Tuesday 26 February 2019

And one becomes four - ISP take the P again.

We have now received initial supplies of the Marvel Comics PSB and can reveal that the Machin definitive pane has the source code once again missing the 'P' from MPIL.  This means that, contrary to what I suggested here in the first report, there are FOUR new stamps all of which will have full catalogue status in Stanley Gibbons GB Concise catalogue.

Shown here from top left, the 1p, 20p, £1.25 and £1.45
(Norvic numbers 4001P.8a, 4020P.8a, 4125P.8a, 4145P.8)



These will be available in our webshop in due course.

Also received, the mixed content retail booklet, coded M19L MCIL  (Norvic number 2936aC.9 - but as previously announced we will not be stocking any 2019/M19L stamps.)


Friday 22 February 2019

Some prices up 8% - tariff changes from 25 March mean new definitives

Royal Mail have made an  announcement about tariff changes which take effect from 25 March 2019.  The new stamps will be issued on Tuesday 19th March.

UPDATE 26 February. 
The stamps for this tariff change are listed below. Note these colours are from publicity images and - as we have seen before - may be quite different when we get them!

£1.35 in orchid mauve (name previously used for £1.52 - in 2015)
£1.60 in amber yellow (name previously used for £1.33 - in 2015)
£2.30 in gooseberry green*
£2.80 in spruce green (name previously used for £2.45 - in 2015)
£3.45 in dark pine green (name previously used for £1.40 in 2017 which looks nothing like this)
£3.60 in bright orange

* This name was assigned to the £1.05, which had a colour much closer to the £2.80 shown below. The colour shown here is much closer to that of the £1.57 which had the colour tag 'Tarragon Green'.

I wonder why, when we have bright primary colours for 2nd, 1st and Signed For stamps and some low values, why Royal Mail can't use more bright colours for the airmail values?  (Images of actual stamps showing the correct colours are here.)

As usual the country definitives repeat the tired images now in values of £1.35 and £1.55.  Post Office staff have particular problems with working out the denomination of the Northern Ireland top value.

As previously announced we will not be stocking any 2019/M19L stamps.

Printing dates known so far:
Northern Ireland - 28/12/18
England and Wales - 02/01/19
Scotland 03/01/19

Machin printings, all printed on SBP2i, have been reported as:

£1.35 07/01/19
£1.60 07/01/19
£2.30 08/01/19
£2.80 09/01/19
£3.45 09/01/19
£3.60 09/01/19

Reports of other dates are welcomed!

The rate tables

From 25 March 2019

Letter 100g
Large Let 100g
S Parcel 1kg
S Parcel 2kg
Med Parcel 1kg
Special Delivery has increased from £6.50 to £6.60 (100g) and from £7.30 to £7.40 for 500g.   What we used to call the Signed For fee has increased at the basic level from £1.10 to £1.20 making a 1st class signed for letter £1.90 from £1.77, and a 2nd class £1.81 (from £1.68).  The extra for Large letters and Parcels range from £1 to £1.20.

World Zone 1&2
10g & cards
Large Letter prices will increase up to 250g and be lowered for items above 250g.

Prices for tracked services up to 1kg will increase while those over 1kg will be reduced.

The price of surface or economy letters rises by 10p to  £1.20 for 20g and by 5p to $1.50 for 21-100g. As with airmail, the prices for Large Letters are increased at the 100g and 250g steps but reduced for 500g & 750g.

The full tables are now available to download here.
have not yet been published for ordinary customers, only those for business customers.

Effect on collectors
The effect of this will be to increase further the cost of collecting stamps, not just the definitives but special issues as well.  The price of the April Birds of Prey set will rise from £6.70 to £7.00 with corresponding increases in the cost of first day covers and presentation packs.  Books of 6 x 1st class will increase from £4.02 to £4.20.

If readers look at your incoming business mail with postage paid using a franking machine, you will see that the prices they show are 
  • Prices for sending a 1st Class Letter through your franking machine with Royal Mail Mailmark technology will increase and start from 61p and a 2nd Class Letter will start from 41p.
  • Prices for sending a 1st Class Large Letter through your Royal Mail Mailmark franking machine will start from 95p and a 2nd Class Large Letter will start from 72p
For other business customers prices start at the rate shown, although the actual price will depend on volumes posted and only the largest mailers will benefit from these huge discounts.
  • Prices for barcoded Letters and Large Letters will start from 40p and 72p respectively.
  • Prices for non-barcoded Letters and Large Letters will start from 42.7p and 75p respectively. 

Small businesses, especially those using stamps for postage, will see their costs rise again especially for heavier international mail.  Bearing in mind the commission charged by card companies and PayPal, it will probably be necessary to increase postage and packing costs - in our case for the first time in many years.   And although many dealers have 'discount postage' and older NVI stock, there is a limit to how many 7-20p stamps we can put on a letter to take advantage of this!

Royal Mail in trouble with Ofcom
As has been widely reported, this price increase has been set a week too early, which makes one wonder what the senior management team at Royal Mail had in mind.  Did nobody think of the regulatory regime?

The BBC reported: 
Royal Mail has apologised after announcing a price rise which breaches a cap designed to make the postal service "affordable" for all consumers.
From 25 March, the price of a second-class stamp will rise by 3p to 61p - breaching Ofcom's current price cap of 60p which is in place until 1 April.
Royal Mail says it will donate the extra revenue, expected to be £60,000, to charity Action for Children.

Ofcom set the current price cap in 2012, when it allowed Royal Mail to increase the price of first and second-class stamps by 14p, following concerns the universal service was at "severe risk".   The cap was set at 55p and would increase in line with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation, making the official cap 60.65p today.
Ofcom had announced the cap will increase to 65p from 1 April, and then will rise in line with the annual CPI rate of inflation until April 2024.
So a week later, and they could have legitimately increased the price to 65p, though that would have met with huge criticism from users.

Friday 15 February 2019

Marvellous new stamp issue March 14th.

We were expecting an announcement about the next stamp issue by the middle of next week which, when this was written, meant 20/21 February.  But see below (blue) for more details.

This note is repeated from the 2019 Stamps Programme post back in Janaury.

Customers have started to receive their DD notices from Tallents House, and from this it is established as likely to be a set of 10 stamps.

UPDATE 18 February - We have today been provided with full details of this blockbuster of stamps and associated 'stuff' which, we must remember, is mostly aimed at fans and collectors outside the philatelic market.  Our instructions are that the information is embargoed until the public launch tomorrow (19th) which makes it all the more bizarre that Royal Mail can't manage to delay the 'go-live' time for their sales pages until midnight tonight UK time (although of course it is, even as far west as Tokyo, already gone 1am tomorrow as I write this!).   Everything is visible on Royal Mail's website here.

The 10 x 1st class stamps (conventional gum) feature Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Hulk, Doctor Strange, and Captain Britain in one sheet; and Peggy Carter, Iron Man, Union Jack, Black Panther, Thor on the other sheet.


A self-adhesive miniature sheet at £4.71 - containing 3 x 1st class and one each £1.25 (lower right) and £1.45 (top left).   This will be particularly sought-after by Marvel fans as, according to Royal Mail:
This set of five bonus Marvel stamps form part of a ten-panel comic book strip in which the Mad Titan, Thanos, launches a deadly attack on the world.  This original, never-seen-before story with a unique British twist (look out for Trafalgar Square and the Gherkin!) has been specially written and designed by Marvel and is available exclusively through Royal Mail.

A mixed-content retail booklet.  I've had a report that the Machins have M19L code which, while not a surprise, is good to have confirmed.

  a prestige stamp book, more expensive than usual at £17.45. 


The M18L MPIL Machin pane contains 1 x £1.45, 2 x £1.25, 2 x 1p, and 3 x 20p, which means only one new stamp, the £1.45, and a lot of left-over postage, which will make that single stamp relatively expensive. The other stamps appeared in last year’s Harry Potter PSB, unfortunately. We will be offering this in our shop in due course.

And a Generic Sheet (self-adhesive so different stamps, but only the two in the retail booklet will have separate SG Concise numbers).


There are also framed stamp sets/sheets, medal covers, blow-ups of the art-work in a set or framed, etc etc, and a Limited Edition PSB in a tin, with the stamps exactly the same as the basic book, but with a different Spiderman cover.

Meanwhile, this is what another reader has provided from their advice note:

Stamp Set £6.70. 
Generic Sheet £7.70. 
Mini Sheet [BC ?] £4.71. 
Retail Book £4.02. 
Prestige Book £17.45. 
AND Postage & Packing 62p.  

UPDATE: It seems that Royal Mail's invoicing system has been completely wrecked for this issue as readers are reporting a diverse range of 'postage and packing' charges, including this shocker from Chris.  However, RM confirm that p&p remains the same as usual, ie 45p.
Even these prices are not all correct, but apparently are showing VAT-exclusive prices (where VAT applies), thus the £8.60 set FDC is shown as £7.17.  The VAT is probably included in the P&P total!

As somebody wrote - and you thought having a 12-stamp Leonardo da Vinci set was bad!

PM 19 February: As expected there has been much criticism already, but if Royal Mail Stamps & Collectables sell many of these, the income will reduce what is expected to be sold to stamp collectors.  Which is possibly one reason why there are no new Post and Go stamps to buy - whether you like them or not!

At £80, £145, and £195 there are just not aimed at us!

Thursday 14 February 2019

Digital postage Machin printed wrongly on yellow paper.

My thanks to SM who sent this picture of a 2nd class Machin (digital postage) PPI printed son yellow paper.  The denomination appears white, so it would seem that the white square within the yellow envelope wasn't as large as it should have been, leaving the margins yellow instead of white.

This is certainly against Royal Mail's requirements last time I read them.


Other PPIs are discussed here, and if you click on the 'PPI' label in the Labels cloud at lower right below the calendar you will find more.

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Norvic Machin Security Checklist updated

The latest edition of our Machin Security Checklist has been published today.  This is up to date as far as we are aware and includes the stamps included in yesterday's Leonardo da Vinci prestige stamp book, the third printing of the 20p sheet, and the 2nd class booklet (MTIL) stamp printed on SBP1. 

We've been told about a third (October) printing of the 2p, but haven't seen any stock of this yet.  

Today is the first day of Spring Stampex and we are eagerly awaiting  reports of new discoveries at the Royal Mail stand from our friends and readers.

NB: If you have a bookmark to our norphil.co.uk storage for the Checklist, please stop using it and use the Dropbox link which is also permanently on the blog at the r.h. side.

Version 2.0.21

Monday 11 February 2019

At least they didn't change the shape of the box,.

As readers have provided details of 'special' post boxes ever since the 2012 Olympics, with specials for Dickens in Rochester, and others around the country, I am sharing this press release from Royal Mail about its newly decorated post boxes.

11 February 2019
As the nation prepares to send their Valentine’s Day cards and love letters, Royal Mail unveils four ‘romantic’ postboxes across the UK, which honour the life and works of some of Britain’s greatest writers on love.

The postboxes are adorned in quotes from some of the best-loved work of romantic poets and authors John Keats, Thomas Hardy, Anna Seward and Robert Burns, and are located close to places of significance to the writers*. They will be in place for a month.

It is hoped that the four boxes encourage lovelorn wordsmiths to send their own literary masterpieces in the form of love letters and Valentine’s Day cards this year.

Mark Street, Head of Campaigns at Royal Mail said: “As one of the guardians of the written word, we relish the opportunity to celebrate the life and times of some of Britain’s most treasured writers. With such a rich history of producing some of the most famous romantic works of all time, it seems only fitting that their work is honoured on some of our iconic postboxes.”

Rob Shakespeare, Principal Curator, Keats House said: “Keats’s letters are some of the best known in the English language, and his letters to Fanny Brawne are particularly touching.  None of her letters to Keats survived and the last ones were unopened and buried with him in Rome so, rather poignantly, we know how he wrote to her, but we won’t ever know how she expressed her feelings for him.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of this romance, captured forever in his tenderly worded love letters.”

*The postboxes are situated in the following locations:
  • John Keats (London): North End Way, London, NW3 7HA (on Hampstead Heath). Keats lived in Hampstead for much of his life.
  • Anna Seward (Lichfield): Conduit Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13 6JR. Anna lived in Lichfield for much of her life.
  • Thomas Hardy (Dorset): Cuckoo Lane, Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, DT2 8QJ (close to Hardy’s Cottage).
  • Robert Burns (Ayr): Murdoch’s Lone, Alloway, Ayr, KA7 4PQ (Close to Burns’ Birthplace Museum). Burns was born in Ayr.
UPDATE 12 February
Thanks to several readers I can now show pictures (provided by Royal Mail) of three of the boxes which I couldn't find on their media page.

 Putting the finishing touches to a postbox decorated in honour of author Thomas Hardy in his birthplace of Higher Bockhampton, Dorset Credit: Royal Mail

Postbox honouring poet Anna Seward in her hometown of Lichfield, Staffordshire Credit: Royal Mail
Actors from Keats House Museum with a postbox decorated by Royal Mail in honour of poet John Keats in Hampstead Heath, London Photo: Royal Mail  

Sunday 10 February 2019

Some old comments will soon disappear

Google has announced the end of Google +.  This won’t affect many people because the reason for closure is that there are too few users. 

However, ALL past comments made on blogs by readers using Google + accounts will be removed when Google + closes.  This may mean that some comment threads have gaps in: there is nothing we can do about this.

Google statement:

30 January 2019
In December 2018, we announced our decision to shut down Google+ for consumers in April 2019 due to low usage and the challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations. We want to thank you for being part of Google+ and would like to provide the next steps, including how to download your photos and other content.

What will happen to Google+ comments on Blogger and other sites?

Blogger and other sites may use Google+ for their commenting system. Comments on blogs may also exist as posts or comments on Google+. This feature will be removed from Blogger by 4 February and from other sites by 7 March. All your Google+ comments on all sites will be deleted starting on 2 April 2019. You can download and save these comments.

Thursday 7 February 2019

Leonardo da Vinci: 500th Anniversary of Death

Royal Mail will issue a set of 12 stamps and a Prestige Stamp Book on 13 February 2019, coinciding with London's Spring Stampex.

Leonardo da Vinci is a world subject and one of the greatest collections of his work is owned by Her Majesty the Queen within the Royal Collection Trust, housed in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle and some of his finest works housed within the Royal Collection will be reproduced on stamps.

On the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci 144 of his finest drawings from Royal Collection Trust are being displayed during 2019 at 12 museums and galleries across the United Kingdom. Each of 12 locations will have an exhibition of 12 of these drawings from 1 Feb – 6 May 2019, before all coming together for an exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, London. The twelve Special Stamps in this set feature a selection of his drawings from the collection acquired for the Royal Collection by King Charles II around 1670.

Royal Collection Trust is a registered charity which looks after the Royal Collection and manages the public opening of the official residences of Her Majesty The Queen.  The full collection of around 600 of his drawings housed in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle is among the most important in the world, and has been pre-eminent in the study of Leonardo for centuries.

The stamps depict:

The skull sectioned;  A sprig of guelder-rose;   Studies of cats;  A star-of-Bethlehem and other plants;  The anatomy of the shoulder and foot;  The head of Leda;
The head of a bearded man;  The skeleton;  The head of St Philip;  A woman in a landscape;  A design for an equestrian monument;  The fall of light on a face.

More detail about each of the sketches on the stamps on the Post Office website.

Technical details:
The stamps are designed by Kate Stephens
All images by Leonardo da Vinci: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019.
Printed by International Security Printers in lithography the 35 mm square stamps are printed in two sheets of 30/60 each containing 5 columns of 6 designs.
Other products available from Royal Mail: presentation pack, stamp cards, first day covers, press sheet.
The original issue date of 12 February 2019 is printed in the margin, but the correct date is 13th. No reprints were made and all stocks have the 'wrong' date.

Prestige Stamp Book.  This PSB marks a new premium charged by Royal Mail, being £1.46 over the face value of the stamps, at a price of £13.10 against £11.64.  With 12 stamps the need to make unusual arrangements on the panes is unnecessary, the stamps being spread over the three panes as shown below.  


As always, click on the images to see then enlarged.

The arrangement of the stamps in the panes is, of course, different to that in the two counter sheets, thus permitting collection - should one so wish - of multiple combinations of se-tenant stamps.

The definitive pane contains two each of the 5p, 10p and £1.55 values with source code MPIL and year code M18L.  These are listed in our shop as 4155P.8 for the set of 3.

We also have a few first day covers (same product code on our shop) cancelled with a Windsor postmark showing a portrait of the artist.

I also found an earlier Royal Mail (or GPO) commemoration of a Leonardo exibition, from 1962.

The postmark slogan, from Battersea SW11, 14 July 1962 reads

UPDATE 14 February
Comment from Malcolm: I received my PSB from the Bureau yesterday and it has 2 copies of the 1st commemorative pane of 4 included.


February slogan postmarks

My thanks to BM for the first of this month's slogans.  Other slogans in different forms (and any other unusual postmarks) will be added in due course.

Bicentenary of the birth of John Ruskin, Victorian Art Critic, used at South East Anglia on 5 February 2019.  As the anniversary marked is 9 February (why '09' in the postmark?), one can assume that this will run for a few days but no others have been reported yet.

Victorian art critic
John Ruskin
Born 200 years ago
09 February 2019

Thanks to KC for the alternative layout from Swindon Mail Centre, with the more usual date format.

What may be only the start of Royal Mail's Valentine's Day campaign dropped on Norvic Towers doormat today, from Peterborough Mail Centre dated 7 Feburary 2019.

"Whatever our souls are
made of, his and mine
are the same"
- Emily Bronte
Happy Valentine's Day!

UPDATE 12 February
A different slogan has now appeared from Chester & N Wales MC on 8 February 2019


Update 14 February
Scans from MB show that both these slogans were still in operation on 12th and maybe 13th February (2nd image).
Emily Bronte from Edinburgh, unnecessarily on a contract mail envelope 12-02-2019
Happy Valentines Day from North West Midlands, possibly 13/02/2019, overlaying Edinburgh Bronte.
Clearer Valentines from NW Midlands on 12/02/2019.

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Douglas Myall, Machin Stamps Expert - 1922-2019 RIP

From the Deegam.com website

Douglas Myall

"We are very sad to report that Douglas Myall passed away on 30 January 2019. He was known affectionately to his thousands of followers in the philatelic world simply as Deegam or DGAM.

Born in Essex on 17 December 1922, Douglas George Albert Myall worked as a British civil servant. His career took him to the office of the Inspector of Foreign Dividends where he developed his interest in philately by collecting the stamps from incoming mail. He subsequently moved to the trademarks registry at the Patents Office. For some years after retirement, he travelled extensively acting as a consultant and adviser on trademark and patent law.

In the 1950s and 1960s, he collected Wilding stamps, the first definitive issues of HM Queen Elizabeth’s reign. At the same time, his work required him to study security printing which helped him in his philatelic activities. His first articles began appearing in the philatelic press.

From their introduction in 1967, he studied and collected Machins, the definitive stamps carrying The Queen’s head designed by Arnold Machin. Soon after Britain adopted decimalised currency in February 1971, DGAM (with three other eminent philatelists) founded two Study Circles, the aims of which were to promote the collection and study of modern philately. The two bodies were the Great Britain Decimal Stamp Book Study Circle (GB DSB SC) and the British Decimal Stamps Study Circle (BDSSC). These two later combined to become the Modern British Philatelic Circle which continues to flourish today with a membership of over 550 people world-wide.

DGAM was the founding Editor of GB DSB SC. He devised many of the nomenclatures to describe the books’ characteristics and these nomenclatures are today’s accepted international standards.

He was a prolific writer for the British Philatelic Bulletin and was been voted ‘Favourite Bulletin author’ in a poll of the readers in most of the years that the polls were held. He managed to translate his deep knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject into articles which have a wide topical interest.

As well as writing for the Circles’ publication and the Philatelic Bulletin, he wrote and published many articles for a wide variety of publications including The GB Journal of the Great Britain Philatelic Society and Stamp Collecting magazine. These complemented his own personal publications.

During his studies, he was not content with the way that established catalogues were handling the potential criteria to study Machin stamps. In the end, he decided to write his own reference work, with an aspiration to be as exhaustive and precise as possible.

To many, his greatest achievement has been the writing and publishing of The Complete Deegam Machin Handbook, which details all aspects and features of the Machin issues and is universally accepted as the ‘bible’ on the subject. First published in 1993, a second and a third edition followed. The latter, in July 2003, contained 1,272 pages. This renowned work received accolades from far and wide. Amongst the awards given for this work have been the National Postal Museum medal for research (1997); Gold Medal at ChicagoPex (1997); Silver Gilt medal, Stampex (1997); Vermeil, Palmerston, New Zealand (1997); Gold medal, Korpex 2000.

The present electronic edition, available on CD-ROM only, first arrived on the scene in April 2010. The files are regularly updated every eight weeks or so. The issued version is thus always current. Companion Deegam Reports are made available to subscribers.

Aside from the Machins, Douglas collected British perfins on covers. Outside of philately, he was interested in photography and, in particular, the macro photography of insects. Some of his trips abroad provided some fascinating subjects!

He was very much a family man and shared most of his adult life with his wife, Kath, who died in 2014. They had two daughters, Delia and Fiona, and they and their families were Douglas’s greatest interests. He will be sorely missed."


"As Douglas wished, the Deegam project will continue."