Friday 29 September 2017

Star Wars 2017 Retail Booklets compared

Some time ago when the second version of Security Printed Backing Paper was announced I mentioned that the format did not (as we thought it would be) show the same layout when inverted, due to the arrangement of the lines of small and large lettering. (Details here.)

After some debate with collectors and other dealers I determined that we would not separately list the two versions of SBP2 (although some dealers and the Modern British Philatelic Circle are trying to).  I concluded that most collectors would want only one type (indeed, some want only one stamp whatever the backing paper looks like), and that it would be too easy to make mistakes.  Not only that but holding stocks of both would be expensive.  So we sell what we have only distinguishing between plain, SBP1 and SBP2.

However, that doesn't mean that we ignore the matter entirely, and the new Star Wars retail booklets to be issued on 12 October provide a good opportunity to show the difference, because in our supplies, the two booklets are printed on differently presented backing paper!

The booklet with blue selvedge includes the BB-8 and R2-D2 stamps; the booklet with the brown selvedge includes the Maz Kanata and Chewbacca stamps.

The blue booklet (on the right) has Small and Large Upright, followed by Small and Large Inverted text.

The brown booklet (on the left) has Small Inverted, Large and Small Upright, and Large Inverted.

As far as I know all the booklets are printed in the same orientation, that is upright (unlike much older stitched booklets which were printed tete-beche).  So all should be the same - at least from the same roll of paper.  However, it is more than possible that one or both booklets were printed from more than one roll of paper, and therefore they could both exist with the backing paper in both orientations. 

I look forward to seeing reports of booklets bought from Post Offices or delivered from Tallents House, if they are different to these.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Slogan Postmark Update

As regular readers will remember, we post news and pictures of slogan postmarks in just one
post for each month, and keep adding to it.  I'm not sure that's the best way for getting exposure, but it does keep everything together for the enthusiast, and also keeps any comments on the relevant 'thread'.

After a weekend off, the September post has been updated three times today, as news came in over the weekend that 'Eye Health Week' ran in parallel with 'Know Your Numbers'. 

Then the Lake District National Park Authority followed the announcement of their newly-won UNESCO World Heritage status with news that Royal Mail would have a two-day postmark this week.

This was followed by the arrival of another slogan for this week promoting the interests of the Greetings Card Association.

None of these have been mentioned on Royal Mail's press/media webpage, although the health ones are covered on

You can see news of all the September slogans (so far) here.

Lake District World Heritage Site One-day Slogan Postmark

I understand that Royal Mail will be marking the new status of the Lake District as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a nationwide special slogan postmark

It will be used on 2nd class mail tomorrow 27 September and on 1st class mail on 28 September 2017.  This is the wording, and my guess is that the line-breaks will make it look something like this.   Examples, please, if you get them!

Celebrating the
Lake District
World Heritage Site

Party Conference Season Produces Post & Go Collectibles

With the country's political parties lining up for their annual conferences I am reminded by
WhiteKinght's Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog* that Royal Mail usually take a stand and have their Post and Go machines producing stamps with specific inscriptions.  On some occasions Smilers stamps have also been available.

The Liberal Democratic Party met at Bournemouth from 16 to 19 September but I have not yet seen any news that any Post and Go stamps were sold at the Conference just as there were no such items in 2016.§
The Scottish Nationalist Party will meet at Glasgow from 8 to 10 October. Stamps were dispensed at last year's conference so we might expect similar stamps with the additional inscription "Glasgow" again this year. 
The Labour Party will meet at Brighton from 24 to 27 September so look out for Post and Go stamps with additional inscription "Brighton". 
The Conservative Party will meet in Manchester from 1 to 4 October and so one might expect Post and Go stamps with additional inscription "Manchester" being sold there during the Conference.
Link to MyRoyalMail about 2016 Labour Conference.

* WhiteKnight has far more information about Post and Go than I do, and his latest epistles include news of various emanations from Post and Go machines IN Gibraltar - which are more 'valid' than the similar ones sold at London Stampex.   He also mentions in non-PandG news that Swiss Post are now operating from Gibraltar as they are from some of the Spanish island tourist destinations.  Attractive stamps but unless collectors pressurise the catalogue producers they won't be included in mainstream catalogues.

UPDATE: WhiteKnight's latest update includes pictures of the Post and Go stamps from the Brighton Labour Conference.

UPDATE: PostageLabelsUK has  pictures of the stamps and more pictures of the stand.  Also available on eBay.  § Explanation of the absence of PandG from the Lib-Dem Conference is because it coincides with Stampex, and those in charge of the machines can't be in two places at once.

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Out of office - again

If you've been to our shop or sent an email you will know that we are going away for a few days.

There will be no more blog entries until next week, and I closed the shop until we get back, because a week's worth of orders is a lot to catch up on.

NEWS: 2nd class Post and Go with CL17S date has been reported
Ink-jet postmark with / / separators has been reported from Bristol MC as far back as 02/12/2016. This is the earliest date I have seen.

That's all for now, folks!

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Christmas comes (very) early in West Yorkshire

Regular readers will recall that this year's Christmas issue will include not only the regular 8 values with a religious theme, but also stamps designed by the winners of this year's design competition for children.

All these stamps will be issued on 7 November, the competition winners being in both standard and Large Letter stamps.

But one reader has sent this picture today, showing the 1st class stamp issued already and posted in West Yorkshire.

Now we know that Christmas stamps used to be issued earlier, and that the surface last posting dates for international mail are approaching very soon, but this is exceptional.

And it's very easy for many special stamp issues to be sold early, despite the selling date in the margin (not usually present on Christmas stamps), but surely anybody with a hap'orth of sense would know that mid-September is far too early to sell Christmas stamps?!

Perhaps its the fault of the greetings card companies, who have already filled the supermarkets and other shops with cards before some people have had their summer holidays; if the cards are on sale is it not unreasonable to sell the stamps?  [It is, of course, but some people just don't think!]

UPDATE 10 October
Two interesting developments.  (1) the stamp shown above was not bought in a post office in Yorkshire.  The sender confirms that it was bought from an eBay seller of cheap postage - which still begs the question....
And (2) Post Office Ltd, in an article about the Swindon Distribution Centre says that "The first delivery of Christmas stamps was made on 25 September and the last will arrive in branches on 24 October".
Which begs an even bigger question if the stamps had not even been sent to branches when this article was first written!

Saturday 16 September 2017

New plans for even later deliveries?

It's hard to believe that anybody in Royal Mail thinks this will be an acceptable situation.  According to reports from Cornwall Live:

St Austell could lose morning postal service if Royal Mail proposals go through

The change would see mail arriving for sorting at the delivery office at 11.30am, rather than 6am.  This would mean that the local delivery postal workers would start not long before most people start their lunch, and deliver from about 12.30 onwards.

Now we know that wherever you are somebody has to be at the end of the line.  I made this point in a newspaper article over a decade ago when I suggested that people retiring early to the country to set up their own business should, as well as looking at internet speeds, should find out when the mail was delivered.  At the time I was delivering as late as 2pm to some farms and other businesses in rural homes half-a-mile from the nearest country road.  And what about the 9am Special Delivery service? That would involve extra van journeys, just to get one piece of mail delivered.

But things have changed.  Commuters don't expect to get the mail before they leave for work, retired people don't get so much mail anyway, and a large part of the population relies on social media and the internet for their communications.

But businesses in rural towns should be entitled to their mail early enough in the day that they can process it and get some answers out again the same day.  Some business still receive a good number of cheques and are in rural town with banks, and it is good to get the banking done the same day, if only to reduce the interest paid on their loans.   Even here in Norfolk where the postmen start at 6 or 7, the local council and a large supermarket are now paying extra to have their post delivered at a reasonable time because the 'normal' time was too late.

With the bank cut-off at 3pm, if you don't get the mail delivered until 2pm, because the delivery office doesn't receive it until 11.30 (on a good day), you're going to lose a day.  The only saving grace, if your delivery van also does the collections, is that you'll still get 24 hours to turn round anything that needs to be (say) signed and returned, because the collection will also be later!

But if this goes through in Cornwall, then other areas could follow.  Just think, the postmen could do deliveries from one town in the morning, and then do another in the afternoon?

Friday 15 September 2017

Autumn Stampex report

As usual I went to London Stampex in Islington on Thursday.  It was moderately busy with several people looking at the exhibits - there were many displays of postal history, and some good examples of Machin decimal covers, which it is always good to see as more attention is being given to modern material.

The Royal Mail stand was reasonably busy with the relatively new Royal Mail staff from Sunderland who have thereby met the collectors face-to-face and thereby learned more about their idiosyncrasies!

As far as I know - and I've had few reports - there have been no Post and Go errors. A steady dribble of people were buying some of the stamps, but it is no longer a battle.  If you left a credit card in the machine you wouldn't now find the next buyer rushing over to give it to you, but could go back a few minutes later to collect it!

Left to right: Machin Anniversary with Autumn Stampex 2017 inscription (only 1st class)
Poppy MA15 with WWI Battle of Passchendaele inscription (6 values)
Mail by Air collectors set of 6 values.

Jersey and Guernsey both had Prince Philip inscriptions on their flag stamps, with Jersey selling their new Fruit and Berries set and Guernsey continuing the Lighthouse stamps issued in February.

(As in all cases, click on the images for larger views)

The Post and Go offerings from Gibraltar Post were a surprise as I hadn't seen any publicity about them before Stampex, and can't find anything on the official or IAR website.

The Year of the Rooster stamp, issued earlier in the year and available at Spring Stampex in the usual strips of 4, was this time sold with the additional inscription Autumn Stampex 2017, and the collectors strip, this time of of 6, consisted of Local 50g, Spain 50g, UK 20g, EU 20g, Worldwide 20g and Worldwide 40g stamps.  The other reel dispensed what I think is a new issue - not mentioned on the Gibraltar Post website.

These were available in the same Collectors Strip values as the Year of the Rooster shown below.

As for the rest of Stampex, I don't go intending to buy much and this time ended up with far more modern British postal history than I expected!  I'll report on them on my other blog in due course.

Tuesday 12 September 2017

More Post and Go News

In the absence of news about ordinary stamps, and in particular Machin definitives, some more news today about Post and Go, from Royal Mail and Jersey Post.

Royal Mail
Royal Signals Museum - Kiosk 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.

Jersey Post

From 18 September until 16 October, the JE02 Post and Go kiosk at Broad Street post office will dispense Jersey Crests stamps with the inscription: Super League Triathlon 2017, in honour of the first ever Super League Triathlon event which takes place in Jersey from 23rd - 24th September. A limited number of collectors' strips will be available from the Jersey Philatelic Bureau whilst stocks last.

Super League Triathlon is a new championship series combining the three core triathlon disciplines but with an alternative approach to the Olympic standard. Points are awarded for three individual stages: the Triple Mix, the Equaliser and the Eliminator rounds.

UPDATE: More about this on WhiteKnight's Commonwealth Stamps Info blog.

Monday 11 September 2017

Unannounced Post an Go changes at RN Museums

Stuart Leigh writes to report that at least some of the Post and Go machines at Royal Navy Museums are dispensing stamps with a changed logo.

The Royal Navy Logo has been reduced in size from about 10.5 mm dia. to about 7.3mm – see below

"To date I have only found this on A002, A006 and A007 – The NMRN, HMS Trincomalee and Museum of Naval Firepower."

The logo on the inscription for HMS Queen Elizabeth at RMRN was smaller than that used for the Battle of Jutland commemoration.

Stuart's Post and Go Checklist can be downloaded here.

As usual, we are only reporting these but will not be stocking them.

Friday 8 September 2017

Machin and Shop Update

We must apologise that nothing has been added to our shop since re-opening last week.  

We have not yet received supplies of the 2nd Large booklet and business sheet definitive stamps. 

We expect to have these by the middle of next week (around 13th), which will be the day before Stampex after which we will also have a few Stampex Post and Go sets.  There may be other finds at Stampex: this is unlikely, but who knows?

Monday 4 September 2017

Star Wars revisited for October's surprise stamp issue

As readers of Britain's Sun newspaper will already know:


Star Wars stamps will be released next month featuring classic characters from C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca to Maz Kanata — ahead of the release of The Last Jedi in December

Royal Mail account holders were told not to write about this stamp issue, especially on social media, until Royal Mail had made the official announcement, but as the stamps are on their website and the artist Malcolm Tween and others have already spread the word on twitter, I feel no need to hold back giving you the news that there is to be yet another Star Wars stamp issue on 12 October.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think this is a good move for the stamp collecting hobby in this country (although a lot of money will flow into Royal Mail Stamps & Collectibles which will be useful for them) but a lot of people commenting seem to have short memories, suggesting that this is not a British enterprise.  I suggest you have a look at the paragraphs on our 2015 webpage about the earlier issue to jog your memories.
The new stamps feature a mixture of old and new characters - Prog, Chewbacca, Maz Kanata, C3PO, R2D2, BB8, K-250 and Supreme Leader Snoke.
STAR WARS:THE LAST JEDI, is blasting its way onto cinema screens from 14 December 2017. To celebrate, we’re proud to announce eight new STAR WARS stamps, limited-edition collectibles and gifts, packed with friendly (and not so friendly) characters.
Available to pre-order on the Royal Mail website some products are aimed squarely at Star Wars fans, some are for normal postal use (8x 1st class shown above), while some are aimed at the philatelic community.

As well as the usual framed and bemedalled paraphernalia there is a prestige stamp book* (and a limited edition ditto) issued on 14 December when the next new film is released, and two retail stamp books issued in October.  Whilst the latter should not bring any new definitives, only four self-adhesive versions of what will probably be a gummed set of 8), the PSB will contain 4 x 1st class, 2 x 2nd class and 2 x £1.05 £1.40 Machin definitives which should be coded M17L MPIL.  This will give us three new stamps in the pane of 8.

(* From Royal Mail's shop site: "The 26-page Prestige Stamp Book includes all eight Special Stamps from the 2017 issue, four from the original 2015 issue and a unique stamp pane.", the last-mentioned being the definitive pane.)

There doesn't appear to be a new Smiler sheet this year, although the sales pages of Royal Mail's website show a mix of new and 2015 stamps and may require closer examination.
Thanks to Anonymous for his closer examination of the website!  He has found the two new generic sheets. The Droids Aliens and Creatures generic sheet of 10 with attached labels has the 8 new stamps, and two extras and is priced at £7.00 (face value £6.50).

The Ultimate Collectors Sheet (which must mean that it is the last of these?) shows all 20 stamps and is priced at the £13.00 face value.  This one could be gummed, whilst the one above would most likely be self-adhesive.  Time will tell.  The stamps from this one are also available on an A4 first day cover at £17.50, the like of which we have not seen since the Classic Album Covers sheet.  

Other countries
... have already announced some stamps, including Portugal, which has two each at €0,50 €0,80 and €0,85 and a miniature sheet with 3 x €0.50 sold at face value (allthough a souvenir colder costs more).