Monday 6 February 2017

New Security Backing Paper on latest definitive printings

Last year we mentioned that Royal Mail had ordered a change to the security printing on the backing paper of self-adhesive stamps so that the paper could be used inverted without producing a variety.  This would be achieved by printing alternate pairs of lines upside-down.  If the paper had to be re-rolled, it would still be up the right way!  We're calling this 'Security Backing Paper v2' or SBP2.

The March issue of Stamp Magazine reports that a 9 December 2016 printing of the 1st class counter sheet stamp is not only on backing paper with a security print (the first time for a counter sheet), but that it follows the described pattern.  So this is two 'firsts': the first De La Rue counter sheet with security backing paper, and the first with the alternate inverted printing.  The year code is M16L - it also appears to be in the new dark shade.  If this proves to be the case these M16L stamps may be in short supply, in the light of other news below.

We also understand that there is a new December 2016 4 January 2017 printing of the 2nd class counter sheet, with year code M17L, so this would be the second stamp with a year 17 code: we don't have any confirmation that this has security backing paper, but it seems likely. (The Windsor Castle booklet stamp already announced will be the third - probably!).

UPDATE (later same day):  the 2nd class counter sheet and business sheet have also been reported on new backing paper.  The counter sheet may be the same 04/01/17 printing referred to above, but this has not been confirmed. The business sheet has M16L and a printing date of 15/12/16.

UPDATE 8 Feb: The 2nd class M17L counter sheet is on plain backing paper. (Thanks RL)

UPDATE 9 FEB: As suggested by the para below the images, we don't have stock of ANY of these yet, only reports from readers.  When we have them I'll list them in our webshop and provide a link and photos here.

Click on images to see a larger version.

UPDATE 10 FEB:  I now have some stamps from the 2nd business sheet with SBP2. These and others will be added to the webshop after Stampex - that way all the news stamps will be added at the same time, and customers won't be tempted to order one and then another on separate orders.

Earlier on I repeated that the with new printing the paper could be re-rolled as it 'would always be the right way up'.  Not quite true, which I should have realised with a little more thought.  As you will know the text is printed in two sizes, Large (L) and Small (S).  On SBP the lines are alternated, ie L/S/L/S.  On the new paper the pattern is different if inverted.  Using additional abbreviations for upright adn inverted, we now know that the format is:

SU - LU - SI - LI - SU - LU - SI - LI 

So if the paper is inverted it will appear as

SI - LU - SU - LI -  SI - LU - SU - LI

Obviously this can be manipulated for any individual stamps, but it will be interested to see if any booklets, business sheets or counter sheets turn out to be on inverted paper!

More information and pictures as soon as we have them !  And if you find them first, contact details for your pictures are at the top right.


  1. Oops ...

    I've had a top panel of 2nd dated 15/12/16 for two weeks now and I didn't notice. Observant as ever!

  2. Hi Ian do you have the 2nd class counter stamps with M17L overprint yet? Or any others with the same code?

    1. Sorry, no, and apart from the 1st class which appeared in the magazine there are no others with the same code.

      As usual, when we have supplies they will be listed in our webshop and a link provided. We will be supplying all new stamps as we get them.

  3. I'm a bit confused. You say that the 2nd class counter sheet is the second "17" coded stamp and that the 1st from the Windsor Castle book will be the third. What is the first?

  4. Hello Ian
    Usual informative news, can you confirm that the new 2nd Class (M17L) issues have not had it's colour tampered with unlike the 1st Class (Now darker)?

    1. Royal Mail have no reason to adjust the colour of the blue stamps as they are still basically the same as when first issued. The red, on the other hand, was never anything like that used for postboxes and vans, and has been accidentally diluted over the years as well.


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