Friday 24 May 2019

Three new M19L Machin definitives reported.

My thanks to readers who have pointed out listings of three new Machin definitives on a well-known online auction site.

The 1p and 10p counter sheets, and 2nd class business sheet with M19L code have been reported.

Both counter sheets were printed on 19/02/2019.
This suggests that there were several stamps printed in mid-February so we should look out for the other make-up values.   The 10p and 2nd class have been found in Yorkshire.

Update 27 May: Andy P's comment - 
"Last week (22/5/19) I received an order of various definitives from the Philatelic Bureau and the 1st SF/Large they supplied was M19L."    Which is interesting as we dealers haven't heard about that one!

Update 2 June: Although I don't doubt that Andy has reported what he has seen, as we have not any any other evidence of this, nor photographic confirmation from Andy, I've scratched it for the time being.  Others who have ordered reported receiving M17L from Tallents House, and I got M18L.

On the other hand Richard P has sent copies of the 100g Special Delivery with M19L printed on 26 March.  (Pictures below the listing.)

In future I will only put details of new stamps on the blog if I have been sent a picture or a link to an online listing which shows a picture.  All eBay sightings must be reported with an item number.

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

2992.9 - 1st class Large Signed For, date not known.

3001.9 - 1p deep crimson, 19/02/19
3010.9 - 10p dull orange, 19/02/19- reported on both SBP2i and SBP2u
3020.9 - 20p green reprint, first on 19/02/19

3135 - £1.35 orchid mauve
3155.9 -  £1.55 tuquoise-blue, reprint 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 with a further one due for D-Day on 5.6.19

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.

UPDATE: Images of both 2nd class and 2nd class large business sheets.

100g Special Delivery


There will be no more comments or additions to this post, 
any new sightings/reports will be on a new post. 

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Dark Blue Postboxes for Cricket World Cup

BBC News report 22 May 2019

People have been left stumped as post boxes have been painted blue in various towns and cities across England.

The paint jobs, spotted in the centres of Southampton (below), Leeds, Nottingham and Taunton, sparked speculation among locals.

But after some noticed the locations were all due to host matches in the forthcoming Cricket World Cup, it wasn't long until the secret was out. An International Cricket Council spokesman (ICC) confirmed the link. 

Painters in Southampton left behind a conclusive clue, in the shape of an unbranded notice taped to the side, stating: "This box has been painted blue to celebrate the 2019 World Cup."


Another box appeared in Angel Row in the centre of Nottingham (above).

An ICC spokesman stepped up to the wicket to confirm: "This is a joint activation between the Cricket World Cup 2019 and Royal Mail which will be officially launched next week."
Post boxes were painted gold in the home locations of gold medal winners in the 2012 London Olympics.

Blue post boxes are not an entirely new phenomenon - they were introduced for air mail letters in the 1930s. Examples remain at Castlefield, Manchester and outside Windsor Castle.

Royal Mail declined to comment on the blue boxes.

The Nottingham Live website tells more about their blue postbox, with updated painting of text and the ICC logo on the side.

Amazingly, the box was then taken out of service and covered up until tomorrow!!


UPDATE 29 May - wide coverage on BBC, ITV, Somerset County Gazette, Birmingham Live, Northern Echo, etc. 
Mark Street, head of campaigns at Royal Mail, has now said: “We love the opportunity to celebrate Great British traditions, and what better occasion than the honour of being the host nation for the Cricket World Cup?
"We are delighted to honour this quintessentially British sport and important occasion on our iconic postboxes.”

Blue postbox locations

  • Birmingham: New Street
  • Bristol: 33 Wine Street
  • Cardiff: 29 Queen Street
  • Chester-le-Street: Front Street
  • Leeds: 3-7 King Edward Street
  • London: St. John's Wood Road
  • Manchester: 19 Princess Street
  • Nottingham: 19 Angel Row
  • Southampton: Above Bar Street
  • Taunton: 37 North Street
The blue boxes, which initially caused some bemusement, have been decorated with local facts about the game and players.

The chairman of Durham Cricket, Sir Ian Botham, is named on a box in Chester-le-Street.

One in New Street, Birmingham, celebrates Brian Lara's record first-class innings score of 501 not out at Edgbaston in 1994.

UPDATE 17 June:
My thanks to TC for sending these pictures from Taunton where, as I write, Bangladesh are fighting back against the West Indies!

Pictures from BBC and Nottingham Live websites because none were available from Royal Mail.

The Cricket World Cup is being hosted by England and starts on Thursday 30th May, when the hosts play South Africa at London's Oval.

Friday 17 May 2019

75th Anniversary of D-Day - the Normandy landings of World War 2

Royal Mail is marking the 75th Anniversary of the Allied Landings in Normandy in World War II with the issue of a set of stamps, a miniature sheet and a retail booklet.

Although we were told that we could not publish any details or pictures until 2 June, Royal Mail has now made the products available for pre-order on their website here.  

The anniversary is marked on 6th June 2019 of D-Day, 75 years on since the largest combined naval, air and land operation in the history of warfare. On D-Day, 6 June 1944, Allied forces launched a combined naval, air and land assault on Nazi-occupied France. Codenamed Operation 'Overlord', the Allied landings on the Normandy beaches marked the start of a long and costly campaign to liberate north-west Europe from German occupation. Early on 6 June, Allied airborne forces parachuted into drop zones across northern France. Ground troops then landed across five assault beaches - Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. By the end of the day, the Allies had established a foothold along the coast and could begin their advance into France. Royal Mail is marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and its indelible impact on the outcome of WW2 with this set of stamps and products.

5 June - This post is now updated with detaials of the stamp images and technical information.

Set of six stamps
A pair each of 1st class, £1.35 and £1.60 stamps.  The £1.60 pays the rate for European letters up to 100g, and the £1.35 pays for European letters to 20g, Postcards and Worldwide letters to 10g.

The stamps in detail:

1st Class - Men of No. 4 Commando, 1st Special Service Brigade, are briefed by their Commanding Officer, Lt Col R Dawson, just before embarking for Normandy.
1st Class - HMS Warspite, part of Bombardment Force ‘D’, shelling German gun batteries in support of the landings on Sword on 6 June 1944.
£1.35 - Paratroopers of the British 6th Airborne Division synchronising watches prior to take off at about 23:00 on 5 June 1944.
£1.35 - Commandos of HQ 4th Special Service Brigade leaving their landing craft and wading ashore on Juno.
£1.60 - An American A-20 Havoc light bomber with D-Day ‘invasion stripes’ provides air support following the D-Day landings.
£1.60 - Troops from the East Yorkshire Regiment take cover as an enemy shell explodes nearby on 19 July 1944.

Miniature Sheet

1st Class UTAH: More than 23,000 men of the US 4th Infantry Division landed on Utah on DDay. Strong currents swept the first wave of troops into a more lightly defended sector 1,800m to the south of their original target. Airborne troops had already dropped into the area behind Utah in the early hours to secure beach exits and river crossings, providing a route for troops on the beach to move further inland. By the end of the day, the 4th Infantry Division had advanced approximately 4 miles

1st Class OMAHA: Casualties at Omaha were higher than on any other beach. Preliminary Allied air and naval bombardments failed to knock out strong defence points and the Americans had difficulties clearing the beach obstacles. Allied intelligence failed to realise that the German 352nd Infantry Division had earlier reinforced coastal defence units on anti-invasion duties. With the German defences largely intact, the first wave of troops from the US 1st and 29th Divisions were cut down at the water’s edge, and follow-up units struggled to gain a foothold.

1st Class GOLD: Nearly 25,000 men of the British 50th Division landed on Gold on D-Day. Their objectives were to capture the town of Bayeux and the Caen–Bayeux road, and to link up with the Americans at Omaha. High winds caused the tide to rise more quickly than expected, concealing the beach obstacles underwater. Troops battled to overcome strongpoints that remained intact after the initial bombardment, delaying progress inland. However, by the end of the day, British troops were successful in joining up with Canadian troops from Juno.

1st Class JUNO: The Canadian 3rd Division’s objective was to secure Juno and link up with British forces on Gold to the west and Sword to the east. Juno was heavily defended and casualties were high, especially among the first wave of infantry. Rough seas delayed the landing and the rising tide reduced the width of the beach, which eventually became jammed with incoming vehicles and equipment. By midnight, the Canadians had yet to link up with the British at Sword but had succeeded in joining the British at Gold.

1st Class SWORD: Bad weather and strong German resistance hindered the British 3rd Division’s assault on Sword. Rising tides and the geography of the assault area created a narrow front, causing congestion and making it difficult to land the armoured support needed to advance inland. Although the British 3rd Division successfully repelled a German counterattack, it became impossible for it to take the strategically important city of Caen – its key objective for D-Day. The capture of Caen became a focal point of British strategy in the weeks after D-Day. 

Background Map of the Assault Beach Areas with their respective assault times

The stamps and miniature sheet were designed by Baxter and Bailey.
The 60 x 30 mm stamps was printed by International Security Printers in litho, 36 stamps per sheet in se-tenant pairs.  The 192 x 74 mm sheet contains five stamps 37 x 35 mm.

Acknowledgements: briefing troops © IWM (B 5098); synchronising watches © Imperial War Museum [IWM] (H 39070); light bomber © Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images; HMS Warspite © IWM (A 23916); wading ashore © IWM (B 5218); taking cover © IWM (B 7683). 
Utah © IWM (EA 25902); Omaha © Bettmann/Getty Images; Gold © Galerie Bilderwelt/Bridgeman Images; Juno © IWM (A 23938); Sword © IWM (B 5114)

Retail booklet
(Publicity picture)

Actual booklet


Interestingly, with the stamps and background all grey-scale monochrome, the cylinder numbers (all W1) show that the booklet is printed in 4-colour process litho (CMYK), plus

the red (deep scarlet) for the Machin,
the iridescent (invisible security) ink,
the slate/grey (the head, value and captions), and
the phosphor.

Makes you wonder why they didn't just print the captions etc in black, and ignore the colours completely.  The booklet is printed in gravure by ISP Walsall.

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Post and Go update

As readers will know there have been no new Post and Go stamps issued by Royal Mail, and none is in the programme for the current year.  Some agree with this, some would welcome more of these and fewer expensive stamp issues.

The British Postmark Society Journal report for April includes the following which may be of interest to those collectors still looking for Post and Go.  It is worth noting that if the reels are being used for the 'post an item' option, ie with a value on, use of old stock may produce something totally new, so it is worth looking in kiloware as well.  I was reminded of this by the receipt this morning of an eBay purchase with a MA16 1st class Machin with value, date, and weight shown - see picture.

No new designs appeared in the first quarter of 2019, but the Winter Greenery designs reintroduced on 1 November 2018 continued in use into the new year. Various older issues reappear as stock is used up – for example, on 10 April 2019 kiosk 68 at Chorley was issuing Symbolic Flowers (2014) for 1st class/international and Hibernating Animals (2016) for 2nd class.  Meanwhile, Winter Fur and Feathers (2015) was found at Camden High Street and undated Poppies were still being issued at South Norwood.
In a number of cases, rolls of Post & Go stamps are inserted in the wrong reel of a kiosk, either in error or because of a shortage of the correct stamps.  Two recent examples found were 1st class letter on 2nd class (blue) Machin stamps from Camden High Street and 1st class letter on 2nd (blue) Game of Thrones stamps from Slough.
I'm grateful to DP for sending some examples of various Post & Go stamps with old and new European postage rates:

Robin MA13 from Harrogate

Poppy R17YAL from St Albans

Poppy MA16

Machin M17YAL from Farnham

"It does raise the question do we collect the service type or the value of the label which echoes what someone wrote about the Post and Go Christmas tour a few years ago about receipts."

Receipts are especially useful for location confirmation as it is more and more difficult to keep track of where old machines have gone and more particularly where new machines are installed, sometimes without publicity if they are the smaller machines with a counter mini-terminal as well.

"I wanted to get examples from both Huddersfield offices, which was pointless as the Northumberland Street office’s three machines were switched off and the New Street office’s two were on but out of service. At New Street I was told that they didn’t have any stock for the machines. Otherwise they would have turned it on for me to get the collectors strip. Colchester and Ipswich both turned the machines on for me to get collectors strips. However Chesterfield wouldn’t. 

"From correspondence with the Post Office I’ve had questioning if the relocated Ealing branch would have SSKs, I was told that they don’t publicise that information and won’t be adding new location or amending existing branches."

I looked at the Post Office website Branch Finder page, and Post and Go is still listed in the filter selection and in Branch Details. If it is kept updated then that is good for collectors.

UPDATE 24 May:  JE of the British Postmark Society has made this very valid point about the Post Office Branch Finder, showing that their database is not accurate.  That may be what was meant in the last line in italics, just above.
The Branch Finder does not necessarily yield correct and up-to-date information.
Some locations shown as having Self-service Kiosks no longer have them - e.g. Dundee, which had SSKs in the old Head Post Office (Meadowside) lost them in February 2018 when the franchised replacement PO opened at 30 Whitehall St, but the new location appears as a Post & Go office on the Branch Finder.
Even more extreme - Southport's main PO in WHSmith, Chapel St, lost its SSKs in 2014, when the Wincor-Nixdorf machines were withdrawn!
Conversely, POs which have acquired SSKs more recently, such as Slough August 2016), Burnham (Slough)(Autumn 2017), South Norwood (august 2017) and Barkingside (2017), do not appear when the Post & Go filter is applied...
Anybody trying to maintain a complete and current list has an uphill task! 

UPDATE 9 July: According to the August edition of Stamp Magazine it is possible that some formats of Post and Go stamps are not being reprinted.  

"The Postal Museum and other sites with Royal Mail kiosks have been unable to replenish their stocks, including stamps which were digitally printed.

"Machin-head stamps with the year coded '18' are available from a few machines, but nothing more has been updated. Existing stocks are being used up, with a few oldies appearing among them."

As Don Staddon writes, "The situation will need to be resolved soon".

The implication is that Royal Mail are reprinting the stamps required for Post Office SSKs, but not for their own machines.  Strange.

UPDATE 8 November.
Thank you to all readers who continue to update the changes in branch details, openings, closures, moves and FADs.  There hasn't been much general news about the Post and Go stamps available from Royal Mail but a new report here is a comprehensive list of what the Museum machines carried during autumn 2019.  

It also depicts the Winter Greenery stamps used at Post Office branches including the 2019 reprint, and the Machin 1st class 2019 reprint has now been reported, shown below digitally enhanced.

Any NEW stamps and reprints of old will be shown in new posts.  This post will continue, for the time being to record changes similar to those already included in the comments.   A new 2020 post will probably start early in the new year.

UPDATE - It would be useful and much appreciated if, for relocated or other new offices, readers could provide Office name, postal address inc postcode, and FAD.
This information will be of use to collectors monitoring Horizon labels as well as Post and Go. Any changes NOT involving P&G SSKs are also welcome, but probably best sent by email rather than as comments here. 

Monday 13 May 2019

May 2019 slogan postmarks

May has got off to a very slow start: indeed I spent some time looking through the May blog looking for the right entry to add this to, but found that indeed this is the first for this month!

Royal Mail celebrates the birth of Archie Harrison, first son of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with the congratulatory slogan.  I don't know when it started: he was born on Monday 6th May and I suspect the slogan may have been in use as early as that the following day, as there were no mail collections on the Monday.
TRH The Duke and
Duchess of Sussex on
the birth of their son

UPDATE 14 May: On our own post and via email (thank you) we have received this year's Mental Health Awareness Week slogan.   I can't read the date on the Exeter Mail Centre one but it is probably 13 May, the same as that for Nottingham Mail Centre, which is in the other, four-line, format.

Mental Health 
13-19 May 2019

UPDATE 17 May:  BM has sent this further example of the Mental Health Awareness slogan, from Gatwick on 16th, applied to a prec-cancelled Machin PPI.  Strange how Royal Mail's machines miss so much stamped machineable mail, and yet postmark mailpieces which don't need it!


UPDATE 22 May: BE has sent a copy of the latest slogan which marks Children's Hospice Week. This example is from Peterborough Mail Centre on 18 May. 
UPDATE: 25 May: received in the post today, the other layout from South East Anglia 23/05/2019

Hospice Week
20 - 26 May 2019

As usual I welcome other reports of this slogan to confirm its usage period (funny, nobody has mentioned it yet, a week after the event), and any other slogans which will be added here.

Additions to our shop today

We have added to our shop a few recent products and some earlier ones that have been missed.  You can always find the latest by clicking on the Recent Additions link.  There are several different categories updated this time (numbers indicate number of products in each category):

Harrier Jump Jet maximum cards (British Engineering MS) - [3]

Machin Definitive first day cover [1]

Red Arrows booklet stamps first day cover [1]

Machin 'dummy booklet' point of sale material [1]

1986/87 Christmas special packs - gutter strips and traffic light blocks with underprint [4]

Queen Victoria picture postcards [4]

Latest PSB Machins, Queen Victoria PSB, compared with earlier.

We can never be sure from Royal Mail's pre-issue publicity images, just what the stamps will actually look like.  While the commemorative/special stamps are generally faithfully reproduced, new definitives are usually depicted using mock-ups so when they actually appear it is always likely to be a surprise.

This is true again with the Queen Victoria Bicentenary prestige stamp book definitive pane. This is the publicity picture which we showed earlier. 

The 2p is quite unlike the one included in the RAF PSB (on the left) in 2018.  This must surely have a separate listing in the catalogue.

The 50p included in the Harry Potter PSB is a different shade to the current (gravure printed) counter sheet, so this is comparison with the 2017 counter sheet (SG U2925 on the left), which likewise ought to be considered a different stamp even if it were not for the year code.:

And this is the comparison with the Battle of Waterloo PSB (SG U3077)


The 1st class reproductions of Victorian stamps may not be regarded as sufficiently different, although the 2d blue especially is considerably darker - what do you think?  The phosphor is also different if viewed in the 'hold to light' way.

1d black SG3807, 1d red SG3808, 2d blue SG3809 - top row from Royal Mail 500 PSB (2016), lower row from latest book. 

 At least they didn't change the corner letters (hope they aren't reading this!).

Friday 10 May 2019

75th Anniversary of D-Day, set of 6 and MS - 6 June 2019

It will be a while before we are able to show the pictures of these stamps, but you can see them on Commonwealth Stamps Opinion and also in the latest magazine of Buckingham Covers.

We'll show them in due course, of course.  This isn't like any of the stamps which all show contemporary photographs - another black and white issue.

French postcard by Festicart, Création FORE.

Details of this stamp issue can now be found here, with more details to follow.

Thursday 9 May 2019

2018 stamps going off sale from Royal Mail soon

We are advised that the following sets will go off-sale from Royal Mail's website and for phone/email enquiries on 19 May 2019:

UPDATE 14 May:  
The 2017 tariff stamps (Machin and Country) also go off sale at Edinburgh on 19th May.

Owls set of 10

Royal Wedding miniature sheet

Old Vic set of 8


Wednesday 8 May 2019

British Engineering Time Machine?

Following on from the early Birds of Prey, NC has sent a picture of the 1st class Raspberry Pi stamp from the British Engineering set issued on 2 May. 

I'm a little tardy in reporting this which was actually sent to me on 15 April 2019, so three weeks before the proper date of issue, and well before we were permitted to show the stamps on our website - not that it would have stopped me showing this one had we not been on holiday.

Tuesday 7 May 2019

Phosphor - or non-phosphor error?

We know that all defintive stamps for decades have carried two phosphor bands, except for 2nd class which have one, usually at the centre.  There haven't been any missing phosphor errors for many years as far as I can recall. 

Many people still use the traditional 'hold-to-light' method for checking short or shifted bands, especially in the summer when the real darkness necessary for a UV-lamp is in short supply.  Years ago this method was also used as a first check to find out whether the stamp had phosphor missing altogether - we could even do that in the post office and I remember looking at my first 1980 £3 Wedgwood PSB and saying to myself - "oh, they've changed the phosphor bands again" as I found the bands on the se-tenant pane shifted.   I soon shifted that on my next trip to Stampex! 

So what do we make of this:

It's a mix of stamps, the 1p and 11½p definitely se-tenant and the 14p and 11½p maybe not.  Certainly the 11½p have left bands and if the 14p is - or was - joined as a pair, then that will have 2 bands - which are not visible by this method.

Fortunately the bands are visible to the Uvitec lamp, confirming that there is nothing amiss, aside from a lack of postmark on these!   It also makes it much easier to see that the stamps are joined, at least in  pair even if it is not a block of 4.

So remember, a UV lamp is a very worthwhile investment. What good finds have you made, with or without a UV lamp?

Friday 3 May 2019

Royal Mail secrecy - it wasn't always so!

While it's raining I've been able to spend some time looking at the draft of SG's 2019 Concise catalogue and going back through old blog posts to check issue/discovery dates.  I was surprised to find two consecutive entries in February 2010 about the future stamp programme.

The second updated the 2010 stamp issues programme.  The first updated the 2011 programme - shown below.

I had forgotten how comprehensive the advance information used to be - not just special stamp issues but Post and Go, mixed booklets, smilers sheet setc.  So two of those categories have virtually disappeared from the modern stamp programmes, but this was 10 months before the year started.  Now we are lucky to get the outline programme before 31 December and even then there will be at least two 'to be confirmed' subjects about which even we dealers know nothing.  There are several reasons for secrecy, usually concerning copyright issues.

Royal Mail explain that they are reducing the basic cost to collectors by involving third party rights holders - Warner Bros, Disney, the music industry, etc - and that the additional income they get from people who don't normally collect stamps more than offsets the reduction in income from regular collectors.  As a way of increasing overall revenues this is a good thing, but the new policy is causing many regular collectors to either stop, or to limit what they collect to 'those that I like', only one of each stamp and not blocks', 'only definitives', or 'only up to last year", etc.

At the same time, they restrict more and more the availability of news from those of us who have it.  Restrictions over copyright and tie-ins with the royal family have, in the past few years, meant that ordinary collectors are left in the dark about what subjects are being covered, which makes innovation and personalisation of collections very difficult. Maximum card collectors have very little time to source the cards they need, and collectors who produce individual one-off or very low volume first day covers have far too little time to source their designs and produce the covers.

Little of the above is news to most readers so, rant over - just browse and remember the better days.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Great Britain 2011 Programme (updated)

Royal Mail have provided their outline programme for 2011 as follows:

11 January - Classic Children's Television: Gerry Anderson set, MS + retail booklet

24 January - Pictorial Faststamps - Birds 2

1 February - Classic Railway Locomotives miniature sheet

24 February - West End Stage Musicals - set & MS expected (postponed from autumn 2010)
24 February - Retail Booklet: Medical Breakthroughs Beta-Blockers, British Heart Foundation

8 March - Magical Heroes of Fiction
8 March - Low value self-adhesive definitives: 1,2,5,10,20p

22 March - World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund)
22 March - New retail booklets, 1st Large, 2nd Large

29 March - new Machins and Country Stamps on tariff change

12 April - Royal Shakespeare Company 50th Anniversary set & MS

21 April - Royal Wedding MS

5 May - William Morris & Co 150th Anniversary, incl PSB

19 May - Pictorial Faststamps - Birds 3

14 June - Rev Wm Awdry Birth Centenary (Thomas the Tank Engine author), set MS & booklet
14 June - Prince Philip 90th Birthday Commemorative Sheet

27 July - Olympics/Paralympics III, booklet 5, commemorative sheet and composite sheet

28 July - Philanippon, Japan, Exhibition Generic Smilers Sheet.

23 August - Crown Jewels
23 August - Classic Locomotives of England retail booklet

9 September - World's First Scheduled Airmail, Windsor

14 September - Arnold Machin Birth Centenary miniature sheet

15 September - Kings + Queens, House of Hannover (Stampex issue)
15 September - Olympics/Paralympics retail booklet 6
15 September - 350th Anniv of the Postmark - Generic Smilers Sheet

16 September - Pictorial Faststamps - Birds4

13 October - A-Z of the United Kingdom (A-L 12 stamps)

25 October - retail booklets with FSC Logo - 6 x 1st, 12 x 1st, 12 x 2nd, 4 x 1st Large, 4 x 2nd Large

8 November - Christmas (religious) [400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible]

This programme list will be added to and amended from time to time: there will be Smilers sheets, retail booklets and commemorative sheets.

Birds of Prey Maximum Cards

2019 has been a very difficult year for making Maximum Cards for GB stamps.  The year started with the Stamp Classics - a stamp on stamp issue not even including the 1d black, for which cards do exist.

The Leonardo da Vinci stamps were not very exicting, although one of my customers found two cards which I serviced. Not much opportunity with special postmarks either.  Then we moved on to Marvel Comics - cards exist, indeed there are boxes of 100, but they are mostly comic covers and cluttered. Again, not much opportunity to produce maximum cards from commonly found cards.

So it was good to have the Birds of Prey set because postcards for some of the birds are quite plentiful - although others are much more difficult to find here.  I had built up a small stock of bird postcards in anticipation of their eventual use, and a couple of our customers managed even better.

Some duplicates have been added to our shop for sale, but in most cases there is only one copy of each card.  Here are a few of them:


Bicentenary of the Birth of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert 24 May 2019

The stamps and miniature sheet for this issue have been visible on various cover producers'
websites for a few weeks now (their embargo was 2 April), and the products from Royal Mail are shown in the Philatelic Bulletin received this week, and on the Royal Mail website for advance orders. 

The stamps chart the life of Victoria from Princess to Empress, and the accompanying miniature sheet stamps celebrate the legacy of Prince Albert.

The 35mm square stamps are designed by Webb & Webb Design, printed in litho by ISP with PVA gum.  They are se-tenant and printed in sheets of 60 (30 pairs).

1st Class Head and shoulders portrait of Queen Victoria by Baron Heinrich Von Angeli in 1890. *
1st Class A painting of Queen Victoria and Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli at Osborne House in 1878, by Theodore Blake Wirgman §
£1.35 Painting of Queen Victoria depicted on horseback with servant, John Brown, dated 1876, by Charles Burton Barber §
£1.35 Portrait of Queen Victoria wearing the Robes of State dated 1859 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter*
£1.60 The marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert dated 1840 by Sir George Hayter *
£1.60 Queen Victoria as a young girl with her terrier, Fanny, dated 1830 by Richard Westall *

Technical: The 35 mm square stamps are printed in litho by ISP, 60 stamps per sheet, with PVA gum.

Acknowledgements: * Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019;
§ © The Forbes Magazine Collection, New York/Bridgeman Images

Miniature sheet
The Prince Consort, Albert, is shown on the selvedge of the miniature sheet. The stamps depict:

1st Class Model Lodge, Kennington
1st Class Balmoral Castle, Scotland
£1.55 The New Crystal Palace, Sydenham
£1.55 Royal Albert Hall, London

Technical: the stamps are 41 x 30mm in a sheet 146 x 74 mm, printed by ISP in litho with PVA gum.

Acknowledgements:  Albert Prince Consort © Hulton Fine Art Collection/Getty Images; Model Lodge, Kennington, Private Collection/© Look and Learn/Illustrated Papers Collection/Bridgeman Images; Balmoral Castle, Scotland, Private Collection/© Look and Learn/Bridgeman Images; The New Crystal Palace, Sydenham © Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images; Royal Albert Hall, London, Private Collection/© Look and Learn/Peter Jackson Collection/Bridgeman.

Prestige stamp book.
As expected the PSB includes all six stamps and the four from the miniature sheet, which are shown in a different frame and will therefore have separate catalogue listing and spaces in most preprinted albums.   The definitive pane (Pane 2)includes four Machins and four Queen Victoria stamps previously included in the Penny Black 175th Anniversary issue and Royal Mail 500/175th Anniversary of the Penny Red PSB.

This is only a publicity shot, but shows the layout of the pane, which includes 2 x 1d black (SG 3807), and one each 1d red (3808) and 2d blue (3809) all 1st class.  The Machins are 2 x 2p (U3071) and 2 x 50p (U3077/a depending on shade).  The Machins should be the first MPIL gummed stamps with M19L year code.


Clockwise from left, pane 1, pane 4, pane 3 and front cover.

Pane 4 has as its backrgound a map of the British Empire in 1897.   Pane 3 shows the locket in which Victoria kept a lock of Albert's hair after his sudden death in 1861.

The PSB is priced at £17.20 against a face value of the stamps of £15.64.

All the products are now shown and available to order on Royal Mail's website.  Full range of products:
Set of 6 and first day cover; miniature sheet and first day cover; first day cover for PSB Machin pane;
Presentation pack containing set and MS;  Prestige Stamp Book;  Set of 11 Stamp Cards;
Uncut Press Sheet of 15 miniature sheets; Coin covers - Gold Proof, Silver Proof, and Bright uncirculated £5 coin.

Although the use of the Queen Victoria 'definitives' is understandable - and assuming they are no different to those already listed - their reissue reduces the worth of existing stocks of those stamps held by dealers.  Consequently, unless they are needed for restocking, these will only be useful for postage meaning that the cost of the sets of 'new' Machins (face value only 52p) will be much higher as dealers sell the unneeded stamps at a discount to recoup their outlay.  So be prepared to pay relatively heavily for these (a reminder that we are not stocking M19L stamps).