Wednesday 25 July 2018

Non-Machin Postal Forgeries - 2014/2016 Christmas

By now most people know that various Machin definitives have been forged to defraud Royal Mail - the 1st class gold, blue, red, lilac and dark red are all quite common, and the recent 1st Large is widely used by eBay sellers!

What I hadn't seen until now were forged Large Christmas stamps.  What is interesting is that these are not produced in booklet form and the only normal outlet for them is Post Offices - although in theory any retailer could buy them for resale, although they usually stick to 1st & 2nd booklets.

2014. This 1st class Large seems to be self-adhesive, but it is the wrong size, and has elliptical perforations!  I suppose if that's what you've got you use it, but why produce something which is so obviously wrong?

The Large 2nd class is quite the wrong colour, and if you click on it to see it enlarged you will see that the definition is not as good as on the originals.

2016.  Similarly this 2nd class Large is quite wrong, and the perforations are too pointed.

If anybody has information about when and where these were used, we would be pleased to publish it.

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Another non-stamp modern postal history cover

A short while ago I wrote about why 2nd class Large stamps in PO branches are so old, and
showed an alternative means of paying for postage, via PayPal.

A recent (non-stamp) purchase from eBay was sent using ebay-purchased postage:

As you will see this is an ordinary 1st class letter, and I doubt that there is any saving of money to be made paying for postage like this rather than using a stamp.

On the other hand there is the convenience of not buying and stocking stamps, and of paying for the purchase online, possibly from a PayPal account.  I think the system also calculates the postage based on weight and destination, which saves the guesswork.

So another one to keep.

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Received after last acceptance?

The purpose of the postal mark shown below would seem to be self-evident: the item was received at the Post Office branch after the last post for the day, and therefore any delivery guarantee would not apply as if it was received on the day of posting.

Received after
sites latest 
acceptance time

This would be especially appropriate for Special Delivery mail which is guaranteed (in most parts of the country) to be delivered by 9am or 1pm the next day.  Nowadays the receipt given at the Post Office counter indicates whether or not the item was posted 'After last acceptance time', as this example from Dereham shows.

Normally the large letter would be cancelled at the counter with the counter datestamp, but in this case all the stamps have been cancelled with an unusual mark, and there is no indication of the place of posting.  The sender lives in West Yorkshire, but occasionally posts from Lancashire or Derbyshire, so we are no close to knowing where this was applied.

Could it have been applied at a Royal Mail Enquiry Office?  Seems unlikely as they would surely be accepting mail until the despatch to the Mail Centre. 

So, the owner and I are throwing it open to blog readers to explain it.  I'll also be putting it on the Stampboards forum, and will in due course send it to the British Postmark Society (unless one of the section editors wants to pick it up from here - be my guest!, but let me know.)

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Next round of Walsall-printed Machin counter sheets due on 12 September.

Royal Mail have confirmed that the September round of Walsall-printed counter sheets will be issued on 12 September, the first day of Autumn Stampex and ideal for getting first day covers. 

But will you include the 2p on this 'first day of philatelic availability'?  Or any of the others that might have been found in Post Office branches by then.  I suppose it is worth having one as a record, as long as it is stored with a note indicating its unusual nature and details of when the stamps actually appeared.

Royal Mail product codes are predicatbly

1p - DS018WL
2p - DS022WL
5p - DS055WL
2nd Large - DS421WLS

Also issued on that day will be Royal Mail's 'Mail by Bike' Post and Go set.

Monday 9 July 2018

Machin stocks running down at Tallents House

As regular readers will know, Royal Mail occasionally send a list of the printing dates of  available counter sheets.  Sometimes this is how we know of a new year's printing, and otherwise it provides new date blocks for those who like to collect them.  While information about new stock is useful, what this also shows is what stock is not available.

That's not to say that you might not get other printings when you order single definitive stamps from Tallents House, just that whole sheets are no longer held by the philatelic department, although they may be supplied via the Royal Mail business shop.  The two sets of stock are kept quite separate, which is why the 2018 2p is available from the business side but not from philatelic.

A list received today has some interesting revelations. The only year's printings (I'm not going to list all the dates) for these stamps are:

1p   -  2016, 2017
2p   -  2015
5p   -  2016, 2017
10p -  2017, 2018
20p -  2016, 2017, 2018
50p -  2012 (yes, there are no 2017*)
£1   -  2015, 2016, 2018
£2   -  2009, 2013

*We still have this in our shop, with a few date and cylinder blocks.
The shortage of lower values may be attributed to the lack of a 9p which necessitates using 5p +2x2p to raise 2nd class to first, who knows.

2nd class   - 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
1st class    - 2016, 2017, 2018
2nd Large - 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
1st Large  - 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

So if anybody collects date blocks or date margin singles of these values (and the special service stamps) we can supply these years and in some cases multiple dates within years.

Friday 6 July 2018

Captain Cook's Voyages stamp issue 16 August 2018

Once again I am able to refer you to the website of Buckingham covers for your first sight of a new stamp issue that Royal Mail won't allow me to show* here.

As you can see from the page showing the Buckingham FDCs, the issue consists of a set of 6 stamps and a miniature sheet of 4.  The set consists of se-tenant pairs of 2nd class, 1st class and £1.45 (the basic rate to Australasia) stamps, and the miniature sheet has a pair of 1st class and a pair of £1.45.

One first class stamp shows the familiar picture of James Cook, with an unidentified* ship in the background.  Also shown are Sir Joseph Banks (2nd class), naturalist and botanist, and Sydney Parkinson (£1.45), artist, who drew the picture of the Blue-black grassquit (bird) as well as the self-portrait.   The other stamps in the set show the Chief Mourner of Tahiti (2nd), the transit of Venus (1st), and portrait of a Maori Chief.
* I have been told by the artist Robin Brooks that this is from his original painting completed in 1966 TRIUMPH OF THE NAVIGATOR which does, of course, show the Endeavour.

The miniature sheet shows a chart of Cook's discoveries, canoes on Raiatea, a Maori clifftop fort on an arched rock, and repairs to the Endeavour in Australia.

The stamps will be issued on 16 August to mark the 250th anniversary of Cook's three-year expedition.  By including talented artists and scientists Cook's voyage provided never-before-seen information about the lands on the other side of the world.

Cook last appeared on a British stamp in the Travellers' Tale Millennium series in February 1999.

* Part of the reason is so that they can do their own publicity of the stamp issue and events surrounding it, and they don't want big splashes on social media such as Twitter, which is exactly where I picked up Buckingham's news.  Comments not really necessary, but Royal Mail do read, so go ahead!

Thursday 5 July 2018

Postmark News: Midlands Handstamp Centre to close

Not announced in the 29 June Postmark Bulletin from Royal Mail is the news that the Midland Special Handstamp Centre will be closing on 23 July.

The work of Birmingham will be transferred to the Northern SHC at Tallents House, Edinburgh which already handles Scotland, Northern Ireland, and North of England.


Collectors and dealers who plan to use the Hampton Court Road postmark (14590) on their new stamps might be advised to send their covers direct to Edinburgh at the usual address.

Meanwhile, thanks to Roger and his team for their service over the years.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Why 2nd class Large stamps in Post Offices are so old

Anybody who has tried to find 2nd class Large stamps in almost any post office will find that the booklets are probably from late 2016 when the cover was changes, the business sheets are probably from 2014 or earlier, and the counter sheets are 2014 or earlier if they have any at all.

An example is shown above to remind you of the stamp!  And shown below is why you see so few used.  Sellers on eBay, Amazon, Etsy etc, often use Royal Mail's widely advertised Click and Drop service.  Although primarily intended for parcels, the system can be used on ordinary and large letters: this was used to send postcards of Hampton Court, but I have had them used for many other eBay sales. 

Although the price is the same, the labels can be printed directly from the computer when preparing the goods for posting.  No transcription errors for the addressee; the sender's details are included automatically.  The only thing that has to be right is the weight and postal service, and in many cases these are part of the details entered on the selling platform.  The system also prints the bar-code which Royal Mail are trying to get all parcel senders to use (as on the Horizon system).  The details revealed by a QR-reader include the destination address and the postcode of the sender, as well as the weight and price, and a unique code.  The sender can also receive delivery conformation if the item is scanned on delivery.

What's shown is a good example of modern postage, but you won't collect as many of them as you do covers with stamps on!

Monday 2 July 2018

Security Machin Checklist update - version 2.0.6

Now that we have received our weighty copy of Stanley Gibbons new Great Britain Concise 2018
catalogue we have made some more minor corrections to our Checklist and uploaded version 2.0.6, which can be downloaded from here.

As Gibbons have decided that the gummed stamps in the RAF prestige stamp book are missing the 'P' in the MPIL code, they have given these new sub-numbers irrespective of their year code.  I believe that all the errors previously mentioned have been corrected, but as usual will be grateful for any further corrections that readers find necessary.  Please email to the address at the head of this page.

July slogan postmarks

June was a bumper month for slogans, and one campaign runs over the end of the month.  So this month we start with a re-run of the first two Art Fund_ Museum of the Year slogans.  We still only have one example of each, so examples of the version from the other machines will be welcome.

27 June: The Art Fund - the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund - has a contest to find The Museum of the Year.  There are five finalists including the Postal Museum. MB has sent a copy of the latest slogan postmark which notes Brooklands Museum as one of the finalists - which suggests that there will be a slogan for each of the finalists.  But this series is likely to be interrupted by one tomorrow for Armed Forces Day which is this Saturday, 30 June.

The Brooklands slogan is from Edinburgh, and dated 27 June 2016. Thanks to MG we can at last show the other layout, from Lancashire & South Lakes (Preston) 27/06/18

             Art Fund_ 
             Museum of
                 the Year 2018
Brooklands Museum

 * the underscore after 'Art Fund_' is deliberate and part of their operating name.

28 June:  the second museum of the year candidate to get a slogan is Ferens Art Gallery, this example from North West Midlands 28 June 2018.  And we also now have the Edinburgh version.

2 July:  the third candidate is the Glasgow Women's Library, used here in Edinburgh on 30 June 2018.  I've been told that the Glasgow slogan was not used in the other format, but that Armed Forces Day continued instead.  This must either be a mistake or unnecessary!

3 July: the fourth candidate is the Tate St Ives, used here in Peterborough MC on 2 July.  Also the alternative version from Lancashire and South Lakes.



4 July:  the final candidate is The Postal Museum, this one from North West Midlands on 3 July.

As The Postal Museum was outdone by Tate St Ives, there was no (self-)congratulatory slogan for them winning the big prize.

9 July:  It seems that there is a bigger problem with dogs and postmen in the Wolverhampton area as they are running with a second Dog Awareness Week, judging by this slogan used on Saturday 7 July (while other MCs have returned to the default 'Action for Children' slogan).  Thanks to MB for this used at the North West Midlands Mail Centre:

11 July 2018  The winner of this year's Golden Man Brooker Prize is Michael Ondaatje, for The English Patient. (*see comments).  Slogans of both types have been received at Norvic Towers, but we will be interested to see any oddities with this slogan.
Glasgow 09-07-18, North & West Yorkshire 10/07/2018, and a glitched logo from Gatwick on the same date.

UPDATE:  Thanks to KC for this transposed version from Chelmsford (South East Anglia) - which still missed the stamp!

16 July 2018: I'm convinced that Wolverhampton's North West Midlands Mail Centre is stuck in a time warp (see Dog Awareness 2 above).  MB has now sent a copy of the Ferens Gallert Art Fund postmark clearly dated 14 July


29 July 2018.  What may be the last one for July, from BM, marking the 200th birthday of Emily Bronte, for which event Royal Mail dedicated a postbox in Market Street, Thornton. This is from Exeter Mail Centre, postmarked 47 July 2018

Happy 200th birthday
Emily Bronte
30 July 2018
1 August 2018:  (not quite) the final post in this thread shows the other format, courtesy of MB, from North West Midlands on 28 July.

UPDATE 6 August:  Thanks to 'McSet' who sent yet another example of out-of-period use, with this RA250 slogan first used on 8 June, now used at Tyneside used on 31 July.
UPDATE 31 August: And to HW who has sent the Tyneside example used on 29 August!


As usual, all new postmarks for July will be shown here and, don't forget, there are two layouts for most slogans. Another post will be started as soon as we have the first slogan for August.