Thursday 31 October 2019

Post and Go Military Museums Poppy News; Mail Rail update.

My thanks to MC who drew my attention to an announcement on the IAR website.

Poppy Returns in Military Museums

The Poppy Stamp will appear in Military Museums for the month of November.
Kiosks: A002, A004, A006 and A007 will have the overprint ‘Lest we forget’ on both the Union Flag and Poppy Stamp from 1st November 2019.

The locations are:

A002 - Royal Navy Museum at Portsmouth 
A004 - Royal Navy Submarine Museum Gosport
A006 - Royal Navy Museum at HMS Trincomalee Hartlepool
A007 - Royal Navy Museum of Naval Firepower Portsmouth

I suppose there is no reason why the Poppy shouldn't be in use for the whole of November. There is no news of when Poppy stamps are being re-installed in Post Office branch SSKs.

The IAR wesbite mentions the second machine at the Postal Museum (located across the road at Mail Rail) but fails to mention that the machine is A005 (ex-Royal Marines Museum) which is still listed as being at the East Anglian Railway Museum.

I would think that location at this remote museum meant that it was very rarely used, except on the first day when a number of dealers were present.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Phosphor variations on Walsall's 2019 definitive printings.

Last summer a chance examination started the process of revealing the multiple variants in Walsall's printing of Machin definitives - dull and bright blue phosphor, yellow phosphor, fluorescent iridescent inks, and even a fluorescent colour ink.  These were summarised on a separate page.

Although not supplying the M19L reprints of these stamps, I have had the opportunity to examine 2019's printings.  For some values there have been three, others two, and in some cases as yet only one - including the 5p which only had one printing in 2018.

Once again these findings are based on the use of the Uvitec Micro short-wave lamp.  Other SW lamps may produce different reactions, and the light must be shone directly at the stamp: the yellow does not show if the stamps are behind some transparent (Hagner-like) strips.  My thanks to BE for access to his collection.  Click on any image to see enlargements.

Just how different some of these are is debateable, there is certainly not the variation that thesr was in 2018.  Whether these should be considered worthwhile is a matter for individual collectors: some of them are very distinct.

Valued stamps

1p - dull and bright

10p - both printings appear the same

20p - both printings appear the same

£1.00 - dull and bright

£1.35 - dull - very bright - bright

£1.55 - dull and bright

£1.60 - bright bluish and bright yellowish

£2.30 - dull, and the latter two are apparently equally bright

£3.60 - bright bluish and bright yellowish


2nd class - blue and bright yellow

1st class - dull, and bright bluish and bright yellowish?

2nd class Large - dull, and bright blue and bright yellow

1st class Large - dull and bright

To be updated if new printings appear.

When the printer doesn't replicate the artist's work it seems wasted

The 2019 Christmas stamp designs are excellent, but can be marred by poor execution.  There is little point in having a sky full of snowflakes if they are so small that poor colour registration obscures them entirely!

Top, a copy of the 2nd class Stamp Card, below it an enlarged copy of the stamp.

Our copies of the 1st class stamp also exhibit a displacement of the colours, but not as marked as on the 2nd class.  The booklet stamps are more or less as they should be.

But maybe we shouldn't blame the printers alone. Any design commissioning team could have seen the likely consequences of less than perfect registration, and whilst ISP Walsall normally do a very good job, with very long print runs this sort of thing is always likely to occur on a small part of it.

So maybe the commissioning teams need to emphasise just how small stamps actually are, and explain that the stamp wasn't going to be printed just in shades of blue, but in a combination of four colours.  Still, the problem isn't anywhere near as bad as it was a few years ago.  We still have these available on our shop.


Christmas 2019 set, MS, etc to be issued on 5 November 2019.

As usual, a week before the date we had been advised that we would be able to reveal details of the Christmas stamps, Royal Mail have made them available for pre-order on their online shop so that everyone can see them.

For some reason the set is not yet displayed as a set, although all the designs are there on the miniature sheet, Generic Sheet, some on the Stamp Cards, and the Presentation Pack.

Update 1 November:
As the individual stamps are now shown on the website for the Post Office blog, I see no reason not to show them here with the descriptions used by PO.

1st class: The first of these impactful stamp designs depicts Mary holding baby Jesus amongst a warm amber and orange tinted background glow.

2nd class:  We see a contrast in colour in the next of these designs, as the scene is dominated by a cool blue background glow with imagery featuring an angel flying amongst a sky littered with stars. Another bright shining star is present here and is a prevalent theme amongst these stamps, with the star here projecting a calming light around those who are featured in this scene.

£1.35 A golden glow engulfs this next design, with Joseph seen to be travelling across the open sands towards a nearby town whilst carrying his walking staff.  More focus is put onto the main shining star here, as many of the other stars in the background of the scene blend in as if they have been scattered amongst the rich golden background.

£1.55 A slightly brighter gold has been used for this particular design, as an effect almost akin to a vignette has been used to in order to draw attention to baby Jesus asleep among layers of hay. The scene also contains a few animals who are close by and watching baby Jesus, providing a sense of warmth and protection that the animals offer him as he soundly sleeps.

£1.60  We can tell from this design that the scene being retold is one of the Shepherds paying attention to and then attempting to follow the bright shining star in the nearby distance.  A flock of sheep can also be seen looking on into the sky, albeit in a silhouette form, as a green glow covers the scene to evoke a sense of mystery and great wonder.

£2.30  Lastly, the scene featured in this stamp design is the recognizable presence of the Three Wise Men, who are basked in a purple glow whilst holding out their gifts to present to baby Jesus. Adorning uniquely decorated cloaks, this design captures the beginning of the journey of the Three Wise Men as they travel across great stretches of land in order to reach the stables where Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus are sheltered.

The stamps have been created by the talented duo and paper-cut artists Hari & Deepti. Based on a collaboration of paper-art and light, their work this year brings to life the magical story of the Nativity with imaginative story-telling and intricate detail.


The self-adhesive stamps and PVA-gummed miniaure sheet designed by Charlie Smith Design are printed in gravure by ISP Walsall, size 14 x 28mm and 34 x 28mm (Large).  The stamps are printed in sheets of 50. 

2nd, 1st, 2nd Large, 1st Large, £1.35, £1.55, £1.60 and £2.30

Products available from Royal Mail
Mint set, miniature sheet, presentation pack, stamp cards, 2 x First Day Covers.
Retail booklets of 12 x 2nd and 12 x 1st (the barcodes are not shown):

The Generic Sheet..
... contains 8 x 2nd, 8 x 1st, and one each of the £1.35, £1.55, £1.60 & £2.30 stamps and labels, complete with illustrated, starry background and a quote from The King James Bible. The price is £18.40 and the stamps will not be available in the now non-existent Smilers service.

No technical details have been provided; the sheet is probably printed by ISP Cartor in litho on self-adhesive paper.

2020 Programme
As you will recall from previous years, an outline of next year's programme is likely to appear between Christmas and New Year or just into 2020.  But we have an inkling of the likely cost, as Royal Mail's online shop already has subscriptions set up as follows:

Special Stamps Gift Subscription - £150.50
Presentation Pack Gift Subscription - £162.55
First Day Cover Gift Subscription - £194.30

Start Saving!  

Monday 28 October 2019

Why not produce the NVIs in sheets of 25 instead of making extra work?

Most people who collect Machin definitives will know that they are printed in sheets containing either 25 or 50 stamps.  The valued stamps and Special Delivery are in sheets of 25, the other NVIs are in guttered sheets of 50.

In the Wilding era lower value stamps were printed in sheets of 240 to make accounting easy: 240 x 1d = £1, 240 x 1/- (12d) = £12.  In the decimal period sheets originally contained 200 stamps for similar reasons.  These sheets had to be folded or torn apart in order to fit into counter books at Post Offices.

The introduction of the self-adhesive sheets of 'security' Machins saw a reduction in size to 25 for the high values values and 50 (with a gutter) for the NVIs, while the other (gummed) valued stamps continued in sheets of 200.  Now all new counter sheets are self-adhesive and all valued stamps are in 25s.   The marginal markings include cylinder numbers and printing dates (for Royal Mail, or just for us?), and a bar-code and short title for Post Office.  This bar code is not used for point of sale scanning, but only for warehouse stock control, we understand.

This year the sheets of 50 started appearing with the barcode and short title printed twice on the back of the sheet in black, as well as on the front in black (barcode) and the colour of the stamp (short title).  The reason for this is that the sheets are now supplied from the printers pre-folded (as we found with the Christmas sheets), leaving the barcode hidden!


The 1st class, and 1st & 2nd Large were printed on 18/04/19 with an additional row of rouletting in the central gutter.  The 1st Large was later found from the same printing with the new reverse printing but without the extra rouletting!  My thanks to RP for the pictures below, which I should have shown earlier: the arrival of the new September reprints (above) is what prompted me.  Click on the images to see them much larger.

UPDATE:  In the comments Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous 29 October 2019 at 13:30
From the image, it’s hard to tell if the panes are separated by a gutter or if the panes are unseparated panes of twenty five stamps without a gutter (which they appear to be). The gutter (the piece of backing paper) between the panes was the size of a stamp.
No, you are incorrect.  The gutter between the panes is smaller than the height of the stamp, it is the same size as the top and bottom margins combined.  This is why sheets of 50 are twice the size of sheets of 25, which are guillotined in what would be the gutter.  See picture below for a scan of the M17L 1st Large



It is, of course, up to collectors just how many of these they collect and display in their collections.  As the two sides of the reel are probably printed in one operation it is unlikely that there will be any displacement of the reverse printing as there was decades ago with the misplaced phosphor cylinder numbers, but it is probably worth looking whenever you get an opportunity, to see just what else is happening in the weird and wonderful world of Machins!

But why did Royal Mail or Post Office persist in sheets of 50, involving the additional printing.  Why not just make them all sheets of 25?

Saturday 26 October 2019

November 26th - "Project Apollo"

A number of readers have written to tell me about the notices they have received about the forthcoming 'secret' stamp issue of 26th? November.  (Originally we were told 24th, but that is a Sunday so...)

As far as I know the code name is not indicative of the subject matter of this issue - whether they did this intentionally or by accident I don't know.

This notice has appeared in the next Postmark Bulletin.  So don't worry about getting first day covers produced, when nobody has announced what the subject matter or special handstamps are.  Just get them done before Christmas as the deadline is 31 December.

This is the first indication of the embargo date.  I can't work up a lot of enthusiasm but will provide all the information that is permitted as soon as I can.

UPDATE 11 November.
We have been advised by RM Stamps & Collectables and by the RM Media department that the publicity for this issue will NOT now take place tomorrow (12th) and we will be unable to provide any details.

No new date has been provided but the issue date remains the same at 26th.

The consistent thing is the inconcistency...

... or is this just avoidance of an earlier error?  Regular readers will recall that this January's reprint of the 1st class Wales country stamp sprung a surprise because it reverted to the original font rather than that used for Machins and for the December 2017 printing, issued with the tariff change of 2018.

So when Royal Mail revealed a new 28/08/19 printing of the Scotland 1st class stamp,  it was with a sense of anticipation that I waited for our order to be delivered to find out whether it was consistent with the previous printing of that stamp, or with the new Wales printing.

The answer is that it is the same as the 2017 printing, so no change.  One might argue that the black cylinder (which prints the date) should have been changed to C2, but then it's the first cylinder with that date, so... we have come to expect that a change of date doesn't mean a change of cylinder number.


UPDATE 31 October

I am now able to show the earlier printings, scanned with different machines and so apparently different colours.  But the key is the grid position and cylinder number.

Left: The 2016 printing with grey head instead of silver, from cylinder C1 has a grid of four positions, but with the right-hand column greyed indicating that another value was in these positions.

Right: This image is the 27/08/18 printing which was the second in the new font.  Like the 2017 printing it is split between 1st & 2nd class stamps as the last 'old font' printing was.

Update 1 November
Now there is real confusion, as somebody has sent a scan of a C2 printing with four clear grid positions, ie none greyed out.  This is noted by him as being 27/08/18.  Even if this notation is wrong, it is an instance of a different printing of C2 to any others that we have noted.  No other dates have been provided on lists from Royal Mail.

If anybody else has a C2 printing with no grid squares greyed out, do please send a scan, with confirmation of the printing date.  As the 2nd class was printed in the right-hand column on that printing, any scans of other dates for the 2nd class would also be welcomed!

We now know that the above report was an error due to a faulty scanner. Apologies for the confusion caused.

It all goes to show that Cylinder Numbers are more or less meaningless now, apart from identifying the printer, which could be done by applying the printer's logo, something which Royal Mail eradicated some years ago.  The USPS was also heading this way, but haven't stopped yet. 

Machin news
There are also new printings of three Machin NVIs:

1st class  - 06/09/19
2nd class - 09/09/19 and
2nd Large - 10/9/19.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

2019 Machin definitives for sale

At the end of last year we said that we would not be supplying Machin definitives after the end of 2018, other than late M18L arrivals.  In other words, we would not be supplying M19L stamps.

During the year we have acquired some stamps for my own collection and a few friends, and we have some remaining.  These are now available in our webshop, listed in the Security Machins 2019 category.

The stamps are the

- 1p - 20p, £1, £1.55, £2, £3, and £5,
- 100g Special Delivery, 2nd, 1st, 2nd Large and 1st Large counter sheets;

- 2nd & 1st class from booklets of 12; 1st class from booklets of 6 (and complete booklets in the Booklet category);
- 2nd class from business sheets.

For most stocks are very low.

USPS announces part of 2020 stamp issuing programme

2020 Forever Stamp Program Offers Something for Everyone

Love, Arnold Palmer, Hip Hop and Earth Day Among Subjects Featured
WASHINGTON — With 2020 rapidly approaching, the U.S. Postal Service today revealed several of the new Forever stamps and others to be issued next year.
Since 1847, the Postal Service stamp program has celebrated the people, events and cultural milestones unique to the history of the United States. The 2020 stamp subjects continue this rich tradition. The stamp designs being shown today are preliminary and subject to change.
“These miniature works of art offer something for everyone interested in American history and culture,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Acting Executive Director William Gicker. “From notable figures such as golf legend Arnold Palmer and esteemed journalist Gwen Ifill to the cultural phenomenon of hip hop to a celebration of the great outdoors, this program is wide-ranging and adds to the history of our great nation as recorded through the U.S. stamp program.”
Here’s a sneak peek:
Lunar New Year: Year of the Rat stamp
Lunar New Year: Year of the Rat
In 2020, the Postal Service is launching its third Lunar New Year series with the issuance of the Lunar New Year: Year of the Rat Forever stamp. The Year of the Rat stamp will be the first of 12 stamps in the series. The Year of the Rat observance begins Jan. 25, 2020, and ends Feb. 11, 2021. Calling to mind the elaborately decorated masks used in the dragon dance often performed in Lunar New Year parades, this three-dimensional mask depicting a rat is a contemporary take on the long tradition of paper-cut folk art crafts created during this time of year. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp with original artwork by Camille Chew.
Made of Hearts stamp
Made of Hearts
Made of Hearts is a continuation of the Postal Service tradition of creating stamps that celebrate love. The stamp features horizontal lines of red and pink hearts on a white background. Toward the center, red hearts in varying sizes replace pink hearts in a formation that creates one large red heart, the focal point of this graphic design. This stamp is just right for thank-you notes, get-well cards or any occasion when love is the perfect message. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp.
Gwen Ifill stamp
Gwen Ifill
The 43rd stamp in the Black Heritage series honors Gwen Ifill (1955–2016), one of America’s most esteemed journalists. The stamp features a photo of Ifill taken in 2008 by photographer Robert Severi. Among the first African Americans to hold prominent positions in both broadcast and print journalism, Ifill was a trailblazer in the profession. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp.
Let's Celebrate stamp
Let’s Celebrate!
In 2020, the Postal Service issues Let’s Celebrate!, a new stamp that adds fun to celebratory greeting cards, invitations and gift-bearing envelopes and packages. No matter the occasion — birthday, anniversary, holiday, engagement, new job, retirement — Let›s Celebrate! helps send cheer along with well wishes. The stamp features an array of colorful circles in varying sizes arranged in a random pattern. The letters in the word “celebrate,” cast in a dark green hue, appear inside several brightly colored circles on a white background. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp.
Wild Orchids stamps
Wild Orchids
The Postal Service celebrates the exotic beauty of orchids with 10 new stamps in booklets of 20 and coils of 3,000 and 10,000. Each stamp features a photograph of one of nine species that grow wild in the United States: Cypripedium californicumHexalectris spicataCypripedium reginaeSpiranthes odorataTriphora trianthophorosPlatanthera grandifloraCyrtopodium polyphyllumCalopogon tuberosus and Platanthera leucophaea. Orchids also have common names, with some plants having several different names in popular use. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps with existing photographs by Jim Fowler.
Arnold Palmer stamp
Arnold Palmer
This stamp honors champion golfer Arnold Palmer (1929–2016). With drive and charisma, he helped transform a game once seen as a pastime for the elite into a sport enjoyed by the masses. The stamp features James Drake’s action photograph of Palmer at the 1964 United States Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp.
Maine Statehood stamp
Maine Statehood
This stamp celebrates the 200th anniversary of Maine statehood. Nicknamed the Pine Tree State, Maine became the 23rd state in the Union on Mar. 15, 1820. American painter Edward Hopper (1882-1967) was among the many prominent artists who sought the tranquility of the state’s coastal towns during the summer. His painting “Sea at Ogunquit” (1914) captures the rugged beauty characteristic of Maine. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp.
Contemporary Boutonniere stamp
Contemporary Boutonniere
Contemporary Boutonniere is a new Forever stamp similar in design to the new 2-ounce Garden Corsage stamp. It can be used for wedding RSVP cards and is also perfect for party invitations, thank-you notes, announcements, birthday cards, Father’s Day cards and other occasions when a beautiful stamp is fitting. The stamp features a photograph of an arrangement of a burgundy mini-cymbidium orchid bloom, a succulent and a touch of green hydrangea, accented with loops of variegated lily grass. These materials are on trend for today’s modern designs, as arranged by floral designer Carol Caggiano and photographed by Renée Comet. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp.
Garden  Corsage
Garden Corsage
The Postal Service introduces Garden Corsage, a new 2-ounce stamp. This stamp can accommodate the weight of heavy invitations for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and other celebrations, oversize greeting cards for all occasions, and mailings such as small gifts that require extra postage. The stamp features a photograph of a corsage containing a spray of peach roses and a pink ranunculus, accented with deep-pink heather and seeded eucalyptus. A cream-colored lace ribbon entwines the flowers. Garden Corsage is similar in design to the Contemporary Boutonniere Forever stamp, and the two form a natural pair. The corsage was arranged by floral designer Carol Caggiano and photographed by Renée Comet. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp.
Earth Day stamp
Earth Day
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Postal Service issues a stamp featuring a playful painting of the planet, with small green lines surrounding Earth and hand-lettered text. Art director Antonio Alcalá was the stamp artist and designer. Ricky Altizer was the typographer.

American Gardens                                 Great Outdoors
American Gardens
With these stamps the Postal Service celebrates the beauty of American gardens. This pane of 20 stamps features 10 different photographs of botanic, country estate and municipal gardens taken between 1996 and 2014. The gardens include: Biltmore Estate Gardens (North Carolina); Brooklyn Botanic Garden (New York); Chicago Botanic Garden (Illinois); Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (Maine); Dumbarton Oaks Garden (District of Columbia); The Huntington Botanical Gardens (California); Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park (Florida); Norfolk Botanical Garden (Virginia); Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens (Ohio); and Winterthur Garden (Delaware). Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps with existing photographs by Allen Rokach.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors
With the release of the Enjoy the Great Outdoors Forever stamps, the Postal Service celebrates the many ways individuals experience America’s abundance of natural beauty. These hand-sketched and painted designs depict five different scenes of outdoor activities — building a sand castle, hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing and biking. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamps with original art by Gregory Manchess.

Voices of the Harlem Renaissance
These stamps celebrate one of the great artistic and literary movements in American history, the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, which firmly established African Americans as a vital force in literature and the arts. Twenty stamps showcase four stylized pastel portraits of these literary figures: writer, philosopher, educator and arts advocate Alain Locke; novelist Nella Larsen; bibliophile and historian Arturo Alfonso Schomburg; and poet Anne Spencer. African-inspired motifs are used as background elements of each portrait. The pane header shows a cityscape in silhouette with a sun in its midst and the title “Voices of the Harlem Renaissance.” The artist for these stamps was Gary Kelley. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps.

Hip Hop
The Postal Service celebrates hip hop with four new stamps in a pane of 20. Since its inception more than four decades ago, the electrifying music, dance and art movement has profoundly influenced American and global popular culture. The stamp art features photographs taken by Cade Martin that depict four elements of hip hop: MCing (rapping), b-boying (breakdancing), DJing and graffiti art. The bold, digitally tinted images are intended to appear in motion. The words “Forever” and “USA,” “Hip Hop,” and the name of the element featured appear across the top of each stamp. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamps, which are highlighted with a vivid yellow, green, red and black color scheme. The title of the stamps, printed in red and black, is centered on the top of the pane.

Fruits & Vegetables
The Postal Service captures the classic beauty of still-life paintings in a booklet of 20 stamps featuring 10 different portraits of fruits and vegetables. Each stamp features a collection of one kind of fruit or vegetable: red and black plums, heirloom and cherry tomatoes, carrots, lemons, blueberries, red and green grapes, lettuces, strawberries, eggplants and figs. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamps with existing art by Robert Papp.

Thank You
In 2020, the Postal Service issues four new stamps in a booklet of 20 available for notes, cards and letters of thanks sent to acknowledge a favor, an act of kindness, a job well done or gifts sent for any occasion. Highlighted in gold foil are the words “Thank you” in cursive script and an elegant floral design that swirls through and around the words. Each stamp features one of four background colors: blue gray, deep blue, muted green or soft maroon. Greg Breeding was the art director. Dana Tanamachi was the stamp designer and lettering artist.
19th Amendment: Women Vote
With this stamp, the Postal Service commemorates the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees women the right to vote. Inspired by historic photographs, the stamp features a stylized illustration of suffragists marching in a parade or other public demonstration. The clothes they wear and the banners they bear display the official colors of the National Woman’s Party — purple, white and gold. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp with original art by Nancy Stahl.
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor stamp
With this commemorative stamp, the Postal Service marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor. The stamp’s image is based on artwork of watercolor, acrylic and gouache, a method of painting that uses opaque pigments ground in water and thickened to a glue-like consistency. The painting was digitally refined to convey a scene of desolate beauty at the end of the Pilgrims’ long journey to an unfamiliar world. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with original art by Greg Harlin.

In the absence of any news - not even embargoed news - from Royal Mail about the 2020 programme until after Christmas, there will be a few posts about what other countries have already announced. 

There is a huge difference in the way postal administrations prepare their public for the year to come. I believe that - although many Americans will be happy to use whatever stamps are available (or none) - very many more people do ask for some of the specific stamps which are available. This doesn't just apply to collectors and the many small FDC collector-producers, but people who still use stamps on business and social mail.

Royal Mail, on the other hand, despite the seemingly low impact that sales of stamps and collectables (not just to the collectors but increasingly to other targets - eg Star Wars fans) have on their bottom line, are driven by the marketing/public relations departments to delay any details of most of their new stamp issues until the last possible moment.  Whilst this is sometimes due to licensing arrangements with rights holders (to which, presumably, Royal Mail are paying considerable sums) often it is not and it is very much pot luck as to whether their press release coincides with somthing much more headline-grabbing (and we've had a few of those this year!).

The thinking seems to be that the relatively few people who care about what stamp they use among the relatively few ordinary letter writers will be influenced by publicity on the day of issue into asking specifically for those stamps when they go to the Post Office.  Where this falls down is that those people who do write letters and care which stamps they use tend to buy in batches so they will not necessarily be visiting the Post Office for each new issue.  And if they have a small stock of stamps, they won't necessarily go out of their way to buy more on a new subject.

Add to that the facts that branches operating under the 'Local' and 'Local Plus' arrangement don't stock special issues, that mobile and outreach operators often don't take them, and some Main and ex-Crown franchised operators will only take them out of the safe if asked, then the opportunity to buy is diminished.

But if you knew, for instance, that stamps would be issued to mark the bicentenary of the birth of illustrator Sir John Tenniel (Alice in Wonderland and political satire in Punch magazine) and that of Florence Nightingale, you might want to look out for them when the time came.  Likewise 1720 saw the start of Jonathan Swift's Gullivers Travels, the birth of brewer Samuel Whitbread, and the death of British pirate Calico Jack. 1770 saw the birth of William (daffodils) Wordworth, and in 1870 the first association football match between England and Scotland took place, author Charles Dickens died, and singer Marie Lloyd and author H H 'Saki' Munro were born.
(We have had one suggestion, of course, as long ago as last May.)

I could go on, but you can explore Wikipedia as easily as I can.  The point is, there is nothing to get excited about - if you still get excited about new stamps.  There's nothing even to get interested in or not one subject for which you could say - "I'll get that".  No sense of anticipation.  It's as if they think that if they keep churning out stamps people will keep taking them.  Well they won't.  The more advice notes customers are getting about their future direct debits which don't actually tell them what they are getting, the more likely they are to stop.  And there's another lot of these due very soon for the 26th November issue.

To repeat what the USPS wrote in their press release:
“These miniature works of art offer something for everyone interested in American history and culture,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Acting Executive Director William Gicker. “From notable figures such as golf legend Arnold Palmer and esteemed journalist Gwen Ifill to the cultural phenomenon of hip hop to a celebration of the great outdoors, this program is wide-ranging and adds to the history of our great nation as recorded through the U.S. stamp program.”