Tuesday, 17 September 2019

October blockbuster issue - still embargoed

As I have previously indicated, I will not publish, nor allow comments which publish, details of any stamp issue which is under embargo.

I will provide links to FDC producer websites when they have shown their covers for embargoed issues.

But because of our contract with Royal Mail we will not be publishing anything until we are permitted to by Royal Mail.

The person who has tried four times to reveal that detail on comments on other posts should know that and know that nothing is going to change.  Thank you for your interest: I know the details, I have the pictures and have had for months.

Friday, 6 September 2019

New High Value Machins will be available from Royal Mail

A number of people have written to say that they have heard that the £2, £3 and £5 M19L stamps will be available at Stampex.

Royal Mail have confirmed that these are non-visible changes being the first printed by Walsall, and so will be on automatic distribution for those people who have such stamps on their Royal Mail standing orders.

Apparently stock of the high values are low, and if the same applies to Post Office Supplies Department - despite so few POs selling them - then we can expect to see the new stamps in those branches that sell them in the near future.  Update: DL sent the second picture below, showing the pair of stamps with the printing date, which were obtained from his local Royal Mail sorting office (so still not at a PO branch).

Meanwhile, here's a picture of the £2, courtesy of PW.



Update 16 September:
Thank you to several people who reported that they found these at Stampex and to others who stated that they would be distributed by Royal Mail Tallents House to standing order customers on 24 October.

I've also had a report from another regular here and at Stampex:
I was glad that I was there queuing early outside. I only had to wait about 15 minutes to be served but by the time I left I would estimate for those waiting it would be well over an hour at the Royal Mail Exhibition stand.   They appeared to have a few more ‘experienced’ staff who knew what they were looking for.
Things they didn’t have were (2019 issue):
2nd Large Counter sheet.
2nd book of 12
2nd Large book of 4
1st Large book of 4
Special delivery 100g
Birds of Prey Commemorative (6 x 1st book)Any business sheets for any date.
 Thanks for this report!

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Postal Museum Post and Go News for Stampex

The always reliable and entertaining Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog reports that Post and Go machine at The Postal Museum in London will be dispensing the Mail by Air stamps with a special additional inscription 'Airmail 1919'.

(Postal Museum mock-up which shows a 2016 datastring!)

The 'overprint' marks the centenary of several Airmail “firsts” in 1919 – the RAF flights to Cologne, the first flight across the Atlantic, the first flight to Paris and the pioneer flight to Australia.  The new stamps will be available from 11 September, ie the first day of Autumn Stampex.  Limited to 300 the pack costs £18 for 6 x 1st class stamps (face £4.20); the FDC is only £11.

As the author writes:  Now that Royal Mail Post and Go issues are much less frequent than in recent years I find this to be an appealing issue and of interest due to the postal history anniversaries commemorated by it.

Update 16 September:
As with earlier museum reissues, this one has brought a new set of stamps in more ways than one.  MC writes:
My TPM official FDC & Pack have stamps with the '17' code whilst my output from the kiosk during a transaction timed at 10.53 is '19' year coded. So the changeover must have occurred much earlier in the morning, or even before that. I had to wait at least 20 minutes to access the kiosk as the chap on it when I arrived (a suspected foreign dealer?) was ordering loads and holding up the 4 of us waiting, who all turned out to have very limited needs! So, whilst I was there, there were no roll changes.
I suspect the stamps in the FDC and pack were printed some time ago, in order for the FDCs to be processed and made available on the day of issue.  As we know, the date and time on the machines can be set to any required date, so 'fixing' it to show the date of issue is simple.  (But see below.)

Thanks to CFN for this picture of the R19YAL reprint with the actual font and datastring:

.. and for this earlier R17YAL version.  

UPDATE 17 September: Most importantly, BR points out that stamps carrying the  R19YAL were digitally printed, as you can see by comparing the two side-by-side.  Comparing the images above doesn't work, because they were scanned at different times, but I think they show differences as the earlier digital printings did.

Further update: Stuart Leigh (Post and Go Checklist author) clarifies that "Early on the first day at the Postal Museum R17YAL were being dispensed from the kiosk."

As usual this is posted for information only, we shall not be stocking these stamps.

Discontinuation of Royal Mail Signed For orange flash label for bulk mailers

Whilst this will not affect us - as far as we know - you may notice in future that you are asked to sign for parcels which do not have the traditional 'signed for' label.

According to Chris Dawson on Tamebay:
From the end of September, we’ll start to see the end of orange Signed For labels on our letters and parcels. Royal Mail are to discontinue the Orange Flash labels for Royal Mail Signed For 24 and Royal Mail 48 items.
We are already seeing a significant reduction in use of the labels for two reasons. Firstly with the growth of Royal Mail’s Tracked 24 and Tracked 48 product sets there has been an overall reduction in the number of Royal Mail Signed For items. Secondly, if you print labels with the Signed For service rather than a Signed For sticker the service will be often be incorporated into the postage label.
With the modernisation of Royal Mail seeing the tracking number for Signed for items incorporated into shipping labels, all the orange flash label really does is to be a visual indicator for Posties and consumers that this is an important item. The reality is that with 80,000 handsets rolled out to Posties, they’ll not only be prompted to collect a signature but will collect it electronically and in today’s world the visual reminder is no longer as important.
Royal Mail will be removing the need to use the orange Royal Mail Signed For label from their Terms & Conditions on the 30th of September 2019 and removing the need for customers to apply it when using Royal Mail Signed For as an add-on to Royal Mail 24 and 48. This should help to save you time in parcel preparation and save a few trees in the process. As well as the carbon footprint reduction, eliminating the orange flash stickers will also reduce the cost of production and distribution from the postage service.

I don't expect any change for non-business customers posting at Post Office counters although the production of the special Signed For NVI stamps may be reduced as more mail items are sent using other methods.

Did you know that if you send a parcel or large letter (over 100g I think) and pay all or part of the postage in cash with a Horizon label added, you can check delivery (but not progress) on Royal Mail's Track & Trace webpage?  For any item with a 2D barcode such as that shown below, your receipt will have a reference number - note that all 0 are zero.  Dashes are not entered, just the 16-digit number/letter string.  Thus you have proof of delivery, although not a signature.  I believe this also applies to items posted at a branch SSK which also have the 2D barcode (below right).

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

September postmarks - slogans and others

It's a while since I had anything to report about operational postmarks - there was nothing of note in August - and so now that we've got Royal Mail's latest sticker series out of the way, I start this month with a Universal type received this morning.

It's not easy to read, although those who are real experts will probably be able to work it out from what does appear.  Fortunately I know that it was posted in the Greenford area and is probably* from the Jubilee Mail Centre, posted on 2 September (IX) 2019.

* However, the only clearly visible letter is a U at 1 o'clock, which is the wrong place!  Any other suggestions are welcome!

No sooner said than done - we now have a new ink-jet slogan which is appearing in both formats although I can only show this one from Peterborough Mail Centre 03-09-2019.  
Update:  A copy from Chester & N Wales on the same date arrived later. Note the 5-line layout instead of 4.

The law around
organ donation in
England is changing


Although not of Royal Mail's doing, I have to say I like the hashtag #PassItOn with its double meaning for passing on one's organs and passing on the message.

Update 16 September:
This seems to be the month for mystery slogans, by which I mean those for which the average reader will not immediately understand the correct interpretation.

The first marks the 150th anniversary of The People's Friend, which is described on Wikipedia as "a British weekly magazine founded in 1869 and currently published by D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.  The magazine is principally aimed at older women."  Having seen this magazine I would say that it appeals to those who like to read mostly short-story fiction with fewer adverts, rather than the glossy mags which have stories about and large pictures of current so-called celebrities.   

Anyway, thanks to JG, MB, & BM for copies of the slogan. The earliest appears to be a 2nd class on 6th September from Exeter.  These two examples, showing the different formats are from Edinburgh and North West Midlands mail centres both on 9 September.

150 years of
The People's Friend


The next is something of a paradox, partly because it is being actively promoted on social media. This is for 'Scroll Free September', promoted by the Royal Society for Public Health.

But note there is no hashtag on this one, which "offers a unique opportunity to take a break from ALL personal Social Media accounts for 30 days (or for however long you can cope without them)!"  Royal Mail is not present in the long list of supporters for this campaign which is surely some mistake.

We've only seen the one format so far, from Jubilee, Edinburgh and Peterborough Mail Centres on 11 September (both 2nd class).  (Thanks to CH, DW, and our motor repair garage!)

Scroll free
Royal Society
for Public Health


UPDATE: The other version has now appeared from Manchester Mail Centre dated 14/09/2019


Any other reports of Universal usage or, maybe, some new slogan postmarks, will be posted here during September.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Music GIants III - 3 September 2013 -

Royal Mail is issuing a set of stamps and Miniature Sheet to celebrate one of the UK’s greatest music legends on the 50th anniversary of his first album and as he continues his final tour – Farewell Yellow Brick Road. 

Total sales of Elton John’s records worldwide are estimated between £275m and £300m which makes him one of the biggest selling artists of all time. A re-written and re-recorded version of ‘Candle in the Wind’ released in 1997 remains the biggest-selling single since the charts began in the 1950s and he is the most successful artist of all time in the US charts after the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

Elton John has achieved 38 gold and 27 platinum albums and has been awarded 12 Ivor Novellos, 5 Grammys, 4 BRITS and an Oscar. He has also written the award-winning and much acclaimed soundtracks to the Lion King and Billy Eliot. In recognition of his contribution to music and for his charity work he was knighted in 1998, having been awarded a CBE two years previously.

The issue consists of a set of 8 stamps, 4 x 1st class and 4 x £1.55 (total £9), and a miniature sheet of four stamps (£4.50).  There will also be a retail booklet containing two of the 1st class stamps and 4 x 1st class definitives (£4.20).


1st class se-tenant strip - Honky Château, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou, and Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy
£1.55 se-tenant strip - Sleeping with The Past, The One, Made in England, and Songs from The West Coast

The retail booklet contains the Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantsatsic stamps; these will be self-adhesive and so have separate catalogue numbers from the gummed stamps shown above. The definitive stamps will be coded M19L MCIL, and the booklet is printed on SBP2.


Minisheet:  1st Class Madison Square Garden 2018, 1st Class Buckingham Palace 2012;
£1.55 Hammersmith Odeon 1973, £1.55 Dodger Stadium 1975.
Background Image Elton John Peacock based costume from 1974.

The album stamps in detail
1st Class Honky Château: Recorded in the Château d'Hérouville near Paris, Honky Château was Elton John’s breakthrough pop album, home to ‘Rocket Man’ – one of three songs he composed on the morning of the first day of recording.

1st Class Goodbye Yellow Brick Road:
A double album that perhaps represents the artistic
pinnacle of Elton’s 1970s’ career, a teeming, eclectic song writing masterclass that features ‘Candle in The Wind’, ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’ and ‘Bennie and the Jets’.

1st Class Caribou:
His fourth consecutive US number one album, Caribou, is best-known for ‘The Bitch Is Back’ and the epic ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’, but its most striking moment might be ‘Ticking’, the eerie saga of an armed siege in a bar.

1st Class Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy: A concept album on which lyricist Bernie Taupin recounts the early days of his and Elton’s career, complete with a vivid depiction of Elton’s 1968 suicide attempt, ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’.

£1.55 Sleeping with The Past:
The last album Elton John made before going into rehab was intended as a homage to the soul and R ‘n’ B music that had inspired him in the 1960s: in ‘Sacrifice’, it produced his first UK solo number one single.

£1.55 The One:
The cover designed by Gianni Versace, its lyrics haunted by the unfolding AIDS
crisis and Elton’s battle with drug addiction, The One re-established the now clean and sober Elton John.

£1.55 Made in England:
Largely recorded live in the studio, Made in England’s upbeat title track – a hit single in 1995 – masks the rest of the album’s mature mood, which features reflections on ageing both positive and negative.

£1.55 Songs from The West Coast:
“Going backwards to go forwards”, as Elton put it, Songs from The West Coast returned to the warm sound of his early 1970s’ albums and offered his and Taupin’s strongest collection of songs in years. A latter-day triumph.

Designs and acknowledgements
Set: Royal Mail Group Ltd, based on an original design by Studio Dempsey Photography of album covers by John Ross; all album covers © Mercury Records Limited

MS: Royal Mail Group Ltd.  Background image – Elton John performing in 1974 © Sam Emerson,
courtesy of Rocket Entertainment; Christmas show at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, 1973 © Michael Putland/Getty Images; Dodger Stadium concert, Los Angeles, 1975 © Terry O’Neill/Iconic Images; Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace, London, 2012 © Dan Kitwood/Staff/Getty Images; Madison Square Garden concert, New York, 2018 by Ben Gibson © HST Global

Technical details
Printed by International Security Printers, size 38mm(w) x 31mm(h) in sheets of 48, 12 se-tenant strips of four per sheet.  Litho, PVA Gummed, Perforations 14 x 14

Miniature Sheet Size 146mm x 74mm, with stamps 41mm(w) x 30mm(h), perforated 14.5 x 14.

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.

Official first day Postmarks.

Other products
Presentation pack with set and MS (£14.30); two first day covers; Stamp Cards; Press sheet of 15 miniature sheets, an edition limited to only 300 and priced at  £74.25.

Products not aimed at the philatelic market include 'Fan sheets' containing four identical stamps in a surround of the same design.  (The similar David Bowie sheets contained five stamps.)  The stamps are "the same as those in the ordinary set" according to Royal Mail and whether the phosphor is different we don't know.  But these sheets do enable se-tenant horizontal pairs and strips of the designs.

There are also many other souvenirs and framed print and stamp combinations all of which are on Royal Mail's website

Fan sheets will be available for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy stamps, with a third one having all 8 stamps in the set against a montage of the album covers.   The individual sheets are £7.50 and the sheet showing the set is £10.20 (the last is a small mark-up on face value but still not guaranteed to get a full catalogue listing).

As usual, we shall not be stocking these.