Friday 29 November 2019

Forget Black Friday consumerism, we have new old stamps on offer

Since 2009 we have concentrated on providing information about all Royal Mail's new security stamps, and making them available on our shop. At the end of last year we said that we would stop doing this from 2019 (M19L) onwards and provided details of alternative suppliers.

Before then, and since, we had promised to start adding earlier Machins, for which we had stocks.  

We have now finished processing Machin definitives with elliptical perforations, the Y numbers in the Stanley Gibbons Concise catalogue. 

We've added over 160 stamps, and booklets containing Y-stamps, and they are available on our shop now.  All the booklets are also included in the Y section but because of the numbering, the booklets come first once sorted into A-Z order. For some stamps we have variants not listed in Gibbons' Concise such as phosphor colour variants, and easily identifiable printings by different printers, or even the same printer:


As well as booklets, we have also listed cylinder and date blocks and strips for many values.


For some of these stamps we have reasonable stocks, others we have only a few.

My apologies to readers hunting for specific categories, that I totally omitted to provide any links when I posted this yesterday.

Machins with elliptical perforations - stamps are listed according to SG Y numbers
   Cylinder and Date blocks and strips are shown separately from the same stamps sold as singles and blocks.

Booklets containing stamps with elliptical perforations  - this link shows most recent additions in the booklets category.  Sorting A-Z will show them in Gibbons catalogue number order.

We hope you find something to add to your collection, and take your mind off the political situation which we are enduring in so many of our countries, and for those in the northern hemisphere, something to shine some light on these often gloomy days.  Looking at the bright colours of the 90s makes me wish Royal Mail would go back to that sort of brightness which now seems to be reserved only for the NVIs!

Talking of which, the NVIs (1st and 2nd) are not included here because they are a whole different area to look at.  By their very nature there are more variants in sheet printers, booklet size, printing, etc, and that will take a whole to sort out.

Next will be the stamps with full perforations, the Gibbons X numbered stamps or the NVIs.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

More woes for De La Rue.

It was four years ago that we reported that De La Rue intended to switch the printing of stamps from Gateshead to Malta, with bank-note printing moving in the other direction.

At the time it was thought that DLR only printed stamps for Royal Mail, who weren't aware of this move at the time.  There was speculation that when the stamp-printing contract was up for retendering, Royal Mail would aim to keep definitive printing in the UK, with special stamps being printed by Cartor.  As we all know with few exceptions all UK stamps are now printed by International Security Printers (ISP) in Wolverhampton and France.

Since then DLR has lost the contract for printing the bulk of UK passport blanks and, according to a BBC report, the company has now issued a warning that 
on a worst-case scenario, there was "a material uncertainty that casts significant doubt on the group's ability to operate as a going concern".
The BBC suggests that in the event of collapse "it is likely that a rival would take over its Bank of England contract. Its main competitors are all based outside the UK."

De La Rue prints banknotes for worldwide clients, including all Bank of England banknotes at Debden in Essex, and still produces revenue stamps.  It remains to be seen whether they will ever return to printing any of the United Kingdom's postage stamps.

Is this a guide to 2020's tariff increase

Business news intelligence website Tamebay has published details of Royal Mail's new rates for business contract customers which are effective from 2 January 2010.

As Tamebay points out, this is not applicable to customers using stamps for postage, but it may provide a guide to the rates which will apply from April next year.

"Prices are going up by over 5% on many services in a move that won’t be welcomed by online retailers."

See the full article here, and follow Tamebay for more insights into the postal and online selling world.

Friday 22 November 2019

India can do it...

Complaints about collectable stamps being ruined by postal officials who either have no other means to cancel them, or who can't be bothered to find the appropriate device, are worldwide.

India Post seems to be the first to issue specific instructions to its employees about the proper cancellation of ordinary mail with collectable stamps (click for a larger image):

"Every postal article is required to be stamped with date stamp impressions of at least two post offices, ie office of Posting and office of delivery."

That doesn't apply everywhere, of course, but it would be good if major stamp producing countries like the UK, USA, and Australia would at least achieve the first part.

And this is a request from the Assistant DG of Philately, so it remains to be seen how well the operational people comply.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

2019 Christmas design used for pre-printed 'stamp' (PPI)

My thanks to correspondent GF in Northern Ireland for sending this image of a Body Shop mailing, which is the first instance I have seen of the current year's 2nd class Christmas stamp being used in a Printed Paid Impression.

Other collectors and the British Postmark Society will be interested to know of any other users of the new design, so please get them to us by email, using jpeg or png images, not pdf.  Thanks

UPDATE 24 November
My thanks to JV for this image of last year's stamp used this year by the Salvation Army.

Friday 15 November 2019

It's the end: of the suspense, the series, and possibly many collections.

The long-awaited news of the final stamp issue for the year on 26 November, known to some as 'Project Apollo', can now be revealed as the third Star Wars set, hinted at in our visual clue here.

Following the first issue in 2015, and the second in 2017, we now have the third and final issue.  Of course it wouldn't a surprise issue without a surprise, and we have a some of course.  This is what Royal Mail have written:

Royal Mail is issuing its third and final stamp issue celebrating the phenomenon of Star Wars.

This new set of stamps will feature characters and iconic vehicles from the film series, in time for the release of the final installment of the Skywalker saga; Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, due for cinema release on 19th December 2019 (UK release).

The original trilogy of films (released between 1977 and 1983) was made at Elstree and Shepperton Studios in the UK. The producers of the series, Lucasfilm and Disney, decided to return to a British studio and crew whose expertise contributed to the success of the original movies. The final trilogy of movies has been filmed at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire and our stamps celebrate the British contribution to Star Wars, and mark the world event of the release of the concluding episode and culmination of the Skywalker saga.

This new set of 10 characters complete the 30 stamp Star Wars collection from across all three epic trilogies.

All 10 characters are original, exclusive illustrations by digital artist and Star Wars fan Malcolm Tween who has blended the main images with background scenes to create striking and hyper-realistic montages.  The set includes much-loved characters from the original trilogy such as Wicket Ewok and Lando Calrissian but also introduces three brand-new characters from the latest blockbuster:
'The Rise of Skywalker'.

The stamps
As before, the character stamps consist of a set of 10 x 1st class stamps.  The characters depicted are:

Count Dooku, Lando Calrissian, Sith Trooper, Jannah, Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Maul, Zorii, Wicket Warrick, Poe Dameron and Queen Amidala.

As before, those who are really interested in Star Wars will know, or will quickly find out about these characters and so I'm not wasting my time and blog space providing more details.

The stamps are designed by Interabang using Malcolm Tween's illustrations, printed by ISP in lithography. They are 35mm square and are in two sheets of 50.

Miniature Sheet
The self-adhesive miniature sheet features 6 x 1st class stamps with 'some of the most iconic vehicles in the Star Wars galaxy'.  To save repeating detail, I'll start the technical details here with the sizes of and perforation of these stamps.

Poe’s X-wing fighter and TIE silencer - 41mm x 30mm, landscape (14.5 x 14);
Jedi starfighter and Slave I - 27mm x 37mm, portrait (14 x 14);
Podracer and speeder bikes - 60mm x 21mm, landscape (14.5 x 14.5).

The MS is designed by Interabang using Malcolm Tween's illustrations, printed by ISP in lithography. The sheet is 192 x 74 mm.  (It's self-adhesive, not gummed as in the details RM provided.)

Retail Stamp Book
As usual the retail stamp book includes four 1st class definitive stamps as well as two special stamps featuring Poe Dameron and Sith Trooper.  This is only a mock-up image of all the stamps.

The self-adhesive booklet is printed in gravure by ISP Walsall.  The Star Wars stamps are, therefore, different and will be separately catalogued.

As before there is a Prestige Stamp Book containing all 10 of the new stamps, the miniature sheet stamps spread over two panes as in 2015 (thus ensuring that the individual stamps have separate catalogue numbers.


The pictures above are provided by Royal Mail.  The ones below are scans of an actual pane.


The book contains all the stamps in the current issue and three new Machin Definitives.  These are coded MPIL M19L as shown in the photos here of the actual stamps (click to enlarge any).

You'll realise that there's a big surprise here, because as well as the useful 4 x 2nd class, and 2 x 5p, there are 2 x £1.17.  This is a redundant value, last useful for a year from April 2017 for the 20g Europe and 10g Rest of World Letters (and worldwide Postcard) rates.  We had this note: make of it what you will!

We first had this value in the Game of Thrones PSB issued on 23 January 2018, coded MPIL M17L.  This was followed on 20 March 2018 by the Royal Air Force PSB, but those were coded M_IL M18L.  The latest one is properly coded MPIL M19L so they won't get a separate entry in Gibbons Concise Catalogue but will be included in U3084.  Similarly the 5p is SG U3072 and the 2nd class is U3065.
Correction: as these are litho, the 2nd will be U3150.
In our Checklist these will be 2901P.9 (2nd), 4005P.9 (5p) and 4117P.9 (£1.17).

The regular edition PSB is £17.65 (Royal Mail product code YB085), and of course there is a Limited Edition with just the same stamps, which is priced at £49.99 (RM: YB086)

Collector Sheet (RM product code AT110 - £8.10)
As with other years Royal Mail have also produced a Collectors Sheet (listed in the SG Concise under 'Post Office Label Sheets' along with the Smilers and Generic Sheets) containing all 10 of the 2019 stamps with attached labels.  This is self-adhesive making the stamps collectably different although they will not be individually listed in the Concise.  Some other catalogue editors and album producers may include these individually.

Complete Stamp Set Collectors Sheet (RM product code AS5188COMP - £21.00)
There will also be a 30-stamp gummed sheet containing all 30 stamps of the Star Wars series (12 in 2015, 8 in 2017).  This will be sold by RM at face value and should be listed by SG in the Concise alongside the last of the 2019 stamps. [Compare SG MS3308 A-Z of the United Kingdom which contained all 26 stamps in those two issues.]

Other Products

Product name
Stamp Pack
Miniature Sheet Pack
First Day Cover Stamps
First Day Cover Minisheet
First Day Cover PSB pane
Stamp Souvenir Cover
Miniature Sheet Souvenir Cover
Skywalker Family BU Medal Cover
Skywalker Family Silver Medal Cover
Vehicles BU Medal Cover
Vehicles Silver Medal Cover
Star Wars: The Official Stamp Collection
Complete Stamp Set Souvenir
Press Sheet
Framed Stamps & Minisheet
Framed Collector Sheet
Framed Complete Stamp Set
Complete Stamp Set Mount
Framed Ewok Print Signed by Warwick Davis
Presentation Pack TRILOGY
Prestige Stamp Book TRILOGY

I said there were surprises, but I suppose the only real surprise was the £1.17 definitive, because all the others would have been entirely predictable to any collector or reader who had seen previous sets and other similar issues from Royal Mail.  A number of people who have already had a chance to see these or the advertising posters in Post Office branches have suggested that it is time to stop collecting Royal Mail's new stamps.  How about you?

(I should add that this was rescued from the trash, so no publicity posters at that Post Office branch! I've been corrected - they had two but only room to display one.)

UPDATE 19 November:

I've been told by somebody who should know that the Machin pane in the PSB should have looked like this, with two 1st class stamps.

Now, I'm no graphic designer, but I think from an aesthetic point of view, it would have been better still if it had been like this!

Possibly full list of Machin 2019 Machin definitives

We probably now know of all the Machin security stamps which have or will be available with M19L coding.  Many of these are new printings by ISP Walsall, and have been available from Royal Mail Tallents House - if you know the product codes - while others have been available from supermarkets and Post Office branches.

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

Full list of M19L stamps so far (not all printing dates are shown):

Counter Sheets

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

2985.9   100g Special Delivery - 26/03/19
2992.9    1st class Signed For - 17/09/19 (to be distributed by Royal Mail in January 2020.

3001.9 - 1p deep crimson, 19/02/19
3002.9 - 2p deep green, 19/02/19
3005.9 - 5p dull red-brown, 15/04/19
3010.9 - 10p dull orange, 19/02/19 : 16/04/19
3020.9 - 20p green, 19/02/19 : 16/04/19
3050.9 - 50p slate - printing date not yet known, to be distributed by Royal Mail in January 2020.
3101.9 - £1 bistre-brown, 20/02/19 : 16/04/19
3200.9 - £2 deep blue-green 22/07/09
3300.9 - £3 deep mauve 22/07/09
3500.9 - £5 azure 23/07/09

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

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

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

2931.9 - 2nd class MTIL booklet of 12
2936a.9 - 1st class MTIL booklet of 12
2936aS.9 - 1st class MSIL booklet of 6
2933.9 - 2nd Large MFIL booklet of 4 (SBP2i seen on eBay)
2937a.9 - 1st Large MFIL booklet of 4, packing date 23/04/19

Prestige Stamp Books

2901P.9 - 2nd class blue from Star Wars III book
4002P.9 - 2p green from Queen Victoria Bicentenary book
4005P.9 - 5p dull red-brown from Star Wars III book
4050P.9 - 50p dark slate from Queen Victoria Bicentenary book*
4117P.9 - £1.17 vermillion  from Star Wars III book(redundant value)

* although this is a new shade I have not given it an 'a' number.

Business Sheets

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

A new version of our Checklist is planned for early December.

Friday 1 November 2019

November Slogan Postmarks.

October was quite a full month, and November has got off to a flying start with the first slogan actually used on 31 October, so I'll put it there as well to close of the month.

Remember this is the only place that November postmarks will appear, so please check back here before taking the time to scan scan and post new finds.

Thanks to BM we can kick off November with the annual campaign in aid of men's health, specifically prostate and testicular cancer and mental health - MOVEMBER!  I think the campaign has a new slogan this year, as it is on their website and is replicated in the slogan.  Our first example is from North & West Yorkshire on 31/10/2019.  Another example, from Greenford/Windsor on 4 November is over a pre-printed (PPI) Machin. (Thanks to IB for this one.)


Update 6 November.  
Today (the other IB) supplied this fabulous collectable which was almost certainly unintentional.  Under the Croydon Mail Centre's postmark in the other format is the bushy visage of Charles Darwin - more than a tache, of course, but still a great match for a thematic collection or display.  Dated 5-11-2019.

Update 14 November:
The National Health Service campaign 'Stay Well This Winter' has kicked off again, as in the last few years.  Thanks to BM for one format from Peterborough Mail Centre apparently 13-11-2019, and to GE who sent us his cheque and got the Sheffield Mail Centre 13/11/2019 in the other format.


Update 9 November.
I showed one of these default slogans in the October list, and here is the one in the other format from MD.  I'm surprised that it pushed Movember out of the frame, but maybe it's an error at Edinburgh Mail Centre on 8-11-2019 showing Action for Children.

I also have one of these from Cornwall MC on 11/11/2019.  Don't often see anything from Cornwall.

Update 14 November:
It's actually ahead of the Christmas campaign, but we have the first Universal machine usage reported by RS.  This is from the Jubilee Mail Centre (with inverted place die) towards the end of October.  [Unfortunately the addressee was away from home when it was delivered so can't be precise about the date.]

Update 24 November:
We're coming to the end of November, and IB has reported a Movember update at the end of the campaign.  This is a poor impression from Home Counties North MC, date probably 21/22 November.


Update 29 November.
Just creeping into the month is this latest slogan from BM.  It's not very clear and if, as BM says, his correspondent had travelled a little further west he would have had a more appropriate Plymouth postmark!   This is from Exeter Mail Centre 28-11-2019.  

Nancy Astor was the first female MP to take her seat in the House of Commons, 100 years ago. You can read more about her - including her inspiring work to help the poor and controversial anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic views, here.
[No political comments on this please.]

Lady Nancy Astor
First female MP to take
seat in House of Commons
1st December 1919

Update 2 December
Thanks to JG,MC,JE & PC who all sent examples of the Lady Astor postmark from different mail centres.  Some were very poor - but then the Olympcis2012 stamps never did take a slogan well being digitally printed - and some are very good.  We now know that the slogan was used on at least 28th and 29th November.

Manchester MC 28/11/2019, South East Anglia MC 29/11/2019 and an unusually poor one from Preston (Lancs & S Lakes) 28/11/2019 which shouldn't be on this anyway as it is a PPI!

Update 5 December:
A customer has sent another PPI example, from Cornwall MC.  I wonder if this and the Preston one were mis-sorts?  They weren't redirections, and the postmark was clearly applied in unusual circumstances in two different places.  I don't think Barclaycard are sending out from Cornwall, so that is not the place of origin.

And what should be the last entry for December, barring Lady Astor continuing into December, is a Universal from Preston MC, using the LANCASHIRE SOUTH 6 LAKES die on 27 NOV 2019. This was on a normal c6 envelope which could have been processed by the IMP - maybe they just used a batch of mail to test that the Universal was ready for the Christmas rush?

All other November slogans, examples of Universal machine use, and anything else odd in postmarks will appear here.  December slogans will appear in a new post next month.

Further Machin definitive news for 2019

News of another counter sheet Machin definitive has come from Royal Mail Tallents House.  

In addition to the 1st Signed For, there is a 50p counter sheet available.  As this is a new Walsall printing there will be an automatic distribution to their subscribers for non-visible changes, and both these stamps will be sent out with the first new issue of 2020 towards the end of January.

Update from Royal Mail 21 November:

"The First Day of Availability for the Walsall prints of the 50p (code: DS500WL) & 1st Recorded Signed For (code: DS155LWL) stamps is confirmed for 21st January 2020."

Readers have already told us that the late November issue code-named 'Project Apollo' includes a prestige stamp book.

Now announced as Star Wars III - details here.

We understand that this will contain several new Machin definitives as well as all the special stamps that are in this ever-so secret issue which will probably start appearing in Post Offices as soon as they have opened the Christmas stamps!

At least there won't be any excuse for early release as all branches should have ample supplies of Christmas sheets and retail booklets.

The real Post and Go news for autumn 2019

We have now received comprehensive official information from Royal Mail about what is happening in the Post and Go world.  We are not stocking these, but thought that collectors would be interested to know what the plans are. See also the note at the foot of the post about other plans/  

The previous post (sourced from IAR) will now be closed to further comments.

Post and Go Overprints:

We are pleased to be able to confirm a new series of overprints for selected Post & Go kiosk locations. Included in this list is the relocation of kiosk A005 from East Anglia Railway Museum to Mail Rail @ The Postal Museum, which went live this week with a positive early response from collectors. We will update this list again in early 2020.

Current Overprint
New Overprint
Start Date
End Date
Mail Coach reel
New Exhibit 2019
Machin 1st
No Overprint
Machin 2nd
No overprint
No Overprint
Mail Rail *
No overprint
No Overprint
Mail by Air
Airmail 1919
Airmail 1919
Mail by Rail
New Exhibit 2019
Pack Only
Mail Rail
Mail Rail *
Mail Rail
Mail Rail
Machin 1st
Mail Rail
Royal Navy Museum Portsmouth
No overprint
Lest We Forget 100
Fleet Air Arm
Union Flag
No overprint
Concorde 50 Years
Fleet Air Arm
No overprint
Concorde 50 Years (+ logo)
No overprint
Lest We Forget 100
HMS Trincomalee
No overprint
Lest We Forget 100
Explosion Museum
No overprint
Lest We Forget 100
Shakespeare Shop
No overprint
Shakespeare 1564
Shakespeare Shop
No overprint
Shakespeare 1616
* Mail Rail = the Underground Railway stamp from the Mail by Rail set [NP]
See update at foot of post re Postal Museum Winter Greenery

FAA Concorde dates corrected by Royal Mail as museum is not open on 4th & 5th November.

N.B. The above list is a limited overprint plan, it is not intended to replicate the full and comprehensive overprint schedules seen over previous years, nothing should be read into any kiosks omitted from this list as they may feature in future lists.

UPDATE 2 November:
Thanks to Chris Hockaday (ebay seller royalnavalcovers) and dealer who frequents Stampex, and other fairs, I am able to add this picture of the MA19 Poppy

Chris records the following on his current ebay listing:
Kiosk A002 Navy Museum Poppy MA15
Kiosk A004 Submarine Navy Museum Poppy MA15
Kiosk A007 Explosion Museum Poppy MA19
A006 HMS Trincomalee - details to follow.

Update 5 November:
Also from Chris's sales on eBay, the Shakespeare double-overprint error reported by 'Anonymous' (note this is on MA17 stock).

This has not only 'Shakespeare Birthplace Trust' 'but the expected 'Shakespeare 1564'.  A nice little bonus for those collectors and dealers who can get or make arrangements to get the stock.  The Shakespeare 1616 is on undated Machin stock.

Update 6 November
Based on this example from eBay seller gbphil09 it might have been better to have run some trial prints before going live at FAAM on A003, which is missing the right side of Concorde, the plane and the word, and most of the 0,

We have received several reports that the FAAM machine A1003 was working correctly at the start of business.

Post Office Self-Service Kiosks 
We understand from Norwich's main post office (in WHSmith) that no poppies will be installed there and that Winter Greenery will be used from 5 November, the date of issue of the Christmas stamps.

Update 4 November
Information has now been received that the Winter Greenery will be in all SSK offices from tomorrow, 5 November.  I expect old stock to be used but some new stock to have been printed.  Reports awaited!

Thanks to JG I can now show the 2019 printings of the Winter Greenery stamps.   Cambridge city PO "had been supplied with boxes of Winter Greenery stamps for use from today, and most were 2019, although some were 2018 (left over stock as you suspected!)"  But not all branches have these stamps available (See comments).

These show CL19S on the 2nd class and R19AL on the 1st.

Update 8 November
As we have news here about new printings of Winter Greenery it seems appropriate to include the 2019 reprint of the Machin definitive post and go stamps as well.  The background printing is now very light so I have digitally enhanced this image from DP showing the 1st class R19YAL coding below 'Class' found at Richmond, Surrey.


A further report, just in.
"Winter Greenery both first and second class year code 2019 in all 3 machines at Islington. Poppy to be added to the 3rd machine."  (DF)

Update 21 November from Royal Mail:
Following the publication of the Quarterly overprint plan for Post & Go last month, we have received extensive feedback requesting a Christmas stamp. 
As the 1st Class Winter Greenery stamps are being introduced elsewhere, it will be added to the Mail Rail kiosk, replacing the Machin definitive and will run from 2nd December to 31 December 2019.
[corrected version]

A reminder that regular news about Post Office SSK branch changes is reported in the comments on this Post and Go post