Thursday, 19 September 2019

Royal Navy Ships stamp issue 19 September 2019

The latest stamp issue shows eight Royal Navy Ships, old and new.  The details were embargoed until 12 September, but as we were on holiday we couldn't show them then.  The set consists of se-tenant pairs of 1st class, £1.35, £1.55 and £1.60 stamps and a self-adhesive retail booklet containing four 1st class Machins and the two 1st class ship stamps.

Royal Mail write-up on this issue
The oldest of Britain’s armed forces, the Navy is known as the ‘senior service’. As an island nation, Britain’s prowess in ship design innovation and navigation has been instrumental in its history. Royal Mail is paying tribute to the Royal Navy by featuring eight ships from its illustrious history including the Mary Rose launched in 1511 and the most recently commissioned ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched in 2014.

British naval power truly began with the Tudor monarchs. In 1509, the newly-crowned King Henry VIII ordered a rearmament of the fleet and in this era great ships of 600 tonnes and more were built including the Mary Rose.  In the 17th century, King Charles I undertook the next major programme of warship building, with his fund-raising contributing to the outbreak of the Civil War. The Navy expanded further to become the most powerful in the world. Under Charles II the Navy became an independent national entity with the title of ‘Royal Navy’. By the end of the 18th century, the French Revolutionary War followed by Napoleonic War challenged the service as it faced the combined forces of the French, Spanish and Dutch fleets in locations as far away as the Caribbean. A series of victories culminating at Trafalgar (1805) led to the UK Navy becoming the dominant power in the world.

In the early years of the 20th century tactics changed with the introduction of the powerful Dreadnought ships, which with their speed and firepower, made other vessels redundant. By this time the German Navy was rapidly growing and was the only challenge to British naval superiority as the First World War commenced. The principle battle in the war was the Battle of Jutland in 1916 where, despite heavy losses, British numerical advantage was insurmountable, leading the German Fleet to abandon any attempt to challenge British dominance.

At the start of the Second World War the Navy was still the largest in the world with 1400 vessels. In the first years of the War, however, the Navy suffered heavy losses of battleships and troopships, but also managed to carry out major evacuations of troops from Dunkirk and Crete. The vital Atlantic supply lines were vulnerable to submarine attack and the Navy’s role in keeping the supply lines open was critical to success in the war.

Following the war and the decline of the British Empire, the size and capability of the navy was reduced and the best condition ships refitted. One of the most important operations by the Navy after the Second World War was the 1982 Falklands Islands War, which provided a reprieve in proposed cutbacks and proved a need for the Royal Navy to regain an expeditionary capability. The Royal Navy also took part in the Gulf War, the Kosovo conflict, the Afghanistan Campaign and the 2003 Iraq War.

Resourcing the Navy remains a controversial subject but the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers are a significant investment in Navy capability – these 65,000-tonne vessels are the biggest Royal Navy ships of all time and represent a radical new design for aircraft carriers.

The stamps in detail
1st Class Mary Rose: Launched in 1511, the Mary Rose famously took part in the Battle of the Solent against one of the largest enemy fleets in English naval history. It was during this battle on 19th July 1545 that the ship sank, with hundreds of sailors drowning and only around 34 of the crew surviving. It is not clear why she sank but an eye witness recalled that the Mary Rose had just fired all of her guns on one side and was in the process of turning around when she sank.
About the painting; Painted by Geoff Hunt © The Mary Rose Trust/Geoff Hunt PPRSMA

1st Class HMS Queen Elizabeth: One of two new Queen Elizabeth-Class aircraft carriers, the ship was launched in 2014 and is the largest and most powerful warship ever built for the Royal Navy. Capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft, its flight deck spans an area of four acres.
About the painting; painted by Robert G Lloyd specially commissioned by Royal Mail ©. Robert is a marine artist who is renowned worldwide within the maritime industry and amongst private collectors for his visually stunning and technically accurate maritime paintings.

£1.35 HMS Victory: Launched on 7th May 1765, HMS Victory had an unusually long service, leading fleets in the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic War. It was in the latter that she gained ever-lasting fame as the flagship of Vice-Admiral Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar, arguably Britain’s greatest naval victory in which the French and Spanish were defeated. HMS Victory is now located at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and as the Flagship of the First Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. 
HMS Victory is shown broadside to port, from windward, in the English Channel with Rudyerd's Eddystone Lighthouse distantly visible beyond her stern. She is shown flying the flag of Lord Hood as Vice-Admiral of the Red (red at the fore), as she heads outward-bound with her squadron in 1793 for the Mediterranean, where she was Hood's flagship at the Siege of Toulon and the invasion of Corsica. During this period the Navy used different coloured ensigns to show the seniority of squadrons, with the red ensign being the most senior squadron. From the 1860s, the Navy revised this policy and just flew the white ensign.
The Victory was floated out of dock at Chatham and the picture shows her as built except that she has been coppered. 
About the painting: the painting is by Monamy Swaine © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

£1.35 HMS Dreadnought: Launched on 10th February 1906, the ship’s revolutionary ‘big gun’ design rendered all other warships obsolete and dominated the First World War era. Powered by Parsons Turbines she was two and a half knots faster than her rivals and carried twice the firepower of earlier battleships. At the start of the First World War, HMS Dreadnought was despatched to Scapa Flow as flagship of the Fourth Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet and in March 1915 she became the only battleship to sink a submarine in the First World War.
About the painting: painted by H. J. Morgan and used with the permission of The Trustees of the Royal Navy Trophy Fund.

£1.55 HMS Warrior: The first ocean-going iron-hulled warship, HMS Warrior was launched on 29th December 1860 and was the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet. Powered by steam and sail, she was the biggest, fastest and most powerful warship of her day, proving to be the ultimate deterrent. Having been painstakingly restored, HMS Warrior returned home to Portsmouth in 1987 where she serves as a museum ship.
About the painting; painted by Thomas Goldsworth Dutton, painting © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

£1.55 Sovereign of the Seas: Commissioned by Charles I in 1634 and was launched in 1637. She was regarded at the time as the largest ship in the world and was popularly known as the Golden Devil because of her heavy armament and gold ornamentation. In 1652 she sank a Dutch warship with a single broadside. Later renamed Sovereign and then Royal Sovereign, the ship was accidentally destroyed in a fire at Chatham dockyard.
About the painting: painted by Paul Garnett, painting © Paul Garnett.

£1.60 HMS King George V: HMS King George V was launched by King George VI on 21st February 1939 and was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 1st October 1940. She was originally going to be named King George VI in line with the tradition of naming the first capital ship of a new reign after the monarch but King George VI requested that she bear the name King George V in honour of his late father. She was assigned to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow, which remained its principal base until 1944. As flagship of the Home Fleet she took part in several North Atlantic operations, protecting the Arctic convoys and acting as a deterrent against the threat of the German capital ships, Bismarck, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Prinz Eugen and Tirpitz. In 1941, she led the fleet in the attack and sinking of the Bismarck in the North Atlantic. HMS King George V was also involved in the invasion of Sicily and was later redeployed to the new British Pacific Fleet as its flagship.
About the painting: painted by Robert G Lloyd specially commissioned by Royal Mail ©

£1.60 HMS Beagle: Launched at Woolwich Dockyard, London on 11th May 1820, HMS Beagle is famed for taking renowned naturalist Charles Darwin on his first expedition around the world between 1831 and 1836, his five-year trip being documented in his travel memoir, The Voyage of the Beagle. She was initially equipped with a 10-gun brig sloop but was refitted and assigned as a surveying vessel because there was no immediate requirement for her as a warship.
About the painting; painted by John Chancellor depicting her on her second voyage © Gordon Chancellor.

Note: Royal Mail has carried out extensive research on the flags depicted on each of the ships to check that they are correct, consulting experts in the National Maritime Museum, the Mary Rose Trust and the Royal Navy. In the case of the earlier ships it is impossible to verify whether or not the flags on the paintings accurately depict what was actually flown on the ships at the time.

Technical Details (as provided by Royal Mail)

Designed by Hat trick design, printed in lithography by International Security Printers (Cartor) on ordinary gum.  Size 40 x 30 mm (not the 37 x 35 mm stated by RM), in guttered sheets of 60, perforated 14 x 14.5.

Products available from Royal Mail
Set of stamps, retail booklet, presentation pack, first day cover, stampcards.
Other products aimed at the general market rather than philatelic: Six Stamp Frame (The frame features all eight Special Stamps from the stamp set individually mounted together with a Certificate of Authenticity incorporating a MOD hologram.)  Framed Mary Rose Print Enlargement and Stamp; framed HMS Victory Print Enlargement and Stamp.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

October blockbuster issue - still embargoed

As I have previously indicated, I will not publish, nor allow comments which publish, details of any stamp issue which is under embargo.

I will provide links to FDC producer websites when they have shown their covers for embargoed issues.

But because of our contract with Royal Mail we will not be publishing anything until we are permitted to by Royal Mail.

The person who has tried four times to reveal that detail on comments on other posts should know that and know that nothing is going to change.  Thank you for your interest: I know the details, I have the pictures and have had for months.

Friday, 6 September 2019

New High Value Machins will be available from Royal Mail

A number of people have written to say that they have heard that the £2, £3 and £5 M19L stamps will be available at Stampex.

Royal Mail have confirmed that these are non-visible changes being the first printed by Walsall, and so will be on automatic distribution for those people who have such stamps on their Royal Mail standing orders.

Apparently stock of the high values are low, and if the same applies to Post Office Supplies Department - despite so few POs selling them - then we can expect to see the new stamps in those branches that sell them in the near future.  Update: DL sent the second picture below, showing the pair of stamps with the printing date, which were obtained from his local Royal Mail sorting office (so still not at a PO branch).

Meanwhile, here's a picture of the £2, courtesy of PW.



Update 16 September:
Thank you to several people who reported that they found these at Stampex and to others who stated that they would be distributed by Royal Mail Tallents House to standing order customers on 24 October.

I've also had a report from another regular here and at Stampex:
I was glad that I was there queuing early outside. I only had to wait about 15 minutes to be served but by the time I left I would estimate for those waiting it would be well over an hour at the Royal Mail Exhibition stand.   They appeared to have a few more ‘experienced’ staff who knew what they were looking for.
Things they didn’t have were (2019 issue):
2nd Large Counter sheet.
2nd book of 12
2nd Large book of 4
1st Large book of 4
Special delivery 100g
Birds of Prey Commemorative (6 x 1st book)Any business sheets for any date.
 Thanks for this report!

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Postal Museum Post and Go News for Stampex

The always reliable and entertaining Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog reports that Post and Go machine at The Postal Museum in London will be dispensing the Mail by Air stamps with a special additional inscription 'Airmail 1919'.

(Postal Museum mock-up which shows a 2016 datastring!)

The 'overprint' marks the centenary of several Airmail “firsts” in 1919 – the RAF flights to Cologne, the first flight across the Atlantic, the first flight to Paris and the pioneer flight to Australia.  The new stamps will be available from 11 September, ie the first day of Autumn Stampex.  Limited to 300 the pack costs £18 for 6 x 1st class stamps (face £4.20); the FDC is only £11.

As the author writes:  Now that Royal Mail Post and Go issues are much less frequent than in recent years I find this to be an appealing issue and of interest due to the postal history anniversaries commemorated by it.

Update 16 September:
As with earlier museum reissues, this one has brought a new set of stamps in more ways than one.  MC writes:
My TPM official FDC & Pack have stamps with the '17' code whilst my output from the kiosk during a transaction timed at 10.53 is '19' year coded. So the changeover must have occurred much earlier in the morning, or even before that. I had to wait at least 20 minutes to access the kiosk as the chap on it when I arrived (a suspected foreign dealer?) was ordering loads and holding up the 4 of us waiting, who all turned out to have very limited needs! So, whilst I was there, there were no roll changes.
I suspect the stamps in the FDC and pack were printed some time ago, in order for the FDCs to be processed and made available on the day of issue.  As we know, the date and time on the machines can be set to any required date, so 'fixing' it to show the date of issue is simple.  (But see below.)

Thanks to CFN for this picture of the R19YAL reprint with the actual font and datastring:

.. and for this earlier R17YAL version.  

UPDATE 17 September: Most importantly, BR points out that stamps carrying the  R19YAL were digitally printed, as you can see by comparing the two side-by-side.  Comparing the images above doesn't work, because they were scanned at different times, but I think they show differences as the earlier digital printings did.

Further update: Stuart Leigh (Post and Go Checklist author) clarifies that "Early on the first day at the Postal Museum R17YAL were being dispensed from the kiosk."

As usual this is posted for information only, we shall not be stocking these stamps.

Discontinuation of Royal Mail Signed For orange flash label for bulk mailers

Whilst this will not affect us - as far as we know - you may notice in future that you are asked to sign for parcels which do not have the traditional 'signed for' label.

According to Chris Dawson on Tamebay:
From the end of September, we’ll start to see the end of orange Signed For labels on our letters and parcels. Royal Mail are to discontinue the Orange Flash labels for Royal Mail Signed For 24 and Royal Mail 48 items.
We are already seeing a significant reduction in use of the labels for two reasons. Firstly with the growth of Royal Mail’s Tracked 24 and Tracked 48 product sets there has been an overall reduction in the number of Royal Mail Signed For items. Secondly, if you print labels with the Signed For service rather than a Signed For sticker the service will be often be incorporated into the postage label.
With the modernisation of Royal Mail seeing the tracking number for Signed for items incorporated into shipping labels, all the orange flash label really does is to be a visual indicator for Posties and consumers that this is an important item. The reality is that with 80,000 handsets rolled out to Posties, they’ll not only be prompted to collect a signature but will collect it electronically and in today’s world the visual reminder is no longer as important.
Royal Mail will be removing the need to use the orange Royal Mail Signed For label from their Terms & Conditions on the 30th of September 2019 and removing the need for customers to apply it when using Royal Mail Signed For as an add-on to Royal Mail 24 and 48. This should help to save you time in parcel preparation and save a few trees in the process. As well as the carbon footprint reduction, eliminating the orange flash stickers will also reduce the cost of production and distribution from the postage service.

I don't expect any change for non-business customers posting at Post Office counters although the production of the special Signed For NVI stamps may be reduced as more mail items are sent using other methods.

Did you know that if you send a parcel or large letter (over 100g I think) and pay all or part of the postage in cash with a Horizon label added, you can check delivery (but not progress) on Royal Mail's Track & Trace webpage?  For any item with a 2D barcode such as that shown below, your receipt will have a reference number - note that all 0 are zero.  Dashes are not entered, just the 16-digit number/letter string.  Thus you have proof of delivery, although not a signature.  I believe this also applies to items posted at a branch SSK which also have the 2D barcode (below right).

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

September postmarks - slogans and others

It's a while since I had anything to report about operational postmarks - there was nothing of note in August - and so now that we've got Royal Mail's latest sticker series out of the way, I start this month with a Universal type received this morning.

It's not easy to read, although those who are real experts will probably be able to work it out from what does appear.  Fortunately I know that it was posted in the Greenford area and is probably* from the Jubilee Mail Centre, posted on 2 September (IX) 2019.

* However, the only clearly visible letter is a U at 1 o'clock, which is the wrong place!  Any other suggestions are welcome!

No sooner said than done - we now have a new ink-jet slogan which is appearing in both formats although I can only show this one from Peterborough Mail Centre 03-09-2019.  
Update:  A copy from Chester & N Wales on the same date arrived later. Note the 5-line layout instead of 4.

The law around
organ donation in
England is changing


Although not of Royal Mail's doing, I have to say I like the hashtag #PassItOn with its double meaning for passing on one's organs and passing on the message.

Update 16 September:
This seems to be the month for mystery slogans, by which I mean those for which the average reader will not immediately understand the correct interpretation.

The first marks the 150th anniversary of The People's Friend, which is described on Wikipedia as "a British weekly magazine founded in 1869 and currently published by D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.  The magazine is principally aimed at older women."  Having seen this magazine I would say that it appeals to those who like to read mostly short-story fiction with fewer adverts, rather than the glossy mags which have stories about and large pictures of current so-called celebrities.   

Anyway, thanks to JG, MB, & BM for copies of the slogan. The earliest appears to be a 2nd class on 6th September from Exeter.  These two examples, showing the different formats are from Edinburgh and North West Midlands mail centres both on 9 September.

150 years of
The People's Friend


The next is something of a paradox, partly because it is being actively promoted on social media. This is for 'Scroll Free September', promoted by the Royal Society for Public Health.

But note there is no hashtag on this one, which "offers a unique opportunity to take a break from ALL personal Social Media accounts for 30 days (or for however long you can cope without them)!"  Royal Mail is not present in the long list of supporters for this campaign which is surely some mistake.

We've only seen the one format so far, from Jubilee, Edinburgh and Peterborough Mail Centres on 11 September (both 2nd class).  (Thanks to CH, DW, and our motor repair garage!)

Scroll free
Royal Society
for Public Health


UPDATE: The other version has now appeared from Manchester Mail Centre dated 14/09/2019


Any other reports of Universal usage or, maybe, some new slogan postmarks, will be posted here during September.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Music GIants III - 3 September 2013 -

Royal Mail is issuing a set of stamps and Miniature Sheet to celebrate one of the UK’s greatest music legends on the 50th anniversary of his first album and as he continues his final tour – Farewell Yellow Brick Road. 

Total sales of Elton John’s records worldwide are estimated between £275m and £300m which makes him one of the biggest selling artists of all time. A re-written and re-recorded version of ‘Candle in the Wind’ released in 1997 remains the biggest-selling single since the charts began in the 1950s and he is the most successful artist of all time in the US charts after the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

Elton John has achieved 38 gold and 27 platinum albums and has been awarded 12 Ivor Novellos, 5 Grammys, 4 BRITS and an Oscar. He has also written the award-winning and much acclaimed soundtracks to the Lion King and Billy Eliot. In recognition of his contribution to music and for his charity work he was knighted in 1998, having been awarded a CBE two years previously.

The issue consists of a set of 8 stamps, 4 x 1st class and 4 x £1.55 (total £9), and a miniature sheet of four stamps (£4.50).  There will also be a retail booklet containing two of the 1st class stamps and 4 x 1st class definitives (£4.20).


1st class se-tenant strip - Honky Château, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou, and Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy
£1.55 se-tenant strip - Sleeping with The Past, The One, Made in England, and Songs from The West Coast

The retail booklet contains the Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantsatsic stamps; these will be self-adhesive and so have separate catalogue numbers from the gummed stamps shown above. The definitive stamps will be coded M19L MCIL, and the booklet is printed on SBP2.


Minisheet:  1st Class Madison Square Garden 2018, 1st Class Buckingham Palace 2012;
£1.55 Hammersmith Odeon 1973, £1.55 Dodger Stadium 1975.
Background Image Elton John Peacock based costume from 1974.

The album stamps in detail
1st Class Honky Château: Recorded in the Château d'Hérouville near Paris, Honky Château was Elton John’s breakthrough pop album, home to ‘Rocket Man’ – one of three songs he composed on the morning of the first day of recording.

1st Class Goodbye Yellow Brick Road:
A double album that perhaps represents the artistic
pinnacle of Elton’s 1970s’ career, a teeming, eclectic song writing masterclass that features ‘Candle in The Wind’, ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’ and ‘Bennie and the Jets’.

1st Class Caribou:
His fourth consecutive US number one album, Caribou, is best-known for ‘The Bitch Is Back’ and the epic ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’, but its most striking moment might be ‘Ticking’, the eerie saga of an armed siege in a bar.

1st Class Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy: A concept album on which lyricist Bernie Taupin recounts the early days of his and Elton’s career, complete with a vivid depiction of Elton’s 1968 suicide attempt, ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’.

£1.55 Sleeping with The Past:
The last album Elton John made before going into rehab was intended as a homage to the soul and R ‘n’ B music that had inspired him in the 1960s: in ‘Sacrifice’, it produced his first UK solo number one single.

£1.55 The One:
The cover designed by Gianni Versace, its lyrics haunted by the unfolding AIDS
crisis and Elton’s battle with drug addiction, The One re-established the now clean and sober Elton John.

£1.55 Made in England:
Largely recorded live in the studio, Made in England’s upbeat title track – a hit single in 1995 – masks the rest of the album’s mature mood, which features reflections on ageing both positive and negative.

£1.55 Songs from The West Coast:
“Going backwards to go forwards”, as Elton put it, Songs from The West Coast returned to the warm sound of his early 1970s’ albums and offered his and Taupin’s strongest collection of songs in years. A latter-day triumph.

Designs and acknowledgements
Set: Royal Mail Group Ltd, based on an original design by Studio Dempsey Photography of album covers by John Ross; all album covers © Mercury Records Limited

MS: Royal Mail Group Ltd.  Background image – Elton John performing in 1974 © Sam Emerson,
courtesy of Rocket Entertainment; Christmas show at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, 1973 © Michael Putland/Getty Images; Dodger Stadium concert, Los Angeles, 1975 © Terry O’Neill/Iconic Images; Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace, London, 2012 © Dan Kitwood/Staff/Getty Images; Madison Square Garden concert, New York, 2018 by Ben Gibson © HST Global

Technical details
Printed by International Security Printers, size 38mm(w) x 31mm(h) in sheets of 48, 12 se-tenant strips of four per sheet.  Litho, PVA Gummed, Perforations 14 x 14

Miniature Sheet Size 146mm x 74mm, with stamps 41mm(w) x 30mm(h), perforated 14.5 x 14.

Postmarking arrangements.
Music Giants III Stamp Issue – Postmarking Extension
In order to give customers sufficient time to prepare their covers and postcards as well as submit sponsored postmark requests Royal Mail is extending the availability of all postmarks relating to the Music Giants III stamp issue by 28 days from the First Day of Issue (3 September). All items requiring a Music Giants IIII related postmark should be received by Royal Mail Special Handstamp Centres by 8th October. 

Any sponsored postmarks received after publication of this [September] Postmark Bulletin will appear in the October edition and customers will be able to have these postmarks applied to covers up to and including 5th November.

Official first day Postmarks.

Other products
Presentation pack with set and MS (£14.30); two first day covers; Stamp Cards; Press sheet of 15 miniature sheets, an edition limited to only 300 and priced at  £74.25.

Products not aimed at the philatelic market include 'Fan sheets' containing four identical stamps in a surround of the same design.  (The similar David Bowie sheets contained five stamps.)  The stamps are "the same as those in the ordinary set" according to Royal Mail and whether the phosphor is different we don't know.  But these sheets do enable se-tenant horizontal pairs and strips of the designs.

There are also many other souvenirs and framed print and stamp combinations all of which are on Royal Mail's website

Fan sheets will be available for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy stamps, with a third one having all 8 stamps in the set against a montage of the album covers.   The individual sheets are £7.50 and the sheet showing the set is £10.20 (the last is a small mark-up on face value but still not guaranteed to get a full catalogue listing).

As usual, we shall not be stocking these.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

ICC Cricket World Cup Winners stamp issue - 26 September 2019

The long-drawn out process of obtaining permissions, chosing photos, designing the miniature sheets and getting them printed has now been completed and Royal Mail have launched the products today (or yesterday maybe if you saw Royal Mail's website!).

Miniature Sheet for 2017 Women's World Cup Winners

Stamp designs and acknowledgements:

1st class  – the England team posing for a photo after their victory, photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images;

1st class  – England players congratulating Anya Shrubsole, photo by John Walton © PA images;

£1.60  – England captain Heather Knight and team-mates celebrating their win, photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images;

£1.60 – the England side celebrating on the balcony at Lord’s Cricket Ground, photo by Harry Trump-IDI/IDI via Getty Images TM ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2018.

Miniature Sheet for 2019 Men's World Cup Winners

Stamp designs and acknowledgements:

1st class – England Captain Eoin Morgan lifting the Cricket World Cup Trophy, photo by Stu Forster-IDI/IDI via Getty Images;

1st class – Eoin Morgan and team-mates celebrating, photo by Philip Brown/Popperfoto via Getty Images;

£1.60 – England players celebrating their win, photo by Gareth Copley-IDI/IDI via Getty Images;

£1.60 – England players congratulating Ben Stokes, photo by Philip Brown/Popperfoto via Getty Images

Official licensed products of England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). Manufactured and sold under licence by Royal Mail Group Ltd. The Three Lions and Crown Logo and We Are England Cricket Logo are registered trademarks of the ECB. © 2018 England and Wales Cricket Board Limited. All rights are reserved.

Technical Details:
Printed by International Security Printers (ISP) in litho, the sheets are 192 x 74 mm, with stamps 60 x 30 mm (Olympic landscape size).    Product codes MZ150 (Men's), MZ151 (Women's).

Miniature sheet, two first day covers, single presentation pack.
No stamp cards will be produced for this issue.

FDC Postmarking:  Special postmarks will be available for 28 days after issue date to allow collectors to choose which postmark to use.  Special Handstamps will be shown on Royal Mail's Postmark webpage when they have been proposed by sponsors and approved.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Ships of the Royal Navy - 19 September 2019

As already mentioned Royal Mail's main September stamp issue features ships of the Royal Navy.  We cannot supply details until the week before, but the first day cover producers are already showing their products on their websites.

Here's a link to the Adrian Bradbury product; Buckingham have emailed their customers with pictures of their cover but I can't see it on their website yet.  The picture on the emails shows a rather plain drawing of HMS King George V.

However, what these do show is a set of 8 stamps in se-tenant pairs all apparently depicting paintings.  The two first class stamps are also shown in a retail booklet of 6 in the standard format.

Bradbury's covers feature the Mary Rose and HMS Victory, and a full list is of the designs is provided:
1st Class Mary Rose
1st Class HMS Queen Elizabeth
£1.35 HMS Victory
£1.35 HMS Dreadnought
£1.55 HMS Warrior
£1.55 Sovereign of the Seas
£1.60 HMS King George V
£1.60 HMS Beagle
Postcrossers will be pleased to see a pair of stamps for the AIrmail 20g Europe / 10g World letter / Postcard rate of £1.35.

The first, but by no means all, of the special handstamps are shown on Royal Mail's Postmark webpage together with the Stampex postmarks for the week before.  This is the first time for many years that there is no first day postmark at Stampex.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Would a more conservative stamp issuing policy be better for us all?

Unless you collect the stamps of the country represented by this logo, or you are familiar with the language, you probably won't guess which country it is.

It's a small country in terms of size and population, although it attracts many tourists - about 6.5 times as many people who actually live there.  They don't issue many stamps - 25 this year - and those are singles, miniature sheets of 2, or sets of 4 at most.  It's a good issuing policy, although because postage rates are quite high the cost of the stamps alone is about £52, but again that's not too bad.

Here are their Europa stamps for this year (national birds):

By now you will have worked it out, and those who knew anyway may well have thought - "just a minute, their logo is red, not black."  Well, today it's black here, because this year's Christmas stamps might almost be the last ones, or at least the last ones which are easy to get:

Why? Because their Stamp and Philatelic Department (Postphil) will be abolished at the end of this year. Here's the announcement from their Head of Philately, VILHJALMUR SIGURDSSON.

Dear Friends

Iceland Post, Stamp and Philatelic Department (Postphil) will be abolished at the end of this year after about 90 years in operation.

We still have two stamp issues left this year, on September 12th and October 31st, but when they are done the department will be closed down for good and will stop serving stamp collectors, domestic and foreign, altogether.

The fact that the number of our philatelic customers have constantly been decreasing year after year has lead to years of deficit for Postphil.

Iceland Post has got a new CEO Mr. Birgir Jonsson, who is cutting down everything that is not profittable in this company, including Postphil, and that is due to the fact that Iceland Post currently has severe operating difficulties.

Today, August 20 Iceland Post is laying off about 50 people throughout the company.

The current management of Iceland Post Ltd., prefers if possible to stop issuing new stamps altogether, but on the basis of current law, Iceland Post cannot unilaterally decide to do so.

However, there is some uncertainty as to how these matters will be handled in the future and the company is waiting for answers from it´s owner, the Icelandic state.

If the company must keep on issuing new stamps in 2020 and onward the number of new stamps will be very few each year and there will be no service for stamp collectors.

According to CEO Mr. Birgir Jonsson this task of producing and issuing new stamps could be given to outside contractors.

I will leave Iceland Post Ltd, in September after 20 years in charge of Postphil.

From October to December there will only be 3 people working at Postphil so operations will be at minimum

Kind regards,



TEL: +354 580 1050 | DIRECT: +354 580 1051 | MOBILE: +354 825 1051 | STAMPS.IS | |
STORHOFDI 29 | 110 REYKJAVIK | ICELAND | TEL: +354 580 1000 | FAX: +354 580 1059 | POSTUR.IS |

So there you have it.  A conservative stamp issuing policy doesn't guarantee success if you don't have enough customers - philatelic or otherwise.  Of the 2.3 million tourists who visit each year many do so for weekend or 5-day breaks, as we did in January.  We sent no postcards, although there are many on sale and we bought a few.  With the cost of postage being £1.65 (US$2, €1.80) that was a step too far.

The country is hi-tech. We didn't use any cash, and bought all meals and coffees (and postcards) using a credit card (debit cards also welcome).  I think it's safe to assume that the population is equally as happy to use email and text messaging (and social media) for social and business communication wherever possible.  Last year the postal service tried a 'next day delivery' service for letters which cost nearly £4 for a 100g letter.  It ceased after 10 months.  With a population of less than 340,000 (and that's all of them including the children) I guess they don't need very many stamps: you can drive from one side of the country to the other in 10 hours (weather permitting).

It's something to think about.  Sure, in the United Kingdom with a much bigger population there will always be a postal service that needs stamps.  It's just not that easy to get from Tresco to Haroldwick (about 36 hours by road/sea: your letter will do it in the same time for 70p).  So there will always be a need for some method of showing that postage has been paid.

Something to think about 2.
Should you be wanting any stamps from Iceland, for example if you are collecting all the Europa stamps this year, or if you collect bird thematics, it might be an idea to put an order in now.  You may have to actually visit Iceland to get them after Christmas.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Mechanised Mail Sorting in the 1990s, and meter marks.

Now that we have stopped stocking the Machin definitives for years after M18L, there is time to delve into our boxes and rediscover things which were put aside for investigation, or to form part of a collection or club display. 

But there aren't enough hours in the day, or indeed years left, to do justice to all the side-line unsorted collections so I'll be mentioning some here in case anybody is interested.  If you are, just sent an email to ian [at] and I'll give you more details.  Many of these will be at bargain prices, some just for the cost of postage.  The alternative is to put them into a club auction or go through the tortuous process of eBay listing - or just send them to recycling!

This first lot is a bundle of mostly office mail envelopes mainly from the late 1990s, all with more or less readable mechanised mail idents to Norwich, with a few older, and a couple to Sheffield or elsewhere. Most are blue dots in various shades, some are clear. Being commercial correspondence there are hardly any stamps, it is either meter-franked or has Postage Paid Impressons.  A few sample pictures - click on each to get a bigger view.

This lot weighs about 350gr for over 65 covers.   Postage will be at cost; if you are interested, please get in touch.

Monday, 12 August 2019

New version of Norvic Machin Checklist - V 2.1.3

As a result of all the recent new stamps which have become available in various places but not all here, I have updated the Checklist and a new version is now on Dropbox.

Remember, there will only be a new version when we mention it in a new post, and it can only be found from this link on the right-hand side of the blog, down the page a bit.

As always, if you have any problems getting this, or if you find any errors, do please let us know.  This new version not only had all the latest stamps but also adds some Large Letter booklets that were missing from previous editions for some years!

Update 19 August
Thanks to Chris N we can now show the latest addition to this year's Machin stamps with the 1st class from booklets of 6 - MSIL M19L.  This is numbered 2936aS.9 in our system.


Update: This is version 2.1.3 dated 12 August, with the 2p M19L at the top.
Due to an aberration, the Latest Additions sentence shows wrong highlighting and should read:

Latest Additions and amendments are highlighted with green shading and the previous changes are highlighted with blue shading.

Additional information not available previously:

2931.9      2nd class booklet MTIL M19L was packed 21/02/19
2936a.9    1st class booklet MTIL M19L was packed --/02/19 & 12/03/19

2914aB.9 1st class business sheet M19L was printed  04/02/19
2916aB.9 1st Large business sheet M19L was printed 25/03/19

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Rock Legends and Rock Gardeners

No, it’s not “Music Giants III” although it could easily have been one of the choices of title Royal Mail considered when the series started.

This is a different sort of Rock Legend, and I’m showing it here to demonstrate to readers who only collect Great Britain stamps that some other postal authorities have, perhaps, more imagination and are better at marketing.

I rarely encroach on the specialist area of the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog, but when I saw this from New Zealand Post, I felt it deserved a mention.

It’s maybe not a subject that would necessarily get the juices flowing - although New Zealand has some truly magnificent landscapes - but the special layout of the sheet with its poster style captions are really rather clever.

If I was still adding to my worldwide collection, this would be in there!  You can buy it here for NZ$11.70 or from your favourite commonwealth dealer.

Postscript:  New Zealand's neighbours on the 'big island', meanwhile, issue stamps and collectables like a banana republic and at far greater cost than does Royal Mail.   Here's one of Australia Post's recent products marking the 30th anniversary of the television programme Gardening Australia

Like Britain's Smilers sheets this costs a little more than the face value, which isn't too exorbitant, but it's the sheer volume and subjects of products.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Revised 2019 stamp issue programme from Royal Mail

Because of the addition of the Cricket World Cup issue to the 2019 programme, Royal Mail have revised some publicity dates which will affect when cover producers will have pictures on their websites, and when we will eb able to provide details here.

That said, the programme is still subject to change; there is no firm date for the Cricket sheet - it would be good to have it during Stampex (11-14 Sept. ) but that won't happen - and all these dates are subject to change.

The programme is (updated 9 August, and this may not be the last change):

15 January:  Stamp Classics MS for the 150th Anniversary of the RPSL  (Details here)
13 February: Leonardo Da Vinci set of 12 plus PSB with M18L Machins
14 March: Marvel Comics
4 April: Birds of Prey
2 May: British Engineering
24 May: Queen Victoria Bicentenary

29 May:  Stockholmia 2019 Exhibition sheet (also marks RPSL 150)
6 June: D-Day
9 July: Curious Customs
13 Aug: Forests

 3 September - Musical Giants  - No information available before the issue date
19 Sept: Royal Navy Ships - detailed information available 12 Sept. Set of 6 & retail booklet.

26 September - Cricket World Cup - two miniature sheets

10 October - TBA - detailed information 1 October

5 Nov: Christmas - FDC producers info 8 October; general info release on date of issue but will certainly be usual set of 8, miniature sheet, and retail booklets.

26 November - TBA - detailed information 12 November

Postmarking arrangements. 
Music Giants III Stamp Issue – Postmarking Extension
In order to give customers sufficient time to prepare their covers and postcards as well as submit sponsored postmark requests Royal Mail is extending the availability of all postmarks relating to the Music Giants III stamp issue by 28 days from the First Day of Issue (3 September). All items requiring a Music Giants IIII related postmark should be received by Royal Mail Special Handstamp Centres by 8th October. 

Any sponsored postmarks received after publication of this [September] Postmark Bulletin will appear in the October edition and customers will be able to have these postmarks applied to covers up to and including 5th November.

Similar arrangements may be made for the 10 October and 26 November releases.  

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

D-Day Minisheet to be reissued with Stampex Overprint

Royal Mail have announced this autumn's Stampex limited edition miniature sheet.

"To support attendance at the premier UK stamp show; London Stampex International, a numbered limited edition Minisheet will be on sale only at Autumn Stampex. The D-Day miniature sheet will carry a special Operation Overlord overprint along with the Stampex logo."

To ensure all visitors to the show have a chance to buy the show exclusive there may be restrictions on sales at the show to ensure that stock is available from the Royal Mail stand each day of the show.

Note: After considering customer feedback the show exclusive minisheet will be priced at face value of the stamps (£3.50), as such there is no pack and the minisheets will be supplied like all other mint Minisheets.

There will be only 7,500 of the sheets.

This has been announced in the latest Philatelic Bulletin and also in the latest information to dealers. Dealers will be able to pre-order for collection at the show, but there will be no supplies from Tallents House.  (Thank you to readers who have emailed the report from the Bulletin.)

As before, we are not going to Stampex this September.  If any customers would like one of these sheets I will ask my associates to try to obtain them for you.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Music Giants III is coming, after the Cricket sheets.

We still have no news or details of the miniature sheets marking the winning of the two Cricket World Cup competitions.

I think we can assume that there will be just the two sheets in the squaring format (rather than the Olympic format used for Andy Murray), with a presentation pack and first day covers.  Considering the popularity of the subject Royal Mail might produce stamp cards - not that most collectors will want them, but they may appeal to cricket fans and cricket-thematic stamp collectors.

The third Music Giants issue will be 3 September and I would expect this to consist of a set of 6 self-adhesive stamps, a miniature sheet, retail booklet, presentation pack, two first day covers as before.  There should also be some framed products or prints aimed outside the philatelic market.

In our comments, Marcooni has written that "Elton John would be a worthy candidate for Music Giants III. Rocketman movie is out on Blu-ray in September."

C has just written:
Just received my advice note from RM for the next stamp issue on 03/09/2019 - Music Giants III. Issue includes Set of Stamps, MS and a Booklet of 6x 1st (UB423).
Music Giants 1 & II - Pink Floyd (2016) and David Bowie (2017)

UPDATE 6 August - Royal Mail have today told us that there will be no pre-sale or early promotion of this stamp issue.  So you can expect to find details only on the 3 September - unless, of course, the usual chaotic system for Post Office branches applies and you are permitted to see them by your friendly postmaster. 

News of September's Royal Navy set will be released on or about 22 August through cover producers, but not until around 12 September for the rest of us, although the August Bulletin does mention that the Framed Print and Stamp will be produced for Mary Rose & HMS Victory.

The October 'TBA' issue will be issued on 10th and details will be released on 1st.

And to those who think that the Cricket MS are on eBay (petermk), those are just pictures taken from the news sites.  Royal Mail have not yet published their pictures.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Da Vinci PSB sold out in less than 6 months

I have been told today that Royal Mail no longer have stocks of the Leonardo Da Vinci prestige stamp book issued on 13 February.  


The set of stamps, presentation pack, and the stamp cards are still available but not the PSB.  This is a surprise considering the stamps themselves are not particularly appealing, and suggests that the print run may have been much lower than other PSBs (leaving aside blockbusters such as Star Wars and Marvel Comics).

As many collectors know dealers can obtain panes for affixing to first day covers, so it would not have been excess demand for the Machins which led to a shortage of whole books.

This must be one of the shortest sale periods in modern times and reinforces the idea that if you really want to buy modern stamps, you should get them as soon as they are available.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Forests stamp issue - Postmark Bulletin error

We've been advised of an error in the July Postmark Bulletin sent out last week by Royal Mail.

The official First Day of Issue handstamps have been transposed and should be as follows:

Given the small range of handstamps available for this issue collectors and readers of this blog may intend to obtain these, so we have passed this on.  The full Bulletin (with the error) can be found through this link.

Going off sale from Royal Mail - Hampton Court

The Hampton Court stamp issue and associated products will be taken off sale from Royal Mail's bureau on 31 July, so if you need any more you have just a couple of days.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Machin 2019 update

As there has been a lot of action recently with multiple reports of new stamps on eBay, I thought it was time to issue a new list at least here on the blog, even if I can't yet compile a complete new checklist.  Our thanks to all contributors who are spotting new printings!

M18L stamps issued in 2019
4001P.8 - 1p deep crimson M_IL from Marvel Comics book
4005P.8 - 5p dull red-brown from Da Vinci book
4010P.8 - 10p dull orange from Da Vinci book
4020P.8 - 20p green M_IL from Marvel Comics book
4125P.8 - £1.25 light green M_IL from Marvel Comics book
4145P.8 - £1.45 lavender M_IL from Marvel Comics book
4155P.8 - £1.55 turquoise-blue from Da Vinci book

Full list of M19L stamps so far:

Counter Sheets

2911.9   2nd class  - 25/02/19
2914a.9 1st class  -  25/02/19
2913.9   2nd Large - 25/02/19
2916a.9 1st Large  - 25/02/19

2985.9   100g Special Delivery - 26/03/19

3001.9 - 1p deep crimson, 19/02/19
3002.9 - 2p deep green, 19/02/19
3005.9 - 5p dull red-brown, 15/04/19
3010.9 - 10p dull orange, 19/02/19 : 16/04/19
3020.9 - 20p green, 19/02/19 : 16/04/19
3101.9 - £1 bistre-brown, 20/02/19 : 16/04/19

As usual there have been reprints of the tariff stamps: the first printing is usually a small quantity later supplemented by a reprint.  I'm not listing all printings, only noting other values when they are reported.

3135 - £1.35 orchid mauve
3155.9 -  £1.55 turquoise-blue, 14/02/9
3160 - £1.60 amber yellow
3230 - £2.30 gooseberry green
3280 - £2.80 spruce green  
3345 - £3.45 dark pine green 
3360 - £3.60 bright orange

2936aC.9 - 1st class MCIL from mixed booklets, Marvel Comics 14.3.1, Birds of Prey 4.4.19,  D-Day on 5.6.19

2931.9 - 2nd class MTIL booklet of 12
2936a.9 - 1st class MTIL booklet of 12
2933.9 - 2nd Large MFIL booklet of 4 (SBP2i seen on eBay)
2937a.9 - 1st Large MFIL booklet of 4, packing date 23/04/19

Prestige Stamp Books

4002P.9 - 2p green from Queen Victoria Bicentenary book
4050P.9 - 50p dark slate from Queen Victoria Bicentenary book*

* although this is a new shade I have not given it an 'a' number, although I expect when it is listed by SG it will not have the same base number as in previous PSBs.

Business Sheets

2911B.9 - 2nd class blue, printed 05/02/19 on SBP2u;
2913B.9 - 2nd Large blue, printed 06/02/19, reported to be on both SBP2u and SBP2i but not necessarily with that date.
2914aB.9 - 1st class red printed 04/02/19 on SBP2u
2916aB.9 - 1st Large red printed 23/03/19 SBP2u

Images of some of the newer discoveries:

2nd & 1st from booklets of 12 - MTIL M19L

10p, 5p & 2p counter sheets - MAIL M19L

1st class Large from business street MBIL M19L

As pointed out by one of our readers, this leaves the 1st MSIL, both Signed For, and the 500g Special Delivery, plus any more PSB variants, and any other valued stamps, eg the 50p.

Sources: some supplies are found in supermarkets, some found in Post Office branches.  The latest batch (2p, 5p and 10p & 20p and £1 reprints) have come from Tallents House, but are not in the dealer stock, only in 'general business stock', where supplies are random.  If ordering you (or I) might get new printings, or might get older ones.  This once again highlights what a mockery Royal Mail's philatelic service has become.