Sunday 12 January 2020

2020 Second Issue - Visions of the Universe 11 February

Royal Mail's Philatelic Bulletin just received, announces the second issue as being "Visions of the Universe", to be issued on 11 February.  This issue marks the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Astronomical Society.

2012 'Venus with clouds' 1st class
No pictures can be shown yet, but the issues consists - as did the first one - of two each 2nd and 1st class, and £1.55 and £1.60 stamps.  (UPDATE 17 JAN: They are now shown on cover producers' websites and on another blog.) This definitely represents a change in policy from Royal Mail who have previously said that they regarded the events/commemorations too important to be marked by 2nd class stamps: "it is very difficult to list people or places as second class."

As well as the 8 stamps there will be a first day cover, presentation pack, and stamp cards as usual, and a prestige stamp book (PSB).

The PSB contains two panes which have the eight commemorative stamps, and two definitive panes.  Only pane 4 will be supplied on a Royal Mail first day cover.  This contains 4 x 2p, 2 x £1.35 and 2 x 1p Definitive stamps, with a centre label featuring the Royal Astronomical Society logo.

The other definitive pane has the four 1st class country definitives, plus 2 x 10p and 2 x 5p Definitive stamps. The label in the centre features an illustration of a black hole.

So for Machin collectors it would seem that there are two sets of five new stamps - 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p and £1.35 which should be coded MPIL M20L.

Update 15 January - John confirms that these are coded M19L, which is a shame, and the country definitives are new font. This means that we have only three new stamps 1p, 10p & £1.35 -  as the 5p was in the Star Wars PSB, and the 2p was included in the Queen Victoria PSB last year.  However, I shall be very surprised if this is the same dark shade!

UPDATE 22 January.
I've removed the stock photos of the Machins to show the actuals.  The 2p is shown compared with that in the Queen Victoria PSB, and the 5p is shown compared with that in the Star Wars PSB.

The very dark Queen Victoria PSB, and Visions of the Universe.



 The Star Wars 5p, and the lighter head from Visions of the Universe, lower picture under UV.



It remains to be seen whether the Country Definitives will be any different from previous versions.  The publicity mock-ups, predictably, show the original font on each of them, so we really can't begin to guess what will actually appear.

The country definitives have the new font.  The Scotland stamp is almost identical to that in the sheet printing.  The Wales stamp is slightly less yellow.  I don't have an example of the Northern Ireland sheet stamp; if anybody can send a comparison scan when they get the stamps next month, I would appreciate it. 

The biggest difference I can see is in the shade of the England stamp, which is a markedly different shade, despite being printed by the same printer and process.



Other products, aimed outside the philatelic community, are coin covers and framed stamps.  More details and pictures here when we are permitted to show them, which is currently 31 January.


  1. It is good news that more commemoratives will be second class because they are more useful than first class so more likely to be put on post. This brightens things up for those of us who are sorters. In that respect, and I admit I do not know any actual statistics, but the popular issue recently was the forestry one. The surprising omission this year is the lack of commemoration for the official language of the country being changed to English in 1420. Admittedly this did not affect Ulster, Scotland or Wales at the time and it is hard to think of images you could illustrate it with.

  2. Looking at previous issues of PSBs early in the year, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the coding is MPIL M19L, but I'm hoping it will be M20L !

    1. The Machin stamps in the next 6x1st class Tomb Raiders booklet are M20L and these were printed in 2019 so the PSB could be the same. I remember somewhere I saw that the date codes were going to now be the date that the stamps were issued and not printed. Cannot remember where I saw this.

    2. I've seen a Prestige book today and the Machin stamps are all M19L and the Country stamps are new revised font!

  3. 3 new stamps, I think, not 4. The 5p was in the Star Wars prestige book.

  4. I've just received the January 2020 Stocklist through the post - this includes the Visions of the Universe items if you can't wait for the website to make them available. It also has pictures of the stamps on the cover (presumably close to the final designs?).
    I also note that there's a London 2020 retail book pictured on the back cover. It doesn't appear to be available to order though.

  5. I think London 2020 booklet won;t be available until nearer the event - I think it will be March.

    1. It says March 10 inside the Stocklist

  6. February's Philatelic Bulletin gives details of the James Bond issue 17/03/2020 on back page. This reveals a further PSB, definitive pane is made up of 2x 2p, 2x 2nd, 2x 2nd Scottish Saltire & 2x 1st Union Jack. Hopefully the stamps will be M20L. A further Stamp Book 4x 1st & 2x Special stamps (PM73). Also another generic sheet (5x 1st & 5x £1.60).

  7. Correction PM73 should read PM72.


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