Monday 22 June 2015

Slogan Postmarks - June 2015

As you may know, the wording of Royal Mail's slogan postmarks is controlled centrally from their Swindon Engineering Centre.  I understand that the changes are made remotely, although it is possible that new data is downloaded in mail centres and updates effected locally.  Either way, things don't always work as intended and slogans are sometimes used for longer than intended. When there is no special slogan, the current default is used, usually advertising whatever charity is being promoted.

There are problems of working out when you might find a slogan in your mail. Royal Mail press releases often suggest that a slogan is being 'used' on the dates that they are actually intending that it is delivered.  Logically for first class mail a slogan which they suggest will appear on, say Wednesday 10th will have been used on Tuesday 9th - or maybe on Monday 8th on 2nd class mail.

If you want just a single example and a slogan is in use for a week, this is not the problem that it is if the slogan is said to be only 'in use' on one day.  If the slogan ties in with a new stamp issue and you want a first day cover with the slogan, then the date is crucial!  (And there are other difficulties.)

Royal Mail's press release for the Magna Carta stamps read: "The Special Stamps postmark will run from Tuesday 2 June to Friday 6 June and will say ‘Magna Carta stamps - Commemorating the foundation of liberty’. While the second will appear on Monday 15 June and will say; ‘Magna Carta 800th anniversary’.

For the Battle of Waterloo stamps, they wrote:  "The anniversary will also be marked with a special postmark on all stamped UK mail on 18 and 19 June. This will read ‘Battle of Waterloo 1815-2015’."

For Armed Forces Day on Saturday 27th June "a postmark will appear on stamped mail within the UK on Saturday 27th June. It will say ‘Armed Forces Day, 27 June'."

The Magna Carta stamps were issued on 2 June, and the 'stamps' postmark duly appeared at the end of May!

Gatwick IMP (Integrated Mail Processor) - may be in reverse order on square envelopes.

Norwich iLSM (Intelligent Letter Sorting Machine) - does not show Royal Mail cruciform.

This was recorded used at Gatwick on 2nd class mail on 30 May and 1st class mail on 2nd June.

This list (obtained from another Royal Mail source) was provided to me by a reader on 11 June:

17 June only:  Battle of Waterloo 200th anniversary
18 June only:  Magna Carta 800th anniversary
25-26 June:  Armed Forces Day
27 June to 3 July: Dog Awareness Week

So what in fact do we have?  No evidence yet of when the Waterloo postmark was used.  The Magna Carta 800 postmark used at
Gatwick on 13 June on 1st class mail,
Southampton, Birmingham and Gatwick on 15 June on 2nd class mail,
North and West Yorkshire on 1st class, and Gatwick on 2nd class both on 16 June.

UPDATE 22 June 2016:
Waterloo slogan now received from Edinburgh on 18-06-2015 (thanks Robert!).

Chester was (still or again?) using the Royal Baby slogan on 16 June.

And there was a surprise from Edinburgh, a Father's Day 21 June reminder used on 18 June! (Two reports of that, both about Edinburgh MC - thank you!)  Which means that Edinburgh used two different slogans on the same day!

Belatedly we have examples of the Father's Day postmark from Norwich, Peterborough and South Midlands.

The first Armed Forces Day postmark has arrived, from Sheffield Mail Centre 25.06.15:

And from Mount Pleasant in the other format:

First reports of the Dog Awareness Week slogan, on 27 June from South East Anglia (2nd class) and Jubilee Mail Centre (1st class).  (Thanks to AB and EB).

Further reports of any of these - announced or unannounced - will be welcome!

Friday 19 June 2015

More new Machin definitives stamps.

The gaps are slowly being filled - the latest 2015 Machin definitive stamp printings to appear on eBay are the 10p counter sheet and 1st class book of 6.

We hope to have these in stock soon. Now in stock here

Despite the lower image, the 15 is much clearer on this than on some other recent printings.

1st class book of 6 MSIL coming tomorrow, I hope!

Are modern British commemorative stamps 'generally available' ?

From time to time collectors complain that they cannot find modern commemoratives at post offices in their area.  This may be because of the Branch Closure programme 6-8 years ago, or of the current Network Transformation programme.   This sees salaried sub-postmasters being paid off and their branch relocated into a nearby general store where commission only is paid, and which are not supplied with special stamps because there is simply no room near the counter to store them.

Because of what they see as the restricted availability of collectables these collectors think that they should not be listed in the (Stanley Gibbons) catalogues.  I must admit I have some sympathy with these views, but of course there are many factors which make their inclusion mandatory.

1. Because the stamps exist and are distributed by Royal Mail's philatelic bureau, then a significant group of collectors, especially those outside the UK, expect them to be included in the catalogue.

2. Many collectors use pre-printed albums, of which there are several brands, each with its own scope.  It's to be expected that if stamps were not in their catalogue they would not be in SG's pre-printed albums.  If not, then collectors who had these stamps would probably buy a different pre-printed album.

3. But the most important factor is the Catalogue Editor's criterion for listing:
"They must be issued by a legitimate postal authority, recognised by the government concerned, and valid for postal use...  Stamps must be available to the general public, in reasonable quantities without any artificial restrictions being imposed on their distribution."
And therein lies the rub.

With the separation of the service provider and stamp issuer (Royal Mail) from the retail network (Post Office) the stamps are generally available, with no restrictions imposed by Royal Mail.

That the branch network has been transformed so that receiving letters and parcels is a very minor part of the activities of even the Post Office part of many branches (just look at and see the full range), and because Royal Mail do not pay sufficient commission to Post Office Ltd branches to sell their collectables, special stamp products get a very low profile at retail level despite all the efforts of Royal Mail marketing, including social media, which is really aimed at attracting new customers to the Stamps and Collectables business at Edinburgh.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Slogan postmarks update.

For the present, news about slogan postmarks ihas been made as an update to the announcement post, here.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Machin Security Stamps from Battle of Waterloo Prestige Book

The third Prestige Stamp Book of 2015 marks the Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.   As usual the PSB contains all 10 of the commemorative stamps issued in ordinary sheets and miniature sheet format.

All the panes are shown on our webpage for this issue so here I'm concentrating on the Machin definitive stamps.

The pane consists as usual of 8 stamps, two each of 5p, 10p, 50p and £1, surrounding a central label depicting the Monument on Lion Mound in Belgium. Three values are new this year, whilst the 5p value was included in the Great War 1915 prestige stamp book issued in May.

Enlargements of the stamps:

The 10p (Norvic 4010P.5)

The 50p (Norvic 4050P.5)

The £1 (Norvic 4100P.5)

I've left the 5p stamp until last, so as to show a comparison with the similar stamp included in the Great War PSB.

The Great War stamp is on the left and the Battle of Waterloo stamp is on the right.  These are in our checklist as 4005P.5 and 4005P.5a.

The Waterloo stamps that I have are lighter in shade than the Great War - but I don't know if this is within the normal range of shades - but the iridescent layer is equally readable on both stamps, and has a slight greenish tint.

These are listed for sale in our online shop, as a set of 4 including the 5p, with the set number 4005P.5a.

Thursday 4 June 2015

Three Waterloo 200 covers from British Forces Philatelic Service

On 18 June 1815 the Battle of Waterloo saw the defeat of Napoleon’s French
Army by the Seventh Coalition commanded by The Duke of Wellington. This great battle put an end to the Napoleonic Wars with France and was a defining moment in European history.

To mark the 200ᵗʰ Anniversary of this epic clash BFPS, in partnership with the Waterloo 200 Committee, Headquarters The Royal Logistic Corps and Headquarters the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, is producing a set of three special commemorative covers to be released on the 18ᵗʰ June 2015.

These beautifully crafted covers depict various battle scenes and use images taken from painting by notable artists. The scenes shown include the ‘Battle of Waterloo’, ‘The Defence of Hougoumont Farm’ and ‘The Charge of The Scots Greys’. 

The covers bear postage stamps cancelled by the unique BFPS handstamps specially designed for each occasion. Two of the stamps used are from the special Waterloo 200 set issued by Royal Mail on 18 June.

The covers are available to order on a strictly first-come-first-served basis from the BFPS online shop ( Costing just £6 for the unsigned versions and £12 for the signed versions (UK/BFPO p&p free).

They are also available to order by post by sending a cheque (payable to ‘BFPS CIC’) to BFPS The Old Post Office Links Place Elie Fife KY9 1AX.

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Stamps to feature on 50 postboxes across the UK

As widely reported in this morning's press and online media, Royal Mail is installing plaques on
postboxes across the country to mark the 50th anniversary of special stamps.

Each of the 50 plaques will feature a stamp connected to the village, town or city, ranging from London and Leeds to Llandudno and Blackpool.

Stamps on the postboxes include images of Winston Churchill, Bagpuss, Dylan Thomas, Robert Burns, the Giant’s Causeway, York Minster and Sherlock Holmes.

Over 2,600 special stamps have been included in the programme over the past 50 years, with every new stamp design approved by the Queen before it is issued.  (See Royal Mail Special Stamps microsite.)

The full list of stamps and locations as provided by Royal Mail.  Some of these are not very precise, so we will welcome reports of more precise locations, and identification of which stamp (eg Edinburgh Castle) if you find one.
Winston Churchill
Woodstock, Oxfordshire
Millennium Centre
Dylan Thomas
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Llandudno Pier
Tenby Lifeboat
CS Lewis Narnia
Peace Bridge
The Giant’s Causeway
Armagh Observatory
Edinburgh Castle    
Glasgow Tram    
Comics, Beano
Andy Murray at  Wimbledon
Sir Walter Scott
Abbotsford, Scottish Borders
St Andrews
Robert Burns        
Alloway, Ayr       
Blackpool Tower    
Manchester Town Hall
Liverpool Cathedral    
Richard Arkwright inventor
Wallace and Gromit    
Eddystone Lighthouse
Met Office        
Abbotsbury Swannery
Abbotsbury, Dorset
Chamberlain Square    
Biddulph Grange    
Severn Valley Railway
Worcester Kidderminster
William Shakespeare
Stratford upon Avon
Charles Darwin    
Leicester University    
The Oak Stamp    
Ely Cathedral        
E-type Jaguar    
Max Perutz        
York Minster        
High Level Bridge    
Nicola Adams Olympics
Jessica Ennis Olympics
The Deep        
Lake District
World Wildlife Fund    
Magna Carta        
Queen’s Jubilee stamp
50th ann of the BBC    
Portland Place, London
Sherlock Holmes    
Baker St, London
Mary Seacole        
Brixton, London

Sad to note the absence of Wales and Northern Ireland from this list when there have been plenty of stamps with identifiable locations in both.

And a warning to all bloggers - don't rely on the press release being correct. After I alerted RM through social media to the absence of Llandudno, the site was updated with the missing locations, including Woodstock, and Wales and Northern Ireland. Didn't occur to me to actually count the number of lines in the table!

UPDATE 8 June 2015
Brian has sent details of another postbox which has a plate on it (see right).  This is in London's Fleet Street, near the old Daily Express building.

"This plaque commemorates the bicentenary of the birth of Anthony Trollope(1815-1882) who introduced pillar boxes to the United Kingdom in 1852.

In 1855 this street became one of the first in London to have a pillar box." 

Royal Mail are using social media to keep people updated.  A lot of links are in the 'comments' below; I don't have time to add all the pictures to the blog at this time, but may do a page later. Thanks to our Anonymous contributors.