Friday, 23 August 2019

Ships of the Royal Navy - 19 September 2019

As already mentioned Royal Mail's main September stamp issue features ships of the Royal Navy.  We cannot supply details until the week before, but the first day cover producers are already showing their products on their websites.

Here's a link to the Adrian Bradbury product; Buckingham have emailed their customers with pictures of their cover but I can't see it on their website yet.  The picture on the emails shows a rather plain drawing of HMS King George V.

However, what these do show is a set of 8 stamps in se-tenant pairs all apparently depicting paintings.  The two first class stamps are also shown in a retail booklet of 6 in the standard format.

Bradbury's covers feature the Mary Rose and HMS Victory, and a full list is of the designs is provided:
1st Class Mary Rose
1st Class HMS Queen Elizabeth
£1.35 HMS Victory
£1.35 HMS Dreadnought
£1.55 HMS Warrior
£1.55 Sovereign of the Seas
£1.60 HMS King George V
£1.60 HMS Beagle
Postcrossers will be pleased to see a pair of stamps for the AIrmail 20g Europe / 10g World letter / Postcard rate of £1.35.

The first, but by no means all, of the special handstamps are shown on Royal Mail's Postmark webpage together with the Stampex postmarks for the week before.  This is the first time for many years that there is no first day postmark at Stampex.


Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Would a more conservative stamp issuing policy be better for us all?


Unless you collect the stamps of the country represented by this logo, or you are familiar with the language, you probably won't guess which country it is.

It's a small country in terms of size and population, although it attracts many tourists - about 6.5 times as many people who actually live there.  They don't issue many stamps - 25 this year - and those are singles, miniature sheets of 2, or sets of 4 at most.  It's a good issuing policy, although because postage rates are quite high the cost of the stamps alone is about £52, but again that's not too bad.

Here are their Europa stamps for this year (national birds):


By now you will have worked it out, and those who knew anyway may well have thought - "just a minute, their logo is red, not black."  Well, today it's black here, because this year's Christmas stamps might almost be the last ones, or at least the last ones which are easy to get:


Why? Because their Stamp and Philatelic Department (Postphil) will be abolished at the end of this year. Here's the announcement from their Head of Philately, VILHJALMUR SIGURDSSON.

Dear Friends

Iceland Post, Stamp and Philatelic Department (Postphil) will be abolished at the end of this year after about 90 years in operation.

We still have two stamp issues left this year, on September 12th and October 31st, but when they are done the department will be closed down for good and will stop serving stamp collectors, domestic and foreign, altogether.

The fact that the number of our philatelic customers have constantly been decreasing year after year has lead to years of deficit for Postphil.

Iceland Post has got a new CEO Mr. Birgir Jonsson, who is cutting down everything that is not profittable in this company, including Postphil, and that is due to the fact that Iceland Post currently has severe operating difficulties.

Today, August 20 Iceland Post is laying off about 50 people throughout the company.

The current management of Iceland Post Ltd., prefers if possible to stop issuing new stamps altogether, but on the basis of current law, Iceland Post cannot unilaterally decide to do so.

However, there is some uncertainty as to how these matters will be handled in the future and the company is waiting for answers from it´s owner, the Icelandic state.

If the company must keep on issuing new stamps in 2020 and onward the number of new stamps will be very few each year and there will be no service for stamp collectors.

According to CEO Mr. Birgir Jonsson this task of producing and issuing new stamps could be given to outside contractors.

I will leave Iceland Post Ltd, in September after 20 years in charge of Postphil.

From October to December there will only be 3 people working at Postphil so operations will be at minimum

Kind regards,

VILHJALMUR SIGURDSSON

HEAD OF PHILATELY    POSTPHIL | ICELAND POST

TEL: +354 580 1050 | DIRECT: +354 580 1051 | MOBILE: +354 825 1051 | STAMPS.IS | facebook.com/icelandicstamps | vilhjalmurs@postur.is
STORHOFDI 29 | 110 REYKJAVIK | ICELAND | TEL: +354 580 1000 | FAX: +354 580 1059 | POSTUR.IS |

So there you have it.  A conservative stamp issuing policy doesn't guarantee success if you don't have enough customers - philatelic or otherwise.  Of the 2.3 million tourists who visit each year many do so for weekend or 5-day breaks, as we did in January.  We sent no postcards, although there are many on sale and we bought a few.  With the cost of postage being £1.65 (US$2, €1.80) that was a step too far.

The country is hi-tech. We didn't use any cash, and bought all meals and coffees (and postcards) using a credit card (debit cards also welcome).  I think it's safe to assume that the population is equally as happy to use email and text messaging (and social media) for social and business communication wherever possible.  Last year the postal service tried a 'next day delivery' service for letters which cost nearly £4 for a 100g letter.  It ceased after 10 months.  With a population of less than 340,000 (and that's all of them including the children) I guess they don't need very many stamps: you can drive from one side of the country to the other in 10 hours (weather permitting).


It's something to think about.  Sure, in the United Kingdom with a much bigger population there will always be a postal service that needs stamps.  It's just not that easy to get from Tresco to Haroldwick (about 36 hours by road/sea: your letter will do it in the same time for 70p).  So there will always be a need for some method of showing that postage has been paid.


Something to think about 2.
Should you be wanting any stamps from Iceland, for example if you are collecting all the Europa stamps this year, or if you collect bird thematics, it might be an idea to put an order in now.  You may have to actually visit Iceland to get them after Christmas.


Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Mechanised Mail Sorting in the 1990s, and meter marks.

Now that we have stopped stocking the Machin definitives for years after M18L, there is time to delve into our boxes and rediscover things which were put aside for investigation, or to form part of a collection or club display. 

But there aren't enough hours in the day, or indeed years left, to do justice to all the side-line unsorted collections so I'll be mentioning some here in case anybody is interested.  If you are, just sent an email to ian [at] norphil.co.uk and I'll give you more details.  Many of these will be at bargain prices, some just for the cost of postage.  The alternative is to put them into a club auction or go through the tortuous process of eBay listing - or just send them to recycling!

This first lot is a bundle of mostly office mail envelopes mainly from the late 1990s, all with more or less readable mechanised mail idents to Norwich, with a few older, and a couple to Sheffield or elsewhere. Most are blue dots in various shades, some are clear. Being commercial correspondence there are hardly any stamps, it is either meter-franked or has Postage Paid Impressons.  A few sample pictures - click on each to get a bigger view.


This lot weighs about 350gr for over 65 covers.   Postage will be at cost; if you are interested, please get in touch.


Monday, 12 August 2019

New version of Norvic Machin Checklist - V 2.1.3

As a result of all the recent new stamps which have become available in various places but not all here, I have updated the Checklist and a new version is now on Dropbox.

Remember, there will only be a new version when we mention it in a new post, and it can only be found from this link on the right-hand side of the blog, down the page a bit.


As always, if you have any problems getting this, or if you find any errors, do please let us know.  This new version not only had all the latest stamps but also adds some Large Letter booklets that were missing from previous editions for some years!

Update 19 August
Thanks to Chris N we can now show the latest addition to this year's Machin stamps with the 1st class from booklets of 6 - MSIL M19L.  This is numbered 2936aS.9 in our system.

  


Update: This is version 2.1.3 dated 12 August, with the 2p M19L at the top.
Due to an aberration, the Latest Additions sentence shows wrong highlighting and should read:

Latest Additions and amendments are highlighted with green shading and the previous changes are highlighted with blue shading.

Additional information not available previously:

2931.9      2nd class booklet MTIL M19L was packed 21/02/19
2936a.9    1st class booklet MTIL M19L was packed --/02/19 & 12/03/19

2914aB.9 1st class business sheet M19L was printed  04/02/19
2916aB.9 1st Large business sheet M19L was printed 25/03/19


Sunday, 11 August 2019

Rock Legends and Rock Gardeners

No, it’s not “Music Giants III” although it could easily have been one of the choices of title Royal Mail considered when the series started.

This is a different sort of Rock Legend, and I’m showing it here to demonstrate to readers who only collect Great Britain stamps that some other postal authorities have, perhaps, more imagination and are better at marketing.

I rarely encroach on the specialist area of the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog, but when I saw this from New Zealand Post, I felt it deserved a mention.

It’s maybe not a subject that would necessarily get the juices flowing - although New Zealand has some truly magnificent landscapes - but the special layout of the sheet with its poster style captions are really rather clever.

If I was still adding to my worldwide collection, this would be in there!  You can buy it here for NZ$11.70 or from your favourite commonwealth dealer.

Postscript:  New Zealand's neighbours on the 'big island', meanwhile, issue stamps and collectables like a banana republic and at far greater cost than does Royal Mail.   Here's one of Australia Post's recent products marking the 30th anniversary of the television programme Gardening Australia


Like Britain's Smilers sheets this costs a little more than the face value, which isn't too exorbitant, but it's the sheer volume and subjects of products.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Revised 2019 stamp issue programme from Royal Mail

Because of the addition of the Cricket World Cup issue to the 2019 programme, Royal Mail have revised some publicity dates which will affect when cover producers will have pictures on their websites, and when we will eb able to provide details here.

That said, the programme is still subject to change; there is no firm date for the Cricket sheet - it would be good to have it during Stampex (11-14 Sept. ) but that won't happen - and all these dates are subject to change.


The programme is (updated 9 August, and this may not be the last change):

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

29 May:  Stockholmia 2019 Exhibition sheet (also marks RPSL 150)
6 June: D-Day
9 July: Curious Customs
13 Aug: Forests



 3 September - Musical Giants  - No information available before the issue date
 

- September - Cricket World Cup - two miniature sheets
 

19 Sept: Royal Navy Ships - detailed information available 12 Sept. Set of 6 & retail booklet.

10 October - TBA - detailed information 1 October

5 Nov: Christmas - FDC producers info 8 October; general info release on date of issue but will certainly be usual set of 8, miniature sheet, and retail booklets.
 

26 November - TBA - detailed information 12 November


Postmarking arrangements. 
Music Giants III Stamp Issue – Postmarking Extension
In order to give customers sufficient time to prepare their covers and postcards as well as submit sponsored postmark requests Royal Mail is extending the availability of all postmarks relating to the Music Giants III stamp issue by 28 days from the First Day of Issue (3 September). All items requiring a Music Giants IIII related postmark should be received by Royal Mail Special Handstamp Centres by 8th October. 

Any sponsored postmarks received after publication of this [September] Postmark Bulletin will appear in the October edition and customers will be able to have these postmarks applied to covers up to and including 5th November.

Similar arrangements may be made for the 10 October and 26 November releases.  

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

D-Day Minisheet to be reissued with Stampex Overprint

Royal Mail have announced this autumn's Stampex limited edition miniature sheet.

"To support attendance at the premier UK stamp show; London Stampex International, a numbered limited edition Minisheet will be on sale only at Autumn Stampex. The D-Day miniature sheet will carry a special Operation Overlord overprint along with the Stampex logo."


To ensure all visitors to the show have a chance to buy the show exclusive there may be restrictions on sales at the show to ensure that stock is available from the Royal Mail stand each day of the show.
 

Note: After considering customer feedback the show exclusive minisheet will be priced at face value of the stamps (£3.50), as such there is no pack and the minisheets will be supplied like all other mint Minisheets.

There will be only 7,500 of the sheets.

This has been announced in the latest Philatelic Bulletin and also in the latest information to dealers. Dealers will be able to pre-order for collection at the show, but there will be no supplies from Tallents House.  (Thank you to readers who have emailed the report from the Bulletin.)


As before, we are not going to Stampex this September.  If any customers would like one of these sheets I will ask my associates to try to obtain them for you.


Thursday, 1 August 2019

Music Giants III is coming, after the Cricket sheets.

We still have no news or details of the miniature sheets marking the winning of the two Cricket World Cup competitions.

I think we can assume that there will be just the two sheets in the squaring format (rather than the Olympic format used for Andy Murray), with a presentation pack and first day covers.  Considering the popularity of the subject Royal Mail might produce stamp cards - not that most collectors will want them, but they may appeal to cricket fans and cricket-thematic stamp collectors.

The third Music Giants issue will be 3 September and I would expect this to consist of a set of 6 self-adhesive stamps, a miniature sheet, retail booklet, presentation pack, two first day covers as before.  There should also be some framed products or prints aimed outside the philatelic market.

In our comments, Marcooni has written that "Elton John would be a worthy candidate for Music Giants III. Rocketman movie is out on Blu-ray in September."

C has just written:
Just received my advice note from RM for the next stamp issue on 03/09/2019 - Music Giants III. Issue includes Set of Stamps, MS and a Booklet of 6x 1st (UB423).
Music Giants 1 & II - Pink Floyd (2016) and David Bowie (2017)



UPDATE 6 August - Royal Mail have today told us that there will be no pre-sale or early promotion of this stamp issue.  So you can expect to find details only on the 3 September - unless, of course, the usual chaotic system for Post Office branches applies and you are permitted to see them by your friendly postmaster. 

News of September's Royal Navy set will be released on or about 22 August through cover producers, but not until around 12 September for the rest of us, although the August Bulletin does mention that the Framed Print and Stamp will be produced for Mary Rose & HMS Victory.

The October 'TBA' issue will be issued on 10th and details will be released on 1st.



And to those who think that the Cricket MS are on eBay (petermk), those are just pictures taken from the news sites.  Royal Mail have not yet published their pictures.