Friday 30 June 2017

PHOTOBUCKET ALERT! A new sort of ransom!

Don't think this doesn't affect you because you don't use Photobucket, this still affects you if you look at any site which uses images stored on Photobucket.

Photobucket, which is owned by Fox Interactive Media, is an image storage site.  It provides the facility to store photos and other images, allows users to create many albums and sub-albums, and provides links so that you can either direct friends to look at your photos, or embed those images into other websites, blogs and forums.  You can have a free account which displays many adverts, not only on site, but popping up, or you can have a paid account which gives you more storage (in various stages).

However, they recently changed their terms and conditions with no prior announcement.  With the lower levels of subscription (my basic paid level has been abandoned for more expensive models) they have eliminated the ability to embed images elsewhere - something which they erroneously refer to as Third Party Hosting).  With the lowest level of subscription they don't even allow linking, so it is just a place to store photos as a back-up from your own computer.  What they call Third Party Hosting, embedding images in another place, will now cost US$399.99 - per annum!

How does this affect me?
If you are only an occasional user of forums you may not notice any difference yet.  But if you are a Photobucket user, and if you have embedded images anywhere there is a strong possibility that this image will no longer display.   Here is a post from the Stampboards forum.  Stampboards is a forum using php software and has no image hosting capability for users (the logos etc are obviously hosted on the php host).   The forum is now slowly disintegrating:

This should show three interesting postal history covers.    There are also 'wiki' threads there, which are a in many cases a very detailed and unique repository for information and images about all sorts of things about stamps, not just Australian.   A UK member has, for the last 5 years, been compiling a fascinating record of all the provisional overprints on Fiji's bird definitives, which runs to 243 posts (most of which have 1-4 images).  This is what post 1 now looks like:

This is a disaster, and is being discussed not only on Stampboards but on other forums worldwide.  If you don't want to pay US400 per annum to continue using Photobucket for image hosting, then I suggest you ensure that you have all the images hosted on your computer, or download them immediately!    Stampboards discussion on this is here.

If you don't have a copy of your PB images stored elsewhere, it's simple to download the entire library as a .zip file. Well, simple if you haven't yet been blackmailed and been locked out.

1. click on the "Library" link in the black bar at the top

2. click the "Download Album" link at the right, under 'ACTIONS'.

This may take some time, depending on the number and size of the images you have stored.

But if you are going to cancel your subscription, or if you don't have the images elsewhere, it is essential.

UPDATE 25 April 2020
I hadn't realised how many mages on the blog had been posted on, say, Stampboards and hosted on Photobucket and relinked here.  Seemed ok at the time.  I can now say that I have been back and replaced all images in 6 years of blog posts that were not showing because of the Photobucket problem.

Thursday 29 June 2017

Postal Museum Opens with a flurry of new Post and Go stamps

It's just a month until The Postal Museum opens in its new premises at Freeling House - a wonderful interactive playing space with informative galleries of historical events, although their website doesn't actually mention the collections of stamps of which it is guardian.

I suppose they needed to advance from the old National Postal Museum to appeal to a much wider clientelle, and as we have so much history attached to the creation of the postage stamp, and the establishment of the postal service, it is right that there should be more to it than stamp collections.  However, they have a 'Visitor Experience Team' - what agency dreams up these names?

Delve deep enough through their website - totally different from that of the BPMA - and you will eventually alight on the Collections area including the Philatelic Collections.  However the accessible collections of British stamps seems to stop at 1970.  We can only hope that they will eventually make available various aspects (including artwork and unadopted designs) of all modern British definitive, special stamps and even the full range of Post and Go stamps.

Which brings me to what many visitors will spend their money on, whether or not they go into the Museum itself, the Post and Go machine.  I suspect the Museum's income from this is no more than 5% of the face value of the stamps sold (other than the ones they 'buy' to sell as FDCs or packs through their shop), and they will probably make more money from the shop than from machine sales.

Press Release

LONDON, 28 June 2017 – The Postal Museum has announced today that it will be moving its Post and Go machine from Freeling House to its new home at The Postal Museum on Phoenix Place on 13 July.

As a result of the move the Post and Go machine will be unavailable from 13-24 July inclusive and again from 26-27 July inclusive.

From 1000-1700 on 25 July the museum will provide exclusive access to the Post and Go for one day only to give collectors an early opportunity to purchase its new ‘official opening’ overprint in advance of the public opening. The machine will be available 7 days a week once the museum opens in full on 28 July.

This marks a change from previous communications that stated the machine would only be unavailable 13-16 July and has been necessary due to delays in the planned opening of the new museum.

On 25 July, all designs available will change to feature a new ‘The Postal Museum’ inscription without the current envelope logo. The stamps on sale will be:

  • Machin 50 Commemoratives - 6 colours (1st class only)
  • Machin (2nd class only) (presumably than means 2nd and 2nd Large?)
  • Underground Railway (all 6 values)
  • Mail Coach (all 6 values)
  • Union Flag (all 6 values)
These stamps will feature two variations of an inscription commemorating the museum’s official opening:
- On Machin 50 Commemoratives and Machin 2nd Class this will read ‘Official Opening 2017’. 

- For other issues it will simply read ‘Official Opening’.   

From 25 July, The Postal Museum will also be introducing a new permanent postmark.

All current stamp issues featuring The Postal Museum’s envelope marque overprint will finish on Wednesday 12 July.

The Post and Go machine will be available at The Postal Museum during normal opening hours. These will be made available shortly on the website

Commemorative First Day Covers and Presentation packs will be available to purchase from The Postal Museum’s shop.  

My thanks to BW for a copy of an email from the Museum clarifying the usage period of the 'Opening'  inscription:
My apologies if the release is unclear. The overprint will be in the machine for some time, most likely until Autumn Stampex. The 25th will be the first day of this being issued.

According to WhiteKnight's Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog,
Therefore from 5 June to 25 July 2017 The Postal Museum will have had Kiosk A001 dispensing 32 labels and when the new inscription stamps are released without the "Opening" inscription this number will increase to 57 which seems rather a lot to me.
WhiteKnight also has these images:

He also points out that
It is worth noting that the Machin Head 50th Anniversary labels with Postal Museum inscriptions (with "envelope" marque) were only introduced on 5 June 2017 and that they will therefore have a short lifespan of less than 2 months.
The Machin Anniversary stamp with Postal Museum logo.

We shall not be stocking these, but there will undoubtedly be plenty available on dealers' and auction websites.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Machin stamp and webshop update

We've now received the booklets mentioned recently and added them to our webshop. On this occasion we are lucky enough to have cylinder booklets as well as plain, but number are limited and we may not be able to repeat, depending what the PO branches get from central stores.

2nd x 12 booklet - ME 7a.7 containing M17L stamps on SBP2 - 2931.7

1st Large x 4 booklet - RB 6.7 containing M17L stamps on SBP2 - 2937a.7

1st x 6 Padlock booklet - MB18a.7 containing M17L stamps on SBP2 - 2936aS.7a
The Machin Anniversary booklet issued 5.6.17 was printed (probably last year or in January) on SBP1, so this is the same stamp but on different backing paper.

We have also taken the opportunity to add some cylinder books to the Machin Anniversary booklet, MB19. and have added the David Bowie booklet (PM56) which was somehow overlooked earlier in the year.

Apart from the used example mentioned earlier, there have been no sightings of the 2nd class business sheet coded M17L yet.

Monday 26 June 2017

Post and Go Update: Machin 50, Museums, Midpex

At the beginning of the month the new Machin Anniversary Post and Go stamps were issued at The Postal Museum with their standard inscription.  (Thanks to DF and others for sending the image.)

From Royal Mail's website:
Royal Signals Museum - A011 On 9th June A011 at the Royal Signals Museum will commemorate the White Helmets Motorcycle Display team, who are disbanding. Motorcycles were used extensively by the Royal Signals as courier transport. There will be a new logo on the Union Flag only and this will run until the stamp is replaced with the Poppy Stamp.
HMS Trincomalee Museum - A006 On 16th June A006 at the HMS Trincomalee Museum will celebrate the 200th year of the ship with an overprint on both stamps. This will run until October when the underprint will change to mark the ship's launch.
Also HMS Caroline in Belfast will reopen on 1 July 2017 and machine A008 will recommence operations.

Royal Mail will have also a machine at Midpex on 8 July.  No further details available.

According to the IAR website,
The Fleet Air Arm Museum, based at RNAS Yeovilton near Ilchester, Somerset, is delighted to announce the launch of a new exhibition from the 19 July, entitled ‘Cold War to Kabul’.  The inscriptions will run until 21 August.
To mark the exhibition, the Museum in Partnership with Royal Mail, will launch two overprints from its Post and Go kiosk (A003), which feature prominent airframes Sea King HC4 (ZA298) and Harrier GR9 (ZD433). The kiosk will overprint ‘ZA298’ onto the Machin design and also ‘ZD433’ to the Union Jack design.
If you buy stamps you are entitled to visit the Museum and can claim a 25% reduction on individual ticket prices when you purchase stamps from the kiosk. For the duration of the overprint the Museum will offer a discount to all kiosk users. Simply show your stamps or receipt to Museum staff when purchasing tickets.
UPDATE later the same day.
After comment from 'Anonymous' and much searching, I have tracked down that machine M007 which is at one of Royal Mail's HQ offices, the one at 100 Victoria Embankment London EC4Y 0HQ. The machine has previously been used at political Party Conferences and now has the added inscription Royal Mail HQ, as shown below.

The items found on eBay are dated 15/06/2017 - the 2nd class are MA12 and the 1st class are MA13. Sellers are *timbromaniac* and makhonman2015.

Royal Signals Museum
Thanks to Chris for sending in this picture of the new Royal Signals Museum Union Flag Post and Go stamps with the White Helmets (motorcycle display team) inscription and logo.


Friday 23 June 2017

New Machin M17L images; New stock - webshop update.

After a week of catch-up and dodging carpenter, painter and electrician, I'm now able to show the latest Machin security stamps to be available, and the new Post and Go Anniversary stamps.  Many of these are now available on our webshop.

Firstly the 1p and 2p counter sheet stamps.  The 1p was printed 08/03/17 and is on SBP2, and the 2p was printed on 30/01/17 and is on plain backing paper.  They are printed, of course, by De La Rue, as usual.

The 2nd class business sheet has also appeared - but only used (and uncancelled!) - so we don't know the printing date or what type of backing paper.  More news (and hopefully stock) when we have it.
Update 26 July - printing date now confirmed as 06/03/17

We have also added the Machin 50th Anniversary Post and Go stamps, for which we have sets of 6 x 1st, as well as the usual collectors sets of 6 and 36.

If you have to ask for new stamps to be loaded into a Post Office Self-Service Kiosk don't forget to look out for test strips (see above right).  These replacedlast September's Ladybirds stamps in machine 67, the one furthest from the entrance.

While at Yeovil we also had the opportunity to top up on 2nd class Post and Go stamps, and now have MA12 and MA13 available in the shop.

Thursday 22 June 2017

Machin Anniversary Slogan First Day Cover

A reader anticipating the use of a Machin Anniversary slogan has been fortunate to obtain a first day cover from Glasgow Mail Centre, the Post and Go set additionally being cancelled with a Glasgow CDS.

The slogan, like the one I showed for Father's Day in the earlier post, is much better than would normally be seen on Post and Go stamps.

Thanks to AM for this picture!  I doubt that many slogan FDCs exist.

However (update), on his excellent 'ATM Collection' blog' George Wu of Taipei illustrates a cover he received from Exeter Mail Centre with one PandG Machin Anniversary stamp and the Machin Anniversary slogan.  If you are really interested in machine-dispensed stamps of the world, then you probably already follow George's blog: if you don't maybe you should.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Local Handstamps for Windmills and Watermills stamp issue

Following the use of local handstamps for the Ancient Britain stamp issue Royal Mail is making a similar arrangement for mail posted close to the mills featured on the Windmills and Watermills stamps issued today.

Stamps on all mail - philatelic and non-philatelic - posted in these boxes will be cancelled with a special handstamp located at:

Nutley windmill – box TN22 32 Highfield, on Crowborough Road near the junction with Ashdown View
New Abbey - the box at 4-6 The Square, New Abbey Dumfries DG2 8BX.

Ballycopeland Windmill - Ashley Park box, near the windmill*
Cheddleton Flint Mill - Outside the old Post Office - 27 Cheadle Road, Cheddleton, ST13 7HN.

Woodchurch windmill – box TN26 43 Shirkoak, on the junction of Redbrook Street and Bethersden Road, Woodchurch
Felin Cochwillan Mill - the box located at the junction of Bro Emrys and Cae Gwgin, LL573UT.

* This box appears to be on a private road inside The Mill Caravan Park, about 3 minutes away from the mill itself.

The handstamps will be used for five days until Saturday 24 June.

If you cannot get to all these locations covers may also be sent to:

Natasha Ayivor, PR Manager Stamps, Royal Mail Group,
100 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0HQ

Collectors should clearly indicate which handstamps they want and for which dates.

UPDATE 26 June
Thanks to EM in Gloucester I can show the handstamp used for New Abbey Corn Mill in Scotland.  Seems to have passed through the system with no other postmark and no bar-code (which is as it should be) unlike others which have been reported to have received an ink-jet postmark as well.

Note that the inscription is now the proper black on white instead of being reversed out of the black border.  It's a good illustration too: not much else could have been well done but it could have been a lot worse.

UPDATE 21 June
There has been a range of coverage in the regional media, with many newspapers (websites) mentioning the special local handstamp, but without being specific in any case that I have seen so far. (See Comments for updates and mentions: some interesting coverage in local media.)

The Yorkshire Post displays the worst of modern grammar in modern journalism:
For each of the stamps, Royal Mail will provide a special handstamp on all mail posted in a postbox closest to where the windmill or watermill is located for the next five days.
Presumably after that the mill or postbox will be moved?

UPDATE 25 July
Collectors may be wondering when they will receive their covers with these handstamps.  One who did has sent me this reply from the Royal Mail Press Office (further reinforcing my belief that this was one of the reasons why the Landmark Buildings did not have local handstamps).
As the story appeared in Stamp Magazine, I have been inundated with requests for the postmarks. As such, I am waiting until the end of the month to collect them all, then will have them all sent to the handstamp team to complete in one session.
So we should get them some time in August - not bad for a 20 June stamp issue which some dealers and collectors - already alerted here and in specialist society journals - sent away on the day of issue!

Monday 19 June 2017

Website update and other new issues from Royal Mail

Somewhat later than I would have liked the website has now been updated with a page showing the new stamps to be issued tomorrow (20 June), a thematic set of Windmills and Watermills.   Two more pages with the Landmark Buildings (13 July) and World War I (31 July) stamps have also been added.

Other recent, and not so recent stamps:

Finlandia 2017 Exhibition Sheet - 24 May 2017
This (generic smilers-style) sheet marking the FIP exhibition in Tampere is in the normal format of 20 x 1st class 'Hello' stamps with 20 labels depicting scenes from, in this case, Finland.   The sheet was printed as usual by International Security Printers (Cartor) in litho, and sold for £13.50.  The exhibition ran from 24-28 May. (Click on the heading link for more information - click on the image to see it in a larger size).

The Princess Royal Commemorative Sheet - 13 June 2017
Princess Royal is a style customarily (but not automatically) awarded by the Monarch to their eldest daughter. Holders retain the style for life, so a princess cannot receive the style during the lifetime of another Princess Royal. Princess Anne was awarded the title in 1987 and this sheet commemorates 30 years since becoming the Princess Royal.

Coincidentally on the day this sheet was issued, Princess Anne opened the new Postal Museum and had a tour of the Post Office Underground Railway.  The Museum opens to the public on 28 July, and a commemorative sheet marking the new museum will be issued on 13 September at Stampex.

Containing 10 Union Flag stamps and attached illustrated labels, this sheet was sold for £14.95 (Royal Mail product code AV043). No technical details have been provided but we suppose that like all similar sheets this has been printed in lithography by Cartor ISP. 

Lisbon Lions Commemorative Sheet and Presentation Folder - 25 May*
"Consistent with our strategy to take Stamp based collectibles to other fan bases, Royal Mail has teamed up with Celtic to launch a Special Stamp Sheet and presentation folder celebrating the legendary Lisbon Lions – on the 50th anniversary of the first British European Champions.

"Celtic were the first British Football Club to win the European Cup / Champions League, beating Inter Milan 2-1 in the final on 25th May 1967 at the Estádio Nacional near Lisbon, Portugal. The sheet features the Saltire Scottish Definitive and is a limited edition of 5000, which will be sold predominantly by the football club through their nine retail outlets and online. A small quantity will be available from Tallents House priced at £19.95 code VA293"

Printed by ISP in litho, self-adhesive with stamps perforated 15 x 14.

* This is not listed on Royal Mail's website. The date of issue is shown in the June Philatelic Bulletin as 25 May, but we had an email from Royal Mail on 26 May stating that it was embargoed until further notice.

Celebrating Canada Commemorative Sheet - 30 June 2017
According to the June Philatelic Bulletin this sheet will contain 10 x Firework (definitive-sized greetings) stamps and attached labels, and be in the usual vertical format. The design has not yet been released by Royal mail but will be added here next week.  One special postmark has already been announced.

Update 13 July: the design has been revealed and the sheet is available for £15.95 on Royal Mail's Stamps website.

Click on the sheet for a larger image to see the labels and text.

Order processing and new stamps update

Wow, it's hot!  After our holiday we have a lot of orders to process but the heat is affecting our computer equipment; yesterday the router switched itself off, overnight the computer shut-down and required a reboot.  We also have the electricians here again to continue the building work, so may lose power because of them.

But all current orders have been printed off, so they can be processed off-line, despatch will probably not be today, though.  For those who ordered the premium Limited Edition Machin 50 Prestige Stamp Book, they were received today after Royal Mail production delays, so we should be able to include them as well.

New Stamps
Two new sheet stamps appeared just before we left and we now have stocks of:

1p M17L MAIL on SBP2 - printing date 08/03/17
2p M17L MAIL on plain - printing date 30/01/17
1st M17L MSIL on SBP2 - Padlock booklet of 6 (packing date not known) - this is the same stamp as in the Machin 50 retail booklet but that was on SBP1.

Machin 50 Post and Go Collectors sets and 1st class strips from Post Office SSK machine.

These two appeared while we were away and we shall have stocks of booklets and singles soon:

2nd class M17L MTIL
1st Large M17L MFIL

None of the above will be added to the webshop until we have cleared current orders and done some housekeeping!

Thank you for your patience - updated: see pictures and links to the shop here.

Sunday 18 June 2017

Please do not bend: a first step towards philatelic excellence

We all know the old joke: a packet endorsed 'PHOTOS - DO NOT BEND' is mangled by the postman who adds his own note, 'Oh yes they do!'.  It's as old as the hills, and I'm sure it never happened, but many people have complaints about the way their philatelic mail is handled, from pen-cancels on collectable stamps, to folding and damage by rubber bands.

Of course we can make efforts to help the postman: ensure your letter box is large enough to take an A4-wide Large Letter would be a good first step - that's 250mm plus.  And senders can do their bit by using adequate packaging making it more difficult to bend.  Stamps etc sent to ordinary customers from Royal Mail's Tallents House philatelic bureau often fail on the latter point, although the letter has the printed entreaty 'Please do not bend'.  Now, Royal Mail employees have been given new instructions regarding keeping their philatelic customers happy, at least as far as delivery is concerned.

On the MyRoyalMail website, there are new instructions about their own philatelic mail:
Our customers expect us to deliver all of their items in excellent condition.
For our philatelist customers – people who collect postage stamps as a hobby – this means ensuring that we do not bend their items on delivery.
All philatelic items are despatched in a PPI business class envelope, which lists Tallents House as the return address and includes the words ‘PLEASE DO NOT BEND’ on the bottom right hand corner.
If you see that a philatelic item has been damaged in the mail centre or on delivery, it must be returned to Tallents House, 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB
A P3960 should be included on the envelope to highlight the reason for non-delivery, so a new replacement can be sent to the customer.


If you cannot deliver an item without bending it, please:
  • Check if a neighbour is happy to take the item. If so, return to the address on the item and post a completed ‘With Your Neighbour’ slip or P739 ‘Something for you’ card through their letterbox. Doing so will inform the customer which neighbour has their item.
  • If you are unable to successfully deliver the item, scan the item as ‘not delivered’ and post a fully completed P739 ‘Something for you’ card through the letterbox and return the item to the office.
  • If the item is not collected, our Customer Experience team will contact the customer to arrange for it to be redelivered.
Now if we can just get them to take similar care of dealer-to-customer philatelic mail, and ensure that the stamps thereon are properly cancelled, we will be even happier!

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Machin anniversary slogan starts June reports.

As I hoped, Royal Mail have produced a slogan postmark for the 50th Anniversary of the Machin definitive - and as I might have predicted, there was no prior announcement so only those who took a gamble would have got this slogan on the day of issue of the stamps.

Thanks to several readers who have sent images of slogans while we have been on holiday. I hadn't noticed that the original one (above) has the spelling error Definitv !  This was unchanged on 9 June.

Exeter mail centre has the correct spelling, as has an illegible one from SE England, both on Friday 2 June:

The Father's Day slogan has reappeared this year, this a remarkably clear print on one of the new Machin Post and Go stamps from Jubilee Mail Centre 14-06-2017

UPDATE 22 June:  Father's Day still in use in Edinburgh Mail Centre on 20 June, but not good enough to show here.

But just in case we have forgotten that National Stationery Week runs from 24-30 April, North West Midlands were using it again on 10 June.

Running concurrently with, or just before, Father's Day was this one for World Blood Donor Day (june 14th), used at Mount Pleasant on Tuesday 13 June. (Thanks to MM)

Look out for two new slogans which were announced on MyRoyalMail website.

Tomorrow (21 June) is Reserves Day, marking the contribution made by those who give up their spare time to serve in the Reserve Forces. Royal Mail have around 220 military reservists who combine working for Royal Mail with protecting their country – at home and overseas.

And look out for our special Royal Mail postmarks on Reserves Day (21 June) and Armed Forces Day (24 June.)

Update 23 June:
An example of the Reserves Day postmark from South East Anglia on the actual day, 21 June 2017.

Update 5 July 
The final slogan for June is the Armed Forces Day slogan, shown here from Sheffield on 24 June 2017