Tuesday 29 May 2018

Checklist corrections; blog comments alert, and more New Machins

With the number of changes made for the latest version of our Checklist, it was inevitable that some errors would occur.  Thankfully few have been reported so far, but I'll wait a bit before producing a new version.

Thanks to IP & JV for these:

Page 5 - 2nd class, new number is U3010 not U3030
Page 7 - 1st class business sheetM12L etc is U3021 not U3016
Page 14 - £1.28 MA12 etc new number is U2939 not U2399
                £2 MA13 new number is U2955 not U2914
       Page cross-references
Some page number references within the body have not been updated as they should have been because of new pages being added or tables being split. Mostly the correct number will be 1 more than the one quoted.  Sorry for the errors; hopefully the links won't be too difficult to find.

Blog comments
Changes to the way that Google software is working on Blogger, it seems that when comments are made we are no longer getting an email to moderate (ie allow) comments to be published.  This will mean that your comments will not appear as quickly as before.  We will check the administration pages and permit comments once a day, at least.

Hopefully they will fix this soon!

UPDATE 30/31 May:
Additions to this year's Machin stamps.   We can now show the 2nd class booklet stamp, and the previously unreported and not yet made available from Tallents House 2p counter sheet (See foot of post).  This, like the 20p, 20p & £1, was printed on 09/02/18.  (These pictures taken from eBay, but seller ID not revealed). The same seller has also found the 1st Large business sheet.


These will be added to the Checklist as 2931.8, 3002.8 and 2916aB.8 respectively.

UPDATE 1/2 June:
As my informant wrote, "another day, another stamp".   And now we have the 1st class business sheet, with a printing date of 07/03/2018, from the same eBay seller.  (Norvic 2914aB.8)
I'm reminded that the 2nd Large booklet was around late last month and hasn't been pictured here  


You would think that if Royal Mail production department arranged the printing of the 2p (and maybe others), then they might have told Stamps & Collectables so that they could be made available along with the others.  I've made enquiries as to what else might have been printed on the same day - watch this space!

UPDATE 7 June:  I have asked RM about the 2p and any other values and suggested that the Production team (which is down a couple of people at present) and stamps & collectables ought to talk to each other more.  The failure was acknowledged but I didn't get any word on further values.  However, on an earlier post, this comment has been posted today by Petermk:
I am waiting to hear from TH regarding the 2p counter sheet which was printed at the same time as the ones issued in May if you have NVC issues on your standing order, they seem to have no knowledge of this stamp, but I explained they were on e-bay & asked why I did not receive one. But I was told that in July/August the 1p & 5p counter sheets will be available.
So at last somebody has found something out from the 'collector' side of TH before the trade side! 


LAST UPDATE 11 June:   
The 12 x 1st booklet has now appeared on eBay - picture added above.

I inferred from the comment above that the July/August distribution would include the 2p: I was mistaken, although it might by then be available.  

In any event I have now been told officially that the philatelic availability of more Walsall values will probably be held back until September Stampex, as happened in the spring with the 50p.  Something will be confirmed next week, and I'll report it in a new post.

IF this has been confirmed with the production team, it suggests that there are no new printings of other values yet.  The 1st Large Signed For stamp was reprinted last year on plain backing paper, the last 500g Special Delivery stamp was printed in 2016.   Time will tell - and we will let you know as soon as possible.

Friday 25 May 2018

Machin Checklist Update!

I have great sympathy with catalogue editors.  Forever trying to include all the new stamps that are issued but at the same time making sure that the numbering system is logical and properly accommodates new additions to, for example, a definitive series.

It has taken some time to update our Checklist to accommodate not only the over a dozen new definitive stamps issued this year, but also to incorporate - into already tight tables - an extra column to show the new SG numbers that will be in the 2018 Concise catalogue (now due for release in June).

To download the new version,  v2.0.3,  please visit the usual page - you should only need to do this once for each device.   We've amended the page with privacy information about how we use the information that you provide.  Other new versions will be announced here and on Twitter only.  No emails will be sent to tell you of knew versions.

Future versions will be at Dropbox here.

Wednesday 23 May 2018

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) - Privacy Policy.

Readers will have been bombarded recently by emails from many - some long-forgotten - businesses about GDPR and about how well they look after your personal data.  This is often subsumed into a new Privacy Policy.  

And this applies to businesses worldwide who have any dealings with customers in the European Union.  Some ask you to sign up to continue receiving communications, others simply tell you about the new rules and what they are doing to comply.

Long term readers and customers will remember when we used to send occasional emails about Great Britain news and what we were planning to do, what we had or would soon add to our shop.  It was a way of assessing interest before we produced (for example) first day covers, and giving regulars a head-start when we added unusual and desirable items for sale.  We also originally intended to tell everybody who downloaded our Machin Checklist when a new edition was available.

Sadly this became more and more difficult as our mass emails (to many hundreds of addressees) were identified by some ISPs as spam.  You will sometimes find a genuine email has been sent to your spam or junk folder, and wonder why: that is the reason.  [What I don't understand is how Gmail can sidetrack Google News Alerts to the spam folder, but that is an odd diversion.]

So I stopped sending those emails, and as the blog became more popular it became the goto place for regular readers and especially customers to find out what was going on.

So we won't be writing to anybody asking for permission to keep sending marketing emails, simply because we don't send any at all.  Your personal data - email address and name (if attached) especially - is stored at Google's mail servers and we rely on them to hold it securely. Emails are also stored on computers here in the office, so - as we receive an email of every order placed in our shop - are details on those orders: name, address, email address and what you have bought.  Telephone numbers are usually deleted.  The computers have passwords, and we lock the doors when we leave: what more can we do?

All payment details are held by PayPal: none of the card or bank detail that you type into the PayPal interface when you buy from us is communicated to us, and so that is covered by PayPal's security and privacy policies.

GDPR is, of course, mainly targetted at the big boys, in all forms of business.  I did read on a stamp forum recently that although the writer has emails about this from his bank, credit card co, ISP, phone co, and other mailing lists that he had signed up to, he had had nothing from any of the big stamp auction houses, so not everybody is keeping up with the rules.

We've done what we think is necessary, and updated our Privacy Policy with the help of our eCommerce-platform host, Freewebstore.  You can see it on a permanent page linked in the right-hand panel, so if you ever want to check after this post has dropped way down the list, Privacy Policy will always be there.

As for your personal data, on the shop only you can change it so if there is anything there that you want to change, you are the person to do it.  If you want old emails to be deleted, just let us know, by private email.  Like many people I have emails going back 20 years. (Thank you to those who are still with us!)

I'm happy to hear from any real experts on this to let me know if they think there is anything missing, or misleading (or just plain typos!). 

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:

My thanks to a correspondent in Australia who allowed me to show readers this mailshot which he posted on the Stampboards forum.  Whether or not you like or collect the stamps, this is an interesting piece of Royal Mail ephemera which would be a good addition to any collection of similar items.  I don't know whether these have been sent to UK collectors (this is preprinted or custom printed with the airmail caption).

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


UPDATE 11 July.  MG has sent this odd slogan for Children's Hospice Week with the wrong dates!  Used at Dorset and SW Hants on (probably) 16 June 2018 it shows the dates, bizarrely, as
19 - 24 June May 2018

Another candidate for the bizarre-errors-in-the-post thematic collection!

Chelmsford is also having an aberation as instead of supporting on of the 'Weeks', South East Anglia MC is reminding us to write the Postcode clearly.  And for once, the slogan is clear as well, this one used on 18 May.

Hay Festival
I don't think that this is the first time for Royal Mail to have a slogan postmark for the commercial venture which is the Hay Festival.  You might be forgiven for thinking that this is a little book event at Hay-on-Wye.  Hay is (just) in Wales, and far from being a little local event, the Hay Festival has  mushroomed into a worldwide series of events with the Welsh event running from 24 May - 3 June. Other Festivals are in Mexico and Spain, in September, and Peru in November. There might be a UK event in November (their website is ambiguous), followed by one in Colombia in early 2019.  In 2017 there was one in Denmark.

We've had one report from RB giving us the Peterborough version on 23 May, and MB shows that Tyneside has moved away from the winter olympics and gives us the other version on 24 May.

imagine the world

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
Just two bidders pushed this up from 99p to £10.50

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.

Although the Royal Mail website says that this was issued on 18 May, the actual date was 1 June according to information provided to the trade, and special postmarks were produced for the later date.

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.