Sunday 22 March 2020

Response to global pandemic

Coronavirus update

You have probably had the greatest number of emails on a single subject ever, over the last two weeks, as your online supermarket, utility providers, banks, mortgage companies, internet service providers, etc, all tell you how you will be affected, either by changes to their services or by allowing payment holidays if you are in financial hardship.

What are we doing? Well, despite some people thinking we have an army of people sending out orders and maintaining website, blog and shop, it is only a family business. And we are all in one or more of the 'vulnerable' categories. So travel is kept to the minimum, our post is delivered, and we will try to get some home deliveries of essential foods. Fortunately we stock up during winter to ensure that if there are any normal seasonal problems we can survive.
(See update below)

About stamps, the blog and the shop.

The Blog: as you will have seen there has been a flurry of activity this week. With the help of contributors, normal reporting will continue while we can.

Stamps and the Shop: In periods of self-isolation, or enforced lockdown, working on your stamp collection is one way to keep yourself occupied – after all you can only watch so many tv programmes in a day.

To avoid going out, we looked at using courier services which would collect orders from us and found that the minimum costs of sending a basic letter-sized packet (c5, under 500g) would be around £4.50 to UK addresses. We can't go down this avenue.

We could could take paid orders but only go to the post office when it can be combined with other journeys. This would work, but would leave customers uncertain as to when their stamps would arrive, and mean that we had their money for an indefinite period without supplying anything.

We could take unpaid orders, and let customers know when to pay us. So you could still choose and reserve stamps; you could change your mind and we would simply cancel the order – no questions asked; we could then make available everything that is on our product database, and make the hidden categories re-appear.

But ultimately the situation is going to escalate. We don't expect to be going out much at all. What we all thought was a good idea – get fresh air in the country – is not because facilities there are fewer than in the cities and the local population will be vulnerable to visitors from the cities.

So reluctantly we have decided to close the shop indefinitely, until the crisis is over. You've probably got enough stamps to keep you gong for a while, and as we are not selling, everything we have listed will be there when we come back – and maybe there will be more.

Update evening 23 March.
So, as it happens, we were only just ahead of the government on this.  Tonight's announcement by the Prime Minister would have solved the dilemma for us if the decision had not already been taken. For the benefit of those outside the UK, all non-food/banking outlets have to close, and we are prohibited from leaving the house except for brief exercise and then only with members of the household or one other. What I call 'the German' system, as they introduced it just a short while earlier.

Thank you for your continued support, and good wishes, and please do stay safe. We wish you well,

Ian, Val & John Billings


  1. thanks to you all, crazy days - stay safe. will be sorting out a few albums over next weeks so I'm sure there will be a list of wants generated :)

  2. Best wishes to all the Billings family, and I hope all will come through safely.... and not just for the selfish reason of wanting to see the shop back up and running.

  3. Hope you and your family remain safe until this is all over, what will you do with all that spare time?
    Best wishes.

  4. Just keep your family safe Ian, hopefully it will disappear one day.

    1. I hope you mean the virus, and not Ian's family ;-)

  5. I do hope we might some bits of stamp news for the Blog.
    Keep safe.

  6. Just a heads up for collectors with Windsor albums, the 2019 supplement is now available to order from Stanley Gibbons, something to keep you occupied for a couple of days.

  7. As a further post from my last one, I am very surprised and disappointed in SG, they have not given the £2 stamp issued in 2019 a separate listing, staing that it does not differ from the one issued in 2013! But we all know there is a big difference, 2 in fact, the 2013 issue has the date code MA13, the 2019 Issue has M19L. How can they make such a glaring error? Over to you more knowledgeable chaps

    1. Windsor has spaces for every individually coded stamp - if there isn't a space yet there should be. But the extras over the Concise listing are on separate pages, so that collectors can use them or ignore them. Check there.

    2. One other thing is that the £2.00 stamp of 2013 was printed by De La Rue while the 2019 version was printed by Walsall. I expect that this will be shown in future Concise catalogues.

    3. It will, Brian, but it will keep the same number. Throughout the Machin listings there are many cases of stamps being printed by the same process but multiple printers that are not given separate numbers.


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