Wednesday 31 July 2019

Da Vinci PSB sold out in less than 6 months

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


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

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

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

Monday 29 July 2019

Forests stamp issue - Postmark Bulletin error

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

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

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

Going off sale from Royal Mail - Hampton Court

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

Thursday 25 July 2019

Machin 2019 update

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

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

Full list of M19L stamps so far:

Counter Sheets

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

2985.9   100g Special Delivery - 26/03/19

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

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

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

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

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

Prestige Stamp Books

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

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

Business Sheets

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

Images of some of the newer discoveries:

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

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

1st class Large from business street MBIL M19L

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

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

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.

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.

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

UPDATE 30 July
Thank you to the several readers who have alerted me to the fact that these are now available to pre-order from Royal Mail's website.  The following information is from Royal Mail

These stamps capture beautiful and inspirational views in Forestry Commission and related forests in the four countries of the UK, capturing the character and varied colours of these public woodlands and the national arboretum.

The Forestry Commission was founded in September 1919, initially to reforest the UK for timber after the first world war had seen clearances of huge areas for the war effort. It is the public body responsible for managing and growing public forests and woodland. In the last century the UK has more than doubled its tree cover to almost 12% of its land area.

As well as providing sustainable timber to UK industry, in the last 50 years the Commission’s focus has grown to embrace other areas. It is active in wildlife conservation especially endangered bird and butterfly species, the preservation of national parks, and is expert in scientific research on pests and diseases, and the response to climate change. It is also the biggest provider of outdoor recreation in the UK, as it welcomes 600 million visits per year to its forests and woodlands.

The stamps depict:

Glen Affric, Inverness-shire, Scotland: This Caledonian pine forest sits in the highlands of Scotland. Ringed by mountains, it is home to a habitat of rich wildlife and popular with hikers and mountain bikers alike. The stamp shows autumn at Glen Affric.

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Gloucestershire, England: Based in Gloucestershire, Westonbirt hosts 15,000 tree species, including some from all over the world. The stamp highlights its autumn colour in the Acer Glade, which people flock to see each year. 

Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, England: Famous for its connection to the legendary Robin Hood, this 450 acre forest in Nottinghamshire is home to the Major Oak, a well-known Oak tree.

Coed y Brenin, Gwynedd, Wales: Set within Snowdonia’s National Park in Wales, Coed y Brenin is world famous for its mountain biking tracks and vast acres of valleys.

Glenariff Forest, County Antrim, Northern Ireland: Also known as the ‘Queen of the Glens’, with clear views of Scotland, Glenariff is one of the nine Antrim Glens in Northern Ireland. The stamp shows one of Glenariff’s three worldwide renowned waterfalls.

Kielder Forest, Northumberland, England: Based in Northumberland, Kielder Forest is the largest man-made forest in England. The stamp shows Common beech (Fagus sylvatica) in autumn, Sidwood.

Designed by UP, the stamps are printed by ISP/Cartor in lithography with PVA gum and two phosphor bands.  In se-tenant pairs, there are 30 stamps per sheet, and strips of 5 of the same stamp may be ordered from Royal Mail, but not via their web shop.

Acknowledgements: Glen Affric © Colin Leslie/Alamy Stock Photo; Blidworth Woods, Sherwood Forest © Tracey Whitefoot/Alamy Stock Photo; Glenariff Forest © Pixel Pusher/Alamy Stock Photo; Westonbirt, The National Arboretum © Christopher Nicholson/Alamy Stock Photo; Coed y Brenin © Jon Sparks/Alamy Stock Photo; Kielder Forest © Ann and Steve Toon/

Set of 6 stamps, presentation pack, stamp cards, first day cover, framed set of 6 stamps. 

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.

A number of images of new slogans have been sent while we have been away.
JE Reports: The Open Golf slogan was used on 13 and 15 July only, then the Cricket World Cup from 16 July. A slogan for the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing was planned for 19 and 20 July, but was cancelled at the last minute; it was not used in iLSMs at all, but a few items were cancelled at one or more Mail Centres which have IMPs. The only case I am sure of is Leeds.
UPDATE 23 July

In a sporting summer, Royal Mail have chosen to mark two events, so far.

a. Golf's Open Championship at Portrush, Northern Ireland.  This was, as JE wrote (above) for Saturday 13 and Monday 15 July - although we also have an example on Friday 12th from Peterborough Mail Centre.  The other layout shown is from the IMP at Lancashire and South Lakes (Preston) on 15th.

The 148th Open
Royal Portrush
Golf Club
Northern Ireland
14 - 21 July 2019

b. The ICC Cricket World Cup, played at various grounds in England and Wales, was one by the England team only just over a week ago, but so much has happened since then that it seems an age!  The England men's team therefore joins the women who won their tournament two years ago.  As the men have won, Royal Mail have decided to issue a miniature sheet of four stamps - and at the same time there will be one for the women.  Not wrong, but shouldn't it have been done two years ago?

Anyway although the Golf Open championship ran from 14-21 July and one might have expected the slogan to run on, it was interrupted by a special marking England's Cricket win.  We've got examples on 16th from Edinburgh iLSM, reversed from Southampton, Portsmouth & IOW IMP, and Lancashire & South Lakes IMP; and on 17th from Tyneside, a poor example on a PPI cover which shouldn't have one anyway!

ICC Cricket
World Cup
And so to the Moon Landing anniversary.  On, then off, and then used in machines which Royal Mail didn't acknowledge that they would be, and two different layouts.  The first one shown here is from the Jubilee Mail Centre iLSM in four lines, and then from North & West Yorkshire's IMP over five lines.

"One giant leap for
50th anniversary of
the first mood landing

As I mentioned before, The British Postmark Society is keen to have a complete record of this usage, so if anybody else gets any of any slogan, please let me know, with scans, to the usual email address.  Thank you.

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 17/11/16.   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.