Saturday 30 January 2021

So many questions about this strange stamp.

A collector in Canada was advised to ask my opinion on this stamp.  It is clear from the perforations that this is not genuine.

The genuine £2.42 stamp was issued on 17 March 2020 to pay the airmail rate for letters from 21-100 gr to Zones 1 & 2, ie the world outside Europe.

Sadly there is no postmark on the piece but the smudges suggest that it was on a latter processed by a machine, rather than a packet.

(Image of the forgery has been changed to a sharper one, supplied today.)

The die-cuts appear to be acceptably close to normal (although the right one shows as a dark line on the Queen's back) but
The die-cut 'paper clips' are in fact printed on to the surface - there is no visible cut or indentation to the surface of the stamp.  The perforations are of the 'cookie-cutter' type not seen on forgeries of GB stamps for some years and of course lack the elliptical perforation.  Each corner is different, not even the diagonally opposite are exactly the same.  There is also no evidence of two-bar phosphor tagging.

Also this is the first airmail Machin forgery since the £2.25 in 2018. (There have been forgeries of Christmas and regional airmail-rate stamps.)

Even without the tariff changes which have taken place this year since the spring we would expect these stamps to be in use for only about 12 months, and they are rarely sold outside post office branches, so the principle question is why were they produced?  The only plausible suggestion I have had so far comes from a local expert who has an extensive collection of forged Machins, who wrote "it is probably from another bulk worldwide scam maildrop and only used for this purpose".

In other words an organisation trying a scam by mail (fake lottery tickets or some other way to make money from the gullible or unsuspecting) used forged stamps to minimise their outgoings and maximise their income.  This was the purpose behind the original £1 MTIL forgery

UPDATE 2 FEBRUARY: Further information from our correspondent confirms that this was indeed from a money-making scam...

in which the sender (in the UK) claimed that the individual to whom the letter was addressed (in Canada) was the beneficiary of an estate, and could collect the benefit if money to pay fees or expenses was forwarded. Based on the way the letter was addressed, the recipient believes the name and address were likely pulled at random from a telephone directory listing. The envelope and the scam solicitation were discarded.

So if you live outside the UK and have received anything similar, please examine the covers you put aside 'until you can get round to them' and let me know* what you find.  Or maybe you have bought some locally-sourced (ie outside the UK) kiloware.

* By email. Ideally a sharp scan of the whole envelope or piece and a close-up of the stamp.  Photographs really don't do justice to stamps apart from giving a general idea of a collection.

Anything else I find out will be reported here, and to the relevant specialist societies.

Tuesday 26 January 2021

New version of the Norvic Security Machin Definitive Stamps Checklist takes us into 2021.

We have updated the checklist to take into account the new tariff values issued at the end of
December, and the booklet stamps which will be issued in January and February 2021.  

You can download the file from this link (click here)

Tablet users may find it useful to save it from their browser to an e-Book app, such as Apple Books, which is where I keep mine for constant reference.

It is probably not very easy to use on even the larger mobile phones, and as a pdf does not adapt for the small screen.

As always if you find any errors, please email me.  And if you have any dates or other missing detail (not inverted and upright SBP2, though) let me know and I will fill in the gaps.

A further reminder that this is not a priced catalogue of everything we have for sale.  Very nearly everything listed has been offered since these stamps were first introduced in 2009 but we do not restock - when they are gone, they are gone.  



Monday 18 January 2021

Cartor moves Wales 1st class to level 4, but otherwise no change.

The 1st class Wales country definitive has been reprinted again.

Readers will recall that (in common with all the other low value country definitives) the Wales stamp was reprinted in 2017 with a new font.  On this occasion the plate numbers were reset to C1.

But on 30/01/2019 plate C3 was used - and it followed from the previous C2 in having the old (original) font.  Now we have a further printing from plate C4 on 10/08/2020 - again in the original font!

1st class Wales country definitive printed 10/08/2020 from a new set of C4 plates, but still with the original font, rather than the revised font introduced in 2017.

The reprint has a slightly darker dragon than on the previous (C3) printing (shown here on the right). Otherwise there is little difference.

What, one wonders was the point of creating stamps in the new font?  Needless to say none of the other low value country definitives, from Wales, England, Northern Ireland or Scotland, has been reprinted since the introduction of the new font.  Or if they have, they haven't appeared yet in Tallents House stocks. My thanks to RB for reminding me that the England 1st & 2nd, the Wales 2nd and Scotland 2nd  were all reprinted in 2020, and the Scotland 2nd in 2018 & 2019.  These were all with the new font.  This makes it all the more surprising that the Wales 1st class has been reprinted twice with the old.

As you can see, this one is from four grid positions on a primary plate, so there are no others printed at the same time, as was the case with C3.

So to summarise:

C1 - 10 & 11/07/2012
C1 - 07/04/15
C2 - 17/11/2016
C1 - 26/12/2017   new font
C3 - 30/01/2019
C4 - 10/08/2020

Cylinder and date blocks of C3 and C4 can be obtained on request (normally 6 and 8 respectively, but blocks of 10 are available).  Please email your request - do not leave the comment here.

Friday 15 January 2021

Local Covid update - order posting delayed

We all knew that it was going to get worse before it got better.  With the national rules of 'essential journeys only', authorities here in Norfolk are now saying we need to be tighter.

Norfolk’s overall rate of infections was 491 per 100,000 people for the week ending January 6 – up from 417 the week before.  Hotspots include Dereham North where rising rates of 986.8 per 100,000 people were recorded.

For this reason we will try to find an alternative post office to send out orders, whilst still trying to get everything cancelled at the counter.  This is a bit of an imposition on small businesses, whereas at the Crown Post Office in Dereham the staff are quite happy to do it.

So no posting this week due to bad weather yesterday.  

Further updates in due course.

Thursday 14 January 2021

United Kingdom: A Celebration - 26 January 2021 - a discussion.

From Royal Mail:

United Kingdom: A Celebration

In celebration of the United Kingdom’s greatest strengths & accomplishments, we explore just some of
the ways in which Britain leads the way. From sporting achievement to technological innovation, and
creative excellence to our strong sense of community spirit, the UK excels in a host of different ways.


The four stamps are captioned:
1st class  - Great Sport, Great Creativity;
£1.70 - Great Community; Great Industry and Innovation.

Design: background image – illustration of Union flag by hat-trick design; 

1st class - Great Sport stampwheelchair athlete composite image © David Madison/Getty Images and © Image Source/Getty Images; cricket ball © Bootzilla/Getty Images; playing football © Sumetee Theesungnern/EyeEm/Getty Images; racing car © CAIA Image/Science Photo Library; 

£1.70 - Great Community stampVirgin London Marathon 2011 © Oli Scarff/Getty Images; hands making heart shape © martin-dm/Getty Images; nurse reassuring patient © Science Photo Library; rainbow illustration by Daisy James © Royal Mail Group Limited 2021; 

£1.70 - Great Industry and Innovation stamp3D illustration rendering of binary code © MR.Cole _Photographer/Getty Images; carbon fibre material © DaveAlan/Getty Images; 3D illustration of DNA molecules © Design Cells/Getty Images; London skyline composite image © Gary Yeowell/Getty Images and © Davy Larkins/EyeEm/Getty Images; 

1st class - Great Creativity stampmicrophone stand silhouette © ilbusca/Getty Images; office building glass façade © Musketeer/Getty Images; book pages, photograph by Joe Howat © Royal Mail Group Limited 2021; TV studio composite image © AskinTulayOver/Getty Images and © rasslava /Getty Images

Technical details

The stamps are printed by ISP in lithography with all-over phosphor.  The stamps are 60 x 30 mm in a sheet which is 192 x 74 mm.   


First Day Cover and Presentation Pack

United Kingdom: A Celebration - first day cover.

United Kingdom: A Celebration - presentation pack.

From Royal Mail's website

Great Sport | Reflecting a proud and passionate sporting heritage

Great Creativity | Highlighting the United Kingdom’s talent in the arts, music, film and TV production, architecture and literature

Great Community | Celebrating a long-held sense of community spirit

Great Industry and Innovation | A tribute to the UK’s accomplishments in science and technology

Discuss!  But remember comments are moderated.  The most pertinent will be reprinted here.

Single stamps alone are less inspiring than the sheet:

Comments received:

- Why?

- Doesn't really look all that celebratory!

- Totally unnecessary issue. 

- It’s nice and an interesting design but for what anniversary?

- Well, that's a surprise, I expected six 1st class stamps: the four country stamps, the Union Jack stamp and a Machin head. 

- this does feel like government sponsored propaganda. Another one for the do not buy list.

-  In terms of a creative design, I think the RM have nailed it. I guess we all collect for different reasons, I prefer this design lead issue to a set of 10 first class stamps celebrating dead people, but each to their own.

- Two people have commented on this being design-led... Why are so many of the images apparently from Getty Images then? Couldn't they even re-use imagery from RM previous issues e.g. the wheelchair athlete could have been David Weir or Hannah Cockcroft from the 2012 Paralympics; the DNA and binary could have come from any previous celebration of science or medicine; the microphone stand even looks like it was borrowed from 1999 Entertainers Tale.

- And the DNA structure is wrong! As with many of these computer-generated images, it is just made to look pretty, but it completely ignores the correct number of base-pairs per turn of the DNA helix (the number of rungs on the ladder). It should be 10 base-pairs for each full turn, and the image shows about 8 per half-turn!

January postmark news.

This post will record any new slogan postmarks used during January, and any other postmarks of interest that I find or that any readers send.

At the time of writing (14 January) there have been no new slogans but the default slogan for Royal Mail's corporate charity for the past few years.  Of course with most young people now required to do home learning with limited IT or internet resources, there has been much written about the effects on the mental health of young people.

So we start with one from Croydon Mail Centre dated 07-01-2021

Royal Mail
supporting youth
mental health with

Update: my thanks to RW for the latest Covid-related slogan from Gatwick Mail Centre 14/01/2021.  This is a variation on the one used last April.

Stay home.
Protect the NHS.
Save lives.

Update 27 Jan.  Thanks to KD for what he admits is a poor example said to be from Nottingham Mail Centre, but it may be Manchester 22/01/2021 (Confirmed now, as it was posted in Buxton).

We have the other layout from Norwich Mail Centre, but not a very clear one!  (20-01-2021)

UPDATE 24 February.  My thanks to MD for sending this one that wasn't reported at the time. IN previous years we have had nationwide use of the Burns night slogan and not only on mail to Scotland. Anyway, here is the 2021 version from Glasgow Mail Centre 22-01-2021.

Fair fa' your honest,
sonsie face, Great Chieftain
o' the Puddin-race!
Burns Night 
25 January 2021
Burns Night slogan postmark 2021 from Glasgow Mail Centre

Update 26 Jan. A mixture of our own and provided examples of the latest new slogan for Holocaust Memorial Day, tomorrow.  Firstly one from Greenford/Windsor Mail Centre 25/01/2021,

Holocaust Memorial
27 January 2021

A reversed one from Plymouth and Cornwall 23/01/2021

And the other layout from Peterborough Mail Centre 23-01-2021 in four lines.

and a better one from Norwich Mail Centre apparently dated 20-01-2021 on 2nd class the same day as the Manchester 'Stay at Home' example above on 1st class.

Light the Darkness Holocaust Memorial Day slogan from Norwich Mail Centre.

UPDATE 1 February

The last slogan for January, which will almost certainly run over into February, is for National Storytelling week.  This is a promotion by the Society for Storytelling (bet you didn't know there was one!)

National Storytelling week
Tell Your Story
30th Jan - 6th Feb

The clearest example is from Exeter Mail Centre, with another from Edinburgh (thanks to RW & SL).  I've had others from various contributors, but no clear ones, and none yet from the other type of machine.

"Supporting & promoting Storytelling in the UK

Oral storytelling is one of the most ancient artforms, and continues to this day as a vibrant part of culture throughout the world.

We provide a central place to find out about storytelling events, to ask for advice on using storytelling, about Workshops to help you find your individual voice as a new storyteller."

This will be repeated into the February post, with others if supplied.  


My thanks to JG for providing this quite late Universal usage from Cornwall Mail Centre on 19 January 2021.  Normally used at Christmas, it may now being used to allow postal workers to be distanced from each other.

Universal machine postmark with wavy lines, used 19 January 2021.

UPDATE 31 January

Our customer in Shetland has written and provided an example of the Lerwick Universal - clearly the date block stands proud of the rest of the due, so nothing here to indicate where it is from!  A nice misplaced 2nd class Post and Go printing as well, on MA14 stock from Inverness branch.

Lerwick Universal machine postmark with wavy lines.

Publicity for new stamp issues

As we are all only too aware, publicity by Royal Mail for new stamp issues is very limited these days. Yes, they sometimes make a big splash in the press - the National Parks issue was well-received in 10 regional newspapers and some nationals - but generally unless there is some problem, the press is quiet, and new stamps rarely get a mention on broadcast media in any programme.

In the course of looking through my boxes this week I found that it wasn't always so.  I had forgotten that not so long ago Royal Mail advertised new stamp issues with postmark slogans.  Here are three from 2007/08:

The impression on these old machines is not very good - they could certainly do better now even if some results suggest otherwise.  But these advertise the 5 June 40th Anniversary of the 'Queen's head' stamp (Sheffield 05.06.07), the 15 April Insects illustrated with a butterfly (Sheffield 22/04/08) and the 17 July Air Display stamps (Sheffield 10/07/08). 

There have been other relevant slogans since then, but they don't all mention the related stamps. The last one I can recall without a lot of research was for the British Bees in 2015.  Slogans for the 1d Black and Battle of Britain in the same year did not mention the stamps, instead just marking the anniversary although they were in use on the day the stamps were issued.

As with all marketing there is no way of knowing how successful such a slogan would be in attracting buyers, but as the production of the slogans is a relatively cheap process (no metal die to be made) one wonders why Royal Mail don't use this method of publicity more often.

UPDATE 22 January
JG reminds me that there have been some more recent stamp publicty slogans, such as this one used at Swindon on 25-02-2015 for the Inventive Britain DNA stamp, appropriately used here on the DNA stamp.

This will be the space for all new postmark slogans in January and any other postmark news.  Please send your examples for inclusion.

The February slogans will be posted shortly.

Tuesday 5 January 2021

Star Trek Prestige Stamp Book error - extra page

Sadly this error does not affect the stamp panes but one of the narrative panes.  Nonetheless it is a while since we had a PSB error so it is good to be able to report that the printing and assembly process is still not perfect, and anything could happen.

My thanks to B of Livingstone, for providing these details and pictures in the middle of last month.  I'm sorry I couldn't get this post published until now.

B writes: "the odd thing is that pages 3 'The Genesis of Star Trek' and 4 'The Original Series' have been repeated i.e. there are two copies of these pages before the first pane of stamps. I'm not sure however if there is anything else missing as a consequence because I don't have another booklet to examine for comparison purposes."

The only copy of the PSB I had had already been passed on by the time this was reported, so I'll rely on my readers to tell us if anything is missing.  The pictures show the error well:

Pages 2 and 3

Pages 4 and 3

Page 4 and stamp pane

Please examine your copies and let us know if there is a narrative pane missing!   

And of course if you find any other errors we will be pleased to report them here.

Royal Mail's real 2021 Stamp Programme, provisional.

I'm glad so many people here and elsewhere enjoyed Paul Taylor's spoof programme of new stamp issues for 2021.  As will be apparent as the year goes on he might have been closer than he thought - fiction being stranger than reality.

There will, of course, be additions to this programme. 

The Queen celebrates her 95th birthday, while her husband, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was born on 10 June 1921 and his centenary would seem to warrant some commemoration.  [Corrected: the platinum anniversary is 2022.]

Changes in red arise from the receipt of the Postmark Bulletin today.



National Parks (set of 10 x 1st class + retail booklet)


Embargo 15 January

United Kingdom – A Celebration


Embargo 2 February

Only Fools and Horses (TV programme - 40th anniversary) 

Set of Stamps 4x 1st & 4x £1.70, MS of 2 each 1st & 2x £1.70. Retail Stamp Book £5.10 and a Prestige Stamp Book (Definitive Pane 3x 20p, 2x 2nd & 3x 1st). Also a Collector's Sheet.


Embargo 2 March

Legend of King Arthur (no particular anniversary)


Retail Booklet - Queen



Classic Science Fiction



Wars of the Roses (1455-1487, 550 years, approx)


Music Giants V - Paul McCartney


TBC - not mentioned in Postmark Bulletin


Dennis and Gnasher (Comic Strip) 

22nd July  

Wild Coasts

12th August

Industrial Revolutions

2nd September

British Army Vehicles

17th September


19th October

Rugby Union

2nd November

Christmas 2021  

40 years since the best Christmas stamp!

Saturday 2 January 2021

Happy New Post and Go Year - first day, first error!

As intimated at the beginning of last month, the change in postage rates which took effect yesterday means a steep rise in the cost of a Post and Go collectors strip.   

Thanks to one of our regular contributors I can show the new stamps on the Machin definitive stamp, and also on the 2nd class Winter Greenery thanks to Harrow PO which had the wrong roll in the first class position. (Purchased today)

This change increases the total cost from the previous £11.64 to £13.84 with the reappearance of a Worldwide 100g letter stamp, and the appearance for the first time of the Europe (£3.25) and Worldwide (all zones - £4.20) Large Letter 100g stamps.
Thanks to RW for this picture of the real 1st class Winter Greenery strip on the correct stock:
1st class Winter Greenery P&G strip with 1 January 2021 rates