Monday, 15 July 2019


Royal Mail promise miniature sheets for England Cricket Teams.

Royal Mail will mark the World Cup success of the England Cricket team by issuing a miniature sheet of four stamps.

The sheet will feature images from the team’s campaign which ended in a gripping finish yesterday.

In a more surprising move a second sheet will be issued - somewhat belatedly we might think - to mark the Women’s team’s similar success in 2017.

The designs will of course be subject to royal approval and will be made available as soon as possible.

The sheets will be issued on the 22nd of August.
Further to this, the Royal Mail has also announced the rollout of 15 special edition postboxes located close to each of the grounds used during the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
These special edition postboxes will be easy to spot – as they will be painted white and will feature stylized images of a gold cricket bat, ball and stumps, along with being adorned with a permanent gold plaque.
The selected postboxes will be decorated in this fashion during the next three months, with the plaque inscription detailing England’s now historic position as the joint holder of both ICC Cricket World Cup titles.

As usual we will not be stocking these, collectors can register their interest on the Royal Mail website.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Next stamp issue: Forests, 13 August 2019

The next stamp issue depicts six of Britain's forests.  We have received the first supplies of the stamps today, so we might expect the FDCs to be shown on the usual websites quiet soon.

However, although the issue date is less than a month away, the embargo date has yet to be advised.  I expect now that the Curious Customs are out of the way the media office are trying to work out when to take their summer holidays and still be available for the publicity for the launch of these stamps.

Meanwhile here's the website for the Forestry Commission the government department responsible for many of the United Kingdom's forests.

More details about the stamps and other products when we are permitted to provide them.

According to the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog, which also has the pictures,

The issue commemorates the Centenary of the Forestry Commission and is an attractive and colourful issue with various regions of The United Kingdom being pleasingly represented on the stamps. The featured forests are:- The National Arboretum at Westonbirt in the Cotswolds, Sherwood Forest in the East Midlands, Kielder Forest in the north of England, Glen Affric in Scotland, Coed y Brenin in Wales and Glenariff Forest in Northern Ireland.

Out of office

We will be away all next week, 14 - 23 July, including a trip to the York Stamp and Coin Fair on Saturday 20th.

As usual the webshop will be open while we are away, and orders will be processed as soon as possible on our return.

Emails may be answered, and blog comments moderated, depending on the level of internet access we have.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

July Postmark Slogans

This post will record all postmark slogans used during July 2019, and some other news about postmarks.   As has been the custom for some years, July kicks off with Royal Mail's campaign to raise awareness of the problems that dogs might cause for their postmen and women.

Thanks to JG for sending this example from South East Wales mail centre on 06/07/2019I'll have the other layout later this week.  Alternative three-line layout from Peterborough on 08-07-2019 is now shown below, along with an Australian slogan on the same subject from the South Western Letter Facility on 21.06.19

8 - 14 July 2019


Secure your dog for safe delivery

Previous campaigns were reported here: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014.

As usual, other slogans used in July will be added here as reported.

Universal machines
I've also received another example of a non-ink-jet postmark, the Universal from Lerwick used on 6 July 2019.  The date and time are clear, but are raised above the outer ring, so the place cannot be read!

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Machin news - still dribbling out.

Another new Machin retail booklet has been found in a retail outlet.

This is the 1st class Large book of 4, with cylinders W3/W2 on SBP2u backing paper. The pack date is 23/04/19.


In our Checklist this will be listed as RB6.9 with the stamps being listed as 2937a.9. 

As noted in the comments below, the 2nd and 1st class stamps from books of 12 have now appeared on eBay.  I had heard of these but there are no supplies locally yet.  One source suggested that they may be at a well-known supermarket. 
The numbers for these will be 2931.9 and 2936a.9 respectively.

Padstow 'Obby 'Oss comes out to play early in Sheffield

My thanks to RS for sending this picture of an early release of one of the Curious Customs 2nd class stamps.

The Padstow Obby Oss made it's appearance in Sheffield at least as early as 24 June on ordinary non-philatelic mail.

This is the first we've had reported since the Raspberry Pi.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Just print some stamps, we don't care what they look like!

It's beginning to look that way, with Royal Mail seemingly not exercising any quality control over what their print contractors are doing. When I worked for a security print organisation we had our own people in contractors' premises, at least when printing started and finished, to check that what they were producing matched what we asked for and what we thought they should be printing.

Of course one could argue that it doesn't really matter as long as the stamps are fit for purpose, ie they will do the job that is required.  We've had prestige book make-up errors with duplicated or otherwise wrong pages (see blog posts - as they write in Private Eye - passim, ad nauseum).

We've had the long elliptical perforation hole at the top instead of nearer the foot of the pane.

We've had an entirely wrong colour, again in a PSB, where - arguably - it matters far less than elsewhere because those stamps rarely get used for postage. And the change to the colour of the 1st class 'red' wasn't consistent in PSBs either.  The 2p & 50p stamps in the Marvel PSB are so different from earlier ones that they may have full catalogue listing!

We've had phantom or missing cylinder numbers on counter sheets.

So what do you make of this?  

Since the printing of country definitives was moved from De La Rue to Cartor in 2012, there have been several reprints.

The original printing of the Wales 1st class was on 10 & 11/07/12  (released January 2013) using Cylinders C1.   What we believe to be the second printing was on 07/04/15 and these cylinders were also C1, but this was during the period when cylinders were not always renumbered as they should be.  The black was clearly a new cylinder as the printing date was part of the cylinder.

Cylinders C2 were used on 17/01/16.   And the next printing, on 26/12/17 was from a new set of C1 cylinders with the font revised to that used for the airmail values and the Machin definitives. 

A recent list from Royal Mail showed a printing from Cylinders C3.  This wasn't regarded as odd: it would be quite possible for Cylinders C2 to be produced but not used because they were - for some reason - not of the right quality.

It was only when a customer asked if he had had a C2 block, that I found the C2 that he had had, and realised that C3 is the same font.  So what gives?  Royal Mail asked Cartor to print some more 1st class stamps for Wales - and they used the previous master images and made a new cylinder.

Maybe Royal Mail didn't feel the need to specify "use the latest design" - I'm not sure that I would have.  Why would you?  Why would a printer NOT use the latest design?


Many people don't collect cylinder blocks and date blocks, and to be fair there isn't much to choose between the stamps printed by C1, C2 & C3 in the old font - minor shade differences excepted.

But if anybody wants date blocks or cylinder blocks - or even singles - of the latest printing I will make them available on our webshop shortly, although there will be a delay in supplying while I obtain more stocks from Royal Mail.  They will be listed here.