Monday 30 September 2019

Postage value of old NVI stamps - updated.

If you think you've seen this before, it is an updated version of a September 2018 post.  The same question has been asked of Royal Mail again recently. See end of post.

It is over five years since we first had to consider the change in letter weight steps and the question of stamps pre-printed with obsolete weights.  A reader asked the question on the latest Revenue Protection post last month [2018], and so I'll give this important subject it's own entry on the blog.

The question was:
There is another issue, as touched on, in that what postage rate do some of the perfectly legal NVIs and earlier Post & Go stamps now pay. A number of the original rates no longer exist.
I assume an "E" value will probably still pay the Europe rate of up 20g. Where is this set out, either for the public or the Royal Mail staff?
We have Overseas booklet stamps showing Worldwide postcard rate? Originally apparently 43p. What does that pay for today? Ditto Europe up to 40g - no longer a published postage rate. Worldwide up to 40g & 60g likewise both as booklet stamps and/or Post & Go values. Europe up to 60g and so on.
Does anyone know whether the answer set out anywhere or where the contact point is to enquire?
The answer is buried deep in a blogpost of April 2014, so I'll repeat and expand on it here.
UPDATE 10 April 2014
Regarding the future value of obsolete Post and Go stamps Royal Mail have advised:

Existing P&G stamps for WW 10g and WW40g and other previously issued NVI’s for which there is no current postage value e.g. WW Postcard, will continue to be valid for the next applicable weight step up from its stated value i.e. WW 10g stamp will be valid at the WW 20g value and the WW 40g stamp will be valid at the new WW 60g value.
Although they were asked specifically about Post and Go stamps, the reply covers the self-adhesive booklet stamps, including the airmail postcard rate stamp, which is the same rate as the Europe 20g/World 10g. The following year the 60g step was replaced by the 100g step and the same principle applied.  In other words, the stamps showing 40g are now valid for 100g.  The 10g and 20g stamps are still valid for the weights shown, as before.

Users of Stanley Gibbons' Great Britain Concise catalogue will know that the introduction includes some tables of postage rates.  One which is missing is this table which, apart from indicating the original selling price of some of the stamps, explains why certain definitive stamps were issued and, in the case of the £2.25, re-issued after being replaced.

Europe 20g
World 10g
World 20g
World 40g
April 2009
April 2010
April 2011
April 2012
April 2013

E20/ W10
Europe 60g
World 20g
World 60g
April 2014

E20/ W10
Europe 100g
World 20g
World 100g
April 2015
April 2016
April 2017
April 2018
April 2019

I hope readers find this useful.  It is probably worth reminding everybody that these are also all valid at the rates shown for inland postage, just as the 2nd, 1st, Large, Signed For, and Special Delivery stamps are all valid for services other than those shown and on inland and international mail.

Update 19 October.
I've compiled this table which I believe to be correct.  Note that some of the rates were in effect before the stamps were issued, and some new stamps were issued at old rates before tariff increases. (If you see this before I adjust the columns, apologies - copy and paste never works first time for tables!)

Stamps Issued* or Rates Effective
1st Signed For 100g
1st Large Signed For 100g
100g Special Delivery
500g Special Delivery
17 November 2009 *
6 April 2010
26 October 2010 *

20 April 2011
30 April 2012
2 April 2013 §
31 March 2014
30 March 2015
29 March 2016

27 March 2017

26 March 2018
25 March 2019

* Royal Mail Signed For stamps were issued 27 March 2013, replacing Recorded Signed For, but were sold at old rates until 2 April.

The latest reply from Royal Mail, forwarded by Rushstamps, stated:
I have been advised the NVI stamps which have the E on can be used for both inland and Europe postings and the value of the stamp would be the current cost of an International Standard to Europe, which at this time would be £1.35.  NVI stamps do not have an expiry date and are valid at the current rate of postage, as long as they are unused stamps.
I believe the issue is that the Post Office Counter staff were not aware of this and is why they were refusing to accept these stamps.

Friday 27 September 2019

Postal Museum Post and Go News

A new first for the Postal Museum - Post and Go stamps not available from the machines, and apparently not available at face value.  Two new additional inscriptions, or 'overprints' as they are referred to, one of which will be available from the machine, but the other will only be available in the limited edition packs available from the museum shop or website.  (But see updates in blue.)

From a press release

The Postal Museum marks the opening of their new exhibition, The Great Train Robbery: Crime and The Post, with Post & Go stamps

LONDON, 27 September 2019 – The Postal Museum has announced today that a special overprint will appear on the Mail Coach design of the Royal Mail Post & Go stamps in celebration of their new temporary exhibition The Great Train Robbery: Crime and The Post.

The Mail Coach stamps of all values will feature a special overprint “Crime & the Post” and will be available from its Post & Go machine from 11 October 2019. This will replace the present “NPM 50” overprint which will stop on 10 October, as will that overprint on the 1st class Machin commemorative design which will revert to the standard Machin design.

In addition to these Post & Go stamps, a limited-edition pack containing a strip of the Mail by Train designs, all 1st class value, with the overprint “Great Train Robbery” will go on sale.

This strip, available only in the pack and not obtainable from the Post & Go machine, can be purchased in the museum shop or be pre-ordered online from 4 October.

The Post & Go machine is available at The Postal Museum during normal opening hours.
Please see for more information.

UPDATE late 10 October
Thank you to all those who have sent blog comments in my absence this afternoon, these are now shown below.  In addition thanks to MC who sent on two messages from the Museum, of which extracts are shown below.
We will be selling a limited-edition presentation pack which will have ‘Mail by Train’ stamps in, but these stamps will not be available to buy from the post and go machine due to a limited stock being available. The overprint on the machine will be on the ‘Mail Coach’ design instead and this will only be available from the machine in The Postal Museum. Both of the sets of stamps will have the overprint ‘New Exhibit 2019’.

We understand that the expected overprint was ‘The Great Train Robbery’ but the overprint was changed at the request of Royal Mail.

The presentation pack is now available to order online and will be also be for sale in The Postal Museum shop. The Mail Coach Design will be available from the Post and Go machine from 11 October.
Thank you for your order. This will be sent out tomorrow.

Regarding the first day cover, the decision was taken to only produce a presentation pack on this particular run as the stock is so limited.

I really don't know how they manage it.  I can only assume that the Museum could see nothing wrong in the Great Train Robbery inscription, but clearly somebody in Royal Mail did.  Given that anything on a Royal Mail stamp has to be approved by them, it's surprising that the Museum has found itself in this embarrassing position.  Hopefully they will learn for the future.

UPDATE 11 October 
I didn't notice in the above (it was late, last night!) but it is pointed out in one of the comments, that it is not just the Great Train Robbery to which Royal Mail objected, but the Crime and the Post caption as well.  So both sets of stamps will have the same bland caption: I was tempted to write 'meaningless' but that would be wrong; it's not meaningless it's just pointless and paves the way for similar bland captions in future.

Late Update 11 October - and the last for now as we take a little break.
Thanks to MC for some technical details on the Post and Go stamps available from the Museum today.
a) the PP 'Mail by Rail' strip is (from memory - my on-line order for one has yet to arrive and one I purchased on site I used for a FDC!) all values not just 1st class (as per your original web announcement)

b) the "NPM 50" narrative had not (yet - at the time I left!) been removed from the Machin 1st class. This was spotted by collectors early on and there were varying points in time when the suggestion was that it c/would be corrected 'imminently', then 'later today' and also then 'maybe tomorrow' (and even not at all)! So watch for anyone reporting correction or otherwise (I will likely do a sample check if I get to go to the Rail Mail implementation on the 29th). If it does get corrected at some point, the initial (incorrect?) version will not be that rare since other people using the machine were buying volumes!

c) there were already, by the time I left, two different versions of the Machin 1st strip. To begin with, stock was uncoded but then later changed to an 'MA14' roll.

Other snippets:

a) I see from a quick look on the blog that someone is reporting the Pack as being sold out on-line, but there was still quite a supply near the check-out when I left (maybe people could contact the TPM direct and check?)

b) talking to a staff member, Royal Mail approved the intended wording some weeks ago (doubtless before the TPM Press release) but only changed their minds yesterday morning [ie the day before the issue] ! I am speechless !
c) the same member of staff was of the view that the only other overprint/change this year (ignoring the new Rail Mail) would likely be for 'Christmas' stamps, eg a reissue of an earlier release?

Meanwhile... a second machine is coming to the Museum!

Thursday 26 September 2019

Royal Mail Variable Sales Period Policy

Readers and contributors have commented on certain products being now unavailable from Royal Mail, even though they were issued earlier this year.  This includes the Leonardo Da Vinci and Queen Victoria Prestige Stamp Books.

I thought it might be a good time to remind readers of Royal Mail's new variable sales period policy introduced in 2017.   

Historically special stamps were kept on sale at Post offices for 12 months from the date of issue, and at the Bureau for a further 12 months.  Definitives were generally kept on sale for 12 months after their replacement by new tariff stamps.  At the turn of the century Royal Mail started issuing series of stamps - the Royal Houses, the World War I and the Classic Locomotives being three.  In these cases all stamps were kept on sale until 12 months after the last set issued, as long as stocks lasted.

In 2017, "in an attempt to reduce waste and meet environmental responsibilities by printing fewer (for a shorter sales period) and running down stock so that there is less waste on the last day of sale" the policy was changed so that stamps of selected subjects - for which traditionally most of the sales occurred early in their 'life' - would only be on sale for six months, or might sell out earlier.

The first issue to have a planned short life was the 2017 Songbirds, Watermills and Windmills, Landmark Buildings, Classic Toys and Ladybird Books, in other words mostly the thematic - some would say less 'necessary' - issues.  Royal subjects and Christmas would continue for 12 months; blockbusters would stay available while stocks lasted, although these have now been limited as shown below.

New Stocklist at Stampex
Although Royal Mail's new Autumn Stocklist has some errors, the information it contains shows that there are some fixed dates, and some marked 'While Stocks Last'.

World War I (2014-2018) - off sale 11 November 2019

RAF Centenary (20.3.18) - off sale 31  December 2019

Harry Potter (16.10.18) - off sale 31 December 2021

D-Day miniature sheet (6.6.29) - off sale 6 June 2020

Elton John (3.9.19) - off sale 3 September 2022

The following will remain on sale while stocks last:

Lest We Forget Poppies strip of 3 (2008) and 1st class definitive-size (2012)
All Star Wars issues 2015, 2017
Music Giants - Pink Floyd 2016, David Bowie 2017
Game of Thrones 2018
Prince Charles 70th Birthday MS

From 2019:
Leonardo Da Vinci, Marvel, Birds of Prey, British Engineering, Queen Victoria, Curious Customs, Forests and Royal Navy Ships.
Although note stated, it seems likely to me that some of the 2019 issues will not remain on sale into next year.

Other products
Presentation packs and stamp cards will generally be sold for the same period, if still available.

Post and Go stamps - the only stamps still in stock are the 2012 Union Flag, the Game of Thrones
pair, and Mail by Sea.

Retail booklets - RAF Centenary pair, until 31 December 2019, and World War I until 11 November 2019.  Harry Potter until 16 October 2019, and D-Day until 6 June 2020.

Prestige Books - First World War 2014-2018, until 11 November 2019; Harry Potter until 31 December 2021.

If you continue to collect modern British stamps, it makes sense to buy them as soon as possible after they are issued - or wait very many years for them to be available on the second-hand market. While some may be available for less than face eventually, the key items - such as Machins from prestige book panes - are best bought early on.

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Royal Mail's recommended posting dates for the festive season

OK, I'll stop dodging the issue, it's the recommended posting dates for Christmas, surface and airmail.

Royal Mail have now published their leaflet, available in all Post Offices, which show arrangements for Christmas.  The earliest of these is
  • All non-European destinations 'International Economy' (ie surface) except South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore, USA, and Canada  - Saturday 5 October.

For very young people whose parents can't find an app, or who are encouraging their offspring to write, there are details of where to send a letter to Santa:

Anybody see anything slightly wrong with this: I understand it was produced by Post Office Ltd although both company logos appear.

Stamps and collecting on the BBC

By coincidence there have been three (at least) mentions of stamps and collecting on the BBC recently.

1. In the excellent '50 Things that made the Modern Economy' series, Tim Harford explains how Rowland Hill introduced the pre-payment system of postage and the postage stamp.


2. Under the headline Tech-savvy stamp collectors energise an old hobby and published in time for Autumn Stampex,

explore the history behind a random stamp.  These are much more interesting than many 'stamp' videos on YouTube. Some of the other 'how to' videos are positively dangerous to stamps!

The article also cites Stanley Gibbons "renowned for its collector catalogues, the recently launched My Collection app enables collectors to store and manage their collection virtually"

3. Lastly, for now, as part of their We are Stoke-on-Trent broadcast event, a web story mentions a few 'Stokies who made their mark' - including Stanley Matthews, RJ Mitchell (spitfire), Oliver Lodge, who invented the spark plug, and of course Arnold Machin.

Monday 23 September 2019

When an overprint IS an overprint -

- and not a very good one at that!

Previous Royal Mail limited edition miniature sheets sold at Stampex have the appearance of having been special printings from new cylinders, rather than overprints.

The Windsor Castle sheet and the Europhilex sheet certainly appeared to be new printings.

But this autumn's offering looks as if it has been printed on a home computer printer.  The well-known purveyor of overprinted booklets, Boots sheetlets etc, could have done a better job!

This is the publicity photo of the Operation Overlord overprint:

And here is the actual overprinted sheet, with enlargements:


That isn't a black litho cylinder, surely?

Alice PPI Stamp in Wonderland Growth?

Readers interested in Postage Paid Impressions featuring real stamps will recall that Smyths Toys use the Alice in Wonderland stamp in their campaigns.

Last year PD sent an example which was "in a darker shade" than the year before:

This week GF has sent an example of the 2019 mailshot which uses the same stamp but measuring a much larger 39 mm square.  (I can't lay my hands on a Smyths one but HPB used one that was 25 mm square.

This actually looks to be the same size, so perhaps it is HPB that was wrong?  Whatever the case, the PPI is bigger than the original stamp which was 35 mm square.

Thursday 19 September 2019

Royal Navy Ships stamp issue 19 September 2019

The latest stamp issue shows eight Royal Navy Ships, old and new.  The details were embargoed until 12 September, but as we were on holiday we couldn't show them then.  The set consists of se-tenant pairs of 1st class, £1.35, £1.55 and £1.60 stamps and a self-adhesive retail booklet containing four 1st class Machins and the two 1st class ship stamps.

Royal Mail write-up on this issue
The oldest of Britain’s armed forces, the Navy is known as the ‘senior service’. As an island nation, Britain’s prowess in ship design innovation and navigation has been instrumental in its history. Royal Mail is paying tribute to the Royal Navy by featuring eight ships from its illustrious history including the Mary Rose launched in 1511 and the most recently commissioned ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched in 2014.

British naval power truly began with the Tudor monarchs. In 1509, the newly-crowned King Henry VIII ordered a rearmament of the fleet and in this era great ships of 600 tonnes and more were built including the Mary Rose.  In the 17th century, King Charles I undertook the next major programme of warship building, with his fund-raising contributing to the outbreak of the Civil War. The Navy expanded further to become the most powerful in the world. Under Charles II the Navy became an independent national entity with the title of ‘Royal Navy’. By the end of the 18th century, the French Revolutionary War followed by Napoleonic War challenged the service as it faced the combined forces of the French, Spanish and Dutch fleets in locations as far away as the Caribbean. A series of victories culminating at Trafalgar (1805) led to the UK Navy becoming the dominant power in the world.

In the early years of the 20th century tactics changed with the introduction of the powerful Dreadnought ships, which with their speed and firepower, made other vessels redundant. By this time the German Navy was rapidly growing and was the only challenge to British naval superiority as the First World War commenced. The principle battle in the war was the Battle of Jutland in 1916 where, despite heavy losses, British numerical advantage was insurmountable, leading the German Fleet to abandon any attempt to challenge British dominance.

At the start of the Second World War the Navy was still the largest in the world with 1400 vessels. In the first years of the War, however, the Navy suffered heavy losses of battleships and troopships, but also managed to carry out major evacuations of troops from Dunkirk and Crete. The vital Atlantic supply lines were vulnerable to submarine attack and the Navy’s role in keeping the supply lines open was critical to success in the war.

Following the war and the decline of the British Empire, the size and capability of the navy was reduced and the best condition ships refitted. One of the most important operations by the Navy after the Second World War was the 1982 Falklands Islands War, which provided a reprieve in proposed cutbacks and proved a need for the Royal Navy to regain an expeditionary capability. The Royal Navy also took part in the Gulf War, the Kosovo conflict, the Afghanistan Campaign and the 2003 Iraq War.

Resourcing the Navy remains a controversial subject but the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers are a significant investment in Navy capability – these 65,000-tonne vessels are the biggest Royal Navy ships of all time and represent a radical new design for aircraft carriers.

The stamps in detail
1st Class Mary Rose: Launched in 1511, the Mary Rose famously took part in the Battle of the Solent against one of the largest enemy fleets in English naval history. It was during this battle on 19th July 1545 that the ship sank, with hundreds of sailors drowning and only around 34 of the crew surviving. It is not clear why she sank but an eye witness recalled that the Mary Rose had just fired all of her guns on one side and was in the process of turning around when she sank.
About the painting; Painted by Geoff Hunt © The Mary Rose Trust/Geoff Hunt PPRSMA

1st Class HMS Queen Elizabeth: One of two new Queen Elizabeth-Class aircraft carriers, the ship was launched in 2014 and is the largest and most powerful warship ever built for the Royal Navy. Capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft, its flight deck spans an area of four acres.
About the painting; painted by Robert G Lloyd specially commissioned by Royal Mail ©. Robert is a marine artist who is renowned worldwide within the maritime industry and amongst private collectors for his visually stunning and technically accurate maritime paintings.

£1.35 HMS Victory: Launched on 7th May 1765, HMS Victory had an unusually long service, leading fleets in the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic War. It was in the latter that she gained ever-lasting fame as the flagship of Vice-Admiral Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar, arguably Britain’s greatest naval victory in which the French and Spanish were defeated. HMS Victory is now located at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and as the Flagship of the First Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. 
HMS Victory is shown broadside to port, from windward, in the English Channel with Rudyerd's Eddystone Lighthouse distantly visible beyond her stern. She is shown flying the flag of Lord Hood as Vice-Admiral of the Red (red at the fore), as she heads outward-bound with her squadron in 1793 for the Mediterranean, where she was Hood's flagship at the Siege of Toulon and the invasion of Corsica. During this period the Navy used different coloured ensigns to show the seniority of squadrons, with the red ensign being the most senior squadron. From the 1860s, the Navy revised this policy and just flew the white ensign.
The Victory was floated out of dock at Chatham and the picture shows her as built except that she has been coppered. 
About the painting: the painting is by Monamy Swaine © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

£1.35 HMS Dreadnought: Launched on 10th February 1906, the ship’s revolutionary ‘big gun’ design rendered all other warships obsolete and dominated the First World War era. Powered by Parsons Turbines she was two and a half knots faster than her rivals and carried twice the firepower of earlier battleships. At the start of the First World War, HMS Dreadnought was despatched to Scapa Flow as flagship of the Fourth Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet and in March 1915 she became the only battleship to sink a submarine in the First World War.
About the painting: painted by H. J. Morgan and used with the permission of The Trustees of the Royal Navy Trophy Fund.

£1.55 HMS Warrior: The first ocean-going iron-hulled warship, HMS Warrior was launched on 29th December 1860 and was the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet. Powered by steam and sail, she was the biggest, fastest and most powerful warship of her day, proving to be the ultimate deterrent. Having been painstakingly restored, HMS Warrior returned home to Portsmouth in 1987 where she serves as a museum ship.
About the painting; painted by Thomas Goldsworth Dutton, painting © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

£1.55 Sovereign of the Seas: Commissioned by Charles I in 1634 and was launched in 1637. She was regarded at the time as the largest ship in the world and was popularly known as the Golden Devil because of her heavy armament and gold ornamentation. In 1652 she sank a Dutch warship with a single broadside. Later renamed Sovereign and then Royal Sovereign, the ship was accidentally destroyed in a fire at Chatham dockyard.
About the painting: painted by Paul Garnett, painting © Paul Garnett.

£1.60 HMS King George V: HMS King George V was launched by King George VI on 21st February 1939 and was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 1st October 1940. She was originally going to be named King George VI in line with the tradition of naming the first capital ship of a new reign after the monarch but King George VI requested that she bear the name King George V in honour of his late father. She was assigned to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow, which remained its principal base until 1944. As flagship of the Home Fleet she took part in several North Atlantic operations, protecting the Arctic convoys and acting as a deterrent against the threat of the German capital ships, Bismarck, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Prinz Eugen and Tirpitz. In 1941, she led the fleet in the attack and sinking of the Bismarck in the North Atlantic. HMS King George V was also involved in the invasion of Sicily and was later redeployed to the new British Pacific Fleet as its flagship.
About the painting: painted by Robert G Lloyd specially commissioned by Royal Mail ©

£1.60 HMS Beagle: Launched at Woolwich Dockyard, London on 11th May 1820, HMS Beagle is famed for taking renowned naturalist Charles Darwin on his first expedition around the world between 1831 and 1836, his five-year trip being documented in his travel memoir, The Voyage of the Beagle. She was initially equipped with a 10-gun brig sloop but was refitted and assigned as a surveying vessel because there was no immediate requirement for her as a warship.
About the painting; painted by John Chancellor depicting her on her second voyage © Gordon Chancellor.

Note: Royal Mail has carried out extensive research on the flags depicted on each of the ships to check that they are correct, consulting experts in the National Maritime Museum, the Mary Rose Trust and the Royal Navy. In the case of the earlier ships it is impossible to verify whether or not the flags on the paintings accurately depict what was actually flown on the ships at the time.

Technical Details (as provided by Royal Mail)

Designed by Hat trick design, printed in lithography by International Security Printers (Cartor) on ordinary gum.  Size 40 x 30 mm (not the 37 x 35 mm stated by RM), in guttered sheets of 60, perforated 14 x 14.5.

Products available from Royal Mail
Set of stamps, retail booklet, presentation pack, first day cover, stampcards.
Other products aimed at the general market rather than philatelic: Six Stamp Frame (The frame features all eight Special Stamps from the stamp set individually mounted together with a Certificate of Authenticity incorporating a MOD hologram.)  Framed Mary Rose Print Enlargement and Stamp; framed HMS Victory Print Enlargement and Stamp.

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.

Last Saturday morning a post office branch in the south of England showed the stamps that are due in October on their twitter feed.  So much for embargoes!

I understand from Commonwealth Opinion Blog that they are also being offered for per-order on an internet auction site - and we all know which one that is.
"Royal Mail’s eminently silly policy of leaving the revelation of its new stamp designs to the last minute because some probably overpaid marketing department has advised that that is the best way to achieve maximum publicity for a new issue has come a cropper yet again. While loyal stamp dealers are embargoed from revealing the designs of new stamps which have already been sent out to them other sources usually let slip what it is to come some time before Royal Mail would want the revelation to be made.

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.

Update 24 September:
From JG: This morning I received my Order Advice Note for the High Value Definitive issue on 24 October for a set of single stamps, although my standing order for definitives is a set of singles and a set of 2x3 cylinder blocks. So I phoned Tallents House to ask for the cylinder blocks to be included, but was told they would not be available! Apparently only single stamps will be supplied.
This seems extremely odd if the account holder has a standing order for cylinder blocks - almost breach of contract!

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! 

Update - a further report:
  • I asked for the reprinted Welsh 1st class stamp and was told they hadn’t been supplied with any country definitives! 
    It is as though Royal Mail really doesn’t want to sell stamps!

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!

UPDATE 27 September: JE confirms that this is Jubilee Mail Centre, and the inscription is 

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


UPDATE 24 September
Thanks to BM for the latest slogan, in association with the Greetings Card industry, promoting "Thinking Of You Week" - it must be a blank period in the Easter/Valentine/Father's Day/Mother'sDay/Christmas schedule.  This poor example from Jubilee Mail Centre is dated 23-09-2019.

It's another one for collectors of 'Errors on Postmarks', possibly a cut and paste job from last year although we never saw one in 2018, and the 2017 one was "25 Sept - 1 Oct".

Send a card for
22th - 28th
September 2019

A better scan from Norwich has arrived, via RW, but we still don't have one on the other format.  This one has the corrected 22nd and is dated 24-09-2019.

UPDATE 27 September: Thanks to JE for examples of both the error and the corrected version from Lancashire & South Lakes on 23rd and 25th September:

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

UPDATE 1 October.
Bringing September to a close, and running into October is the National Poetry Day slogan sent by JE.  From Manchester Mail Centre on 28/09/2019 this is believed to be running until 2 October so I'll repeat it in a new post for October.

National Poetry
Day 2019
3rd October

Monday 2 September 2019

Music GIants III - 3 September 2019

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.