Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Our Shop: Order processing update; new Machin; P&G error; new products.

Thank you for all the recent orders and for your patience while we deal with them.  As most were for the new Walsall printings being distributed tomorrow (23rd) by Tallents House, we could not send these last week.

All orders to 4175 have now been despatched, except for those which are being held pending receipt of other stamps/covers.

Machin: I understand that the 2nd class Large booklet with M18L year code is around although we don't have a picture or stock yet.

Harlow Post Office has been using Mail be Sea Post & Go stamps in the 2nd class position on their machine.

The next products to be added to the shop will be some maximum cards of the owls stamps, and some older Machins or definitive FDCs which have been missed.

Friday, 18 May 2018

May Postmark Bulletin available shortly

The May edition of Royal Mail's Postmark Bulletin has just been distributed by email and should be on their website shortly.  Most of the postmarks, but not the official FD handstamps are already shown here.

The latest Bulletin includes the official first day postmarks for the Royal Wedding, Royal Academy and Dad's Army stamp issues, and the TUC Commemorative Sheet.  There are no special handstamps coinciding with the release of the new Machin's by Walsall other than ongoing changeable date handstamps.

There are a number of other long-term and one-day handstamps not directly connected with new stamp issues.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

First batch of Machin reprints now available

It never rains but it pours.  In addition to the Walsall printings of counter sheet stamps, to be made available by Royal Mail from 23 May, we have several other stamps and I can now show them all here.

Counter sheets

Example of small counter sheet, 25 stamps


1st and 1st Large Booklets

2nd class business sheet

The Norvic numbers for these are

10p counter sheet, printing date 09/02/18, issued 23.5.18 - 3010.8
20p counter sheet, printing date 09/02/18, issued 23.5.18 - 3020.8
£1 brown counter sheet, printing date 09/02/18, issued 23.5.18 - 3101.8 
2nd counter sheet, printing date 14/02/18, issued 23.5.18 - 2911a.8
1st counter sheet, printing date 14/02/18, issued 23.5.18 - 2914a.8
1st Large counter sheet, printing date 14/02/18, issued 23.5.18

2nd business sheet, printing date 14/03/18,  found April 2018 - 2911B.8
1st book of 6 (pack date not known) - 2936aS.8
1st Large book of 4 (pack date 29/03/18) - 2937a.8

and they will be added to our shop very shortly, but not posted until after next week.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Royal Wedding MS revealed

For anybody who hasn't already seen it in their daily newspaper, eBay, other websites, social media, we are now able to reveal the design of the Royal Weding miniature sheet that was first mooted by readers here.

As expected, it is in the standard Royal Wedding Format of two different photographs from the engagement, two at 1st class and two airmail £1.55.  Here's the last one for big brother William issued in 2011:

Monday, 14 May 2018

Machin News - another new stamp

Unless there is news from a Royal Mail source, the first news of new stamps comes from dealer/collectors or collector/dealers spotting something new in a branch PO, supermarket or other retail outlet.   

So it is something of a surprise and novelty to report a new stamp from somebody who has received a new discovery on a letter!

This is the 1st class from a book of 6, coded M18L MSIL, and thanks to MC for sending this picture and the report.

I think it is 18, although the bigger it gets the more it looks as if it could be 16.  Click on it and let me know what you think.

UPDATE: A second image confirms that it is 18.  The letter was postmarked Home Counties North 10-5-2018, and is believed to have been bought in the Hoddesdon area.


May slogan postmarks.

Half-way through May and we have seen no new slogan postmarks yet.  

However, thanks to the British Thematic Association I can show this example of the default slogan - or slogans!  As they wrote on Twitter:
It looks like aren't sure who they're supporting on their postmarks here. If anyone wants to show a theme of "Indecisive", this would fit right in.

This was first hit by the Dorset & SW Hants ink-jet dated 03-05-2018 with the slogan 'Royal Mail supports mental health awareness'.    It then received a second pass from SE Wales mail centre, using last year's 'Royal Mail proud to support Stroke association'.  [Photo credit to Jon M.]

So South East Wales is still in 2017, as Tyneside is still locked in winter.

Youth Mental Health.
No sooner had I written the above, than GF sent me this new slogan from Edinburgh Mail Centre dated 10 May.
Royal Mail
supporting youth
mental health with


UPDATE: Thanks to JE I can now also show the alternative IMP layout from Manchester on 12 May.

Mental Health Awareness Week.
In the post this morning, from last Friday, another new variant on mental health as this is a special week for the Mental Health Foundation.  This one from Warrington Mail Centre.

Royal Mail
proudly supporting
Mental Health
Awareness Week


Meanwhile, on Tyneside, they must be really confused by this warm weather, as they are still marking the Winter Olympics, continuing from last month.  This one dated 14 May 2018!

Maybe there will be one for the Royal Wedding?  That should start on Friday for delivery on Saturday?

Children's Hospice Week
So it seems no Wedding slogan, unlike 1947. Thanks to MB we can show next week's new slogan marking Children's Hospice Week.  One example from Swindon Mail Centre dates 18 May (Friday) and the other from North West Midlands dated 21/05/2018, with a different five-line layout to the text.   The wording is
Royal Mail
proudly supports
Children's Hospice Week
21 - 27 May 2018


As usual, we'll be pleased to show any more slogan postmarks that you might find.  

Sunday, 13 May 2018

If it's a postmark, why can't we all have a copy? - CHOGM London

It seems the Royal Mail Pres Office are at it again.  Thanks to NS we are able to illustrate an apparent postmark applied to special commemorative postcards of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting recently held in London.

UPDATE 20 MAY - One of these cards has now been offered on eBay with a starting price of £1.   Postmark collectors should visit this page

According to our correspondent (to whom very many thanks):
Delegates (primarily Government officials and invitees from Commonwealth countries) were invited to send a postcard to anywhere in the world. A special event postcard was supplied highlighting the key venues used during the meetings and posted cards received an exclusive handstamp. A dedicated Royal Mail postbox was installed at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster and could only be accessed by delegates during three of the five days.

How many delegates took up the opportunity is unknown but the facility was not widely promoted and examples will be very limited.
Arguably, if the postcards were forwarded under cover, then the 'postmark', which is in the same style as some previously promoted by the press office, could be considered as a cachet.  But if the cards were sent as mail items, then this is definitely a postmark.

According to Clear Mapping Co
We were delighted to be approached to create a poster map showcasing London and the iconic venues the Heads of Government would be visiting. The map was created in QGIS using Ordnance Survey Open Data to begin with. Then the landscape was distorted to fit Windsor Castle and central London in to the artwork, and the winding River Thames was condensed.
The map depicts the landmarks and beautiful illustrated details like the Hackney black cabs, old fashioned telephone boxes and the Queen’s guard. The beautiful bespoke illustrated poster maps were presented to the Heads of State, as a keepsake of the event.
Alongside the poster map we created postcards showing the City of London. These were given to more than 2000 delegates in sustainable gift bags during the event. The Royal Mail kindly provided a unique franking stamp for the occasion, so delegates could send their postcards around the world for free. These have already reached far away destinations such as Cyprus, Jamaica and New Zealand!
 The company has already produced maps for Kigali, the venue for the next meeting late next year.

Update 2:
I have confirmed that the postmarking was done by the London Special Handstamp Centre at Mount Pleasant.  No count was kept, but 'hundreds', rather than dozens or the full 2000, were processed, a mix of UK and international.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Changes to Horizon labels

It's many months since there was anything to report about the Horizon system and its labels.

In a recent edition of Stamp Magazine Don Staddon reported that the Horizon software was upgraded in March, much to the benefit of users.  There was no change to the labels, although one of our readers in Glasgow (AM) sent these pictures which appear to show a significant change to the 't' in the word 'letter'.

I've compared the 'before and after' 2C Small Parcel labels that I have and can see no difference. The problem with dot-matrix-type printers is that there are always variations.  But I think this change in the word 'Letter' is worthy of note and if you do collect Horizon labels, then this is something to incorporate.  I'll be happy to see any other variants.

UPDATE: The June edition of the magazine shows variations which make the service indicator more bold, in particular doubling of the horizontal lines in some letters (see the L and C above and compare the letters o and F in Signed For if you have them), and enboldening of the serifs in some lower case letters, note the g in Large, also noticeable on the n in Signed.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Webshop reopens.

We're back in business after our trip to Malta and have added a few random products to the shop, there being no new Machins to offer yet.

As well as maximum cards for the RAF issue, we also have some first day covers that have slipped through the net - Mr Men, Rugby World Cup, Beatrix Potter Machins, Battle of Britain slogan postmark.

Also we have the 2017 Ancient Britain first day cover with the locally applied handstamp from Grimes Graves in Norfolk.  These were local handstamps arranged by Royal Mail's PR department that were not available on the reposting service through Special Handstamp Centres.  While some people obtained some fdcs because of local publicity most of the locations were well out of the way and there was no indication on the postboxes of the special treat in store for mail posted there.  We covered this in detail here.


We have just two examples of this FDC available, so make haste.  As far as we know very few were produced.

To see all the latest additions to our store click on this link.  Thank you for looking.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Trades Union Congress 150 years: commemorative sheet.

In June 2018 the Trades Union Congress (TUC) will celebrate its 150th Anniversary. The first TUC meeting was held in 1868 when the Manchester and Salford Trades Council convened the founding meeting in the Manchester Mechanics' Institute.

The fact that the TUC was formed by Northern Trades Councils was not coincidental. One of the issues which prompted this initiative was the perception that the London Trades Council which was formed in 1860 was taking a dominant a role in speaking for the Trade Union Movement as a whole.

In 1897 the Congress, took the decision to form a more centralised trade union structure that would enable a more militant approach to be taken to fighting the employer and even achieving the socialist transformation of society. The result was the General Federation of Trade Unions which was formed in 1899. For some years it was unclear which body (the GFTU or the TUC) would emerge as the national trade union centre for the UK and for a while both were recognised as such by different fraternal organisations in other countries. However, it was soon agreed amongst the major unions that the TUC should take the leading role and that this would be the central body of the organised Labour Movement in the UK.

The self-adhesive sheet has been designed by Hat-trick Design and International Security Printers in lithography. It contains 10 'Royalty Seal' stamps each with a label attached depicting scenes from major events in British labour history.  This includes the Tolpuddle Martyrs' deportation in 1834, the London dock strike of 1880, the 1968 Ford car plant strikes for equal pay, and the Grunwick dispute over mistreatment by management in 1976.  All images are (c) TUC Library.

Forged and reused stamps: how to spot them and report them to Royal Mail

We have previously said that, while we know that Royal Mail take fraud and forged stamps seriously they don't actually tackle the problem at source, instead just surcharging recipients.

Now Royal Mail have two new pages on their website, one giving guidance on how to spot forgeries and reused stamps, and the other providing an avenue for reporting.

What is stamp fraud?  is here

Report stamp fraud  is here

The second page includes these questions:
Do you still have any remaining stamps or envelopes with the invalid stamps?
If yes, are you willing to send these to us?
So Royal Mail are asking for examples, even though recipients who are surcharged may not realise that this is a way for RM to investigate, and for them to report their concerns.  Remember, the recipient will be innocent in most cases, buying from (say) eBay sellers of various goods, who themselves have bought the (forged) stamps online.

If you have had to pay a surcharge on mail delivered to you because the stamp is allegedly forged, then you really need to read these pages.  And if you send the packaging to Royal Mail you really need to keep a photocopy or good sharp photo.  You may be able to prove that the stamps are genuine and that the surcharge was wrong.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Machin Definitives 2018

As more new printings of Machin definitives have been announced it seems like a good time to provide a list of those which have been issued or discovered this year.

As well as those already reported in earlier blogposts, I have been told that there are new printings of business sheets with no serial numbers or dates on the rear of the top panel.  The 1st class is M17L but the 2nd class is M18L so we could see first M18L soon.

The 1st Large booklet has also turned up with M18L coding.  My correspondent says that this is the last one he would have expected, but I think the 2nd Large is even less likely.  While I was away I had two Large letters from non-collector sources in different parts of the country.  Both were stamped with 2nd Large from 2009, with source code FOYAL!

For the six new stamps distributed by Royal Mail on 23 May there will be no official FDCs as they are non-visible change (change of printer only).  We will do a limited number of covers.  We will also stock a limited number of date and cylinder blocks.  It will help our ordering if you let us know that you want these.

For the 1st Large booklet and 2nd business sheet referred to above we will show these in our shop as soon as we have stock.  Meanwhile here are pictures.  I understand that the 1st Large booklet stamps exists on backing paper with printing in both directions.

 (Updated 17 May)

Year code before 2018
1st deep scarlet counter sheet M16L - 2914a.6 - originally reported mid-2017 but in very low numbers.
50p slate counter sheet M17L - 3051.7 - January 2018
Special Delivery 100g M17L on SBP2 - 2985.7a - January 2018

Year Code 2018
1st class MCIL - 2936aC.8 - RAF retail booklet issued 20.3.18
1st class MSIL - 2936aS.8 - retail booklet
1st Large MFIL - 2937a.8 - retail booklet 

10p counter sheet issued 23.5.18 - 3010.8 - reprint by Walsall of 2017 & earlier DLR stamp
20p counter sheet issued 23.5.18 - 3020.8 - reprint by Walsall of 2017 & earlier DLR stamp
£1 brown counter sheet issued 23.5.18 - 3101.8 - reprint by Walsall of 2017 & earlier DLR stamp
£1.25 counter sheet issued 20.3.18 - 3125
£1.45 counter sheet issued 20.3.18 - 3145
£1.55 counter sheet issued 20.3.18 - 3155
£2.25 counter sheet issued 20.3.18 - 3225.8 - reprint by Walsall of 2017 & earlier DLR stamp
£2.65 counter sheet issued 20.3.18 - 3265
2nd counter sheet issued 23.5.18 - 2911a.8 - reprint by Walsall of 2017 & earlier DLR stamp
2nd business sheet - found April 2018 - 2911B.8
1st counter sheet issued 23.5.18 - 2914a.8 - reprint by Walsall of 2017 & earlier DLR stamp
1st Large counter sheet issued 23.5.18 - 2916a.8- reprint by Walsall of 2017 & earlier DLR stamp

2p gummed from RAF PSB issued 20.3.18 - 4002P.8
5p gummed from RAF PSB issued 20.3.18 - 4005P.8
£1.17 gummed from RAF PSB issued 20.3.18 - 4117P.8

These will be included in the next edition of our checklist.

Website, blog, Checklist, electronic communications.

This post wraps up a number of matters relating to electronic communications and websites.

Website to Blog
A recent change to our website homepage provides links individually to three recent blog posts, but not to the main blog URL which would enable you to see all recent posts.  This was due to a change made in the Feedwind software we use.  I shall be looking into a further change to restore the links to the previous method if that is possible.  In the meantime if you click a link which takes you to an individual blog post you can click on the Norvic Philatelics Blog title (in white) to refresh to show all recent blog posts.  In the same way clicking on Norvic Philatelics takes you to the webpage.

Checklist of Machin Security Stamps
Due to difficulties in sending mass emails (and new regulations) we no longer send out marketing emails or emails to tell you that there is a new version of the checklist.  This blog will be the only place where we will place notifications that there is a new version.  If there has been no notification here since you last asked for a copy to be sent to you, then there is no new copy.  All blogposts announcing a new version will be labelled 'Catalogue'.  Click on the word Catalogue in the label list on the right-hand side to find all posts with this label.

A few people have received multiple emails with the same checklist, even though they have only requested it once.  We believe this is a bookmark problem, and may occur because you go back to the page which already has your email address completed.  Sorry for any inconvenience: this is another thing on the technical To-Do list.

Electronic Communications - GDPR
The EU General Data Protection Regulations, effective 25 May 2018, apply to all organisations (businesses and clubs) having any contact with EU countries and Switzerland.  Simplified, this requires us to have your permission before we communicate with you further; 'communications' can be electronic or by mail or phone.  Permissions can be set to distinguish between marketing/information/fundraising purposes, and many readers will have had multiple emails from clubs, hobby organisations, financial and other companies.  The regs also require that data is only held for as long as it is required.

All our emails (whether to our norvic-philatelics, norphil, or gmail addresses) are routed through Google's Gmail.  This means that if you write to us by email your email address is added to our contacts.  If you have asked for our Security Stamps Checklist our website sends us an email to say that you have asked for it.  Originally this was so that we could tell you when the Checklist was updated, but sending mass emails soon proved problematic because some ISPs regarded such mail as spam.  In particular Britain's BT (and associated) rejected any mass mailing addressed to more than 15 of their customers.  So we no longer write (as mentioned above) to tell you when there is a new version.  

In fact, we don't write to you unless you write to us.  In a very few instances where you have asked about a stamp or other product many years ago we may contact you.  This is a legitmate use of your details.   Otherwise traffic is initiated in one direction only: you send us information, you ask us questions, and you order from our webshop.  Only then do we contact you.

However, if you are reading this and want us to remove your details from our address book, please write and ask, and that will be done.  We cannot remove your details from our web-shop for accounting and tax purposes, and removing account details will also remove order details.

Any questions, please ask!

Slogan Postmarks for April 2018.

A quiet start to the month, and then a rush of slogans at the end.  Thanks to all those who sent examples of these.  Yours may not be shown but all are welcome. I try to show one of each layout, but not one from each mail centre - that could get too busy!

I can't find a slogan marking the centenary of the founding of the Royal Air Force, I thought that there should have been one.

The first slogan I have marks the Meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government held in London from 16-20 April.   We have the slogan used on 16 April at Edinburgh and Tyneside (the other format), and reversed at SE Anglia (Chelmsford) on a square envelope - and it still missed the stamp!

London 2018
16-20 April 

Next came the slogan to celebrate Digital Pride which was running from 21-28 April.  Whilst I can see that social media campaigns will be appropriate, I'm not sure how delivering letters (and 'coming out' to colleagues and managers) ties in with digital pride?  Anyway, the slogan was used in both formats, here on 20 April from Norwich and SE Anglia - the latter being the alternative layout and on a coloured envelope which is why I have taken the colour out.

Celebrate Digital
21-28 April 2018
Delivering with Pride

Digital Pride
21-28 April 2018
with Pride

The birth on 23 April of Prince Louis to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was marked by a slogan used on at least 23 & 24th April. Examples from Romford on 23 and Peterborough in the other format on 24th.

TRH The Duke
and Duchess
of Cambridge on the
birth of their son

UPDATE 2 May: JG has sent this poor example from South East Anglia on 30 April.

This ought to be the end of April's slogans but running in parallel with the others, even on the same day and in the same machine, Tyneside MC has continued to support the British Winter Olympics team in their endeavours at Pyeongchang!  Examples here on 16th or 18th and 26th or 28th!

Thanks to everybody who has contributed to this month's report.