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!


  1. Looking at the Royal Mail website shop, it seems there are two versions of the stamp sheet: the Complete Stamp Set at £21 having a red/orange background and Darth Vader in the right hand margin; and a Complete Stamp Set Souvenir at £22.99 which includes an information card but has a different background (sorry I don't know the characters). If this is the case, that's going to make a full set even more expensive! So is the Royal Mail site correct please?

    1. I think AW128 listed above is a cover. I’m away and can’t see the website but you can take it that Royal Mail are correct both on their website and on their list published above.

      And I will say as they would - nobody has to buy everything

    2. I don't buy everything but I do buy the sheets and want a complete collection. I'll be interested in any further advice but might try and give Tallents House a ring next week to confirm.

    3. Just to confirm that the AW128 is indeed a cover - 30 stamps stuck on a cardboard envelope. Mine's going back!

    4. Well, yes. If it says ‘cover’ or ‘souvenir’ in the list, it’s a cover. That’s how they usually word things.

  2. I am the man on the Clapham Omnibus15 November 2019 at 14:55

    I'll admit it: I'm the one person who didn't notice the typeface used in the image accompanying the earlier post. (Well done!)

    Not that yet another Star Wars issue is a surprise - the most exasperating aspect being the sheer volume of barely-philatelic paraphernalia distributed (I wouldn't have been surprised to see a pair of curtains featuring the stamp images on offer) - but the dearth of ambition makes it ever more likely that Tallents House will go the way of its Icelandic counterpart.

    1. Shouldnt that be "Darth" of ambition :)
      In RM's defence (although not sure why I should as they are clearly the bad guy here), they do keep saying that all these extra products aren't for the philatelic market. We just get swept along with it.

  3. concordo..... se continuano così è il caso di smettere....

  4. I have Generic/Collectors sheets on my standing order with Tallents House. One sheet in 2015 and there were two sheets in 2017. All delivered. My Order Advice for the 2019 issue only mentions one generic sheet (only the total value of the issue is stated). I've costed everything given the information you have provided and this sheet will be the £8.10 one. No mention of the 'complete' sheet of all 30 stamps. There was such a sheet in 2018 including all the World War One stamps 1914/18. It was issued at face value, but it did not form part of my standing order as it was a LIMITED ISSUE. Will the Star Wars 'complete' sheet also be a LIMITED ISSUE ? Perhaps we will find out when the 'First' is delivered.

  5. You regularly suggest that time has come to stop collecting Royal Mail's new stamps! You all should do so instead of asking again and again the same question. I stopped some years ago and I don't regret this step.

  6. It is good that they now have more new issues so often as I just buy the ones I like. My favourites this year were the sailing ship ones and the Xmas ones. It is odd though that despite all the new issues they are harder and harder to get. In days of yore clerks would often sell them to ordinary folk who had just asked for some first class stamps to put on letters &c. Now if you try to buy a miniature sheet for example, the usual reply is that this is not a main office so special stamps must be sought in the Post Office in town. Then, when you are next in town, you have to explain what a miniature sheet is or state what they are about & look like. Then the clerk has to get the manager's attention so that he can rummage in the safe: once the anti-thief timer will let him. It is a real achievement when you get them, but little wonder that you see commemoratives on post so seldom these days. Still we have new issues to look forward to in 2020...every fortnight probably: but they will sell even fewer because of the stupid embargoes on here which mean your appetite never gets whetted and the stamps have gone before we knew of them.

    1. Commemorative Stamps in Post Offices - what a quaint idea! You are looking in the wrong place for them. Try online or a standing order. The days of buying stamps in POs is long gone, unfortunately.

    2. It really depends on the PO. If you are lucky enough to find one with a helpful clerk and can get to it at non-peak times - you can still get a good service. But it's very hit and miss.

    3. Yes, I have no problem at our Crown office if I need any more but they are few and far between.

      Officially, of the 11,500 POs still extant, including outreaches, 7,500 do have special stamps.

  7. I don't think it matters what Machin values are in the Prestige book they are never going to be used for postage. Not in the normal way anyway.

  8. Machin Stamp collectors are their own worst enemy, no doubt most will buy this Prestige booklet just to obtain the new 2019 Machin values.

    When a PB was released without these definitive panes there was an outcry. Now R M add the Machin pane knowing that most Machin collectors will buy the booklet.

    Question: What do Machins have to do or have in common with a Star Wars issue?

    Simple answer: R M Profits.

  9. Well, I did predict a third set earlier in the year, seems I was bang on. It was bound to happen as the previous stamp sets were released at the time.

  10. What does Star Wars have to do with Machins? Originally prestige booklets were Machins only. The first one to have a commemorative pane was the London Life booklet in 1990. These booklets have always had Machins that were different from the sheet or standard booklet stamps.

    In 1999 we started to see prestige booklets with only one Machin pane and 3 commerative stamp panes or 2 plus a miniature sheet pane, which has now become the norm.

    Will I buy this issue. Yes, as I am collecting them to pass on to my youngest children. A presentation pack, a retail booklet for the self adhesive commeratives and the prestige book for the self adhesive miniature sheet panes. Plus the Machin set for my own collection. The remainder of the booklet will be used for postage.

    I will stop with the modern stamps when Queen Elizabeth II is no longer on them.

    Just my 2p worth :)

  11. From an aesthetic point of view Ian your layout does look better. However, the pane with the two 1st class stamps in opposite corner positions does now make a bit more sense to the comment by Royal Mail in your original blog post 'Please note due to a misunderstanding in the print process the Definitive pane includes a stamp that is no longer a current postal rate'. This does make me wonder who on earth is in charge of checking anything before it is finally passed for printing?

  12. So the issue has been released but still says "NO INFO WILL BE RELEASED about special handstamps until the next issue of Postmark Bulletin on 29 Nov". So unless I guess at the reference numbers for the Tallents House and London handstamps, I cannot send off my covers to the Special Handstamp centres yet. Royal Mail REALLY know how to annoy their stamp collector customers don't they. I think that's it for me, have a complete collection since 1971 but finally now I'm done.

    1. I've received the Bulletin by email and it should be on the RM website today at

      I'm told printed copies should be despatched today. Ref numbers are FD1920 TH/PL/NP and there are 11 other handstamps available which means you can have a different one on each stamp in the set of 10 and one for the MS.

  13. Re Norvic 15th November post. The 2nd class machins in the machin pane will be SG U3095 not SG U3065 surely ?
    The 2nd class MPIL stamps in Star Wars I and Star Wars II were SG U3095 ....

    1. In the 2019 catalogue there is NO U3095. The NVIs with source and year codes are U3065 - U3067.

      The £1.33 is U3094 and the £1.40 is U3099.

    2. The 2nd Class in all three Star Wars PSBs are U3150 and the 1st Class in Star Wars PSBs #1 & #2 are U3156.

  14. Machins from the Star Wars #3 PSB are: 5p U3072, £1.17 U3084 and 2nd U3150.


Thank you for reading the blog and commenting: please use an identity (name or pseudonym) rather than being Anonymous; it helps us to know which 'anonymous' comments are from the same person to avoid confusion. Comments are moderated to avoid spam, but will be published as soon as possible.