Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Scottish Independence Marked by new Miniature Sheet 6 April 2020

The first independence of Scotland was declared by Pope John XXII in response to an approach by the barons and freeholders of Scotland who asked him to recognise Scotland’s independence and acknowledge Robert the Bruce as the country’s lawful king.  The Declaration of Arbroath, dated 6th April 1320, is one of the most significant documents in Scotland’s history.


The Declaration was then taken to the papal court at Avignon by Bishop Kininmund, Sir Adam Gordon and Sir Odard de Maubuisson. The plea was successful and Scotland’s independence was eventually acknowledged eight years later by Papal Bull.

To commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arborath, Royal Mail will issue a special commemorative miniature sheet containing all 4 Scottish Country Definitive stamps for 2020. The background to the miniature sheet depicts the surviving Declaration itself and the 39 seals of the 8 earls and 31 barons who authenticated it although it is thought likely that at least 11 more seals than the original 39 might have been appended.

In 1970 The General Post Office included the Declaration's 650th anniversary in the General Anniversaries issue, a stamp designed by prolific stamp designer Fritz Wegner.  This time for the widely celebrated 700th anniversary, Royal Mail have fallen back on the overused format of a miniature sheet containing all four Scotland country definitives. If that is unimaginative, at least somebody has used their imagination on the background design, rather than using an image of the actual declaration as shown on wikipedia.


Technical Details
The sheet was designed by Scottish design company Tayburn and is printed by ISP in litho, with PVA gum.  The sheet is 123 x 70 mm, with stamps the standard definitive size of 20 x 24 mm.

The stamps are the new values, so 2nd class, 1st class, £1.42 and £1.63.


Royal Mail regard this as a commemorative issue, rather than a new issue.  Readers may know that dealers are able to purchase FDCs with stamps already affixed, but Royal Mail have said that this service is not available to us for this issue.  The cover is available (serviced product code AW141 for £6; blank: ME144 for 30p) from Royal Mail's bureau.  The Bureau's customers may find that their standing orders do not cover this sheet.
Update, from comments (Thanks Chris):
Information printed on the bottom of the New Definitive 2020 Order Advice Note sent to Philatelic Customers states that if you have Miniature Sheets on your regular order then you will receive this automatically. But the FDC containing the miniature sheet is a mail order item only, so you will not receive it as part of your regular order. A separate order has to be placed.


Here's a couple they made earlier
Previously Royal Mail used a similar format for the opening of the Scottish Parliament Building in 2004, and the 250th Anniversary of Robert Burns in 2009, a sheet also designed by Tayburn and which also contained to special Burns stamps to increase the overall cost to make it more economical for Royal Mail to handle.




Saturday, 22 February 2020

March 23 - 1st class postage rate up 8.5%, new airmail stamps cost £17.60!

Royal Mail's annual announcement about tariff changes was made yesterday. The new rates take effect from 23 March 2020.  The new stamps will be issued on Tuesday 17th March, the same day as the James Bond issue - expect problems at Post Offices.

In a shock move the increase in the rate for 1st class mail will be double last year's increase of 3p, rising from 70p to 76p.  At 8.55%, this is probably the largest rise since 2012 when the rate increased from 46p to 60p.  The rate for 2nd class mail is capped by the regulator, but even so Royal Mail have chosen to use the full range of the cap allowed, increasing by 4p to 65p.

The reason for the large increase is that they want to invest in the business - which had a pre-tax profit of £204m in the year 2018/19 - but they say that "the likelihood has increased that
Royal Mail in the UK will be loss making in 2020-21. These changes are necessary to help ensure the sustainability of the one-price-goes-anywhere Universal Service."


NOTE: I will allow limited comments about pricing arguments, but this is essentially about philately, not economics, shareholders or politics and I reserve the right to decline or edit comments especially from Anonymous contributors.


As always we only have studio images of the stamps that will be issued for airmail rates, which in total will cost £17.60.


The stated colours are:
£1.42 - garnet red (previously used for the £2.55 in 2017)
£1.63 - sunset red (previously used for the £1.17 in 2017)
£1.68 - tarragon green (previously used for the £1.57 in 2017)
£2.42 - purple heather (previously used for the £2.65 in 2018)
£2.97 - rose pink (previously used for the £3.30 in 2015, but nothing like the colour shown above)
£3.66 - harvest gold (previously used for the £2.27 in 2017)
£3.82 - holly green (previously used for the £1.25 in 2018 - and nothing like the above).

Scans of actual stamps will be provided as soon as we have them.  These, one would expect, will be coded M20L.  A reminder that we will not be stocking these as they will be readily available from Royal Mail and many of the 11,500 UK post offices and BFPOs.

I think we can expect that dealers faced with paying nearly £30 for a single of each of the new stamps will think twice about the effect on their cash flow of holding much stock.  The stamps will, in any case, be available for at least a year.

Technical
The Machin stamps continue to be printed by ISP Walsall in gravure We would expect the first printings to have taken place in January even December, and new printings to be made in March/April.  Time will tell.

UPDATE 28 February
Printing dates etc

08/01/20 - £1.42, £1.63, & £1.68
09/01/20 - £2.42, £2.97, £3.66 & £3.82
All have eight grid positions - none-greyed out so all values printed in 8 positions each.

Actual scans

 


Country definitives
 
£1.42 and £1.63 values for each of the four nations will be issued at the same time.  These stamps will be printed in litho by ISP Cartor, and it is probable that only one printing will be made.  Given the lack of availability of these in many regional post offices, the numbers printed will be very low.  In theory more should be required for the England stamps than any others, but it is likely that they will all be printed on the same plate.

UPDATE 28 February
Printing dates etc

09/01/20 - England both values
10/01/20 - Wales & Scotland, both values
13/01/20 - Northern Ireland, both values
I no longer stock or collect more than a single, so I don't know the grid positions - I'll welcome details from other readers!

UPDATE 24 March
According to the list from Royal Mail, all eight stamps exist with 'all 4 grid positions', with the exception of the England and Wales £1.63 which both are listed as being in columns 3 & 4 - I suspect this is an error.


The rate tables

From 23 March 2020
1st
2nd

Old
New
Old
New
Letter 100g
70p
76p
61p
65p
Large Let 100g
£1.06
£1.15
83p
88p
S Parcel 1kg
£3.55
£3.70
£3.00
£3.10
S Parcel 2kg
£5.50
£5.57
£3.00
£3.10
Med Parcel 1kg
£5.80
£5.90
£5.10
£5.20
Special Delivery has increased from £6.60 to £6.70 (100g) and from £7.40 to £7.50 for 500g.   What we used to call the Signed For fee has increased at the basic level from £1.20 to £1.30 making a 1st class signed for letter £2.06 from £1.90, and a 2nd class £1.95 (from £1.81).  The extra for Large letters and Parcels range from £1 to £1.20.





International
Europe
World Zone 1&2
10g & cards
£1.35
£1.42
£1.35
£1.42
20g
£1.35
£1.42
£1.55
£1.63
100g
£1.60
£1.68
£2.30
£2.42
International Large Letter prices will increase by 6% across the board (± a little for rounding to the nearest 1p), making the 750g rate to Zone 2 £9.81 from £9.25.

Effect of leaving the EU.  For the present the rates for International Tracked continue to show different rates for EU destinations (including 20% VAT) and non-EU destinations (zero-rated).   I'm assuming that this is an effect of the transition period, but it does strike me as odd.

Changes for tracked services range up to 6.5% increases but heavier weights rise by considerable less.

The price of surface or economy letters rises by 6p to £1.26 for 20g and by 8p to £1.58 for 21-100g. As with airmail, the prices for Large Letters are increased by about 6%.

The full rates leaflet will be available in Post Offices and can be downloaded here.


Effect on collectors
The effect of this will be to increase further the cost of collecting stamps, not just the definitives but special issues as well.  The price of the April Romantic Poets set will rise from £7.00 to £7.60 with corresponding increases in the cost of first day covers and presentation packs.  Books of 6 x 1st class will increase from £4.20 to £4.56.

As mentioned by Anonymous in the comments, the Post and Go Collectors sets increase by 9p for the two 2nd class and 50p for the six 1st/Airmail strip.

The first new issue to be affected is the Declaration of Arbroath miniature sheet, issued on 6 April.  This contains one of each of the Scotland definitives and so will cost 25p more than it would have done had it been issued earlier.

[My apologies for publishing an incomplete version of this just before lunchtime - I should have clicked 'saved' instead of 'Publish'.]

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

25th James Bond Film Brings Stamps Galore on 17 March 2020


In celebration of the 25th James Bond film due for release in April 2020, Royal Mail is delighted to launch the official James Bond stamp issue.

The Bond films are the longest running film series in film history with James Bond known all over the world. The films are renowned for many features, including the musical accompaniment, with the theme songs having received Academy Award nominations on several occasions, and two wins. Other important elements which run through most of the films include Bond's cars, his guns, and the gadgets with which he is supplied by Q Branch and is the focus of the Minisheet in the stamp issue.

The six-stamp set features all six actors who have played James Bond, from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig.

IMPORTANT UPDATE ON PRESENTATION PACKS - see below, towards the foot of this post.

Stamps in two se-tenant strips.
3 x 1st class - Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye and Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights.
3 x £1.60 - Roger Moore in Live and Let Die, George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and Sean Connery in Goldfinger.




Miniature sheet - Celebrating some of Q Branch’s most well-known gadgets, centring around arguably the most famous one of them all, Bond’s DB5. This miniature sheet isn’t quite as it seems; under a UV light detailed specs of each gadget will become clear. In another unusual feature the stamps carry a unique 007 perforation.

2 x 1st class - Bell-Textron Jet Pack, Thunderball, and Aston Martin DB5, Skyfall
2 x £1.55 - Lotus Esprit Submarine, The Spy Who Loved Me and Little Nellie, You Only Live Twice

  


Presentation Pack, First Day Covers, Stamp Cards
The presentation pack delves into the world of Bond; exploring both his relationships with key allies and villains, as well as providing an overview of all 25 Bond films including the latest No Time to Die. The inside of the pack elaborates on 6 of Bond’s most important relationships, whilst the back summarises the James Bond films in their entirety, beginning with Dr No. The pack comes with both stamps and miniature sheet. The miniature sheet comes in a specially designed carrier card with a brief overview of Q and his relationship with Bond.

Retail booklet of two special stamps and 4 x 1st class Machin definitives, and the 007 logo on the back cover.

 

UPDATE 20 February:  A reader has asked whether the self-adhesive booklet stamps have normal die-cut perforations or 007 as shown on the Royal Mail shop (see below).  The answer is that the booklet has normal die-cut perforations, as (almost) shown in the RM supplied image above, with no 007!



Prestige Stamp Booklet (PSB) A real treat for any James Bond fan, the Prestige Stamp Book is a 24-page booklet packed full of fascinating Bond facts and behind-the-scenes insight into the filmmakers, action and stunts, supporting cast and more.

The book includes all 10 stamps and a definitive pane containing 2 x 2p, 2 x 2nd class Machin, 2 x 2nd class Scotland, 2 x 1st class Union Flag.  Surprisingly, the Machin definitives have the M19L year code which - aside from any shade differences - means no new stamps as the 2nd class was in last year's Star Wars 3 book and the 2p is in this year's Visions of the Universe book.

NOTE:  There is one difference between the MS and the MS pane which is not shown in the pictures.  
Each of the stamps has part of the perforations showing 007 (click on the image to see it more clearly on the enlargement) and on these pictures although in different places on different stamps, the stamps from both sources are identical.  However on the actual Lotus Esprit stamp the 007 is top right on the MS and top left on the Pane.

 
The definitive pane of stamps, which lists the title and year of release of all 25 James Bond films, will be used on Royal Mail's FDCs in the usual way, ie without the list of films!


Press Sheet (of 8 x MS) in a limited edition of 500

 

Generic (aka Smilers/Collectors) Sheet This A4-sized collector sheet contains 10 of Royal Mail’s James Bond stamps in self-adhesive format* accompanied by a sticker featuring an iconic moment and vehicle from across the films.  Correction - Royal Mail have now advised that the James Bond Collectors Sheet (AT113) is PVA Gummed, not self-adhesive.

The sheet includes: 3 x 1st Daniel Craig stamps, 3 x £1.60 Sean Connery stamps, 1 x 1st Pierce Brosnan stamp, 1 x 1st Timothy Dalton stamp, 1 x £1.60 Roger Moore stamp & 1 x £1.60 George Lazenby stamp. The background is taken from the opening title sequence of Casino Royale and has the official 007 logo.
 
 

Limited Edition version of the James Bond Prestige Stamp Book features a special edition 007 silver foiled front cover. It comes presented in a special tin display case embossed with the 007 logo with just 1,962 of these Limited-Edition sets available to Bond fans – the number being the year of the first Bond film, Dr No.

 


Technical Details:
Stamps designed by Interbang and printed by International Security Printers. In 'Olympic Landscape' format (60 x 30 mm) the two values are in sheets of 36, printed in lithography with PVA gum.  The miniature sheet is 192 x 74 mm with stamps 60 x 30 mm or 40 x 30 mm.

Acknowledgements: 2020 © EON Productions Limited and Danjaq, LLC. 007 Gun Logo and related James Bond Indicia © 1962–2020 Danjaq, LLC and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. 007 Gun Logo and related James Bond Trademarks are trademarks of Danjaq, LLC. All Rights Reserved. George Lazenby as James Bond photo © Loomis Dean/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images. Digital image enhancement: Smoke & Mirrors London.


UPDATE 19 March
TWO DIFFERENT PRESENTATION PACKS EXIST 

My thanks a customer who emailed, and to 'Anonymous' who commented:
Has anyone else been caught out by the different Presentation Pack (code AP472) arrangement for this issue? On my copy at least, rather than plastic pockets to hold the stamps and MiniSheet, the items are stuck directly onto the cardboard of the pack (thus making them no longer Unmounted Mint). 
I rang RM, and was told that it was standard policy for this issue (the nice woman at RM didn't know whether it would hapen for subsequent issues). I've arranged to return the PP for a refund and have bought the set and MiniSheet separately.
When the second such report arrived I check with my contacts at Royal Mail.  Apparently there were two versions of the Presentation Pack AP472 and APR 472.  The latter had the stamps stuck to the card (but not cancelled) and are not, therefore, what most collectors want.  No information about this APR pack was supplied to dealers, nor indeed to the people who handle our orders!

These sound like Retail packs (R for retail) such as those A4 packs retailed apparently exclusively by WHSmith.  But nobody knows anything about them!

The error in sending the APRs to ordinary customers was noticed, but too late to know who had been sent the wrong pack, so they could not be recalled.  If you have not examined your packs yet check them, and if they are wrong, phone or email the usual contacts to arrange for a returns number and a replacement.  It is not necessary, as anonymous unwittingly did, to forgo the normal pack and buy the loose stamps and MS instead.  

I hope RM will include something about this mistake in their Bulletin to alert their customers who are not readers of this blog.

 


Products: First Day Covers not included; single design sheet stamps available in multiples of 6.
Product
Stock Code
Value
Stamp Set (3 x 1st, 3 x £1.60 se-tenant)
AS5500
£6.90
Character Set
AS5500E
£7.20
Miniature Sheet Barcoded
MZ149
£4.50
Q Branch Stamp Sheet Set
MZ149A
£4.80
Presentation Pack
AP472
£12.20
Stamp Cards
AQ288
£4.95
Retail Stamp Book
UB430
£4.20
Collector Sheet
AT113
£12.60
Prestige Stamp Book
YB088
£16.99
Limited Edition Prestige Stamp Book
YB089
£64.99
Limited Edition Q Branch BU Coin Cover
AN175
£19.95
Limited Edition Q Branch Silver Coin Cover
AN177
£85.00
Limited Edition Q Branch Gold Coin Cover
AN179
£530.00
Limited Edition James Bond BU Coin Cover
AN176
£19.95
Limited Edition James Bond Silver Coin Cover
AN178
£85.00
Limited Edition James Bond Gold Coin Cover
AN180
£530.00
Limited Edition Press Sheet
PZ044
£39.99
Limited Edition Silver Miniature Sheet
MZ149B
£199.00
Limited Edition Silver Stamp Set
AS5500M
£199.00
James Bond Secret Dossier
AW140
£29.99
Villains & Gadgets Complete Collection Set
AW139
£14.99
Framed Collectors Sheet
N3190
£29.99
Framed Stamp Set
N3187
£29.99
Framed Miniature Sheet
N3188
£29.99
Daniel Craig Framed Print
N3202
£69.99
Piers Brosnan Framed Print
N3204
£69.99
Sean Connery Framed Print
N3203
£69.99
Timothy Dalton Framed Print
N3206
£69.99
George Lazenby Framed Print
N3207
£69.99
Roger Moore Framed Print
N3202
£69.99

Discuss!

Monday, 10 February 2020

Letter sorting machines to be removed at High Wycombe Royal Mail office

The Bucks Free Press reports that some letter processing machines are to be removed from High Wycombe Royal Mail office.
ONE of High Wycombe’s delivery offices is to remove two letter sorting machines - as the number of letters sent has dropped by 50 per cent since 2004.
Royal Mail’s High Wycombe South office in Lancaster Road, Cressex, will see the removal of the two sorting machines because they need to make more room for managing parcels.
Letter sorting machines were designed to help Royal Mail sort letters in some delivery offices - but letter volumes have declined by 50 per cent since 2004 as people post fewer letters and receive more parcels.  Royal Mail expect letter volumes to fall by about 26 per cent over the next five years or so.
The initiative will reportedly have no impact on the quality of service for customers sending and receiving letters in the area, according to Shane O’Riordain, Royal Mail managing director of regulation and corporate affairs.
If you have any reports on changes to postmarking or on distribution arrangements we will record them here for the benefit of readers.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

New version of Norvic Machin Security Checklist - v 2.2.1

My apologies to the many readers who have been asking for a new updated version of the checklist which I promised in December.  Unfortunately non-business matters have taken a lot of time and will continue to do so, so I am fitting things in when and where I can.  

I'm pleased that I stopped supplying new Machins last year, because I certainly could not have continued to process as many orders as we had in previous years.

And for those who have trouble with Dropbox, I am pleased to say that for the time being the Checklist is back on our website, and can be viewed in your browser or downloaded (exact details depend on your browser and settings).

A number of errors have been pointed out; v 2.2.2 is now available.

Please visit this link


This listing is updated to the forthcoming (11 February) Visions of the Universe PSB (£1.35 stamp shown on the front page), and includes as far as I have been able new Stanley Gibbons Concise catalogue numbers and minor updates to booklet details.

If you spot any errors (and I've found some very old ones while doing this update!) please let me know.

The next major addition to the document will be postage rate tables to assist collectors of modern postal history.  
An increasing number of collectors are looking at the usage of stamps as well as just collecting them mint. When assessing whether a cover or parcel piece is properly paid for the time of posting, it is necessary to calculate the actual worth of NVI stamps - which may include those with international values - at the time. These tables will be provided to assist this.


Tuesday, 4 February 2020

February Slogan Postmarks, etc.

The very first February slogan started in January so has been listed there as well.  It is not clear at this stage whether the LGBT+ slogan will continue, but it seems likely as it advertises the History Month.


The World Cancer Day slogan started on 31 January.  The CDS shows this and that it was posted in Northwich, so the Mail Centre was probably Chester.
World Cancer Day
4 February 2020
#IAmAndIWill




World Cancer Day in the other format from Plymouth and Cornwall Mail Centre and Gatwick Mail Centre both on 03/02/2020.  I've also been sent examples of the above format from Norwich, and the one below from Bristol Mail Centres but both are so poor that they are not worth showing.






Also in use on 31/01/2020, at Tyneside and Bristol Mail Centres is this new slogan for LGBT+ History Month.  Again, Bristol's impression is poor with the source appearing to be DA, DG, GL & TA - which is a very wide spread of postal areas!

February is
LGBT+ History
Month

If any examples from February are supplied, I'll show them for the record.

Update 6 February - here's one from Southampton dated 05/02/20

 

UPDATE 10 February - here's one from IB with the other layout and taller font, from Jubilee Mail Centre dated 07-03-2020



UPDATE 10 February 2020

Royal Mail are cramming a lot of slogans into the month of February, with the latest one being for Valentine's Day.  It's reminiscent of the Greetings stamps issued in 2003.  This example arrived here from Peterborough Mail Centre dated 08-02-2020

I like you...
Do you like me?
☐ Yes  ☐ No
VALENTINE'S DAY
14 February 2020


Thanks to RW for a similar one from Exeter also dated 08-02-2020.

UPDATE 11 February.  My thanks to BM for this 'other format' example of the Valentine slogan from North & West Yorkshire dated 10/02/2020


UPDATE 18 February
Thanks to RW and CH for providing, on probably the first day, both examples of the new Climate Change slogan.  One would thing this must have been prompted by the government?  One format from Croydon Mail Centre, the other from South East Anglia, both on 17 February.

Working together to
tackle climate change
in this Year of
Climate Action -
search UKCOP26



UPDATE 24 February
My thanks to BM for the latest, and possibly least necessary slogan from Royal Mail, certainly in comparison with the rest of the month.  This example is from Bristol Mail Centre dated 20/02/2020

Pancake Day
shopping list: Plain
flour, eggs, milk
and your favourite
filling!
25 February 2020








Inkjet slogans will appear here for the whole of February.  Any Universal usage will appear in a separate block after the slogans.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Visions of the Universe 11 February 2020 issue.

Advance information was provided last month, and we can now show the stamps in full.  Once again Royal Mail have included 2nd class stamps, which is to be commended, and these are very colourful.  I predict that these will receive more positive comment than the Romantic Poets, although they will have a niche attraction.

In the year in which the Royal Astronomical Society is celebrating its 200th anniversary Royal Mail is issuing a set of eight Special Stamps, depicting various astronomical features and phenomena discovered over that time by British astronomers and astrophysicists. The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) was founded in March 1820 and is the leading learned society for astronomy in the UK, promoting the scientific study of astronomy, the solar system and related geophysics. It supports public education for students, teachers, the public and media.

Stephen Hawking was awarded the RAS’s prestigious gold medal in 1985 for his contribution to cosmology and his collaborations on the nature of black holes. He is commemorated in a special Coin Cover that includes a coin specially struck by The Royal Mint.


 

Stamps
2nd Class - Cat’s Eye Nebula, discovered by William Herschel – first president of the Royal Astronomical Society.

2nd Class - Enceladus, Saturn’s Moon with water geysers (discovered by William Herschel, 1789; British team first detected water geysers

1st Class - Pulsar - The first Pulsar was discovered by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Anthony Hewish, 1967.

1st Class - Black Hole – the image is from an interpretation of the data from black hole by University College London, (In 1970 Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose published a scientific paper which was ground-breaking in predicting the nature of Black Holes.)

£1.55 - Jupiter’s aurora - the University of Leicester is closely involved in the understanding of the auroras.

£1.55 - Gravitational Lensing - An optical phenomenon where huge gravitational fields bend light and was first detected by team that included UK astronomers in 1979.

£1.60 - Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko - British companies and universities including the Open University involved in the Philae probe and imaging, as the lander descended sending back huge amounts of data from the surface of the comet.

£1.60 - Cygnus A galaxy - First radio source discovered from beyond our own galaxy, Jodrell Bank identified the twin sources of radio waves from it.

Prestige Stamp Book
This 24-page book celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Royal Astronomical Society. Written by astronomy journalist Dr Stuart Clark, it explores the history of the Royal Astronomical Society from its inception 200 years ago to the present day, including key discoveries, the growth of astronomical science and geophysics and recent space missions. The book contains all eight special stamps in panes not available anywhere else plus two panes containing eight Definitive stamps.

 

Shown above, panes 1 and 3 show the panes containing the special stamps.
Pane 4 (left) shows the Royal Astronomical Society logo, surrounded by 4 x 2p, 2 x £1.35 and 2 x 1p Machin Definitive stamps. 
Pane 2 (right) shows an image of a Black Hole - or probably a solar eclipse as on the front cover - surrounded by 4 x 1st Class Country Definitive stamps, 2 x 10p and 2 x 5p Definitive stamps.

These Machins 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, the shades are different, as shown earlier.

Technical details and acknowledgements
The 50 x 30 mm stamps are designed by True North and are printed in litho by Internatioanl Security Printers, with PVA gum in sheets of 70 stamps.
Acknowledgements: Black hole reference imagery © Dr Ziri Younsi, UCL; gravitational lensing black hole reference imagery (Cheshire Cat galaxy group) © NASA/Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center/Science Photo Library.

Products

First Day Covers, Presentation Pack, PSB, Stamp cards, Framed set, Coin Cover.


James Bond - bumper pack of stamps and other products to be issued 17 March

The embargo date for this issue is 18 February, so I would not normally be writing now, but as Royal Mail's February Philatelic Bulletin lists all the products, it seems appropriate to write this now, but there won't be much detail!

In celebration of the 25th James Bond film due for release in April 2020, Royal Mail is delighted to launch the official James Bond stamp issue.

The Bond films are the longest running film series in film history with James Bond known all over the world. The films are renowned for many features, including the musical accompaniment, with the theme songs having received Academy Award nominations on several occasions, and two wins. Other important elements which run through most of the films include Bond's cars, his guns, and the gadgets with which he is supplied by Q Branch.

The summary in the Philatelic Bulletin lists the following elements:

Stamps 3 x 1st class, 3 x £1.60 in two se-tenant strips.

Miniature sheet - 2 x 1st class, 2 x £1.55

Presentation Pack, First Day Covers, Stamp Cards

Retail booklet of two special stamps and 4 x 1st class Machin definitives.

Prestige Stamp Booklet (PSB) which will include all 10 stamps and a definitive pane containing 2 x 2p, 2 x 2nd class Machin, 2 x 2nd class Scotland, 2 x 1st class Union Flag. (These ought to be coded M20L).
13 February - SHOCK UPDATE - the Machin definitives have M19L coding!

Press Sheet (of MS);

Generic (aka Smilers/Collectors) Sheet containing 5 x 1st class and 5 x £1.60 with attached labels.

Limited Edition PSB which contains same stamp panes but possibly a different cover, all in different packaging.

Various framed sets, prints, and other material for Bond fans rather than stamp collectors.

Readers may leave comments but I shall not be confirming any other details of the stamps or what they depict until the due date.