Thursday 31 January 2019

No more 'City of Inverness' universals postmarks now the city has a new mail centre ?

Inverness mail centre is going fully automated after moving to a new £6.6m unit

The last mail centre in the country to manually sort its post has been brought into the 21st  century.

Inverness mail centre transferred into new premises, three times the size of its old base, in time for Christmas. The extra space means colleagues can work more efficiently, deal with higher mail volumes and offer a better service to customers.

The previous office was cramped so couldn’t accommodate machinery, and lorries struggled to make deliveries. But colleagues are getting to grips with equipment such as Compact Sequence Sorting (CSS) machines and an Intelligent Letter Sorting Machine (ILSM) is being installed next month.

Jonathan Wilson, operator, said: ‘In terms of the job, personally, it’s easier. In terms of getting to work, it’s a little bit more out of the way. I think everyone’s finding their feet and long-term it will absolutely be better.’

Steve Wiseman, project manager, is confident that with the extra space, Inverness will soon be hitting its quality targets. ‘Automation really does give the plant capability,’ he said.

Shona Cameron, people change manager, added: ‘It’s going to change working processes across the Highlands and Islands with a positive impact on delivery units with the introduction of sequencing.’
The investment in the unit is already paying off, demonstrated by 2018’s ‘fantastic’ Christmas.

David Noble, plant manager, said: ‘For the first time it was a much more modern operation. Putting 200,000 letters a night through sorting machines makes a real difference.’

Benefits for customers include a revamped customer service point and on-site parking. The team’s ability to handle more parcels is another boost for local customers.   ‘There’s a massive reliance on Royal Mail here because customers can’t just pop out to shops,’ added David. ‘We get the second largest volume of Amazon Direct parcels in the country.’

Process relocated in November and will be followed by Delivery, Collections and admin functions in March.
From My RoyalMail


Saturday 26 January 2019

More new M18L Machins!

You thought that it was all over, well it isn't!

Thanks to the anonymous person who added a comment to another post to the effect that the 2nd class book of 12 (stamps coded MTIL) from 2018 (M18L) have been found printed on SBP1 cover paper.

These are on eBay (1 left as I write)  I'm sure the seller won't object to the image appearing here.  I'll try to get one that shows the MTIL clearly, and it will be added to our shop as soon as we can get some.  The number in our catalogue will be 2931.8a.


A further printing of the 20p counter sheet, 28/08/18, is different to the other two 20p printings; this will be added to our shop shortly, with number 3020.8b.

Original printing 09/02/18 - yellow phosphor;
Second printing 08/05/18 - blue phosphor, yellow fluorescence to the iridescent ink;
Third printing 28/08/18 - blue phosphor only.


Thursday 24 January 2019

New on our web shop

Whilst stocktaking we found that some stamps had not been listed on our web shop, or had been removed in error.  So here are a few special offers and new listings available now.  Some are in small numbers, so buy now!

3626A - World War I set (2 complete PSB panes incl SG 3629A) from 2014 PSB with all over phosphor on all stamps - 25% off.

3844A - World War I 2016 complete pane of Post Office Rifles stamps

3958a/61a - Machin 50th anniversary 2017 pair of PSB panes with set of six embossed stamps - 11% off.

SG 4067-70 - Red Arrows prestige book pane complete with 4 stamps - 50p off.

More to follow!

And thanks to Scott for spotting this on the blog's page-view count

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Forgeries masquerading as 'used for research' stamps in online auction offers.

I have frequently reported on Machin definitive stamps which appeared to be, or definitely were, forgeries.  And at the end of November I reproduced the press release from the Charity Commission suggesting that charities should not be selling kiloware because it could enable people to mine the sacks for uncancelled stamps which could be resold for reuse.

If you've looked at GB stamps on eBay you have probably seen the occasional (or many!) offers for used but uncancelled stamps which are being sold - either "for philatelic research and not reuse" or without that caveat, or affixed to supplies of envelopes for reuse.  And there was the prosecution of a couple for laundering stamps and reselling them for reuse.

Recently I was shown a selection of forgeries available online.

But there are others who don't go to that trouble as shown in the pictures here.   This sheetlet of 25 1st class country definitives (including, bizarrely, the Welsh flag stamp) look reasonable, but why are they on the same sheet of glossy backing paper?  Because they are self-adhesive!

Of course the only time they were issued as self-adhesive was in Smilers/Generic sheets - but not with that font.  All - except the centre column - have the denomination in the new 2018 font.

Once they are affixed to an envelope, or package, would anybody notice that they were not quite right?  Probably not.  They are apparently printed in larger sheets because the right-hand edge has the impression of die-cut perforations: it seems that the stamps were printed at least 11 stamps wide, and one column was removed before being cut into sheetlets of 25.

Of course if you wanted to send parcels a higher denomination would be useful:

On the right, the original £5 from 1977.  On the left, the 2017 Accession commemoration with a paler head, and iridescent printing.  In the centre, a self-adhesive version of the Accession stamp with the original type of head, but also with iridescent printing.  In the picture below the 2017 and self-adhesive stamps are reversed - and you can certainly see the iridescent printing, or however it is created.

If it is smaller packets, not needing a £5 stamp, then how about some more country definitives, the £1 or £1.05 - and they'll do for letters to Europe as well.

In all cases the stamps on paper are unused self-adhesive forgeries, the others are genuine with ordinary gum.   Notice the very poor colour matching, and the reversed-out value on the Scotland stamps, instead of it being in silver.

What's very odd is the England stamps.  Can the genuine colour be so hard to reproduce?  Or have the forgers been given some Royal Mail publicity images to colour match.  Those are the stamps which really stand out as being 'wrong'.  These images below are just two of the colour error pictures that Royal Mail sent out or published in their Philatelic Bulletin.

2nd class stamps have also been forged - again, self-adhesive, with new font denominations.

Earlier I showed some Christmas forgeries, including this one which was too small.

And there are others - these have entirely the wrong (die-cut) perforation, compare the genuine (on the left) in the lower picture:

There are so many questions.

Would a user of stamps recognise any of these as being forgeries?  Probably not.

Would Royal Mail Revenue Protection (RP) recognise any of them - aside from the fact that there are no phosphor bands - or even imitation ones?   On non-machineable packets they would probably not be flagged up to RP anyway.

When I was first shown these I asked the question that brought the answer that is the title of this post.  Why on earth would forgers produce such a wide range of stamps?  Different values yet, but why all the different stamps?  It could only be so that they could be sold as previously used.   As it states in the eBay description:

Royal Mail really do have a problem, and not just with laundering of pre-used stamps!

Walsall phosphor and fluorescence variations, continued.

I've reported at length (most recently here) on the phosphor and fluorescence variations on counter sheets printed by ISP Walsall, and similar variations on booklets have also been noted, some going back many years.

It comes as no surprise that the same sort of variations occur on Walsall-printed business sheet stamps.  These are much more difficult to find because they require the purchase of whole sheets (of 100 small stamps or 50 large letter): if the stamps turn out to be the same then that expenditure - by collector or dealer - is wasted as few people have an outlet for that many spare stamps.

I've recently been shown examples of the small stamp sheets from 2018 and can now show variations between two printings of each value.

2nd class - printed 14/03/18 and 23/04/18.  Phosphor is blue, but on the later date the iridescent ink has yellow fluorescence.

1st class - printed 01/03/18 and 17/04/18.  As above, the phosphor is blue, and the iridescent ink has yellow fluorescence.

These will be listed in the next edition of our Machin Checklist, but we will not be able to supply them.  For the record, the ones we have already supplied are of the first type, with blue phosphor only.

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Back from the frozen north

I am pleased to say that after a relaxing week we are back in the warmth of the office, and looking once again at our stamps.   

We have been able to add pictures of the Machin definitives from the Leonardo Da Vinci prestige stamp book, which are coded M18L and which, therefore, we will be supplying together with any other Walsall variants which are printed with the M18L year code.

Thank you for the orders placed through our shop in our absence; these are now prepared for posting later this week, together with orders arising from emails this week.

In the next few months more stamps and covers in these categories will be added to our shop:

- Machin regional and country stamps;
- Prestige stamp book panes;
- pre-2009, especially gummed Machin definitives;
- GB postal history, especially used registered envelopes with village postmarks and labels;

More new categories will be added in due course.

Communications - a reminder. 
We do not send marketing or informational emails; this blog and social media are the only avenue for finding out about new Great Britain stamps, updates to our Machin Checklist, and additions to what we have to sell through our web shop.

Postal Museum Post and Go News

From a Press Release

Post & Go overprints to mark 50th anniversary of The Queen opening the National Postal Museum available at The Postal Museum
LONDON, 16 January 2019 – The Postal Museum has announced today that Royal Mail Post & Go overprints marking the 50th anniversary of The Queen opening the National Postal Museum, forerunner of The Postal Museum, will be available from its Post & Go machine from 13 February 2019.

Two designs will be overprinted to commemorate the first National Postal Museum being opened by The Queen at London’s King Edward Building on 19 February 1969. The Machin commemorative 1st class in six colours, replacing the standard Machin 1st class, and the Mail Coach in all values. Both designs include an additional inscription

The Postal Museum
NPM 50 

and will run until further notice.

A Presentation Pack containing a collector’s strip of the Machin commemorative design (all 1st class) and a collector’s strip of the Mail Coach (all values) as well as a First Day Cover with 1 x Machin commemorative 1st class, and 1 x Mail Coach 1st class will be available to purchase from The Postal Museum’s shop and on-line from the beginning of February.

The Post & Go machine is available at The Postal Museum during normal opening hours.

Please see for more information.

Thursday 10 January 2019

More catch-up news from 2018

As I said in the review of the year, the last couple of months of the year were unseasonably busy due to the multiple variations in sheet stamps which ISP/Walsall managed to contrive.  It's almost as if it was deliberate but it certainly doesn't seem to have been a deliberate Royal Mail policy.

So I'm now adding a few more news-bits from emails sent during that period, showing items which may be of interest.

Firstly, at the beginning of November DP sent these pictures of the Post and Go 2nd class values printed on 1st class Machin stock, and the early (29 October) release of 2nd class Winter Greenery at Ilford.

WHSmith run offices seem to have problems in obtaining 2nd class labels. Ilford and Romford seem to have at some point used every part roll they had in the 2nd class printers of their SSKs, so it wasn’t surprising to find the 2nd class Winter Greenery (CL18S) being used early on 29 October.

One SSK at Worcester had the 1st class Machin stock in the 2nd class printer.

In December MC found the Mount Pleasant DO and sent pictures of the screen options on their Post and Go machine - I don't think we've shown this before although that machine has been there for a while and other preceded it in other locations.

The machine had three options : Make a payment, 1st Class stamps and 2nd Class stamps.  The second picture shows the data string on the DO machine above one from a Post Office NCR machine.


We understand that the Post and Go machine M011 at Ministry of Defence Abbey Wood, Bristol (first mentioned here) was removed some months ago, probably in the summer of 2018.  

There is no confirmation on the IAR website, which still shows the picture of its original location.   My informant, who works on the site, thinks that the machine has been removed from the site and is unaware of any relocation within the vast complex of offices.  (Picture from Google maps.)


DO in London sent this picture of a nice phosphor shift he found on a 1st class MTIL M14L stamp.  Shifts are not unusual, but this is nice one to have in a collection.

Another picture of the same stamp, showing the M14L and MTIL coding:


New Issue: Leonardo da Vinci stamps and PSB on February 13th 2019

As readers of Royal Mail's Philatelic Bulletin will know, the second stamp issue this year will feature the work of Leonardo da Vinci.  To many this will be a puzzling subject for 12 x 1st class stamps and a prestige stamp book.

2019 marks the 500th anniversary of his death and what many people will not know is that one of the largest collections of his work is owned by Her Majesty the Queen.   According to The Guardian
Arguably the greatest collection of Leonardo da Vinci drawings in the world, owned by the Queen and normally kept away from public view at Windsor Castle, is to have its biggest public display.
The Royal Collection has announced details of a Leonardo event in 2019 to mark the 500th anniversary of his death.
There will be 12 simultaneous exhibitions of 12 drawings in cities across the UK in February. The following May, more than 200 drawings will go on display at Buckingham Palace, the biggest show for more than 60 years. In November 2019, 80 drawings will go on display at Holyroodhouse, the largest number shown in Scotland.
The 12 UK venues are in Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton, and Sunderland.
The work shown on the stamps obviously forms part of this Royal Collection and Royal Mail have collaborated with the trustees of the Royal Collection Trust to choose 12 stamps, matching the 12 venues.

The prestige stamp book will contain three panes of four da Vinci stamps and a pane of definitives consisting of 2 x 5p, 4 x 10p and 2 x £1.55 so making two sets for Machin collectors.

UPDATE 28 January.
The astute among readers will have worked out the face value of the PSB stamps as £11.64.  Those who have their standing order advices will be struggling to work out what the total bill represents.  It's easier if you know that the current pricing of the PSB is £13.10, a massive premium of £1.46 which I have queried.

UPDATE 20 January.
In my absence last week, the PSB arrived and I can confirm that the 5p 10p and £1.55 stamps are year-coded M18L.  This means that we will be stocking them.  They will be listed as 4155p.8 for the set of three.  The stamps will be listed in our Checklist as 4005P.8a, 4010P.8 and 4155p.8.


Full details and more images will be published in due course, ahead of Spring Stampex, with which this issue coincides.  Meanwhile if you really can't wait to see the stamp pictures they are shown, taken from a first day cover producer's website, on the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog.

Monday 7 January 2019

RPSL anniversary marked with miniature sheet on 15 January 2019

This stamp issue is a celebration of Royal Mail’s stamp history, and of organised philately, coinciding with two significant anniversaries: 150 years of the Royal Philatelic Society and 50 years since HM The Queen opened The Postal Museum. The long history of organized philately in the UK is honoured with the Miniature sheet featuring six classic stamps with one key stamp design from each monarch’s reign since the invention of the penny post under Queen Victoria’s reign.

The stamps chosen for this miniature sheet (3 x 1st class and 3 x £1.55 airmail) will not, like the music icons, be everyone's choice but that is what has been chosen.

Queen Victoria £1 Green (1891) - 73 x 30mm
Edward VII 2d - Tyrian Plum (1910) - 31 x 30 mm
George V ‘Seahorse’ – 2/6 brown (1913) - 52 x 30 mm
Edward VIII definitive (1936) – 1½d - 33 x 30 mm
George VI Penny Black centenary (1940) ½ d green - 42 x 30mm
QEII Coronation 2½d red (1953) - 52 x 30 mm

(All dimensions rounded up.)

Royal Mail notes that:
The Royal Philatelic Society is the oldest such society in the world. It was formed in April 1869. The future King George V became its patron in 1896, and later granted permission to the use the Royal Arms. It promotes the study of philately through regular meetings, exhibitions, prizes, and publishing articles, maintaining a library and collection of stamps and publishing a journal (The London Philatelist). It has a display at Stampex. 

Her Majesty the Queen officially opened the National Postal Museum in London which houses the award winning Reginald Phillips collection of stamps and the rare Tyrian Plum stamp. Quantities of this stamp were sent to post offices. However following the death of Edward VII on 6 May 1910, it was decided not to issue the new stamp and almost all the stock was destroyed. Only a few examples survive, making this stamp one of the great rarities of philately.
The sheet should be available from approximately 7,000 post office branches throughout the UK, and from Royal Mail's Tallents House bureau.

According to our information, as well as a presentation pack and first day cover, stamp cards and a press sheet will be produced,  as well as a limited edition sheet at Spring Stampex with an additional inscription.  This will only be available from the show.

The sheet was designed by hat-trick design. Copyright Royal Mail Group Ltd 2019, courtesy of The Postal Museum, and printed by International Security Printers in litho.  The sheet is 192 x 74 mm, and the stamp sizes are as shown above.

5 January
Although we couldn't publish the images earlier, US stamp weekly Linn's has the news in its 21 January edition and they can be seen here together with full details about the original stamps, The Royal and the Postal Museum.

Sunday 6 January 2019

What did you get for Christmas?

One of our correspondents regularly does a census of his incomings at Christmas to identify
what efforts Royal Mail are making to cancel the stamps.

His results:

Total 47 items received.
7 no trace of passing through the mail and therefore uncancelled.
3 stamp not cancelled but trace of it going through the mail (Stamp in correct position but missed by cancellation)
Of the 37 cancelled, one was a postman’s felt tip pen.

10 out of 47 is 21% of the mail uncancelled: only 1 religious Christmas stamp was included.

I forgot to check ours but checked a bundle I was given by somebody else:

Leaving aside a nicely cancelled lighthouse from Norway...
18 had stamps postmarked (by machine)
2 had envelopes postmarked on another side, so missing the stamps.  Neither of these had barcode on the stamps, nor biro
1 had no postmark at all, and had been pen-marked.
So only 2 our of 20 were let through, so not such a loss for Royal Mail.

Eventually most of these envelopes will be recycled as most are not worth keeping for postal history, and so will the cards.  But what do you do with cards and wrapping paper covered in glitter?  Do you know that glitter is plastic and will lie around in landfill for hundreds of years - or in marine mammals and fish until either it kills them, or we eat the fish and start the cycle again?

Biodegradable glitter is now made, including by the company that originally invented glitter in the 30's.   If you care for the planet, please read this article.

Saturday 5 January 2019

Successful prosecution for stamp laundering

At the end of November I reprinted the Charity Commissioners' warning to charities about aiding and abetting postal fraud by selling uncancelled stamps. 

I did this because of the impact any reduction in charity stamp gathering and reselling as kiloware would have on both dealers and collectors in their hunt for, especially, higher value collectable stamps.

It's clear that eBay has a lot of listings for stamps which have passed through the post as they are stuck onto envelopes or waxed paper, and obviously not as sold by post offices.  There are also evident forgeries - notably of the 1st class large business sheet stamps which have no year code, an impossibility for any of the red stamps.

Reuse of the occasional uncancelled stamp is not unusual, but BirminghamLive has reported on the case of a couple in their 50s who were literally laundering used stamps on a massive scale, as reported here.  These two were not just removing uncancelled stamps from paper using white spirit (a well-known trick), they chemically removed the postmarks, used talcum powder to dry the stamps and then sprayed them with hairspray to "make them look better"!

They "established a company called Stampbusters as a vehicle for the illegal enterprise which was registered to their home with both of them named as directors.  The company was registered on Companies House.

"The value of the amount of stamps sold was £443,244 while the defendants profited to the tune of £149,344" over five years.

The defence lawyer said "there was a degree of unsophistication about it and that she had made no attempt to hide what she was doing."

So they - between them - made £30,000 per annum.  It really does seem that the effort involved could have been put to better use and they could have earned a reasonable amount instead.

Now they have at least 12 months of a 2 year sentence in jail to contemplate a more honest occupation, but not one involving any trust.

Friday 4 January 2019

January slogan postmarks - and late Universals

After the Christmas holiday period, the Mail Centres have reverted to the default Action for Children charity slogan in 2019.

Royal Mail
supporting youth
mental health with

Examples here, both on 2 January, from Peterborough and Chester & N Wales.

UPDATE 23 January.  The first 'new' slogan for 2019 is a continuation of Stay Well this Winter, originally used nationwide in December, and here used on 21 January at Chester Mail Centre.  Also seen from Tynside - good to know they are keeping up in 2019!

UPDATE 25 January:  to mark Burns Night, Royal Mail has used a celebratory slogan in both types of machine.  Thanks to MD for sending both these examples, with a slight variation in layout.  One from Romford Mail Centre, the other from Glasgow, both 24 January 2019.

 Fair fa' your honest,
sonsie face,
Great Chieftan
o' the Puddin-race!
Burns Night - 25 January 2019

UPDATE 30 January.  Young Carers Awareness Day is 31 January so this is probably the last slogan this month.  Thanks to RW for this copy from Croydon MC on 29 January.  Also reported from Peterborough on 28 January, and an example shown on twitter from Birmingham on 28th which is the other format.
Young Carers
Awareness Day
31 January 2019

Thanks again to peterh on Stampboards, here's a better view of that format, from SE Wales on 20 January.

Meanwhile on the Stampboards forum, member peterh has shown this one from Swansea & South West Wales from 2 January 2019!  This one has the location inscription inverted.
The last time we had a Swansea Universal reported was in 2014.

UPDATE 24 January: Another late Universal usage has been shown on Stampboards.  This is a set-off (the image has been reversed) on a handstamped letter, but the date shows it was only this week, so suggesting that it must have been used on the date shown, otherwise the ink would not have been on the machine.   This is Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway 21 January 2019


UPDATE 4 March
Another reader has sent in some pictures of Universal-type postmarks all but one dated 2019 - what's going on?  Although these are not easy to identify, they seem to be:

SOUTHAMPTON / - C - 10-XII  2018

Anybody want to take a guess at the other two? !

Update: a couple of correspondents have identified

CITY OF INVERNESS --- 22 Jan 2019
LERWICK / ORKNEY ---  3  -  I  (no year)

A late contribution to the Christmas 2018 campaign is this one from MB showing the North & West Yorkshire -3-  Merry Christmas snowman slogan used on 13 Dec 2018:

Wednesday 2 January 2019

Royal Mail 2019 Stamps Programme

In it's usual, "let's get this news out while everybody is preoccupied because that is the best time for the national and local press and other media to pick it up and report on it" manner, Royal Mail issued a press release on 27 December.  As usual it was limited, in that it started with the April issue, and had too many TBAs, and initially it had very little newspaper coverage in the first couple of days.  But all that changed quite quickly.

Royal Mail today announces a preview of its 2019 Special Stamp programme.
Showcasing the “Best of British” the programme features a range of subjects: from a celebration of the UK’s Birds of Prey to the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
2019 marks the bicentenaries of the birth of both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She is the second longest reigning monarch in British history, and six stamps will chart her life in period paintings, from childhood and marriage to Prince Albert, to marking her long reign.
The accompanying stamps in the mini-sheet will pay tribute to her husband, Prince Albert.
The 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings will be marked by a set of 11 Special Stamps. The stamp issue will be a timely commemoration of all those who participated and will use images from the day itself.
The images in the Birds of Prey stamp issue have all been photographed especially for Royal Mail by photographer, Tim Flach. The birds featured all breed in the UK and are captured in characteristic poses of flight or in close up to show their features.
Species include: the Red Kite; the Sparrowhawk; the Merlin; the Golden Eagle and the Kestrel.
The British Engineering stamp issue is a celebration of UK excellence in engineering over the past 50 years and conveys the wide range of engineering disciplines where the UK continues to make its mark.
Other stamp issues to be released during 2019 include: Curious Customs; Forests; and Royal Navy Ships.
Although we knew the outline of the programme to June in September, we couldn't release any of it, not even in a draft blog post that we could publish on 27 December, because we didn't know which images they would release.  As it is they released one young Queen Victoria portrait, the Red Kite stamp from the Birds of Prey issue, and just one of 11 stamps that will be issued to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

As it turns out they chose to show absolutely the best stamp they could have for D-Day, because had they waited until closer to June they may well have already printed the stamps, and would have had to scrap this one.

Fortunately once they published this on social media, and a few newspapers had picked it up, they were quickly told that this picture of Allied troops is a "US Coast Guard photograph which shows 'USS LCI(L)-30 landing troops carrying stretchers on to a beach' at Sarmi, Dutch New Guinea, May 1944, several weeks before the D-day landings took place in Europe."

Obviously this is not so much a Royal Mail error as one by the design agency charged with finding appropriate photos.  I think they are fortunate that the detail caption is right, and they didn't actually say that they were British troops.

Director of Royal Mail Letters Division, Setphen Agar, quickly issued an apology and reassurance:
I am sincerely sorry for this mistake and the hurt it has caused, in particular to veterans and those who lost loved ones. I would like to reassure them, our people and our customers that this stamp will not be part of our set to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
We are asking veterans’ associations to share this message with their members. I hope to work with some of them to ensure the final stamps reflect the significance of the D-Day landings and the courage and sacrifice of those who took part.

So the programme is SEE NEW UPDATE HERE(9 August)

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
? May:  Stockholmia 2019 Exhibition sheet (also marks RPSL 150)
6 June: D-Day
9 July: Curious Customs
13 Aug: Forests
3 September - Musical Giants
19 Sept: Royal Navy Ships
October - TBA
5 Nov: Christmas
November - TBA

There is no mention of new Post and Go stamps, and although the Year of the Pig is mentioned as the last in the sequence of 12, that is only in the calendar. Royal Mail started with the Dragon in 2012, so have only issued 7 so far.  We can expect another one this year, I think.  Within this programme there will be miniature sheets and prestige books, and almost certainly a selection of retail booklets.

We understand that the full programme (probably only as shown above plus the February issue) will be published in the February Philatelic Bulletin and Postmark Bulletin on 22 February. 

2018 Special stamp issues update.

With apologies for the delays, we now have time to provide technical details and illustrations of the special stamp issues for 2018 which don't have pages on our website.  This information is straight from Royal Mail (subject to correcting any typos and other errors).

16 October 2018 - Harry Potter

(Embargoed until 27 September 2018)

A set of 10 stamps and a 5-stamp miniature sheet, all first class.

Reason and inspiration
The critically acclaimed Harry Potter films have attracted huge audiences worldwide, with the popularity still prevailing even though it is seven years since the last film was released.  Harry Potter remains one of the most popular and enduring themes worldwide and along with the Star Wars franchise has close to universal awareness in the UK. These unique stamps have been produced in association with Warner Bros and The Blair Partnership – an agency that represents J.K. Rowling - to celebrate the critically-acclaimed series of films.

The stamps not only feature some of the most popular characters including Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Neville Longbottom but there are also five Hogwarts professors contained on a Special Miniature Sheet. Also appearing on the stamps are selected portkeys as well as the most iconic modes of transport amongst them being the Hogwarts Express, the motor bike ridden by Hagrid, the Knight Bus and the Triwizard Cup. The stamps also use the official Harry Potter font denoting the “1st” class service.  Some Special Features on the stamps include the official Harry Potter font denoting the “1st” class service.  We’ve also added a little extra magic and intrigue to both the stamps and the Miniature Sheet which can be seen  under UV light.

Sheet stamps
Hermione Grainger, Hogwarts Express, Harry Potter, Flying Ford Anglia, Ron Weasley, Hagrid's Motorbike, Ginny Weasley, Triwizard Cup, Neville Longbottom, Knight Bus.

The miniature sheet shows characters Pomona Sprount, Horace Slighorn, Sybill Trelawney, Rebus Lupin, and Severus Snape, against a background of the Marauders Map.


Technical details
Set designed by True North with digital image enhancement by Smike & Mirros London.  Miniature sheet designed by The Chase.  
Acknowledgements: All characters, names, and related indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.  The WB SHIELD: © & ™ WBEI. WIZARDING WORLD trademark and logo © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing rights © JKR. (s18).
All stamps printed by International Security Printers in Lithography. 
Stamp Size: 37 x 35 mm in two guttered sheets of 50 with PVA gum, perf 14 x 14.5
Miniature sheet: 192 x 74 mm, and stamps 27 x 37 mm - self-adhesive, perf 14.
Phosphor: 2 bars.
Retail booklet printed by International Security Printers in Gravure,  More details here.
Collector (Generic) Sheet: self-adhesive sheet with all 10 stamps and attached labels, printed in litho by ISP.

Additional printing is revealed by an Ultra Violet lamp on both the set and the miniature sheet:


Presentation pack, first day covers, stamp cards, retail booklet, press sheet.
Other products aimed at Harry Potter fans and not stamp collectors included medal covers, enlarged prints of the 10 stamps, and framed stamp and miniature sheet products.  

A prestige book was issued 4 December - details here and here.
Pictures of other panes:


1 November 2018 - Christmas 

The set of 8 Christmas 2018 stamps highlights how ‘Royal Mail delivers Christmas’; showing scenes of everyday life involving a range of post boxes in different wintry settings, from towns to countryside.

The postboxes shown are from various reigns as follows: 2nd class Edward VII, 1st class Queen Elizabeth II, £1.25 George VI, £1.45 Queen Victoria, £1.55 Edward VIII, £2.25 - George V.

Technical Details
Designed by Royal Mail Group using illustrations by Andrew Davidson, printed in gravure by ISP.
Miniature sheet size 179 x74 mm; stamps 24 x 28mm and 34 x 28mm.  
Stamps self-adhesive, 50 stamps per sheet without gutter.   Generic Sheet self-adhesive.
Miniature sheet PVA gum.

(As always, click on the images for large ones.)

The generic sheet contains 8 each of 2nd class and 1st class and one each of the other values - which is why so many dealers do not stock them.  To get a set of these stamps, almost certainly printed by Cartor and not Walsall, there is £8.75 face value of 'left over' stamps to use for postage.

The Madonna & Child books from 2017 were available for retailers if the postbox supplies were exhausted.

Of course when this information was supplied to us back in August 2018, Royal Mail did not know that some 2nd class and 1st class stamps were printed with the 2017 Madonna stamps on the upper part of the sheet, as described here.

14 November 2018: 70th Birthday of HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.

(Embargoed until 14 November)

A miniature sheet of three 1st class and three x £1.55 stamps in a self-adhesive sheet.

Reason and inspiration
On 14th November, we celebrate the 70th birthday of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

The stamp issue includes a brand new and unseen portrait of Prince Charles taken in 2018 with his two sons in full military uniform and the product range includes 3 limited edition coin covers issued in collaboration with the Royal Mint featuring the new official Prince Charles 70th Birthday £5 Coin.

HRH The Prince of Wales is the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II. The Heir Apparent to the Thrones of the United Kingdom and 15 other realms, he is also the future Head of the Commonwealth. The firstborn child of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Charles Philip Arthur George was born on 14 November 1948. Aged three, he became Heir Apparent, and Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay, following his mother’s accession to the Throne. He is the longest-serving Heir Apparent in history.

Since leaving the Armed Forces, the Prince has played a pivotal role as an ambassador for the Monarchy, the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and through his extensive network of charities at home and abroad. The Prince has stamped a unique mark on public life at home and overseas. He is known as a keen champion of the traditional – be it hedge-laying or the Book of Common Prayer – but also as a pioneer. He was promoting issues like organic farming and better corporate care for the environment long before these became mainstream. His work has received many international awards.

The stamps show:
Portrait of HRH The Prince of Wales; HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall; HRH The Prince of Wales with HRH The Duke of Cambridge and HRH The Duke of Sussex.
£1.55 HRH The Prince of Wales and his sons share a joke at Cirencester Park Polo Club; The Prince of Wales at the Castle of Mey; HRH The Prince of Wales greets school children during a visit to Llancaiach Fawr Manor

Technical details:  192 x 74 mm self-adhesive miniature sheet with stamps 41 x 30 mm, printed in web offset lithography by ISP with all over phosphor.

Image acknowledgements:  Royal Mail Group Ltd / Davies Maude Portrait of HRH The Prince of Wales © Hugo Burnand; HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall © Clarence House; HRH The Prince of Wales with HRH The Duke of Cambridge and HRH The Duke of Sussex © Chris Jackson/Getty Images; HRH The Prince of Wales and his sons share a joke at Cirencester Park Polo Club © Barry Batchelor/PA Archive/PA Images; The Prince of Wales at the Castle of Mey © John Paul; HRH The Prince of Wales greets school children during a visit to Llancaiach Fawr Manor © Camera Press London

Products:  miniature sheet, stamp cards, presentation pack, first day cover, press sheet*, medal covers.
* contains 12 miniature sheets, 4 with barcode for retail sale and 8 without for first day covers and miniature sheet.

15 November 2018 - Lunar New Year of the Pig

For the record, though I don't know anybody who buys these 'same old same old' sheets anymore.

Issued on Thursday, 15th November, this is the eighth edition to be launched in the Lunar New Year Generic Sheet series.  The ‘Year of the Pig’ runs from 5th February 2019 to 24th January 2020. The labels are designed by hat-trick design and feature paper cut-outs both on the bright red background of the sheet and the labels representing the five elements of Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. The pictorial labels depict Lunar New Year festivities taking place in five UK locations and the remainder show five generic images related to the Lunar New Year. All the labels are complemented by the Fireworks definitive stamp.

The Pig is the last of the 12 animals featured in the Lunar New Year with 2019 being the “Year of the Earth Pig,” and purports to be a year of fortune and luck also a year of friendship and love for all the zodiac signs; an auspicious year because the Pig attracts success in all the spheres of life.

No technical details provided, so we must assume that this A4 self-adhesive sheet is printed as usual by ISP/Cartor.