Wednesday 8 April 2020

UPDATES - James Bond, 1d Black, and others

Hello everybody.  The first post today is an update on previously reported matters which were causing some concern.  I've had a lengthy chat with the account manager in Royal Mail, and got unexpected answers!

Starting with James Bond's Presentation Pack that was the cause of much consternation last month. Frankly I'm disappointed and surprised that none of our adventurous readers had already discovered this (only joking, you're not just as adventurous as I thought some of you were!)

Some years ago Royal Mail were selling through eBay, but that shop closed.  About 18 months ago they started selling on Amazon.  Amazon take more commission that Royal Mail normally allow retailers, and so decided that they couldn't sell mint stamps at face.  They sell stamp cards, framed products, and other souvenirs for fans: that's where the special presentation pack comes in.  The target market is James Bond (Star Wars etc) fans, not stamp collectors, so the stamps in products sold on Amazon are rendered unusable by either cancellation or the stamps being stuck to the card (I assume this depends on the product).

This is how they appear on Amazon today:

Other products currently on sale on Amazon are Harry Potter, Elton John, Star Wars, Marvel Comics and David Bowie.  I spotted among these a Harry Potter PSB 'postmarked edition'.   Like I say, I'm surprised nobody noticed it earlier.

Penny Black 180th Anniversary

We've marked the 150th and 175th anniversary and it seems some creative people want to mark the 180th anniversary and wanted large supplies of 1d black stamps.  These stamps were issued in the 2015 miniature sheet and self-adhesive booklet, and in the 2016 Royal Mail 500 PSB.

Royal Mail already had something in mind to accompany the London 2020 International Exhibition so they killed two birds with one expensive stone and so we have the sheet of 25 stamps.

From the Stanley Gibbons catalogues point of view, the stamp has already been listed (SG3807)  so individual stamps will not be listed unless they turn out to be materially different to those already produced in the earlier products.

I don't know what SG's plans are for the sheet - it's not a composite like the 2012 A-Z of the UK (MS3308) or London 2012 Olympics (MS3204a), so it may not be listed at all - it may just get a footnote.  But other catalogues may, and album producers may well have a page for the whole sheet, which is in a unique form.

So to reiterate, this will not be supplied by RM on standing orders to collector customers or dealers. It will not be distributed to Post Offices.  This means that collectors who do want this, whether as a whole sheet or just a small block, they must be obtained by mail order or phone.  (Sheet of 25  ~~  Price £19.00  ~~  Product Code AW144).

I hadn't intended to buy this, but if there is demand for smaller blocks I will make arrangements to get some.  Be aware, though, that posting these will be dependent on movement restrictions in place at the time.  Email me for prices.

Future stamp programme, FDCs, and mail order

I'll preface this with the caveat that all arrangements are under constant review and whatever I write today could change by the time you read this, or any time in the next few months.

Royal Mail are trying to continue to operate 'business as normal' across the board.  That includes issuing new stamps.  Although Spain and Ireland have put their new issues on hold, RM will not do that for the present.

Most stamps are printed by either Walsall in Wolverhampton or Cartor in France, and those to be issued in the next few months will have been printed already.  We know that Walsall reprinted the new tariff airmail stamps in early March after the initial printings in January - this is normal. 

Although most Post Offices are still open many are on reduced hours, and may not regard collectible stamps as 'necessities'.  Not only that, but the demographic of a large percentage of the collectors in the UK means that they also fall into the 'potentially vulnerable' category, and won't want to make the trip anyway.   So getting stamps and FDCs might be a problem.  But, remember, there is now no time limit on getting your covers and cards handstamped at the Special Handstamp Centres.

Royal Mail handling charges:  Given the difficulty in getting stamps, I asked whether RM were considering dropping the handling charges for one-off non-standing order purchases.  No decision has been taken, but it is under consideration.


  1. Interesting the James Bond stamps coming stuck to the card. The magic to the post office of collectors is buying stamps and then not mailing them. By sticking them to the card, they require the topical people to act like collectors. They won't know about soaking and wouldn't want to mess up the cards.

  2. I always order on an ad hoc basis from RM and recently ordered various stamps and postcards to be stunned how super fast they arrived, in fact I had them in my hot little hands before I got the email to say they were on the way. Is this one of the rare upsides of lockdown.


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