Monday, 23 November 2020

"The Post Office exclusivity with Royal Mail could soon end"

According to Tamebay, which credits The Times, "negotiations are under way with Royal Mail and the Post Office exclusivity is top of the agenda to open the door and allow couriers ... to have packages handled by the Post Office."

"Currently, the Post Office can’t even handle all Royal Mail services – Tracked 24 and 48 can be purchased online at Royal Mail Click and Drop but unlike most other Royal Mail services you can’t even drop Tracked 24 and 48 parcels at the Post Office – their Horizon system can’t even scan them and if you try to dump them at the Post Office you’ll be told to drop them at your local Royal Mail delivery office. Cross fingers a new deal with Royal Mail would sort out anomalies like this.

"Royal Mail need the Post Office and it’s inconceivable that they wouldn’t want them still selling stamps, but they’re unlikely to welcome your local Post Master saying “Yes, you can send your parcel via Royal Mail or Parcelforce, but you could save money by sending via [insert names of various courier companies here]”.

Royal Mail would still pick up the less profitable letter type post, but if the Post Office could sell services with a range of couriers and, dare I say, alternative postal carriers using Royal Mail downstream services for final mile delivery, the national postal service could see their business ebbing away in communities across the country."

Points to ponder. 


Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Mobile Post Office update.

I've shown a number of Mobile Post Office datestamp impressions over the last few months, each accompanied by some detail of locations served - not always accurate, I admitted.

Thanks to Alastair N who has provided what he hopes is a complete list of Mobile Post Offices and the current locations served.  It's too long to quote here - there are over 60 different services, and one in the Lake District appears to serve over 40 locations.  Quite how that can happen in a normal week I don't know; maybe there is more than one van but in other instances two-van branches are shown as two separate entries.

This post summarises the Mobiles that I have already mentioned.  The original posts have also been updated.

 

MORTON (Bourne, Lincolnshire) 

Castle Bytham, Grantham; Buckminster, Grantham; South Witham, Grantham (2 stops); Colsterworth, Grantham; Corby Glen, Grantham; Wymondham (LE14), Melton Mowbray.

GREAT MASSINGHAM (King's Lynn, Norfolk)

Thornham, Hunstanton; Hillington, King's Lynn; Harpley, King's Lynn; Field Dalling, Holt; Langham, Holt; Brancaster Staithe, King's Lynn; West Newton, King's Lynn; Bircham, King's Lynn; Sedgeford, Hunstanton; East Rudham, King's Lynn; Ingoldisthorpe, King's Lynn; Snettisham, King's Lynn; Weasenham St Peter, King's Lynn; Helhoughton, Fakenham.

RIPON (North Yorkshire)

North Stainley, Ripon; Borrowby Lower, Borrowby Upper, Kirkby Malzeard, Kirby Wiske,  Baldersby, Thirsk; Kirklington, Bedale; Nether Silton, Thirsk; Kepwick, Thirsk; Cundall, York; Melmerby, Ripon; Wath, Ripon; Hampsthwaite, Harrogate; Lofthouse, Pateley Bridge, Harrogate;  Staveley, Knaresborough; Masham, Ripon; Glasshouses, Harrogate; Ripley,Harrogate; Grewelthorpe; Bishop Monkton, Harrogate; Helperby, York.

UPWELL (Wisbech, Cambridgeshire)

Northwold, Thetford; Fincham Kings Lynn; Gooderstone, Kings Lynn; Narborough, Kings Lynn; Stow Bridge, Kings Lynn; Oxborough, Kings Lynn; Welney, Wisbech; Nordelph, Downham Market; Wereham, Kings Lynn; Christchurch, Wisbech; Beachamwell, Swaffham; Southery, Downham Market; St Johns Fen; Marham, Kings Lynn; Walton Highway, Wisbech; Magdalen, Kings Lynn;

LINTON (Swadlincote, Derbyshire)

Walton-on-Trent, Swadlincote; Blackfordby, Swadlincote; Sheepy Magna, Atherstone; Bitteswell, Lutterworth; Abbots Bromley, Rugeley; Uttoxeter; Whitacre Heath, Coleshill; Whittington, Lichfield; Fillongley, Coventry; Hammerwich, Burntwood; Mapleton, Ashbourne; Hulland Ward, Ashbourne; Turnditch, Belper; Acton Trussell, Stafford; Branston, Burton-On-Trent.

STANTON (Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk)

Walsham le Willows, Bury St Edmunds; Ixworth, Bury St Edmunds; Thorndon, Eye; Norton, Bury St Edmunds; Great Finborough, Stowmarket; Stowupland, Stowmarket; Hopton, Diss; Botesdale, Diss; Yaxley, Eye.

MARKETHILL (County Armagh)*

Jerrettspass, Newry; Cladymore; Lisnadill; Craigavon.

HEMINGFORD GREY (Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire)

Over, Cambridge (2 stops); Holme, Peterborough; Little Paxton, St Neots; Cambourne; Marshland St James, Wisbech.


* Thanks also to GF of Northern Ireland who provided details of Markethill.


Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Changes to Import VAT regulations from 1 January 2021

From 1 January 2021 the United Kingdom government will introduce a new model for the VAT

treatment of goods arriving into Great Britain from outside of the UK. This will ensure that goods from EU and non-EU countries are treated in the same way and that UK businesses are not disadvantaged by competition from VAT free imports.  

From the Gov.uk website (http://tiny.cc/qgv4tz):

For imports of goods from outside the UK in consignments not exceeding £135 in value (which aligns with the threshold for customs duty liability), we will be moving the point at which VAT is collected from the point of importation to the point of sale. This will mean that UK supply VAT, rather than import VAT, will be due on these consignments.

The new arrangements will also involve the abolition of Low Value Consignment Relief, which relieves import VAT on consignments of goods valued at £15 or less.

Online marketplaces (OMPs), where they are involved in facilitating the sale, will be responsible for collecting and accounting for the VAT.

For goods sent from overseas and sold directly to UK consumers without OMP involvement, the overseas seller will be required to register and account for the VAT to HMRC.

 

This appears to imply that if you are in the UK and you buy from a non-UK seller on eBay or Delcampe they, as Online Market Places, will add VAT to the agreed price (and carriage).  However, the devil is in the detail, as a blanket system will not work, and it is difficult to see how any (OMP) could possibly establish systems in the next six weeks.

Sales by non-business sellers to non-business buyers will not be included, and there is some question as to whether (for example) ebay and Delcampe are OMPs for these purposes, reading the detail of 'What an OMP is'.

But it does mean that business sellers, ie dealers, outside the UK will have to register with HM Revenue & Customs and account for and remit UK VAT.  Which means that if you buy low value stamps (ie under the current de minimis levels) consigned through the post, the dealer will charge VAT.  But he will also need to know what rate to charge at, and set up appropriate systems and paperwork, AND know which addresses are counted as Great Britain - and probably Northern Ireland in time although this paper does not cover Northern Ireland. 

We (in the UK) all know that the standard rate is 20% and the rate on books (eg catalogues) is zero - but stamps are NOT 20%, see my 2019 post.

I'm sure this will be debated widely, although there is little time for the philatelic magazines to pick up the story, and get advice.  It will be interesting to see what eBay and Delcampe decide - and how easy it is to contact them to tell them they haven't quite got it right!  Their lawyers will be working on it now, I'm sure!




Thursday, 12 November 2020

Great Britain Stamp Issue programmes 2021 and 2022

We are expecting that, even with the first stamp issue of 2021 coming in mid-January, we don't expect Royal Mail to make any announcement about the year until after Christmas.

This post was going to be about an almost certain stamp issue for 2022 but a comment was proposed on the Star Trek post - because there wasn't anywhere relevant to post this thought.

So, Martin, here is your comment

I'm sensing a set of Prince Charles stamps are destined for 2021, just getting a feeling the Queen is going to step down.  I know this is a bit random posting this in here, but there isn't anywhere else I can type this, as we do not know what is upon us on the stamp schedule for 2021.

 

I think it has been established, over the years, that for all the musings of her citizens, Queen Elizabeth II made a promise to the nation as princess in 1947, on her 21st birthday, that she would serve us to the end of her days:

"I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."

 

And with the announcement today (reported here on the BBC) that "The Queen, 94, hopes as many people as possible across the UK will have the opportunity to join the celebrations of her Platinum anniversary", I think we can assume that there will be at least one special stamp in 2022, and possibly yet another new colour for the Machin definitive - though I can't quite think what colour that would be.

And another issue for 2022 will be for the (postponed from 2020) London 2022 International Stamp Exhibition.

The 2021 programme will be posted on the blog as soon as we are able.  But your suggestions here are welcome.


Monday, 9 November 2020

Early release of Star Trek stamps

As we all know the Star Trek stamps will be issued on Friday of this week.  But somebody in the Birmingham area has already used one!

It's a while since we reported an early release error.  The date isn't clear but logically it can only be 02/11/2020, from the Birmingham Mail Centre.  This one is now on eBay; only a piece sadly, but good for a collection.

Star Trek stamp to be issued 13/11/2020 used on 02/11/2020 at Birmingham Mail Centre


Thursday, 5 November 2020

Special Handstamp Centres - back to extensions

I mentioned on the Christmas Stamps post that Royal Mail had delays with the latest Postmark Bulletin (and there were some delays with the stamps at some post office branches.

Royal Mail have added this statement to the Special Handstamps webpage:

Due to the ongoing and uncertain situation with regards to the Coronavirus Pandemic and the inherent restrictions on individuals’ movements, we have again taken the decision to extend the postmarking timescales for upcoming issues until further notice. This will apply to both First Day Covers bought directly from Royal Mail as well as covers submitted from Post Office branches for cancellation at a Special Handstamp Centre.  The extension will apply for all for new issues from Star Trek (13th November) onwards until further notice.

In the past collectors have experienced a reluctance by some Post Office branches to sell First Day Covers after the day of issue.  I would suggest you persist, pointing out that Royal Mail have extended all deadlines so there is no reason why blank fdcs should not be sold.


Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Christmas 2020 - Stained Glass Madonna & Child from around the UK - 3 November 2020

The media coverage of Royal Mail's 2020 Christmas stamps - delayed until the stamps were actually issued - was less than they might have hoped, probably in view of the latest developments and pronouncements by the UK Government on the Void-19 pandemic.  But as the stamps are now issued, we can now record their designs and subjects here.

The stamps in detail

2nd class Adoration of the Magi (detail) from St Andrew’s Church, East Lexham Norfolk

1st class Virgin and Child (detail) from St Andrew’s Church, Coln Rogers, Gloucestershire

£1.45 Virgin and Child (detail) from the Church of St James, Hollowell, Northamptonshire

£1.70 Virgin and Child (detail) from All Saints’ Church, Otley, Leeds, West Yorkshire

£2.50 The Holy Family (detail) from St Columba’s Church, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire

£2.55 Virgin and Child (detail) from Christ Church, Coalville, Leicestershire 


 
The stamps are also issued in an ordinarily gummed Miniature Sheet

Technical details and acknowledgements
The stamps were printed by International Security Printers in gravure in self-adhesive sheets, of 50* stamps per sheet.  Perforation: 14.5 x 15. (*it is normal for Christmas stamps to be printed in the same format as definitives, ie without a central gutter.)

Miniature sheet size: 179mm x 74mm. Stamp sizes standard 24mm(w) x 28mm(h), Large Letter 34mm(w) x 28mm(h).  The sheet is probably printed in litho on paper with water-activated gum, although this has not been stated by Royal Mail.

Acknowledgements: 2nd class St Andrew’s Church, East Lexham © Peter J Hatcher/Alamy Stock Photo; 1st class St Andrew’s Church, Coln Rogers © Colin Underhill/Alamy Stock Photo; £1.45 the Church of St James, Hollowell © Alastair Carew Cox/Bridgeman Images; £1.70 All Saints’ Church, Otley © Alastair Carew Cox Bridgeman Images; £2.50 St Columba’s Church, Topcliffe © Alastair CarewCox/Bridgeman Images; £2.55 Christ Church, Coalville © Colin Underhill/Alamy Stock Photo.

Other products include retail booklets of 12 x 1st and 12 x 2nd class stamps, printed in gravure...


... and the usual unnecessary litho-printed self-adhesive Generic Sheet - continued because Royal Mail think that customers want them, even though the original justification was to provide collectors with a cheap alternative to the relatively expensive customised Smilers stamps - a service which is no longer available and so for which there is no need for a cheaper(!) alternative.  As usual there is only one set of stamps per sheet but there may well be provision for these in some pre-printed albums and associated catalogues.


Other products: First day covers (2), stamp cards, presentation pack.

Special Postmarks: we understand that the November Postmark Bulletin has not yet arrived at Tallents House for distribution to subscribers.  Special handstamps for this issue can be seen on Royal Mail's website here.

Distribution problems:  several people have reported problems with obtaining some or all of the stamps from PO branches on the day of issue.

UPDATE 9 November

Because of new lockdown restrictions in various parts of the UK Special Handstamp Centre deadlines have once again been extended indefinitely.  This applied to Christmas, Star Wars and probably early 2021 issues.

UPDATE 10 November. The following detail is taken from a Royal Mail press release, via the (US) Virtual Stamp Club website because Royal Mail have not put the information on their own.

2nd Class stamp Adoration of the Magi
Location: East window of St Andrew’s Church, East Lexham, Norfolk. This is an Anglican church, dedicated to Saint Andrew and is one of 124 existing round-tower churches in Norfolk. It is thought to date from circa 900AD and said to be one of the oldest in England.

The Window: Mid-19th century stained glass, believed to have been made by Clayton & Bell in c.1859 – the designs adopted the gothic style of the 15th century in keeping with the perpendicular east window. The east window depicts scenes relating to Christ’s birth and death. The upper tier shows Christ carrying the Cross, The Crucifixion and Christ being taken down from the cross. The lower tier shows events related to Christ’s birth – the annunciation, Adoration of the Magi, and the presentation of Christ in the temple.

1st Class stamp Virgin and Child
Location: St Andrew’s Church, Coln Rogers, Gloucestershire. This is an Anglican parish church and is dedicated to Saint Andrew. It is often described as being rather unique, as it has a Saxon nave and chancel which have survived almost intact. It dates to the mid-11th century.

The Window: The three main lights of the east window of the church, dated c.1865 and made by the studio of Heaton, Butler and Bayne, focus on nativity scenes (including the Shepherds, Mary and Joseph with the Christ child and the three Magi). In the central light (from which this is a detail) Mary cradles the new-born Christ child.

£1.45 stamp Virgin and Child
Location: Church of St James, Hollowell, Northamptonshire. The Church of St James was built in 1841 in the gothic style, and is known for its beautiful stained-glass windows in the eastern apse of the chancel, and the rose window above the west door.

The Window: Chancel apse, south east window designed by Henry Holiday (1839-27) and made by J Powell & Sons, 1863. This is one of three lancet windows in the apse of the chancel. Each lancet window features a single narrative panel contained within a quatrefoil set against a background of decorative painted foliate grisaille (in the manner of the 13th century, decorated style). The north-eastern window depicts the Baptism of Christ, the central the Crucifixion, and the south-eastern (as pictured) shows the Virgin Mary and Christ child within the stable. The brightly coloured pieces of flashed ruby glass, and turquoise, blue, pink and purple tones demonstrates the wide variety and high-quality of the glass made at Powell’s glassworks.

£1.70 stamp Virgin and Child
Location: All Saints Church, Otley, West Yorkshire. The first church building on the site was Anglo Saxon but only the foundations from this early church remain. A Norman church was built over them in the 11th century and this forms the present-day chancel. It was enlarged in about 1240. Further additions and modifications took place during later centuries, Including the installation of a number of stained-glass windows by various makers in the Victorian period.

Window: This window is from a two-tier three light window in the South Transept of the church. The lower tier main lights show the Nativity with the Crucifixion in the upper tier above. It was manufactured by Clayton & Bell and installed in 1862. This image is the central scene of the Nativity. In the centre Mary is seated and holds the infant Jesus on her knee.

£2.50 stamp Detail of the Holy Family
Location: St Columba’s Church, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire. St Columba’s is the parish church of Topcliffe, near Thirskand the present building dates from the 13th century and was largely rebuilt by railway architect George T Andrews in 1885.

The Window: This well-known window is one of two windows located on the south side of the chancel of the church. The window is divided into three lights, showing three scenes in the life of Mary which also relate to the birth of Christ. On the left is the Annunciation, in the centre panel are Mary and her cousin and the panel on the right shows the Holy Family – Joseph, Mary and Jesus. This detail is from the scene of the Holy Family. It was designed by Michael Halliday and manufactured by Lavers & Barraud c.1860.

£2.55 stamp Virgin and Child
Location: Christ Church, Coalville, Leicestershire. The church was built between 1836 and 1838, with a west tower, large nave, transepts, chancel and vestry added later in 1936.

The Window: Whilst most of the glass is Victorian there are also three modern windows, which include the North chancel lancet window of the Nativity. The scene focuses on the virgin and child, with the ox and donkey watching over them (c. 1976). Harry Harvey (1922-2011) worked during the latter part of the twentieth-century producing stained-glass in a distinctive modern style. He died in 2011.

Thanks to Lloyd A. de Vries for posting this information


November Postmark News

This is where all November slogans will be recorded and illustrated, as well as other postmarks of interest.  There aren't any slogans yet, so the first item is about a mobile/outreach service.

Slogans

Thanks to MC for the November re-use of the default Action for Children slogan from North & West Yorkshire on 05/11/2020.  UPDATE 10 November: My thanks to BM for a picture of the other layout from Exeter Mail Centre 02-11-2020.

Royal Mail - supporting youth mental health with - Action for Children, default slogan postmark, North & West Yorkshire

Royal Mail - supporting youth mental health with - Action for Children, default slogan postmark Exeter


UPDATE 10 November.  Thanks to BM also for a great example of this year's Remembrance slogan; the sender couldn't have guessed that his Dad's Army stamp would get such an appropriate postmark. This example is from Peterborough Mail Centre 09-11-2020

Lest We Forget
Armistice Day
11 November 2020


Lest We Forget Armistice Day slogan from Peterborough Mail Centre 09-11-2020
 
Our own mail today included this alternative layout from Chester & N Wales mail centre 09/11/2020
 
Lest We Forget Armistice Day slogan from Chester & N Wales Mail Centre 09-11-2020

 






Other postmarks

Our peregrinating contributor JB of Lincoln has ventured south into Suffolk for his latest posting, which also presents a bit of a puzzle.  This postmark of STANTON OUTREACH SERVICES appears to be dated 27 09 20 - but it only arrived in our PO box last week. Unfortunately the ink-jet slogan machine postmark from Norwich puts the date firmly on the stamp and it is illegible!  I think the date was probably wrongly set.

Update 6 November: My thanks to PA who reminds me that the month is always in letters on these, so it must be OC for OCtober, wich makes a lot of sense!

Stanton Outreach Services A self-inking datestamp


As usual, it is difficult to get precise details of mobile/outreach services on the web, but according to a Suffolk News report in March 2019:

A mobile post office, which will serve nine village communities started this week.

The new service, which is serving Rickinghall, Yaxley, Walsham-le-Willows, Gislingham, Thorndon, Great Finborough, Norton, Ixworth and Hopton started yesterday (March 7 2019)

Outreach services are normally provided by a postmaster in surrounding villages using portable equipment provided to and taken out from the base branch to community facilities like village halls or public houses.  Unlike mobiles where the services are provided from the back of a vehicle when there are no community facilities, with Outreach the equipment (and stock) is carried in a private vehicle. 

However, according to the earlier report on the Post Office Views consultation website:

We are pleased to let you know that we will be restoring Post Office services to the communities of Rickinghall, Yaxley and Walsham Le Willows with the introduction of a Mobile service which will start week commencing 28 January 2019.  

The Mobile Service is a travelling Post Office aboard a specifically designed vehicle that brings Post Office services and retail products to communities without relying on fixed premises that has formed part of our operational network for some years now. 

We are therefore pleased to inform you that the postmaster from Stanton Post Office is willing to offer services to the above locations. The establishment of Mobile services presents the best possible solution to restore Post Office services to these communities. 

According to the East Anglian Daily Times the Stanton Mobile/Outreach also provided a service to Sicklesmere when that village shop and post office was engulfed by a flash flood.

UPDATE 9 November:  My thanks to PA for the following information on Outreach and Mobile:

The Mobile Post Offices (i.e Vans with the PO installed within, which park at Village Hall or Pub Car Parks, laybys etc.) should have a datestamp “XXX Mobile” Hosted Outreaches (i.e the equipment is taken to and used inside a Village Hall, Pub etc.) should have a datestamp “XXX Outreach {Service(s)}”.

However, there are exceptions, Stanton Mobile uses Stanton Outreach – it is quite possible that they had run an outreach service in the past, but I don’t know whether that was the case.
- Scotby Mobile used a Scotby datestamp for me, but that could have simply been a case of the wrong datestamp
- When Cam took over the Mobile from Royal Wootton Bassett he had the old SID, but was told he shouldn’t use it and so he used one of his Cam datestamps. Eventually he did receive a new SID last year – Cam Mobile Van.
- Cliff Lane, Ipswich Outreach was using a Cliff Lane Mobile datestamp, but that was because they had previously run a mobile.
- Collingham Outreach uses Collingham H.O.S.
Two recently introduced Outreaches use Hurstpierpoint Hosted and Rodmill Hosted. 
Of the locations you mention for Stanton Mobile, Norton and Rickinghall appear to have ceased.

Update 16 November  This is the self-inking-datestamp (SID) for Mattishall Outreach Services (Norfolk) used in 2012.  The SID is no longer in use, having self-destructed well before it wore out; the old single-ring datestamp on Outreach services while the double-ring datestamp is used in the branch.

Mattishall Outreach Services SID 2012 (left) & Older Mattishall/Dereham Norfolk single ring datestamp.

Outreach services started in the early 2000's - I have an example from 2009 - as branches were closing due to retirement or the closure programme.  Villages served have been Bawdeswell, Bintree, Foulsham, Gressenhall, Elsing, Lyng, and others. 


It seems that the contributor who I have desrcibed as 'wandering' may in fact be staying at home.  The latest mobile postmark to arrive, last week, is from Markethill.  The only branch that I can find with this name is in County Armagh, and this is borne out by the Northern Ireland Mail Centre slogan added to this letter.


Markethill Co. Armagh mobile postmark  3 November 2020.

It isn't easy to find out which locations are served by this mobile, no response has been received from the branch.  A look at the Post Office Branch Finder webpage shows the following nearby: Cladymore, Lisnadill, Scarva, Ballyward, and Katesbridge.


My apologies to JB who sends these covers, for not reporting on one which I received in September, for HEMINGFORD GREY MOBILE SERVICE in Cambridgeshire  I first saw this one on a first day cover for the 2009 Postboxes stamp issue, although none of the postboxes on the MS or Smilers Sheet was in the village.  The Huntingdon Post reported that the mobile was going to serve the village of Holme in June 2009. Other villages served are reported on various webpages as Over, Cambourne, but there may be others. 

The post office was also at one time hosted by the church with the vicar as postmaster, but as a recent report shows that the mobile will be at Hemingford Grey Stores while they are refurbished, that arrangement seems to have ended.  


Hemingford Grey Mobile Service postmark 23 September 2020

UPDATE 18 November. We now have accurate information on the services these mobiles provide, except Mattishall which is an Outreach.

STANTON (Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk)

Walsham le Willows, Bury St Edmunds; Ixworth, Bury St Edmunds; Thorndon, Eye; Norton, Bury St Edmunds; Great Finborough, Stowmarket; Stowupland, Stowmarket; Hopton, Diss; Botesdale, Diss; Yaxley, Eye.

MARKETHILL (County Armagh)

Jerrettspass, Newry; Cladymore; Lisnadill; Craigavon.

HEMINGFORD GREY (Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire)

Over, Cambridge (2 stops); Holme, Peterborough; Little Paxton, St Neots; Cambourne; Marshland St James, Wisbech.


UPDATE 24 November - YATTON OUTREACH (2)

Hiding in the spam folder was news of another outreach from JF, so sorry that this is late also.

Yatton 2 Outreach date stamp, 4 November 2020

JF visited the Claverham Post Office, which is hosted in the village hall three mornings per week.  The Postmistress was very helpful and gave me an impression of the date stamp above.  She said that Yatton also covers the village of Cleeve with, presumably, a different date stamp (1)? as they are open on two of the same mornings.


Whilst there is plenty of information on the web, particularly in local newspapers, about branch closures, there is no consolidated report on mobile and outreach services and who the provider is.


More news as we receive it - from you!




Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Post and Go: Winter Greenery at Post Offices

Winter Greenery stamps returned to the Post and Go Self-Service Kiosks in Post Office branches today, and at least some offices had a new printing of both 2nd and 1st class stamps.

My thanks to JG for providing pictures of the ones sold at Cambridge (and at least one other office) which are new printings 1st class - R20YAL and 2nd class CL20SS:


UPDATE 23 November

My thanks to RW for sending this picture which he says was inside the boxes of Winter Greenery. It's the first embargo notice to Post Offices that I've seen for a while.  I can't help thinking though that if it was on the outside it would be a warning not to open them, and run less chance of the warning not being lost.  We haven't had any reports of them being used before this date.



We don't expect Royal Mail to provide information about Post and Go reprints and it may be that these new printings might not be at all branches, especially if they had stock remaining from earlier years.  
 
These will be the first ones with the new (1 September) postage rates so if there are any old stocks they will be different to those produced before.


Sunday, 1 November 2020

Postal Museum Post and Go Update - Exceptional Opening!

I wrote about The Postal Museum re-opening here, and several people have written or commented that with the museum only opening Thursday to Sunday the Winter Greenery could not be on sale on Tuesday 3rd November as announced.

I have now heard from MB as follows:

From TPM IT & System Manager Ian Tolley:

Just a quick note to confirm that the Postal Museum welcome space will be open from 10:30am on Tuesday for Post & Go purchases if you are thinking of coming in for the Winter Greenery on A001.

So money talks.  It will certainly make it easier for collectors (and dealers) who know in advance,  to not have members of public wanting access as they might at other times.  But it is pity that nobody at the TPM thought to look at the calendar and provide this information with their general press release earlier this week.  It's certainly like a weekend afterthought, but I suspect it's just a case of "oh we always intended to do this, was it not clear in the information provided?"

 

Machines and locations

Stuart Leigh reports that the Mail Rail kiosk has not moved across the road as TPM said it would be. Instead A012 (last used at Autumn Stampex 2017) has been installed in the Postal Museum entrance hall and re-designated Mail Rail.  But more interestingly on the Underground Railway stamps being dispensed from it have a date code of MA18, whereas the Postal Museum kiosk has R19YAL. Also the stock could be digitally produced (clarification awaited when they have been examined).


Opening Day

I would have a picture but...  MC sent a report of his less than happy experience on day one.

The perfect set I had I have put on a FDC.

What I do have as a mint set is a strip made up of 8 stamps with the first one being a bit screwed up and not printed fully, the second stamp has the 'technical' data line missing as the print has 'slipped down', three & four are blanks, and 5-8 are as per expected.  This was seemingly a 'problem' throughout the period I was there which the Museum staff member was unable to fix. I don't necessarily think it would be a good idea to put a copy (at least of mine) on the web!

The big surprise to most, if not all, attendees was that the 'Mail by Air' issue has been replaced with Flags.

Year codes are - Mail Coach = MA16, Underground Railway (UR) = R19, 1st = MA14, 2nd = MA15, Flag = None? (I certainly cannot see one!)  

The other kiosk had UR = MA 18 & 2nd Machin MA14.

UPDATE 3 November

My thanks to MB for providing these pictures of Post & Go stamps from the Postal Museum.

The Postal Museum Machine A001 Machin and Mail Rail Post & Go stamps.

The Postal Museum Machine A001 Union Flag and Mailcoach Post & Go stamps.

The Postal Museum Machine A012 Machin and Mail Rail Post & Go stamps. 

Winter Greenery 3 November update

My thanks to MC for these pictures from today's events at the Postal Museum.  

The Postal Museum machine had Winter Greenery in A001:  1st is R17 & 2nd is CL17 (Machin is MA16, Mail Rail is R19 & Flag has no date).

The Mail Rail kiosk A012 did not have Winter Greenery so Mail Rail is MA17 & Machin MA14.

The Postal Museum/Postcard 150 inscription on Mailcoach, and Winter Greenery stamps from machine A001.

 


Thursday, 22 October 2020

Norvic Machin Security Stamp Cheklist updated.

We can't be sure that everything for 2020 is included in this latest version of our checklist, but - barring accidental omissions - we know is that it is complete up to date.

This includes the Machin definitives issued in the Star Trek prestige stamp book detailed in the post below, and issued on 13 November.  It can be downloaded here, and is also linked on every blog page from the right-hand navigation bar.

As usual I will be grateful for any errors that you can point out.

There are a number of gaps on printing dates or booklet packing dates: if you can fill any of these gaps it would be very useful.



Boldly going beyond the pale: Star Trek, 13 November 2020

Once upon a time the General Post Office and then Royal Mail tried very hard not to have any stamp issues after the Christmas stamps, reasoning that they would be busy enough with mails and other stamp orders without adding to the workload, especially for a subject with wide popularity.

No more it seems, because on 13 November they will issue another bumper bundle of products inspired by the world of popular entertainment, this time for TV and film series, Star Trek

Text below from Royal Mail is in blue.  It seems part of the justification is that so many of the principal actors are British.

Reason and inspiration
2020 coincides with the debut of the latest series of Star Trek – airing on TV in January. The long awaited, brand-new instalment is based around Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart), formerly the Captain of the Next Generation series.


Star Trek is the TV/film/licensing franchise based on the long-running space opera. It has so far produced more than 700 TV episodes across seven distinct series and 13 movies as well as books, comics and games (including among the earliest computer games). Screened globally, it has been a cult phenomenon for decades and the idea of the programmes and catch phrases are in common use. It is one of the highest grossing media franchises of all time. Its generally optimistic view of the future (a united Federation of planets that peacefully explores the universe) marked it out from other sci-fi series and movies.

The new series airs in January, so 2020 does NOT coincide with this but issuing the stamps in November allows many to be bought and given as Christmas presents.

Of major interest to readers of this blog will be the Machin definitive stamps included in the Prestige Stamp Book, so I am illustrating them first.

The pane consists of 3 each 2nd class and 50p stamps, and a pair of 2p stamps, which produces two sets and some useful left-overs.

Star Trek prestige stamp book definitive pane (Pane 4)

I'm not sure we've had 2p & 50p stamps in such close proximity before, and the first thing I noticed was how similar they are.

The 2p is pretty much the same as previously 

2p MPIL from Visions of the Universe, James Bond and Star Trek.

but the 50p is a greener shade of grey than previously, to my eyes.

50p MPIL from End of World War II and Star Trek

The biggest difference, however, comes with the 2nd class blue.  It does look like an ordinary 2nd class blue in the pane picture, but when we place it alongside its predecessors, the difference in intensity of the colour is marked.

2nd class MPIL from James Bond and Star Trek 

The current counter sheet stamps are approximately the same colour as the James Bond stamp above, but comparing the latest (Star Trek) stamp to the original 2009 De La Rue counter sheet stamp, we can see how the blue has been watered down over ten years.

2nd class compared with counter sheets 2009-20 (Star Trek in the centre)

 

The 2p and 2nd class stamps will have new mentions in Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise catalogue because they are the first to be issued with a M20L year code.  It would not surprise me if, even if it is actually the same colour (ie ink-mix) the 2nd class had a new sub-number as a shade difference.  The 50p may be too close to warrant a sub-number, and is not 'new' as the World War II stamp is also coded M20L.

More details about the PSB and panes can be found below the miniature sheet and retail book paragraphs below. 

 

Stamps
12 stamps depicting the captain from each of the 6 principle TV series plus additional crew members. Each of the stamps in the set of 12 are all illustrated by talented (23-year-old) artist, Freya Betts, the portraits feature the iconic characters alongside reflective details in the background of their respective shows. 

Star Trek set of 12 stamps on First Day Cover (click to enlarge)

Top Row Captains
1st Class - Captain James T Kirk Played by William Shatner in The Original Series
1st Class - Captain Jean-Luc Picard Played by British actor Patrick Stewart in The Next Generation
1st Class - Captain Benjamin Sisko Played by Avery Brooks in Deep Space Nine)
1st Class - Captain Kathryn Janeway Played by Kate Mulgrew in Voyager
1st Class - Captain Jonathan Archer Played by Scott Bakula in Enterprise
1st Class - Captain Gabriel Lorca Played by British actor Jason Isaacs in Discovery

Bottom Row Crew
1st Class – Spock Played by Leonard Nimoy in The Original Series
1st Class - Deanna Troi Played by British actress Marina Siritis in The Next Generation
1st Class - Julian Bashir Played by British actor Alexander Siddig in Deep Space Nine
1st Class - Malcolm Reed Played by British actor Dominic Keating in Enterprise
1st Class - Michael Burnham Played by Sonequa Martin-Greene in Discovery
1st Class - Ash Tyler/Voq Played by British actor Shazad Latif in Discovery

Minisheet Details
Star Trek at the Movies – 6 stamps make up the special miniature sheet featuring characters, all played by British actors, from across the Star Trek Movies franchise. Note: These stamps are photographs and are not illustrations by Freya Betts.

Star Trek miniature sheet (shown without barcode)
 

1st Class - Montgomery Scott (Scotty) played by British actor Simon Pegg in the new Movie Series
1st Class - Praetor Shinzon played by British actor Tom Hardy in Next Gen Movie: Nemesis
1st Class - Tolian Soran played by British actor Malcolm McDowell in Original Movie Series: ‘Generations’
1st Class - Klingon Chancellor Gorkon Valorum played by British actor David Warner in Original Movie Series
1st Class - Carol Marcus played by British actress Alice Eve in the new Movie Series
1st Class - Krall played by British actor Idris Elba in the new Movie Series

Technical details

The 35mm square sheet stamps were printed by ISP/Cartor in lithography with ordinary gum in two sheets of 60 each in two panes of 6 x 5.  No perforation gauge is given.   The stamps were designed by Interabang.   A Press Sheet features 24 miniature sheets (3 columns x 8 rows) in a limited edition of 500.

The 146 x 74mm miniature sheet is printed by ISP/Cartor in litho and (contrary to information provided by Royal Mail) is self-adhesive.  The Montgomery Scott and Shinzon stamps are 60 x 21mm (perf 14.5) and the remainder are 27 x 37mm (perf 14).

TM & © 2020 CBS Studios Inc. © 2020 Paramount Pictures Corp. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved. Tom Hardy in Star Trek Nemesis photo  © AF Archive/Alamy Stock Photo. Alice Eve as Dr Carol Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness photo © CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images. Stamp designs © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2020, All rights reserved.

Retail Stamp Book - Captains
The retail stamp book includes four first class definitive stamps as well as two special stamps featuring Captain Kirk and Captain Picard.   As with all retail stamp books it is printed in gravure by ISP Walsall and the stamps are self-adhesive unlike the individual stamps from the sheet.  The Machin 1st class definitives are coded MCIL M20L.

Star Trek Self-Adhesive Retail Booklet.

Prestige Stamp Book
The 24-page booklet starts in 1966, with an introduction on Star Trek’s legendary creator, Gene Roddenberry and his vision. The narrative then transports us through the decades, exploring how Roddenberry’s groundbreaking and original ideas led to the ever-popular franchise that we know today. We travel through the Star Trek timeline, with images from key episodes and brief synopses on every Star Trek TV series and movie, including the latest 2020 show, Picard.

Also included in the booklet are all 12 Star Trek stamps, plus the Star Trek Movies miniature sheet, along with a definitive pane of stamps (illustrated at the top of this blog), unique to this issue.


Star Wars prestige stamp book front cover and panes 1-3

Other products

First Day Covers (2), Presentation Pack, stamp cards.

Collectors Sheet of 10 (same vertical A4 format as for Star Wars but containing three each of Kirk & Picard and one each of the remaining captains) each stamp having a film/tv still alongside showing the character.  Self-adhesive - so there will be space in some pre-printed albums.

Limited Edition PSB with silver-foil front cover, limited to 1966 copies.  The stamps are the same as in the regular PSB.

Original Series and Movies Medal Covers in various grades of metal.  Limited edition 10,000 of each design, and only 1,000 of the Silver Proof version in each design.

Various Framed products and other souvenirs aimed at fans.

UPDATE 9 November

Because of new lockdown restrictions in various parts of the UK Special Handstamp Centre deadlines have once again been extended indefinitely.  This applied to Christmas, Star Wars and probably early 2021 issues.  (At the time of writing some RM standing order customers are still waiting for their Christmas stamps to be delivered a week after issue.)