Friday 31 July 2020

UK Basic International Postage Rates to rise 1 September 2020 due to Covid-19.

Another announcement from Royal Mail

Royal Mail has had to make changes to some of its International rates having experienced significant rising air freight costs due to passenger planes being grounded to limit the movement of people between countries to contain COVID19. 

The new 1st September tariff is necessary in order to meet the costs we have absorbed to date. 

There are no new Definitive or Country Definitive stamps issued at the new values. Post Office branches will make up the value of the postage with a range of stamp values. 

Tariff wef 01/09/2020
Up to 10g
£1.45 (1.42)
£1.45 (1.42)
£1.45 (1.42)
Up to 20g
£1.45 (1.42)
£1.70 (1.63)
£1.70 (1.63)
21g to 100g
£1.70 (1.68)
£2.50 (2.42)
£2.55 (2.42)

Note that this means that the Worldwide up to 20g rate is now the same as the Europe 100g rate, and that the rate to Singapore, Australia and the Pacific Islands now has a higher rate than the rest of the world.

UPDATE later same day:
I'm repeating John H's comment here
All the details of the new prices (including PDFS of the various price regimes) can be found on the page at Regarding the table above, Worldwide3 (USA) has the same prices as Worldwide1 (this isn't true for Large Letters or Printed Packets, where all 3 zones have different prices).

Zone 3 was introduced on 1 July with almost no notice, so at least this is an improvement. The increases have a knock-on effect on all premium services with differentials now on Large Letters as well as Small Parcels.  (Click on image to see larger versions)

New airmail postage rates from 1 July (left) and 1 September (right)

Effect on current stocks

For 2019 we know of printings for the basic make-up stamps as follows:
1p x 3
2p x 2
5p x 4
10p x3

So far this year we have single printings for the 2p and 10p - with these new rates requiring the addition of many make-up stamps, I think we can expect more printings soon, especially for the 1p & 5p.

£1.45 needs 1p + 2p
£1.70 needs 5p + 2p, or just 2p
£2.50 needs 5p + 2p + 1p
£2.55 needs 10p + 2p + 1p

The Rupert Bear stamp issue will be the first to include any of the new rates.

UPDATE 7 August.
I overlooked the Large Letter rate stamps which were issued in March.   

As well as the basic letter rates mentioned above, the following stamps will also need supplementary stamps to make the new rates:

£2.97  +1p+2p  = £3.00*
£3.66  + 2p+2p+5p = £3.75
£3.82  + 1p+2p+20p+20p = £4.25

* There is, of course, a £3 stamp though not generally available at Post Office Branches.  This may be brought back into general use.  It has been printed only in 2009 and 2019, but if large users buy these or Post Offices want to use them instead of multiple stamps, we may see a reprint in 2020. 

Special Postmarking Service to revert to normal timetables

Special Announcement from Royal Mail:

As a result of Covid-19 and the restrictions that were placed on individuals’ movements, Royal Mail took the decision at the end of March to extend its postmarking facilities for all Special Stamp issues until further notice. 

We promised that we would announce at the appropriate time when this extension would end and give customers sufficient notice of the cut-off period for accepting covers retrospectively. With these restrictions now being gradually eased throughout the UK we will revert to the normal postmarking rules from Thursday, 1st October. 

This means that Royal Mail First Day Covers for the following Special Stamp Issues will come off sale at midnight on that day and any covers submitted for postmarking bearing stamps from these issues must be received by Special Handstamp Centres by this date.

The Romantic Poets
End of the Second World War
Coronation Street
Roman Britain
The Palace of Westminster
Rupert Bear

The normal postmarking rules will apply to the Brilliant Bugs stamp issue which means that the Royal Mail First Day Covers will be available up until midnight on the First Day of Issue, 1st October.

So the useful flexibility will end at the end of September.  That's been useful and the service from the Handstamp Centres has been good as usual.  I had some (18 June) Roman Britain maximum cards back today which I sent on 9 July.  Still waiting for some, and for (8 May) WW2 which I sent after the Roman ones.

Friday 24 July 2020

Country definitives: shades of grey, and other colours

When the Gibbons Great Britain Concise catalogue appeared this year I mentioned that the new Scotland 2nd class stamp listing that had appeared in Gibbons Stamp Monthly had had it's description changed in line with what we all knew rather than what had been mentioned by John Deering and misinterpreted by most readers.  Heads on both were shades of grey, not metallic silver.

A blog reader comment  pointed out that there was a new listing for the England 1st class stamp from the Visions of the Universe booklet which also gained a separate number (EN53a) due to its shade, which is described by Gibbons as 'Venetian Red', with the sheet stamp being 'Indian Red'.

Not for the first time, we had Cartor printing significantly different stamps in the prestige books to those that are in sheets. 

I mentioned in June that there were new printings of some country definitives and I have now had time to examine these, and compare with previously issued stamps.  I think Gibbons' catalogue editor will have some thinking to do!

Scotland 2nd class
The first Cartor printing with the new font was 27/12/2017, cylinder C1.
The second printing was 27/08/2018, from cylinder C2.
The third printing is 16/04/2020, back to cylinder C1  (Column 1 in a grid of 2x2.)

The first two printings are very similar in shade of blue, and the head, which is the light- (or silver-) grey: SG159.   The third printing is markedly different, with the blue much darker, and the head also qualifying for the description 'dull-grey' applied by the editor to SG159a.  But is the blue dark enough to mean yet another new stamp, ie three in total?

The stamp from the James Bond PSB (left) compared with the new sheet printing:

I suspect we will see a further amendment to the catalogue indicating that this stamp also exists from sheets.

England 1st class
As mentioned above, the 1st class stamp from the Visions of the Universe PSB is listed as EN53a, Venetian Red.  The original sheet printing is no longer available from Tallents House, which will be why it was necessary to have a new printing on 25/06/2020. 

This stamp, from Cylinder C2, is also Venetian Red!  (Column 1 in a grid of 2x2.)

Again, the catalogue will have to indicate that this is not only from the Visions PSB. 

However, what the catalogue doesn't mention is that the head on the stamp from the Visions PSB (shown in the centre below) is lighter than that on the sheet stamp.

Is it lighter enough to qualify as 'silver-grey' as in the original Scotland 2nd class above?  Do we have three different stamps here?  I'm not sure that it is light enough: the editor will have to decide how specialised the Concise is going to be in the absence of a Specialised catalogue.

England 2nd class
This stamp hasn't appeared in a prestige book so the 2018 sheet issue (EN52) is the only one with the new font.  As with the 1st class, the original 2017 printing is out of stock at Tallents House, so this also has a new printing on 25/06/2020.

When it was issued in 2018 I mentioned that the white denomination made "the 2nd class England stamp join the top value for Northern Ireland in having a face value that is almost impossible to determine."

The new C2 printing (col 2 from the 2x2 grid) certainly changes that!

Over the years the shades of this stamp have got lighter, and in the case of more recent printings, yellower or creamier.  This printing takes us back almost to the shade of the original 2001 printing:

As with the Venetian Red 1st class, this must have a new sub-number, probably EN52a.

Wales 2nd class
The latest printing of this stamp on 16/04/2020 is a good match for the original 26/12/17 printing.  It's slightly yellower (ie less red), but within the normal tolerances for printing.

Scotland 1st class
When it was issued in the Visions of the Universe PSB, I said that this stamp was a good match for the original 2017 sheet printing (issued 2018).  But I perhaps overlooked the head.  It is lighter grey than the original - is it different enough to have a separate listing?  (Or does it just look lighter because the background is slightly darker?)

Other country stamps
The 1st class Wales stamp was issued in the Visions PSB but unlike the Scotland and England stamps, the head and denomination are reversed out (ie white), so the only difference is the slight shade (slightly less yellow)- we await the sheet reprint with interest.

Similarly there are no new printings for Northern Ireland stamps yet which, given reports of their scarcity at post offices in the province, is not surprising, but they could come.  Watch this space!

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Another new Machin and relocation update.

Machin update
I have had a single report of a new 1st class business sheet printed 04/05/2020.  I don't recall seeing this on any website or forum.  This report comes from the Home Counties, north of London, and any further reports are welcome.

I mentioned when describing the Queen retail booklet that the cover paper seemed thinner than previously.  Another collector (and editor) has confirmed this to be the case, and I can now say that the 2nd class book of 12 M20L also has the new thinner paper.  Obviously I can't demonstrate that here, and on single stamps it will be less obvious, but if you have a book, or block, I think you will find that it is a significant departure from the previous versions.

Relocation update
We are still waiting for a telephone line separate from our internet line, so it is not possible to phone the regular number and get a reply.  You can leave a message which will be picked up within 2-3 days.  WE will get more news at the end of this week, but still no idea when the line will be fixed.

I'm keeping the blog up to date as much as I can, but there is very little else going on in the office at present.  Emails are usually answered within 2-3 days as well, and I have removed the automatic out of office reply.

Blog update
Finally, a big thank you to our band of readers who have now pushed the blog-view counter past the 4 million mark!  That's pretty amazing!

Monday 20 July 2020

Palace of Westminster - 30 July 2020

First details of the 30 July issue for the Palace of Westminster, were given in the July issue of Royal Mail's Philatelic Bulletin.  We can now show the images and provide all details.

It's disappointing that Royal Mail's write-up of this issue doesn't cover the site's use as a Royal Palace, which would more correctly tie it in to the 'Royal Palaces' series which has included Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Hampton Court Palace.

Background, edited from Wikipedia

The Palace of Westminster site was strategically important during the Middle Ages, as it was located on the banks of the River Thames. The site may have been first used for a royal residence by Canute the Great during his reign from 1016 to 1035. St Edward the Confessor, the penultimate Anglo-Saxon monarch of England, built a royal palace on Thorney Island just west of the City of London at about the same time as he built Westminster Abbey (1045–1050). Thorney Island and the surrounding area soon became known as Westminster (a contraction of the words West Minster). Neither the buildings used by the Anglo-Saxons nor those used by William I survive. The oldest existing part of the Palace (Westminster Hall) dates from the reign of William I's successor, King William II.
The Palace of Westminster was the monarch's principal residence in the late Medieval period. The predecessor of Parliament, the Curia Regis (Royal Council), met in Westminster Hall. Simon de Montfort's parliament, the first to include representatives of the major towns, met at the Palace in 1265. The "Model Parliament", the first official Parliament of England, met there in 1295, and almost all subsequent English Parliaments and then, after 1707, all British Parliaments have met at the Palace. 
Because it was originally a royal residence, the Palace included no purpose-built chambers for the two Houses. Important state ceremonies were held in the Painted Chamber which. The House of Lords originally met in the Queen's Chamber, a modest Medieval hall towards the southern end of the complex.  In 1801 the Upper House moved into the larger White Chamber which had housed the Court of Requests.
The House of Commons, which did not have a chamber of its own, sometimes held its debates in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey. The Commons acquired a permanent home at the Palace in St Stephen's Chapel, the former chapel of the royal palace, during the reign of Edward VI. In 1547 the building became available for the Commons' use following the disbanding of St Stephen's College.

Royal Mail write-up

Following a catastrophic fire in 1834, most of the medieval building was destroyed, and a competition held to find architects for a new building. Charles Barry was appointed, and The Palace of Westminster underwent a dramatic rebuilding programme lasting 30 which was finally completed in 1870. It features more than 1000 rooms in the Gothic Revival style designed by Barry with additional work by Augustus Pugin. The building is a complete statement of this rich architectural style.

Barry’s design has a pioneering emphasis on the use of space and located the two chambers of Parliament and main rooms on the same floor – which are still in use today. It is one of the most recognisable buildings in the world, and symbolic of the UK and democracy. It is also technically still a royal palace.

The Royal Mail stamp issue in 2020 will mark 150 years since the completion of the ambitious rebuilding, with a ten-stamp set. This follows the pattern of our series of stamps on iconic buildings[§], with six sheet stamps exploring the iconic external appearance and the most famous chambers - the House of Lords rich in decoration with red and gold, and the House of Commons is plainer oak and green seating – a colour scheme copied by other parliaments around the world.

§ Comment: this implies that other buildings which are not primarily regarded as royal palaces may also be marked with stamp issues.

The stamps

1st Class: View from Old Palace Yard; River Thames view; Elizabeth Tower.
£1.68 Commons Chamber; Central Lobby; Lords Chamber.

The set was designed by Steers McGillan Eves, and is printed in litho by ISP (Cartor).  The 60 x 30 mm stamps are printed in se-tenant strips of 3, but the size of the sheet is not stated.

Acknowledgements: View from Old Palace Yard © Peet Simard/Getty Images; River Thames view © Olavs Silis/Alamy Stock; Photo; Elizabeth Tower © Tim Graham/Alamy Stock Photo; Commons Chamber and Central Lobby © David Levene; Lords Chamber © UK Parliament.

The Miniature Sheet

The miniature sheet explores four of the grandest and most historic interiors of the rebuilt Palace.
1st Class Norman Porch; Chapel of St Mary Undercroft;
£1.63 St Stephen’s Hall; Royal Gallery.
The background shows a longitudinal section through the Palace of Westminster designed by Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin.

The sheet was also designed by Steers McGillan Eves and also printed by ISP Cartor in lithography. The 35 mm square stamps are in a sheet 192 x 74 mm.

Acknowledgements:  Norman Porch © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images; Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, St Stephen’s Hall and Royal Gallery © UK Parliament; longitudinal section drawing, 1850 © RIBA Collections

Set of stamps and miniature sheet, two first day covers, set of 11 stamp cards.
Presentation pack, press sheet of 12 miniature sheets.  Set and MS mounted in a frame.

All products are now available for pre-order on Royal Mail's website.

Although they are in the minority among collectors, certainly in the UK, creators of maximum cards will be pleased that the stamp images reflected in modern cards are those on the 1st class stamps.   There are cards of the interior, but not as common.   Here are some I made earlier.  I won't be making any for sale this time around due to other commitments.


Friday 10 July 2020

Parcel Prices to the USA increased by >40% from 1 July 2020

Royal Mail forecast these new rates a while back but I had been under the impression that they would only be applying to business account customers.  I was wrong, but the good news is that only parcel prices have increased.

The new rates leaflet pdf can be downloaded from the Royal Mail website here.

The new Zone 3 applies to only the United States of America (inc Alaska) and previous rates were the same as Zone 1, so you can easily see how much of an increase has taken place.  Note that ALL letter and Large Letter rates remain the unchanged, so this only affects items over (any of) 353 mm x 250 mm x 25 mm.

UPDATE 5 August
This increase was brought about by the United States Postal Service increasing the Terminal Dues payable by other postal administrations for mail received in the US and to be delivered by USPS.  I was remiss in not mentioning this when I first posted (especially as I already knew the reason) - see more at the foot of this post.

Basic Airmail
Screen Shot 2020-07-10 at 11.28.20.png
International Tracked and Signed
Screen Shot 2020-07-10 at 11.28.42.png
International Tracked
Screen Shot 2020-07-10 at 11.29.26.png
These changes will not affect our prices to US customers, although if an order is larger than the Large Letter sizes it might be split to two Large Letters.  But something for our US readers to be aware of when buying from dealers, auctions and philatelic bureaux - as other postal authorities are likely to make similar changes.

It's also relevant for postal history collectors of course.

UPDATE 5 August - Background
Readers may recall that President Trump (a term I never thought would enter this blog) threatened to withdraw the USA from the Universal Postal Union because of a flood of imports (mainly from China), which the USPS was obliged to deliver despite getting very little contribution from China Post in order to do so - see this report from the Washington Post published in late 2014 and reported in Stampboards.

As a follower of a US stamp forum I was aware also of a report by the USPS Office of Inpsector General (basically an internal audit which not only investigates theft in the mail, malpractice at branches, but general administration problems.  This is what I copied to Stampboards, and it sets out the problem that has given rise to this increase.

Taken from the Report of an Investigation by the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector-General.
Note: The report by the USPSOIG necessarily focuses on the US perspective but clearly the issues highlighted affect mail between all postal administrations and it is therefore relevant at least in part to the UK and other developed countries. Note that reference to 'shipping companies' is not exclusively maritime, it also refers to courier companies.

Terminal dues is the system that postal authorities (posts) use to pay one another for international deliveries of letters and small packages. The global terminal dues system, updated every four years by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), does not fully reflect actual domestic processing and delivery costs.
As a result the U.S. Postal Service and other operators have lost money on international postal letters and small packages received from abroad, especially from emerging countries like China. The explosive growth in cross-border ecommerce traffic has greatly elevated concerns about the economic distortions created by the system.

Posts pay terminal dues to compensate one another for international deliveries. When someone mails a letter or small package to another country, the postal administration in the sender’s country receives the postage and pays terminal dues to the destination post for its share of processing and delivery. Terminal dues rates are painstakingly negotiated at the Universal Postal Union (UPU) among its 192 member countries every 4 years — and implemented about 18 months after that — using the principle of one country, one vote. Because of the complexity and length of the UPU decision-making process, significant changes to the terminal dues system may take many years to unfold.

Until 1969, terminal dues did not exist; the receiving post bore the entire cost of sorting, processing, and delivering the foreign customer’s item. The terminal dues system’s goals were to provide posts with some compensation for their delivery of inbound international mail and to support a single worldwide postal network. As a result, it funded improvements to the postal infrastructure in developing countries. Terminal dues, therefore, by design, were based upon setting rates by majority agreement rather than reflecting true economic costs.

The explosive growth in ecommerce traffic, especially from China, has greatly elevated concerns about the system’s unfairness. As international ecommerce packages experience rapid growth, destination posts with higher postal rates are protesting that terminal dues do not cover their costs. U.S. online retailers have argued that competitors in China can send packages to the United States through China Post at lower rates than American businesses are required to pay in their own country. In segments other than lightweight packets, such as heavier, higher-value packages requiring additional services, the rate advantage of low terminal dues posts like China Post decreases. Additionally, private sector shipping companies maintain that terminal dues are only available to postal operators, providing an unfair competitive advantage.

Governments and some posts started to discuss UPU remuneration reform to improve the cost coverage for inbound delivery of international mail. In 1999, aligning terminal dues with delivery costs officially became the UPU’s long-term goal. To allow a smooth transition, a two-tier structure consisting of developing and industrialized countries (now called “transition” and “target” countries, respectively) emerged. Posts located in lower-income countries such as India or Morocco generally would pay lower terminal dues than posts in industrialized countries such as the United States or France. In other words, industrialized countries would continue to subsidize developing countries. Although the goal was to improve fairness, the unintended outcome was distortions caused by an artificial compensation system

As of 2015, the lower terminal dues transition country category, established to help developing economies, still includes 140 countries, including the so-called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). In this way, the Postal Service will have subsidized posts for many years that, in some cases, have not necessarily needed such support. Forty of these countries, including all of the BRICS except for India, will join the target tier next year. However, moving these countries to the target category may not immediately lead to significant terminal dues payment increases. The UPU Congress will approve new rates, for the period from 2018 to 2021, next year — meaning implementation is 2 to 6 years after a decision. The new target countries may continue to have an advantage during this period.

In the long term, the terminal dues system should reflect the true cost of inbound delivery. In the interim, the United States should continue to work with the UPU to support the separation of competitive small packages containing merchandise from documents and letters. While letters would continue to fall under terminal dues, small packages would be subject to self-declared rates that reflect cost and are available to all — posts, competitors, and shippers alike.

The bigger issue is the increasing irrelevancy of the international terminal dues channel in an age of ecommerce because it fails to meet customer demands for speed and reliability. Efforts to ensure this channel’s responsiveness should not only include fixes to terminal dues remuneration but also, in parallel, measures to improve the service quality of cross-border packages. The Postal Service should champion reform to an increasingly anachronistic terminal dues system. Otherwise, it risks becoming an international ecommerce provider of last resort for a residual product that does not reflect associated costs or provide the speed and quality consumers demand.

The full report of the USPSOIG can be read here:

Wednesday 8 July 2020

Latest Gibbons Concise catalogue - new corporate style, but no number changes!

The 2020 edition of the Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise Catalogue was published on 30 June and I have found time to have a quick look at it.

The most obvious change is the cover, which has now been brought into Gibbons' new 'corporate branding style' matching all new catalogues.  The preface mentions that this happens to make it very similar to the earliest editions which had just one stamp on the cover, but I think it is unfortunate.

Like the front cover the spine is dark blue, with the title in bold white near the top in a font which is like Times New Roman, rather than the sans-serif font used in previous years.  The previous style look modern: the new style looks 'traditional' and dated to me.  I suppose if you have a library of Gibbons catalogues or you keep several years' catalogues they will look good on the shelf, but I prefer the colourful pictorial front cover with a recent commemorative making it easy to see from a distance that this is the latest version.

But the meat is inside, of course.  One of the most important points, especially for the Machin security stamps, is that there are no number changes.  The Postage Rate tables, previously only for 1st class, 2nd class, Large and 'E' stamps, have been expanded to show the Recorded Signed For and Special Delivery stamps, and the rates applicable to Post and Go Faststamps with their various and oft-changing weight steps for airmail.  This is important for postal historians, calculating whether covers bearing these stamps after the step changes are prepaid at the correct rate - a 40g stamp issued in 2010 (costing £1.46) is now valid for 100g and is worth £2.42 in postage.  I'm pleased to have played my part in persuading the editors to include this information.

With over 500 pages I haven't looked all through and made comparisons with previous editions. The preface indicates that, as usual, prices have been 'carefully checked and updated where necessary to ensure that they represent an accurate picture of the current market for British stamps in very find condition'.

I've looked at the U stamps and note the following mostly from John Deering's supplementary tables.

- U2923 the 10p M17L counter sheet is up from 70p to £4

- U2939 the £1.28 has changes both ways: the 2013 version drops from £6 to £5 and the 2014 up from £5.50 to £12.50

- U3031 the scarce 2nd Large 2010 business sheet stays at £24, but

- U3032 the similarly hard to find 2nd Large 2010 booklet stamp is up from £21 to £27.  This and the 1st class stamp were readily available (once discovered) at the London 2010 exhibition.  The 1st class stays at £8 in the new catalogue.

- U3745, the Long to Reign stamp on Security Backing paper from booklets (REIGS) stays at £35.

Another thing I noticed was the 2nd class Scotland stamp with the new font, S159/a. In a Stamp Monthly catalogue supplement the stamp from the James Bond PSB was given a new sub-number. This stamp was listed with a grey head whereas the original sheet stamp listing described the head as silver.  In fact there is no metallic silver ink and both are shades of CMYK grey.  The new catalogue now describes S159 as silver-grey and the S159a PSB stamp as dull-grey.

I think this is unfortunate. The shades of grey are undoubtedly different, but many country definitives exist in a wide range of shades, notably the 1st class England.  If this new stamp is worth a sub-number, then some of the others must be.

(It's been pointed out to me that the 1st class stamp from the Visions of the Universe PSB is listed as EN53a and described as Venetian Red, compared with the sheet stamp which is Indian Red.)

Apart from these there are many ups and downs in prices, especially in the case of used stamps many of which are no longer the same as the mint.  It is fair to say that it is still possible to buy many of the more common stamps at prices lower than those shown, but as always the premium hard-to-find variants are probably being sold at around full catalogue value or more.

People who have more time than I do at present will doubtless have their own views and spot changes and not only in pricing. I look forward to your findings and will add them here when time is available.

The £1 machin gold foil stamp, listed twice (as acknowledged in the Preface), but the pane has different prices on pages 289 and 358, £16 and £13.50 respectively.

2019 STAMPEX opt on Normandy/D-Day m/s (MS4236) is not mentioned unlike the previous 
overprints, e.g The 2019 Classic stamps MS 416, where it's mentioned as a footnote after the listing.

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Startling error found on Queen PSB Machin pane

Over the years we have reported many errors in Prestige Stamp Books, from duplicated pages, duplicate covers, missing panes, inverted panes, etc.  Not since buying the 1980 Wedgwood PSB with central broad phosphor on one pane, can I recall finding anything myself.

So this error on the one complete booklet I purchased from the Bureau was a very pleasant surprise.

I was looking at the iridescent printing to make sure that the M20L MPIL coding was all there (no missing P!), when I noticed that it was substantially shifted to the right.

It was when I took the photo that I realised that the rouletted perforation provided to separate the pane from the selvedge (for FDC production) is also shifted to the right.  The displacement of both perforation and iridescent ink is around 11mm and results in the perforation cutting through the Queen's nose and touching the chin on the 1p stamp.

The other inks and the regular perforations are in the right place, making this quite remarkable.

I mentioned this to some other dealers, but no other examples have been reported to me yet.

I'm open to offers for this as it is not something I am interested in keeping and it belongs with a Machin specialist, I think, or any collector of the bizarre!

UPDATE 12 July.
Chris (in comments) has remarked on receiving two PSBs from the Bureau, only to find that neither of them has the definitive pane at all!  I'm sure the Bureau would exchange them for proper one!

Here's the picture that Chris sent:


Palace of Westminster (30 July); Sherlock (18 August)

The July issue of Royal Mail's Philatelic Bulletin has provided first details of the 30 July issue for the Palace of Westminster, and the 18 August issue entitled 'Sherlock' for which the embargo date is 4 August 2020.

So for the benefit of those who don't have the Bulletin here are the published details. 

30 July - Palace of Westminster

3 x 1st class, 3 x £1.68 in two horizontal se-tenant strips of 3.
Miniature sheet of 2 x 1st class and 2 x £1.63.
Presentation Pack, 2 x FDC, Postcards (11), Press sheet, framed products.

Comment: This follows the pattern of earlier Royal Palace issues, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Hampton Court Palace, except that there is no retail booklet this time.

UPDATE 10 July
Images of these stamps are now available to view on the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion website having been published by one of the cover producers.
UPDATE 20 July: Added to our blog here.

18 August - Sherlock

We can't yet reveal whether this refers to the television programme of the same name, or is simply a generic name for once again marking the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but I'll leave you to guess!   
UPDATE: Full details and images now here.

Set of 6 - 2 x 1st class, 2 x £1.42, 2 x £1.68 in three vertical se-tenant pairs;
Miniature sheet of 4 stamps, 2 x 1st class, 2 x £1.68.
Presentation Pack, 2 x FDC, Postcards (11), Press sheet,
Retail booklet, Collector's Sheet,
Framed products, Medal Covers.

Like many of the 'entertainment-linked' issues, this one would seem to have many products aimed outside the philatelic community - but in so doing there may be versions of stamps which are different to the regular ones.  Time will tell: at least there is no prestige stamp book!

Wednesday 1 July 2020

More new Machin counter sheets, booklets

My thanks to reporters who are watching online auctions, particularly Trelantis.

These have been spotted recently, or have been announced by RM through trade channels:

New Machins in July

2p now available eBay item 313131996916 - print date 06/05/2020

10p announced by Royal Mail with print date of 14/05/2020

20p green now available eBay item 313133080811 - print date 14/05/2020

Thanks to RP for the pictures 


2nd Large announced by Royal Mail with a print date of 12/05/2020

2nd class booklet found in various places.  No cylinders seen so far (see above).

That’s all for today!

July 2020 slogan postmarks

With my limited resources, that is, the iPad, I can start July with a report from Royal Mail about a new NHS postmark. 
Our latest postmark, which will be applied to stamped mail from tomorrow through to Saturday, thanks the incredible NHS on their 72nd anniversary.
Thank you, from all of us.
 I can only show the library image supplied:

Thanks to RW for this picture of the actual postmark from Manchester Mail Centre, dated 01/07/2020
Say thank you
to our NHS
72nd anniversary
Sunday 5 July 2020

Thanks to DB for this slightly clearer example from Lancashire & South Lakes on 03/07/2020


The annual Dog Awareness Week campaign has kicked off with a new Royal Mail slogan and logo.  We received this example from Norwich Mail Centre 06-07-2020 (2nd class local, received the next day).  
Royal Mail: "2,445 dog attacks have taken place on postmen and women across the UK in the last year. Although the total number of attacks dipped slightly by 2% year on year, there are around 47 attacks taking place each week across the UK, with some leading to a permanent and disabling injury."
Week 2020 

UPDATE 12 July:  RW sent these examples - thank you.  Croydon Mail Centre on 09-07-2020 in the same format as Norwich, and Romford Mail Centre 09/07/2020 in the other format with the slogan to the right.


UPDATE 21 July:
Royal Mail and An Post (the Irish postal service) are jointly commemorating the life of English World Cup winning footballer and Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton, who died on 10 July aged 85.

A special slogan postmark will be applied across stamped mail posted in England and the Republic of Ireland from Monday 20th July and will run until Sunday 9th August. 

This is the first time that An Post and Royal Mail have collaborated on a postmark, reflecting the important role that Jack Charlton has played in football in both nations.

Both postal companies hope that collaborating on the postmark will enable sports fans and all those who remember Jack Charlton with great respect and admiration, to celebrate his sporting legacy.
Stuart Simpson, CEO at Royal Mail, said: “Jack Charlton was a football hero in both England and the Republic of Ireland. This is the first time that An Post and Royal Mail have collaborated on a postmark. The commemoration of the life of Jack Charlton is a fitting occasion to do so. Jack was an integral member of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad and played a key role in the Republic of Ireland’s football history. We would like to extend our condolences to the family of Jack Charlton from everyone at Royal Mail.”
David McRedmond, CEO at An Post said: “Jack Charlton will always have a special place in the hearts and minds of Irish people. He gave our nation many of our happiest and proudest moments. Jack was the greatest example of a culture shared across these islands: that a proud Leeds player, a tall English football hero could become an Irish legend. That’s why it is so fitting that he should be the subject of the first joint postmark between An Post and the Royal Mail.”

We have two examples of the UK slogan, one from RW (Croydon 21 July) and one via Twitter (Peterborough 20th).  Neither is very good, so maybe some better ones later.
Update - I've removed the Peterborough one and replaced it with this better one from Mount Pleasant Mail Centre on 21-07-2020.

Thanks to MP for sending this very good example from Chester & North Wales 21/07/2020. We also had one in the post today which is almost certainly from the same office, but is so poorly applied that I can't even work it out!

The Default Slogan
A reminder that when there is nothing special to have a slogan for, Royal Mail has a slogan for their current corporate charity Action for Children
Our partnership with Royal Mail began in June 2017 and aims to raise £2 million for the Blues Programme. Blues is a preventative mental health programme. It provides early intervention support for young people aged 13-19 years-old who are suffering from, or who are at risk of developing, a mental health condition. Through the continued fundraising efforts of Royal Mail’s staff, we have already reached thousands of young people.
The association started in June 2017 and the slogan has been used ever since.  Of course we get few stamped letters these days, and notice particularly when there is something new like the ones shown in these posts.   But this is the default, or fall-back.