Wednesday 20 April 2016

Four in line for the throne - MIniature Sheet for the Queen's 90th Birthday.

Tomorrow is the 90th Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, and although most of the special stamp designs have been revealed, tomorrow was the day when designs for all the stamp products linked to the miniature sheet were to be released.

This year is the 500th anniversary of the postal service, and today Her Majesty is today visiting the Windsor Royal Mail Delivery Office.  As the Syndey Morning Herald puts it, subtly, she is pointing out that her lifetime is a modest fraction of the history of this civilised realm.  Some of the Royal Mail Choir are going to serenade her – a choir from the BBC reality series Sing While You Work.

The press have duly been briefed and the design of the miniature sheet of 4 x 1st class stamps has been released earlier than expected.

The photograph used for the sheet shows Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness Prince Charles The Prince of Wales, His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales The Duke of Cambridge, and His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.  This represents the line of succession to the throne of the United Kingdom.

The sheet is again a massive 179 x 74 mm, almost impossible to use even on a c5 envelope.  The stamps are 27 x 37 mm, and the sheet is printed in litho by International Security Printers.

As previously mentioned, the MS is also included, in a slightly different form, in the prestige stamp book.

The first retail book includes the stamps showing HM The Queen and HRH Prince Charles:

The individual new Machin definitive stamps are the 1st amethyst purple (O16R REIGC) from the above retail booklet, and the 1st red (M16L MPIL) and 1st amethyst purple (O16R REIGP) from the prestige stamp book.

These have been added to our checklist which will be published after our break.
The last blogpost listing the Machin definitive stamps has been updated with these.

PSB Pane - scan of actual pane

Monday 18 April 2016

Queen's 90th Birthday stamps - nearly there, and we're celebrating with a holiday!

As you can imagine, registered dealers have a close relationship with Royal Mail when it comes to news and information about new issues.  This is why we know - and have known since Spring Stampex in February - the design of the new miniature sheet and hence the similar PSB pane and retail booklet.

So you can imagine that those who are playing by the rules and complying with the embargos that have been put in place, get a tad teed off when the designs appear early, as happened with The Irish Times for the Long To Reign issue. 

Now we find that the first retail booklet has appeared on auction site eBay.   Don't expect it to be there by the time you read this though: Royal Mail will probably find it and take action.

But come back here on Wednesday morning, as the embargo date has been brought forward by 24 hours and the pictures will be here from 2am on 20th April.

This is especially useful for me, as we will be taking a break and the office will be closed from Wednesday 20th through to 27th.  All orders will be reserved as usual and will be dealt with as soon as possible on our return.

Thursday 14 April 2016

Another case of a missing cylinder number - the new £1.05 stamp

In May last year we reported that an error on the 100g Special Delivery stamp cylinder mean
that some sheets from the cylinder were missing the iridescent cylinder number.

Now the same error has occurred on the new £1.05 definitive, certainly on the latest printing - and probably on the original.

So far we have had reports as follows:

With iridescent cylinder D1
     Column 1 Row 2 and Row 4
     Column 2 Row 2 and Row 4

Without iridescent cylinder D1
     Column 1 Row 3
     Column 2 Rows 1 and R3
     Column 3 Row 3

£1.05 with missing iridescent cylinder compared with SD500

The Queen likes her stamps - whatever anybody else thinks!

For the last 20 years or more people - including some collectors - have been suggesting that it is time for a new stamp design for our definitives.  The latest of these is Simon Heffer in The Telegraph of 2nd April, with the headline 

Off with her head!  It's time for new stamps

The write-up is quite good, explaining why they are 'Machins' (and what 'Wildings' are), but he wrongly suggests that all collectors think the design should remain.

Machin's designs are quite out of kilter with the present day and have, frankly, felt so for decades.... one wonders whether the admirers, concentrating as they do on the fine details of various printing processes, even stop to think of the aesthetic of the design.

He writes that he "put this question some years ago to an official of the Royal Mail who was, inevitably, dismissive of my criticism".   Heffer's long piece (which I can't find online) ends:
Doesn't she deserve something new, bright and beautiful to celebrate her 10th decade, on the stamps that bear her picture?

Well, he didn't ask the right people!  As readers of the philatelic press will know, Royal Mail have been saying for some years (even after the Tony Benn period had passed into history), that Her Majesty did not want change and was quite content with the design as it is.

And ultimately, as the Queen has the final say on whether any new stamp is issued, let alone something as fundamental as the definitive which is most often used on letters and in illustrating newspaper articles, that is that!

Thanks to JV for his help with this article.

Yet another new Machin 2106 printing - and a display opportunity

No sooner has I announced a new version of our checklist, but I had news of two more stamps which were not included!  The next update will be near the end of the month after the stamps from the Queen's birthday issue are available.

I was reminded that the 1st x 12 booklet with year code M16L appeared while I was away in Sussex last month, so I am making arrangements to get some of these next week.

But the real news is that the 2nd Large Business Sheet has also appeared, and this has year code M16L rather than MA16 as might have been expected. The printing date is 11/02/16, and we should have these in stock next week (although due to a long weekend break they won't be despatched until 28 April).

Show it off!

We know that many stamp collectors, even those who collect GB, don't care much for the minutiae of the Machins, especially when they went self-adhesive, and even more so when the security features were added and soaking the used ones became a science.  So when you show your collecting friends your new versions with security printing on the backing paper, do they struggle to see it - do you have trouble sorting them out. (I know I do if I am working too late in the evening!)

The US weekly, Linn's Stamp News, recently mentioned the latest developments and described the new feature as being 'printed diagonally on the backing paper'.  Well, we know that that is not quite true, and this image demonstrates it more clearly.

Booklets of 4 and 6 (except the mixed booklet) have either a blank or printed label on the inside front cover.  Removing this (the blank ones are useful for recycling envelopes) produces a large example of the security printing, as shown above.

I have a number of these from breaking booklets into singles, so if any customer would like an example, add a note to your next order and ask for one.  If I have them available, I will include one in your order, free of charge of course.  A number of customers have already used them in their albums or stockbooks to provide a ready illustration of what is under the stamps, but I still have 11 as I write, and as more booklets are split into single stamps, so I will have more spare covers.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Spring printings bring many more new Machin stamps

As usual at this time of year, there have been a number of new printings of counter sheets, business sheets and booklets, giving rise to a number of totally new stamps.  (Click on all these images for enlargements[UPDATED 19 April]

The 500g Special Delivery stamp was first issued in 2010, and reprinted in 2014, and has now been reprinted again on 03/03/16

Both Royal Mail Signed For stamps, first issued in 2013, were reprinted in 2015.  The Large Letter version has now been reprinted again, on 01/03/16.

Also new this week are the 1st class Large [12/02/16] , and £1 wood-brown [09/02/16] with M16L year codes.

The 2nd x 12 booklet with year code M16L has also appeared (picture to follow).  As expected this has security backing paper.  I'm reminded that the 1st x 12 M16L booklet has also appeared and I hope to have stock of this next week.

There have also been more new printings of values already received this year:

2nd class Large - 16/02/16

1st purple - 26/02/16

£1.05 - 10/02/16

£1.33 - 18/02/16

Some of these are listed in dateblocks on our shop (or will be very shortly): if any readers want examples that are not listed, please contact us an we will try to obtain them.

Revised List
Our comprehensive checklist of all Security Machins, the booklets, and a cross-reference to SG Concise numbers has been updated to version 1.4.3 and is available now.

New additions are here highlighted thus. Some booklets (including cylinders) have been added but cylinders are in very short supply.  This brings the total to 20, with two more to come in the Queen's Birthday prestige stamp book, and another in the associated retail booklet.

2015 Year Codes   (7)

2931R.5 - 2nd class coil - MRIL - reported used, then mint

2911B.5a - 2nd class business sheet MBIL on security backing paper (SBP)

2931.5a - 2nd class book of 12 MTIL on SBP

2936.5a - 1st class red book of 12 MTIL on SBP

2914B.5a - 1st class red business sheet MBIL on SBP 

3745a  -  1st class amethyst purple book of 6 on SBP [O15R]

2937.5a - 1st Large book of 4 on SBP

2016 Year Codes (M16L unless otherwise stated) (15)

2911B.6 - 2nd class business sheet MBIL on security backing paper (SBP)

2913B.6 - 2nd Large business sheet MBIL M16L 11/02/16 on security backing paper (SBP) UPDATE

2913.6 - 2nd Large counter sheet printed 15/01/16 - plain backing paper (PBP)

2916.6 - 1st Large counter sheet printed 12/02/16 - plain backing paper (PBP)

2931.6 - 2nd class book of 12 MTIL on SBP

2936.6 - 1st class red book of 12 MTIL on SBP  UPDATE

3002.6 - 2p counter sheet printed 12/01/16 - PBP

3010.6 - 10p counter sheet printed 11/01/16 - PBP

3101.6 - £1.00 brown counter sheet printed 10/02/16 - PBP

3105 - £1.05 counter sheet printed 20/01/16 new tariff - PBP

3133.6  - £1.33 counter sheet  08/01/16 - PBP

2992.6 - 1st Large Signed For - printed 01/03/16 - PBP

2986.6 - Special Delivery 500g - printed 03/03/16

3702P.6  - 1st class red MPIL  gummed paper from PSB issued 21/04/16

3744.6 - 1st class amethyst purple counter sheet printed 21/01/16 - PBP  [O16R]

3745a.6  -  1st class amethyst purple book of 6 on SBP [O16R]

3746.6 - 1st class amethyst purple from mixed book of 6 on SBP - issued 21/04/16

3748 - 1st class amethyst purple gummed paper from PSB O16R REIGP issued 21/04/16

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Royal Mail April slogan postmarks start with Shakespeare

This blogpost will be used to record the slogan postmarks in use in April 2016.

Coinciding with today's issue of the stamps marking the 400th Anniversary of the Death of William Shakespeare is a slogan postmark also marking the anniversary and linking to a Royal Mail micro-site.

One format from Jubilee Mail Centre, and the other from Sheffield Mail Centre both 4 April (thanks to Robert and Graham E):


UPDATE: According to Royal Mail's 5 April press release, "From Tuesday 5 April until Saturday 9 April, a special postmark will be applied to UK stamped mail" - which means it was applied to mail from Monday 4 April.

UPDATE 27 April
There was apparently no slogan postmark to mark the 90th Birthday of Her Majesty The Queen, thus denying collectors the opportunity to get first day covers with that slogan.  I tried while I was in Shropshire and Wales but the effort came to naught! The upper one was posted in Montgomery and the lower in Craven Arms.

Royal Mail followed the Shakespeare slogan (not extended to his birthday on 23 April) with one for St George's Day.  Predictably there is no press release for this so I can't tell when it was intended to be used.  I have examples on 1st class mail from S E Anglia (Chelmsford) on 22 April and an unclear one from NW Midlands.  Chester and Bristol MCs on the other hand continued to use this through to 25 April!

On 21st, Bristol was using the Royal Mail 500 slogan, which is the current default apparently, and was also in use on 25th in Glasgow.

Tariff change problems with Post and Go stamps reported.

Anonymous reported on another post:
The BPMA had problems over the past few day, so new varities, the same but less so. Problems with Mail Centre / Delivery machines + all museums having a new stamp Euro (blank no weight) Worldwide 10g. 

I do not think many people would have noticed or gone to any machines when they would be paying what would be 7p more each strip. 

If you have news for us, please send an email to the address at top right, rather than add to other posts which are not directly relevant.  And if anybody has pictures or more details of this from the new Postal Museum, or any other locations, please let me know!

The description provided by Anonymous suggests that the Euro 20 / World 10 stamps produced looked something like one of these mock-ups:

I am pleased to say that I have now been sent some images and part of the story of these.  Apparently on Tuesday 29 March (the first day of the new rate), the BPMA machine was unable to process card payments (it may have worked for about 20 minutes).  It was fixed and working properly by late afternoon on Wednesday 30th.  These examples were obtained on the morning of Thursday 31st.

The single stamp is from machine M002 at Mount Pleasant and examples are known from at least two other locations.  It is likely that all Museum and Enquiry Office machines were affected, although the faulty stamps may not have been bought from all of them.

This error also occurred last week but seems to have been corrected quite quickly.  The pictorial (Flag and Heritage Transport) stamps have both single line and 3 line captions.  The Machins have two single line captions superimposed.  Only one logo appears on any of them.  The errant caption is smaller and is the same on all stamps.  I've selected single stamps from Collectors Strips, but all stamps in the strip showed the same error.