal Marines Museum (RMM) and the Fleet Air Arm Museum (FAAM) did not have this fault.  It would have been especially surprising if the FAAM stamps had had this error as the machine did not operate under the previous tariff and never did dispense 60 g stamps!

Chris writes:

"Royal Mail really have to address this problem of the ongoing errors. It really is putting people off buying these stamps."

... and I can only agree.  Some people still think this is being done deliberately by Royal Mail or at their behest to create/maintain interest.  I don't think that's so.   Call me gullible, but my contact with Royal Mail about previous errors revealed their obvious displeasure at the numbers of errors occuring and their intention that the flow of mistakes should cease.  Well, the errors that have already been seen this year, show that somebody somewhere is not taking correct steps to ensure that the product is produced as advertised.

I attribute this to a system reset such as happened at Stampex when the Flowers stamps were dispensed with the wrong machine number and wrong details on the receipt.   But should it really be that difficult to get the software right?

When there is a change, the ability to print the previous details should be removed from the machine and from the system.  There should be no question that reverting to a default position creates stamps which Royal Mail does not want produced, which are obsolete, and which are an embarrassment to Royal Mail and add to the enrichment of the few people who can afford to travel to the machine location.

Collectors buying in the secondary market from dealers who have made the journey and bought many hundreds of strips, should be able to get what was intended to be produced, and not a higher-priced error, which the dealer may not even have noticed at the time of purchase (as happened with some of the other Stampex errors).

Friday 8 May 2015

More new Machin definitive stamps, and an updated 2015 list.

Four new counter sheet stamps are available from today, along with a further printing of the 2nd class.  

New in stock:

1st class dated 20/03/2015

2nd class Large dated 25/02/15

1st class Large dated 02/04/15

100g Special Delivery dated 07/04/15

An interesting 'error' has occurred on these Special Delivery stamps.  On some sheets the iridescent cylinder number is missing:

The new printing of the 2nd class counter sheet is dated 02/03/15

The list of 2015 issues so far, with Norvic catalogue numbers - 31 new stamps, all MA15 or M15L unless stated:

2911.5        2nd counter sheet
2911B.5     2nd business sheet
2931.5        2nd retail booklet

2913.5        2nd Large counter sheet
2913B.5     2nd Large business sheet (very few in stock at present)

2914.5        1st counter sheet
2914B.5     1st business sheet

2916.5        1st Large counter sheet

2936C.5     1st from mixed retail booklet (Alice in Wonderland or Comedy Greats)

2937.5        1st Large from retail booklet

2985.5        Special Delivery 100g
2991.5        1st Signed For
2992.5        1st Large Signed For

3001.5        1p counter sheet
3002.5        2p counter sheet
3005.5        5p counter sheet
3020.5        20p counter sheet
3101.5        £1 counter sheet

3133           £1.33 counter sheet
3152           £1.52 counter sheet
3225           £2.25 counter sheet
3245           £2.45 counter sheet
3315           £3.15 counter sheet
3330           £3.30 counter sheet

4001P.4      1p M14L from Inventive Britain Prestige Book
4001P.5      1p M15L from Great War 2015 Prestige Book
4002P.4      2p M14L from Inventive Britain Prestige Book
4005P.5      5p M15L from Great War 2015 Prestige Book
4081P.4      81p M14L from Inventive Britain Prestige Book
4097P.4      97p M14L from Inventive Britain Prestige Book
4133P.5      £1.33 M15L from Great War 2015 Prestige Book