Monday 20 March 2017

Jersey Post at Southern England Stamp Show 2017, Farnborough

Jersey Post attended the Southern England Stamp Show at Farnborough last week (10-11 March), and Post and Go machine JE01 was there, although it didn't seem to be attracting very much interest for much of the time.

The machine dispensed the new Jersey Shells pictorials first issued at Stampex (but now with the March datastring), and the Jersey Crest definitives with special show inscription.

As usual the stamps were available in Collectors Strips and as a set of 6 x Local Letter rate (or any other combination).   We have now added some of these to our webshop.

Post and Go News - Machine A005 at East Anglian Railway Museum

Post and Go Machine A1005, lately of the Royal Marines Museum has been refurbished and from 20 March is installed at the East Anglian Railway Museum (formerly the Stour Valley Railway) at Chappel and Wakes Colne Station in Essex.  (Map)

The first live transaction from the machine (004) was at 10.53 am, just beating the 11 am target so Ellie from IAR is getting really good at this set-up process now!   To assist the staff at the many museums with these machines the latest software has a 'set-up' screen which shows them step-by-step what to do when they change a roll, or clear a jam.  Previously the instructions were paper-based - and easily mislaid.  (If the boxes on the top left (representing Reel A, receipts, Reel B) are not tapped to reduce the figures to zero, the machine will assume that fewer stamps can be printed on the stock than is actually the case.

The machine is located in the Museum shop, and both the machine and the cafe can be accessed without paying entry, but given that the cafe is run by the Museum, and dining is on one of their carriages it is worth paying the modest £6 (Conc £5.50) entrance fee if you have time to explore the site.

The machine is using MA13-coded Machin definitives and the digitally-printed Locomotive stamps:

The receipt erroneously reads 'East Anglia Railway Museum'

These have been added to our webshop today.

This Heritage Railway occupies quite a large site, and has an impressive collection of rolling stock, and unusually there is also access to the Repair Workshop.  Possibly uniquely among such attractions it also has a working railway line running through it, so it is actually possible to get there by rail from any part of the country!   It is just 8 minutes from Marks Tey, with connections to London on the Norwich line.  You can also travel on a further 15 minutes to the market town of Sudbury, just across the border in Suffolk.  The view from the footbridge (reconstructed ex Sudbury) shows the Abelio Greater Anglia train heading for Marks Tey, with EARM rolling stock including the cafe-diner on the left.

Sunday 19 March 2017

New Post and Go Pack Discovery

If you've already read this story, read again.  Information now provided by a collector shows that the official comment was far from accurate - and may even have been created only to answer the original question, with no regard for accuracy!  Additional information is in blue.

It's spot the difference time!   Back in February 2014 new NCR Post and Go machines were introduced at Harpenden, and they were then rolled out over the rest of the country.  One of the features of the new machines was the introduction of 'Open Value' stamps, replacing the previous 'Post and Go Labels' that were dispensed by the Wincor-Nixdorf machines.

Recognising that not all collectors had access to the machines, and seeing a way of creating another product to sell, Royal Mail made a 'Post and Go Collectors Pack' containing the basic values in Open Value format.  This pack was PG15, and it was first issued on 07.07.14.  Most Post and Go collectors bought one, even though the stamps were not produced from an NCR machine but from the RM2 machine C001, with datastring B7GB14-C001-1840-015.

As with the Union Flag and Spring Flowers stamps, when stock was exhausted a reprint was produced, but not announced.  Can you see the difference?

It isn't obvious, and doesn't affect the pack, only the stamps:

Still not got it?

The difference isn't the same as on the Union Flag reprint, and only affects the weight -version 1 has kg and this is Kg on the reprint (version 2).  The pack is no longer available from Tallents House.

A Royal Mail spokesman said:

“The reprints of the Union Flag, Spring Blooms and Collectors Packs were different to the original printings because in the intervening period there was a software upgrade which impacted on the appearance of the font. The capital ‘K’ on the Machin reprint was a set up error and should not have happened.”

This is what I wrote originally:
Apart from the reader who originally drew my attention to this last year, no collectors or dealers I have spoken to are aware of the reprint.   The original is most likely to be the more common, as regular customers of both Royal Mail and dealers would have got the original.  Only latecomers and dealers replenishing their stocks would have had the reprint - and some dealers I spoke to still have some of their original supplies unsold!  The few collectors who have only got the reprint in their collections will have no difficulty in finding the original; those who have only the original will find the reprint hard to obtain.

This is what I have since been told:
Version 2 first appeared in packs after Flags and Spring Flowers had changed; they were very rare even if you knew what to look for.  I found some at Stampex and bought some direct from Tallents House, the ratio was about 6 times normal (version1) packs to one of the large K type (version 2).

HOWEVER.  This first day cover appeared on eBay.  Even allowing for post-dating - where collectors can send covers to the Special Handstamp Centres for a short period after stamps are issued (because of late delivery of the stamps or covers) - this must mean that Version 2 was available at more or less the same time as Version 1.

Even with this new information, my original comment probably remains valid.  Only a small proportion was version 2 with the big K.  And the early availability* would also account for the fact that the rest of the text - weight, datastring, value - is the same as on version 1.  

The Big K is not so much 'Version 2' as 'Error, upper-case K'.

* The Union Flag reprint was first reported in February 2015, and the Spring Blooms in March 2015.

UPDATE 21 March
Dennis has reminded me of an earlier blog post from July 2015, when Dominic noted that in the pack he bought from Tallents House the 97p airmail stamp was printed on MA13 Machin stock.  Now this makes the waters even more muddy.

If we assume that each of the values was printed on a separate roll, and then the stamps guillotined for machine-inserting into the packs (as is usual), it is fair to assume that a mix of rolls was available. The two blue rolls would be the same MA12, two of the brown rolls were undated, and the third was MA13.  MA13 has not been used for either the 1L or 1LG stamps.  But the 97p MA13 has only been found with a lower case 'k'.   Which rather casts doubt on the suggestion that the upper case K was printed as part of the same run as the lower case.  It is unlikely that Royal Mail can provide any reliable explanation of any of these differences.

Of course it makes no difference to Royal Mail at Tallents House what stamps they use, though a degree of consistency would be useful!

Saturday 18 March 2017

Post and Go News: ASPS Scottish Congress, Perth 21-22 April 2017

Once again the Association of Scottish Philatelic Societies meet up in Perth for the annual Congress, and this year there will be two Post and Go machines dispensing souvenirs.  The organisers have again made arrangements to supply collectors with Post and Go and other souvenirs. 

Press Release

Royal Mail will again be attending Congress with their Post and Go kiosks. This year they will be bringing along two kiosks, A012 and A014.

Kiosk A012 will print
  • Thistle (from the Symbolic Flowers Set) and,
  • Machin

Kiosk A014
  • Thistle (from the Symbolic Flowers Set) and,
  • Heraldic Lion
The cost of Collectors Strips at new postage rates is £8.04, while a strip of 6 x1st Class will be £3.90.  All will have the additional inscription:

88th Scottish Congress 2017

[Note that this is the first appearance of the Thistle on a single-design reel.  It is a new digital printing, and its introduction means a new stamp, albeit one that is not available without the Congress inscription, nor from any other source at this time.]

All items are charged at cost (see above) plus postage and packing as detailed below.
UK Customers:
  • Up to 5 items £4
  • Over 5 Items £8
  • Special Delivery £10 Extra
Europe/International Customers:
  • Up to 5 Items £20
  • Over 5 Items £25
All overseas items will be sent using International Tracked and Signed. Tracking information will be sent to customers once despatched. Customers should note that once the item has left the UK ASPS cannot be held responsible for non-delivery. The Customer should then contact the postal authority of the relevant country.
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.

Please use the interactive pdf form on the ASPS Website and either:
  1. print the form and send it to Norman Kelso
28 Applehill Drive
United Kingdom

or b) save the completed form and e-mail it to

Use Paypal account:
There will be a surcharge of 4% on the total order for payments made by Paypal.

or Cheque in Sterling made payable to ‘ASPS’ and sent to the above address.

More information on the ASPS Congress can be viewed at

Because the Thistle is a new stamp we will obtain supplies of the 1st class stamp purely for the record.  We will not be stocking the Machin or the Lion.

Thursday 16 March 2017

Mail by Rail Maximum Cards 2017

A set of 6 postcards was produced by The Postal Museum to coincide with the issue of the Post and Go 'Mail by Rail' stamps. As such, the cards were not 'produced and for sale well in advance of the stamp sale', although they were not produced specifically for the Post and Go Issue.

1. Artwork from the leaflet The Travelling Post Office (1936), with Bag-exchange Apparatus stamp, and Penrith postmark.

6. Internal poster advertising the need for good timekeeping (1962), with TPO On The Move stamp, and Station Road, York, postmark.


2. Artwork for a poster (1939) showing the Post Office London Underground Railway, with stamp showing similar view, postmarked Underground Mail Rail London WC1


3. A poster for the film Night Mail (1939), with stamp showing the same design, and Royal Mail Street Birmingham postmark showing Bag-exchange Apparatus.


4. Euston Station: Loading the Travelling Post Office (1948), with stamp showing the same design, and Royal Mail Heritage postmark showing TPO carriage.

5. Travelling Post Office (1935) showing onboard sorting, with stamp of similar design, and Penrith postmark.


We don't have these for sale, but we do have a number of other Maximum Cards on recent and older stamp issues in our webshop.

Stamp Mosaic Guinness World Record for UK at Southern England Stamp Show 2017

At the Southern England Stamp Show in Farnborough last week, Peter Boyd gained the Guinness World Record for the largest Stamp Mosaic, previously held by Correos (the Spanish Post Office), in Malaga, Spain, on 8 November 2014.

As previously reported, the biggest stamp mosaic on the planet was rolled out in the town's leisure centre, measuring a huge 30 by 9 metres.  It was assembled on Wednesday 8 March 2017.  A photographer used a drone to capture the mosaic before the event was opened to the public to view on the Thursday.

Consisting of a whopping 528,220 stamps, it took Peter Boyd from Kent over ten years to create. It was the first time he had seen the whole thing put together; as Peter said: "I just thoroughly enjoyed it and once I had finished I just wanted to put it out on display to the public.

Tony Hender of Arun Stamps told me, "Because we are so close to the drone no-fly zone for Heathrow and Gatwick, the photographer had to over-ride the settings to enable him to operate it, in the leisure centre!"

Once the pictures had been taken images were sent to Catton Print of Norwich, who produced a souvenir of the event which was available when the show opened on Friday.  Meanwhile, of course, the mosaic was dis-assembled back into its large sections so that the tables, chairs,power, etc, could be in place for the dealers to set up their stands ready for first thing on Friday.  (See below)

The souvenir is a long card, half-A4 size, longways. (click for a larger view)

These were available at the Show for a suggested donation to the Childline charity of £5.  I have a number of these cards which can be posted, unfolded, for the following postage costs:
Within the UK: £1.00;  Europe: £2.60
Worldwide Zone 1: £3.40 - Worldwide Zone 2 (Australasia): £3.55
If you are interested, please email ian(at) - Payment in the UK by cheque or bank transfer; in the UK or Worldwide by PayPal as a gift, ie buyer pays the PayPal commission. (Do not leave your details as a comment.)

I will ensure that all the £5 (or more) donations go to the Show organisers to be passed on to Childline.

Views of the show:

Sunday 12 March 2017

Brief Sunday update - new version of Security Machin Checklist now available.

This really is a quick news update after my visit to the Southern England Stamp Show at Farnborough yesterday.  I certainly know why Norvic Philatelics don't have stands at fairs - travelling to work is too much at my age!

Farnborough was good: left home before 6am, got back just after 8pm after diversions for passengers. And if you want a nice reliable economical car, the diesel Renault Scenic (60-plate) returned 55 mpg for the 350 mile-round trip.  (Of course that's without the new Blue technology that adds so much to costs of filling up.)  Great to meet fellow-dealers, readers, and people who couldn't work out why the new me - but good to chat anyway!

While we were out, the 2nd class book of 12 (see below) sold out, joining the 1st class which we were also out of, having only added them last Tuesday!  Good news is, the 1st class books are back in stock (including cylinder books), and we should have more 2nd class by the end of the week.  Sorry we couldn't get enough for you all at the outset: depends on what is in the PO branch, and what they get replenished with when all the new books have been bought.

From the show, we have some spare Jersey Post and Go stamps with the special inscription on the Jersey Arms, and also some Jersey Shells pictorials (as at Stampex, but with March datastring).

The Guinness World Record for a Stamp Mosaic was duly broken, and recorded, and the promised souvenir produced.  More about this tomorrow, and more pictures as soon as I get them.  UPDATE here.

One type of the Isle of Man Triskelion variable-value stamps (like Post and Go but not Post and Go) is temporarily sold out from our shop; I will try to find some more supplies.

Finally, a new version of our Security Machin Checklist is now available, right up to date but excluding the new tariff stamps due before the end of the month.  See the link in the right-hand column LINKS/BLOG PAGES'.

And if you spot anything wrong, do please send me an email!

Wednesday 8 March 2017

Additions to shop: new booklets on SBP2 and new MoD M011 Faststamps.

Recent new printings of definitive stamps may soon be replaced, so look out for them now!

I can now show pictures of the 1st and 2nd x 12 booklets on the second type of Security Backing Paper (SBP2).  These were printed in late 2016 and have appeared with packing dates of 12-14/12/16.  So although this must have been quite a large print run (with packing of the 1st class over 3 days and the 2nd over at least two), we can safely assume that the next print run will be in 2017 and have M17L code.

When the first type appeared Gibbons allocated new whole numbers to the booklets, and I suspect that this time they will only allocate sub-numbers.  I have temporarily allocated catalogue numbers ME7a to the 2nd class and MF9a to the 1st class booklets, although this will change if Gibbons allocate new whole numbers.

Similarly the stamps are 2931.6a (2nd SBP2) and 2936.6b (1st SBP2) in our system. 

However, distribution from the Swindon Supplies Depot is, as usual, erratic.  One correspondent reported that after the latest books had been sold subsequent supplies had year code 15 (and therefore were the old colour).  Depending on the ordering policy of your local postmaster, he may never see the new booklets (one branch locally still has 2nd class Large booklets with M12L year code!)

UPDATE 15 March - latest date seen on 1st class packs is 16/01/17, but still M16L.

On 1st class booklets seen so far the iridescent printing is very indistinct, clearer under the phosphor than the plain area, which means that the codes are almost impossible to see.  These pictures took some effort to produce:

The 2nd class booklets have much more distinct iridescent printing and the coding stands out well:

The new security printing is darker than the first, so SBP2 is easier to see than SBP1 on single stamps.  Singles from booklets will always have usefully large margins of backing paper, but singles from business sheets - other than those from the edges of panes - will be more difficult.   As last year, once the booklets of 6 and 4 appear I will have the front cover page, which has no stamps, and will be able to supply to customers on request so that you can illustrate your collections clearly.  Look out for a notice on the blog.

Monday 6 March 2017

March Slogan Postmarks

The first slogan postmark for March 2017 marks the centenary of the Imperial War Museum.

According to the Royal Mail press release:
The postmark will appear on millions of items of UK stamped mail nationwide and will land on doorsteps on Saturday 4 March 2017. It will say ‘Imperial War Museums, 100 years’.
Since 1917, IWM has collected - and displayed - a huge range of items that tell both civilian and military experiences and personal stories of war, and commemorate the sacrifices of all sections of society.. 
Diane Lees, Director General of IWM said: “We are honoured that the Royal Mail has decided to honour IWM with a postmark to commemorate our centenary. IWM was established while the First World War was still being fought. Since then, people have entrusted us with their stories of war from 1917 to the present day, in the knowledge we will continue to share these stories with future generations”.
The postal service provided a vital line of communication during the First and Second World Wars. During the First World War, the Army Postal Service handled a staggering two billion letters and 114 million parcels. 

David Gold, director of Public Affairs at Royal Mail, said: “Since the formation of the dedicated military postal unit, the Army Post Office Corps, in 1882, the postal service has played an integral role in times of conflict.
“This close alliance remains as important now as it was then with this year not only marking 100 years since the creation of the War Museum but also the fourth issue in Royal Mail’s five-year series of stamps commemorating the First World War.
Here's an example from Swindon Mail Centre dates 02-03-2017 (thanks MM):

If the intention was that these would appear on mail delivered on 4 March then it is likely that the slogan was also in use on 3 March, especially for first class post.

Thanks to JG for the National Apprenticeship Week slogan from South East Anglia MC which was used on 9 March (before Science Week slogan), but nobody noticed.  Just shows how little stamped (and therefore postmarked) mail we get these days.


It's British Science Week again marked by Royal Mail with the usual slogan postmark.  Two different formats of course, for iLSM and IMP mail centres.  Cornwall Mail Centre 13.03.17 and Warrington Mail Centre 10-03-2017

MG has sent this image of the St Patrick's Day postmark not previously reported.  This was only used on mail to (Northern?) Ireland.  Lancashire and South Lakes 16.03.17
This ought to be in February's listing but there wasn't one, so as St David's Day is March 1st I'll include it here. A bilingual postmark TO Wales from Lancashire and South Lakes 28.02.17

Thanks to MC who sent a picture of his East Anglian Railway Museum PandG stamps on postcards. They arrived with this year's Mother's Day slogan from South East Anglia 20.3.17.  They never show well on Post and Go of course.

Here's a better one  from South Midlands Mail Centre, I think on 22 March, but that's difficult to see! Note that this version is over three lines, whereas the  iLSM above has it over four.

Neither of the examples had the Delivered by Royal Mail section.

So late it nearly qualifies for an April listing, this Southampton MC use of the Valentines slogan on 30 March 2017 was sent to us by Robert - thanks!

If there are more March Slogans they will appear as we get news.  April slogans will be in a new post.

Wednesday 1 March 2017

More new stamp printings - look out for short-term changes

When Royal Mail announced the introduction of security printing on the backing paper for self-adhesive stamps many people saw it as a simple one-off event.  Then came the news that the printing was to be changed so that alternative pairs of lines of text were inverted, though with no indication when this would happen - we're still waiting for the first counter sheets despite a picture appearing in Stamp Magazine last month.

Already this year we have reported the 2nd class business sheet with the new version - which we refer to as SBP2, and that was a change within 2016.  Printing dates so far reported are 14 and 15/12/16, so it seems more than likely that the next printing will be this year with year code M17L. However many were printed, M16L with SBP2 may be quite difficult to find.  Specific year-printings of Business Sheets are not available to purchase from Royal Mail Edinburgh, so it is really pot-luck, unless you can find a friendly postmaster who will tell you what printing dates he has, and let you choose whether or not to buy - and even then, you have to buy 100 stamps.

Now we can report that the 12 x 2nd class and 1st class booklets have also appeared with SB2, and also with M16L year codes.  Again, the next printing must surely be M17L.  The original 1st class (in the new colour) was issued in October and was readily available because Royal Mail regard it as a new product.  But the reprint on SBP2 will not be so easy to find, and will soon be overtaken.  From what I have seen of the 1st class books, the iridescent ink is very faint: it is to be hoped that the M17L reprint will be easier to see as the only way to identify the first printing may be because we can't read the year!  I haven't manage to get a reasonable picture of this yet.  More later.

We will have both these new booklets for sale on our webshop very soon.

A new edition of our Security Stamp Checklist with all these new stamps will be available in the next two weeks.

Another new printing, found at Stampex, is of the 1st class Wales stamp, now appearing on plate C2, printed 17/11/16.  Once again there is no silver ink on this stamp, the silver dragon being produced with the four process colours.  I don't keep track of all the printing dates on Country Definitives but it is interesting to note that this stamp is printed in all four positions on the plate, as was the 07/04/15 C1 printing, whereas an early printing had the Wales 1st in only 1 of four positions.   Thanks to a couple of people who provided the pictures of this which we also expect to have on sale soon, although at first sight it doesn't appear much different to the earlier one.  But these things can only really be checked with the actual stamps to hand.

Please continue to send your news and pictures of new finds!

More Post and Go News from Royal Mail

As indicated in mid-February's Post and Go news, the stamps at the Museum of the Great Western Railway (GWR) at  Swindon will be changed on 15 March from the latest Mail by Rail issue which has been in use only since 20 February.  Royal Mail have announced that on 15 March* the machine will sell the Machin definitive with a new inscription

King George V 90th

Locomotive King George V (KGV) was designed by Charles B Collet and was the GWR’s most powerful 4-6-0 engine. KGV was the first ‘King’ Class built at Swindon Works in June 1927 and was shipped to the United States in August 1927 to feature in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s centenary celebrations.  The 90th anniversary of its building is celebrated with this new inscription.
* It's not clear which stamps will be on sale on 15th as the new press release says the new ones will be on sale then, while the old press release says that the old ones finished then. I would assume the old ones finish 14 March.

On the 20th March the machine at the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon will commemorate Schools Week with a special inscription running until 21 April.

UPDATE 5 April
Thanks to Commonwealth Stamps Blog we can show the Stratford stamps which actually have the inscription Shakespeare Week, not Schools week. The Machins are MA13  Not an error, just misinformation:

East Anglian Railway Museum
On the 20th March refurbished A005 kiosk will be installed at the East Anglia Railway Museum. The machine will carry the Locomotive and Machin designs with an EARM location ID inscription. The kiosk will be available from 11:00.