Tuesday 1 September 2020

Post and Go changes and weekend roundup

An interesting long weekend, with torrential rain on Saturday, and a clear but none-to-warm Monday when the village had a yard-sale, so enabling us to move out some of the things that had to be brought with us to the new place because local sale-rooms, charity shops, and the refuse tip were unavailable during lockdown, and even using Facebook and meeting people, or eBay to post things may have presented an unacceptable risk.

But now the embers of the year are with us - and with the autumn comes chilly mornings at least on the side of the house where the sun is late.  Thus my new office is exactly the same as the old one: breakfast on the patio in t-shirt and shorts, into the office and a change is definitely required!

And 1st September brings new postage rates mentioned at the end of July.  Something overlooked in that post was the effect on Post and Go.  My thanks to Malcolm B (who contributes a lot of Post and Go kiosk information) who alerted me to the impact, last week.  I wrote to Royal Mail seeking clarification:
With the change in postage rates from 1 September, we have two services with a single price, Europe 100g and World Zones 1-3 to 20g.   This doesn't necessarily matter in the short term but if the pattern continues this way it would be useful to know if RM plan to make any changes.

We also have the term 'Worldwide 100g' which is currently £2.42 but from Tuesday it is £2.50 for Zones 1 & 3, and £2.55 for Zone 2.   So naturally the question is, will 'Worldwide 100g' be accepted for both, and what price will it be sold at?   Or will changes be made to replace one of the £1.70 stamps with a £2.55 for Zone 3, changing the description on the £1.70 to something like 'Europe 100g/World 20g' as was done with the Europe 20/World 10g ?

In the meantime Brian has applied the paddles to the long-dormant postagelabelsuk blog, and has allowed me to reproduce the material here.  [And the price of 1st Large should be £1.15 not £1.25 in both columns.]

It is unfortunate that now Royal Mail Philatelic have stopped any new Post and Go designs, and the expansion of machines into any more museums and enquiry offices, there is almost no news provided in advance of events.  Whilst this might be explained by these only being 'operational changes', the fact that the Postal Museum, military museums and others on Royal Mail premises (if there are any now) are affected makes it philatelic news.  And they have let down dealers and collectors alike.

Brian also illustrates the new strip produced as a result of this new change in rate structure.  Personally I believe that the penumltimate one, reading 'Zone 1-3' is misleading: everybody thinks '1-3' means 'one to three' (ie, including two), not 'one and three'. (§ See note below.)

Post and Go collectors strip available from 1 September 2020 showing new Euro100/World 20, and World 100g zonal stamps.

Three values are no longer required -  “Euro 100g”, “Worldwide 20g”, and “Worldwide 100g” - and the last day of availability was theoretically Monday 31 August 2020 but with that being a public holiday in England, many machines were not available, so the last day was probably Saturday 29th.

UPDATE 24 September
§ I was told originally that the PO SSK machines did not show 'Zone 1+3' or 'Zone 1&3' because those characters were not available.  Stuart Leigh, who produces the catalogue of Post & Go stamps has sent me this Engineer's Test Print which demonstrates that this is clearly wrong.


Brian told me that "The WW100g stamps are only available via collectors strip*.

Some 'stamp' screen may have the wrong (old) prices but will transact the correct prices.
The postal museums were updated this morning (1 September).
* This is interesting and must mean that anybody posting a letter weighting 21-100g to a destination outside Europe will probably be sold an open value stamp.  Shown here the new £1.70 and £2.50 zones 1/3 stamps:

This is interesting from the collectors point of view.  When multi-design stamps were issued in sets of six, they could be collected in several ways.  The simple ways were 6 x 1st or the collectors strip of 6.

The more expensive ways were sets of 36 being either six x collectors strips with a different combination of stamps, or a strip of six designs in each of six values.  This last arrangement would seem to be no longer possible if Royal Mail choose to issue new multi-design sets.

As before, we are not stocking either Post & Go or Open Value, but Brian has some available via his blog.

UPDATE later the same day - more to come.
As mentioned before, the reason for the introduction of Zone 3 was the UPU changes to terminal dues which allowed countries to set their own rates for handling incoming mail from different countries.  If - for example and I have no information at present - Australia, Canada, China, or Brazil were to do something similar, that might mean similar but different changes to what Royal Mail has to pay.  This in turn could mean that - unless Royal Mail overcharged for some countries to reduce the number of different rates - different Zones for many different countries.

Then at the end of January the formal process of the UK leaving the European Union is complete, which means that VAT would no longer apply to the premium services on which it is currently charged.  Whilst this reduction in rates doesn't affect individual stamps or Post & Go stamps, it will affect Open Values from Post Office SSKs.

Indeed, we might see that only Open Values would be generated rather than more Post and Go services, unless Royal Mail adopted the same system as Gibraltar which at one time produced twelve standard values: Gibraltar 50, 100g; UK 20, 30, 40, 50g; Spain 50, 100g; EU 20, 30g; Worldwide 10, 20g (in two collectors strips). 

Whatever happens, it seems sensible for collectors who are still collecting Post and Go Faststamps to get the present arrangement while they can, from as many offices as they need to - and to remember for the rest of the year that the Poppy and whichever design is used for Christmas with whatever year codes - will all generate new strips, or at least new values.

Similarly if you want to collect the Machin definitive stamps, especially as postal history items, do so now!

Thanks to JE for sending the output from Chorley's SSK.  The 'g' in 100g is there on the World rates, but is obscured by the Game of Thrones design.

Game of Thrones Post and Go strip with 1 September 2020 rates.

Other weekend news from readers

Machin Forgeries
My thanks to Igor in Ukraine who sent these images of an old favourite forgery, still being used, and for international mail!  It's clearly a fraudulent use of two forged 1st class stamps to make last week's £1.68 rate to Europe.  But from a collector point of view, there is nothing wrong in owning it, and it makes a nice addition to the postal history collection.

Igor drew particular attention to the elliptical perforations.

A UK reader has sent me this picture of a mint single (and a sheet although that doesn't show up the detail very well).  

Observations from the far north 

Now that it is possible to venture further for holidays in the UK, MM has reported that country definitives in Scotland remain somewhat elusive. 
In the first office the lady knew of the 1st- and 2nd-class stamps. It was a surprise to her to find the thistle stamp and she had never heard of the tartan stamp.

In the second office the lady knew what I was talking about when I asked for the thistle stamp, but it turned out she thought I meant the saltire. It was a surprise to her when she DID find a thistle!

Post-Covid postal system

MM also reports on his recent experiences with the postal system:
After my wife and I came out of lockdown purdah, I posted 10 items at once, late in the afternoon. EIGHT of those arrived the next day! The other two may have done, but the postman failed to provide a signature, even the COVID19 that they are supposed to enter themselves.

Since then, virtually EVERY posting has arrived the next day, including two that made it home from Scotland before I did!

What do you think this might mean? Has 1st-class posting dropped so much in volume that 2nd-class post no longer needs to be held back? Might we see the end of the two-tier system at some point in the future?

Food for thought indeed.  Many think that, with only one delivery a day, the two-tier system which saw 1st class delivered 1st post and 2nd class delivered (on the following day's) second post may no longer be necessary.  I think the regulator may have different ideas though, especially on pricing.


  1. Regarding 2nd vs 1st Class delivery timescales, in my experience unless 2nd Class (single phosphor band) stamps are used, or attention otherwise drawn to a 2nd Class franking, the item will normally pass through the system as 1st Class. I suppose this is because either machine sorting will identify two bands, or if manually processed no-one has the time or inclination to count the value of the stamps up, and thus assumes 1st Class by default? This is why you should never write "2nd Class" on an item!! I often add 12p to a 1st Class stamp to make 2nd large, and it almost always goes through as 1st class.

  2. My maths isn't brilliant, but shouldn't the totals in the price increase table be £9.17 and £10.21 respectively? Still a difference of £1.04 though.

    1. The price for the 1st Large is incorrect in both columns; I didn't notice and Brian didn't get it right on his blog, where it is now correct.

  3. Went to Stockport PO today to buy some strips with the new Values. Then I bought some Euro 100g / world 20g no problem. Then I tried to buy some World 100g Zone 1-3 and World 100g Zone 2 - but there was no icon on the screen, asked a very helpful assistant but soon realised they were not available. Still trying I dropped my keys on the weighing scales (89g) and requested a stamp to Australia £2.55 that's correct, paid, and received an open value stamp for £2.55 - the very helpful assistant immediately offered me a full refund.
    So, if you want a World 100g for zone 1-3 or 2 you have to buy a collector strip.

  4. If anyone is interested
    156025 Richmond (Surrey)
    SSK67 1st class Machin R18YAL & 2nd class Machin CL16S
    SSK68 1st class Machin R18YAL & 2nd class Machin CL16S
    SSK69 1st class Machin R19YAL & 2nd class Machin CL17S

  5. What a trio of London Offices had

    106003 Old Street (ALL card only machines)
    SSK67 1st class Machin R18YAL, 2nd class Winter Greenery CL19S
    SSK68 1st class Machin R19YAL, 2nd class Winter Greenery CL19S
    SSK69 1st class Machin R18YAL, 2nd class Winter Greenery CL19S
    SSK70 1st class Machin R19YAL, 2nd class Machin CL17S

    054011 Lower Regents Street St. James (SSKs 68 & 69 are card only machines. SSK numbered right to left)
    SSK67 out of Service
    SSK68 out of service
    SSK69 1st Class Machin R17YAL, 2nd class Machin CL17S
    SSK70 out of service

    010011 Broadway
    SSK67 1st class Machin R19YAL, 2nd class Machin CL17S
    SSK68 out of service
    SSK69 1st class Poppy R18YAL, 2nd class Winter Greenery CL18S
    SSK70 1st class Poppy R18YAL, 2nd class Game of Thrones

  6. Another three London Offices

    004008 Worlds End
    SK67 Out of Service
    SSK68 Out of Service
    SSK697 Out of Service

    011008 Knightsbridge
    SSK67 1st class Machin R20YAL, 2nd class Machin CL17S
    SSK68 1st class Machin R20YAL, 2nd class Winter Greenery CL19S
    SSK69 1st class Mail by Bike, 2nd class Game of Thrones

    278020 Great Greenford (ZCO t/a WHSmith Local)
    SxK67 Out of Service
    SSK68 Out of Service


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