Tuesday 23 February 2021

News update - or lack of it.

Greetings readers!

I'm sorry for the recent silence but the only news of late is the addition of a new slogan postmark almost every day, it seems.  We're up to six in February - you can see them all here if you haven't seen them on letters.  I think I've had two, and not very good examples at that.


After our recent snow last weekend was, for us in the east, almost balmy, and we were able to enjoy working in the garden instead of the office on Saturday and Sunday, although the muscles were aching a bit by the end of it all as they are unused to digging etc.  And all around us were signs of spring as snowdrops and other flowers broke through and flocks of songbirds flitted between our feeders and the buzzard wheeled and called at a great height.

I've been adding new stock to the e-commerce site (or shop) over the last week, and sorting other material for sale there or elsewhere. 

Latest additions to the shop include Fools & Horses PSB stamps and the 2nd Large 2020 business sheet, National Parks and a few other Maximum Cards, and some Australian modern postal history.  Next additions will be a range of used and mint Machin forgeries. 

News to come concerns a new retail booklet and the King Arthur set, but I won't be able to tell much about these until they are issued.  All I can say for now is what was published on the back page of February's Philatelic Bulletin - The Legend of King Arthur set to be issued on 16 March consists of 5 x 1st class and 5 x £1.70 stamps, and the associated presentation pack, first day cover and stamp cards.

Finally, if anybody is interested in Machins or any modern issues on non-philatelic covers, please let me know and I will sort some out.  In fact, if you have any area of collecting, British, Commonwealth, Foreign or thematic, that you think I might be able to help with send an email (no long wants lists at this stage) and I'll see what I can find.

Friday 12 February 2021

Weather alert - delay to posting orders

Due to continued bad conditions - currently -3.3º C at 9.30 am - no orders will be posted today.  The Post office we use is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Monday promises to have better weather. 

Customers will be notified when orders have been posted, as usual.

UPDATE: I got out yesterday!  Orders were posted to shop and other customers.  Next trip out may be on Friday :-)

Tuesday 9 February 2021

New postage rates bring wider opportunities to use 1st class forgeries.

With little news on new stamps these days, it seems that every day something new comes to us in the way of forgeries.

Today an email arrived from a customer in Ontario, Canada, who had a letter from the Chester area, which was delivered in just three days!  That in itself is worth remarking on.   Here's the letter:

Letter from Chester to Ontario delivered in 3 days, postage rate £1.70.


The very white of the head points to a likely forgery, even allowing for scanning variations, but the close-up shows this to be a well-known and widespread forgery, with reversed lettering:

Forged 1st class stamp with alternate lines of 'iridescent' printing mirrored.

Somebody remarked earlier in a comment that the new 1st class rate was very useful for airmail rates.  This enables the users of these to easily and totally pay for many of their overseas sendings using only 1st class forgeries.

The £1.70 rate for European letters to 100g, Worldwide letters to 20g (and postcards) uses two of them.

The £2.55 rate for Worldwide letters 21-100g uses three of them.  What could be more simple.

Whilst in no way applauding this fraud, it does give overseas collectors the opportunity to acquire some different postal history!

Saturday 6 February 2021

Another new forgery to help online sellers - Signed For!

We reported only in December about a raft of new forgeries, mainly available on ebay, but bought by the new online sellers who require cheap postage for their low-price sales, or simply to reduce their overheads.

The most common one reported to us was the 1st class Large (as shown further down) - and we had some delivered here on an eBay purchase of GB postal history, though not by a regular stamp dealer.  The seller was somewhat upset to realise that he had been sold a pup.

Now we've had a report of a forged stamp which will be even more useful for those sellers, and that is a new 1st class Royal Mail Signed For.

UPDATE 8 February: What wasn't obvious from the eBay listing is the backing paper, which DP provided details of, together with a UV picture:

This is the same arrangement on the backing paper as the 'iridescent' printing on this stamp:

and the same backing paper here but turned through 90º:

Like the 1st Large, this has only 9 lines of text not 13 and there is no year code (these started in MA13). Although the image above is a photo, and distorted, it appears that the lines of text are curved, rather than straight as they appear below.

So look out for these on your eBay purchases, they are valid on international mail as well, though I suspect the average online seller wouldn't realise that so it is UK readers who will most likely find them.

Please send images to the usual email address of any that are found on incoming letters.

Wednesday 3 February 2021

February Slogan and Other Postmarks

This is the place where we will show all slogan postmarks that we have been told about which are used in February 2021.

The first is a carry-over from January.  National Storytelling week is a promotion by the Society for Storytelling.*

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

Exeter Mail Centre 01-02-2021 doesn't provide a very good impression but it is the best we have in this layout in February:

UPDATE: BM sends a remarkably good example from Swindon Mail Centre on the same date - one could almost imagine it came from the Engineering department that is/(was?) there.

*"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."

And the other layouts as provided by AH and MM, from Cornwall MC and Tyneside NE/SR MC both on 01/02/2021.

National Storytelling week from various mail centres

Now we might have thought that with Storytelling week lasting until 6 February, there wouldn't be another slogan this week.  However, RW sends another new one in use at Gatwick MC on 02/02/2021, for World Cancer Day on Thursday 4th February.

Cancer Day

4 February 2021

World Cancer Day slogan from Gatwick Mail Centre

UPDATE 6 February:  My thanks to MC for more exmaples of this slogan.  The same machine but with reversed layout from Tyneside NE/SR Mail Centre and the other machine from South Midlands Mail Centre (one not seen here too often), both on the same day.

World Cancer Day slogan from South Midlands and Tyneside Mail Centres

UPDATE 5 February: This month is proving to be busy for new slogans.  The first 'week' one didn;t last the whole week.  Now we have one for a month - how long will it last.  This time it is LGBT+ History Month.  I imagine the history is very interesting, you can read more here.  Our thanks to KC for this one from South East Anglia Mail Centre on 04/02/2021

February is
LGBT+ History

LGBT+ History Month slogan from South East Anglia Mail Centre.

LGBT+ History Month slogan from Jubilee Mail Centre.

UPDATE 10 February:  This really is a busy month.  I suppose that is bound to happen if you try to commemorate 'months', 'weeks' and odd special days.  And of course the greetings card industry wants you to react to this one which could generate more revenue for Royal Mail.  However, I think this could start some memes on social media, given the layout and the invitation to 'tick the box'. 

So thanks to MC for the first example from North & West Yorkshire Mail Centre and a better one from RR from Cornwall Mail Centre both dated 09/02/2021.

I like you.
Do you like me
[ ] Yes [ ] No
14 February 2021

UPDATE 19 February.  Two more examples, one which managed to be delivered without a stamp or any other marking except this slogan from North & West Yorkshire, and the other in the alternative layout from Norwich Mail Centre, both on 12.2.21

UPDATE 17 February:  Thanks to MM for providing a copy of slogan number 5 for February from     South East Anglia Mail Centre 15/02/2021.

I can't help thinking that if they used this only on Monday, then there wasn't much opportunity for people to combine ingredient shopping with their normal shop ready for making the pancakes on Tuesday. Examples were also from Manchester and Bristol Mail Centres. 

Pancake Day
shopping list:
Plain flour, eggs, milk
and your
favourite filling!
16 February 2021

Pancake Day slogan postmark.

UPDATE 22 February:  And yet another new slogan has been reported by several people, thanks to DP, CH, KD & MM who have provided examples from Glasgow Mail Centre (21st), North & West Yorkshire (19th) and S W Wales (18th):

Fashion Week
19-23 February 2021

Update 24 February - this year's Burns Night slogan has been added to the January post, having not been reported to us at the time.

Other postmarks

I'm sure that these older postmarks are not uncommon, but I put them aside years ago.  Both rectangular and framed, one from 1996 reads ROYAL MAIL COVENTRY ???? WARWICKSHIRE but I don't know what is missing.  [Ampersand (&) has been suggested, and is quite possible.)

Rectangular postmark from Coventry 1996.

The other has even more missing, but wherever it's from I don't know the circumstances in which it would be used.  This is from 2000 and reads RECEIVED AT AND DESPATCHED FROM - with the lower line possibly having APC at the end.

Any suggestions?


As usual, this is the place for all slogans used this month and for any other interesting postmarks. So please send them to me by email at the usual address.  Postmark information will be shared with the British Postmark Society and may be used in their Journal.

Thank you.

Tuesday 2 February 2021

HAWID will close on June 30, 2021! - and be reborn in Lighthouse!

Website announcement

(Berlin-hawid / AIJP / pcp-wm) 

At the end of January 2021, the well-known company HAWID in Berlin informed its customers:

“As you know, the Hawid company is a symbol of philately. We have been supplying you with our philatelic accessories for many decades.

Fewer and fewer people still use philatelic items. The use of electronic media has also contributed to the fact that sales of our products have been falling for several years.

We regret to inform you that due to the lack of economic prospects and the age of the owner Ms. Widmaier (80 years), the company Hawid Hans Widmaier GmbH will be closed on June 30, 2021. We will continue production until June 30th, 2021 and do our best to carry out all orders during this time

We hope you will be able to find a replacement for our products at short notice and thank you in advance for the many years of trusting cooperation.

With best regards,
Hawid Hans Widmaier GmbH "


A success story of more than 75 years, which began in 1945 with an invention by the engineer and HAWID founder, Hans Widmaier, will probably come to an end by the middle of the year. He developed protective films for collectors from the polystyrene material used by SIEMENS at the time to protect submarine cables. These soon became a brand par excellence under the term “HAWID”, more precisely a generic term (like Pampers, Tempo, etc.). Even if individual accessory suppliers later developed their own products of a similar type, HAWID retained a leading position in the market and quite a few suppliers still offer these products today or use them to equip their preprinted albums.


Mounts made of polystyrene are also provided by Prinz and Davo, but if you really prefer Hawid, stock up from your favourite dealer now!



It is reported from Germany that Lindner, Safe, and Lighthouse are also made by HAWID. It seems really odd that the Hawid company will leave collectors in the lurch and not take 'money on the table', as somebody wrote elsewhere.  

I've just found out that there is a local company (Secol) which has been making similar for decades, that most people have never heard of.  Looks like they may need to increase capacity and start recruiting, which will benefit the area! 

UPDATE 9 September 2021

I have heard from a contact in Austria that Lighthouse have achieved a rescue effort.  HF writes:

I just received a letter from HAWID in Berlin, Germany, telling me that they have sold their trademarks, machineries and remaining plastic material to LEUCHTTURM GRUPPE GMBH & CO. KG in Geesthacht, Germany. (in the UK Leuchtturm is known as Lighthouse). 

Only Fools and Horses and Mad Dogs and Englishmen? - New stamps 16 February 2021

From Royal Mail:

Royal Mail is proud to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the much-loved British sitcom Only Fools and Horses with a set of eight stamps featuring some of its most iconic scenes.

Created and written by John Sullivan and first broadcast in 1981, Only Fools and Horses follows the exploits of wheeler-dealer Del Trotter, his younger brother Rodney, their Grandad and later their Uncle Albert. Created by John Sullivan it is fondly remembered for its fine writing, comic one-liners and the warmth and idiosyncrasies of the characters.

Only Fools and Horses has frequently been voted as Britain’s favourite TV comedy series. It ran for 64 episodes from 1981 to 2003 and at its peak was watched by 24.3 million people.

The impact of Only Fools on the life of the nation is demonstrated by many of the show’s catchphrases and words having entered common usage. In 2003, the most popular of these, ‘lovely jubbly’, was listed in the Oxford English Dictionary.

A set of eight stamps, each featuring a memorable scene from Only Fools and Horses. Each stamps features still frames and captioned one-liners taken from some of the most memorable episodes including: Del Boy’s fall through the bar in Yuppy Love, and the Chandelier scene in A Touch of Glass, both frequently voted among the funniest TV moments of all time.

Unfortunately while previous television-themed stamp issues, depicting television programmes have just about worked when they are transferred from the small-screen to the even smaller stamp, these reduce scenes even further, and even enlarged, don't show the scene to its best - both the Chandelier scene, and the 'Play it Cool' fall through the open bar space, rely on movement for the visual impact. Reduced to stamp size they only impact if you have seen and enjoyed the broadcast action. 

Nonetheless, Del Boy's fans will buy them, and we may even see the 1st class stamps on letters.  You could imagine that if the series were to be set in the last five years, Del Boy would be selling books and sheets of deeply discounted 1st class stamps!


Set of 8 stamps, 4 x £1.70 and 4 x 1st class.

The stamps are in vertical se-tenant pairs as shown size 50 x 30 mm. (Click on the image to see them larger than the actual stamps)  They were designed by Interabang and printed by International Security Printers in litho on ordinary gummed paper, perforated 14 x 14.

The Miniature Sheet focuses on the central Trotter Family and the four main Trotter characters over
the series on the individual stamps; Del Boy, Rodney, Grandad and Uncle Albert with a quote for each.
The background features Del and Rodney with the unmistakable Trotters Independent Trading yellow 1968 Reliant Regal three-wheeled van. One which featured in a 2001 epispde sold for £37,000 plus fees at an auction in 2017.  There are 2 x 1st class and 2 x £1.70 stamps.

The stamp are 41mm (w) x 30mm (h), in a sheet with dimensions 192mm (w) x 74mm (h).

BBC and ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES (word marks and logos) are trademarks of the British Broadcasting Corporation and are used under licence. BBC logo © BBC 1996. Only Fools And Horses logo © BBC 1981. Series created and written by John Sullivan. Licensed by BBC Studios.


Retail booklet

The self-adhesive retail booklet contains the two 1st class stamps from the miniature sheet and 4 x 1st class Machin security stamps coded MCIL M21L, which first appeared in the National Parks retail booklet.   On the small supply we have, the booklet backing paper has the same orientation as the previous one. (This is a scan of the actual booklet.)  The colours of the self-adhesive stamps contain a lot less black than do those on the miniature sheet, leaving a rather pale-faced character, more like one who sells everything on eBay rather than in a street market.

Prestige Stamp Book

The PSB reaches a new high of excessive pricing, coming in at nearly £2 (9.7%) over the face value of the stamps it contained.  The first premium-priced PSB was produced 10 years ago, so I suppose it is reasonable for Royal Mail's production costs for these to have doubled in that period.  (Thanks to those who pointed out the editing error which omitted pane 4.)

Actual definitive pane.

The Machin definitives are coded M20L MPIL.  The 2nd class (Norvic 2901P.20) has already appeared in last year's Star Trek PSB, but the 20p and 1st class are new, and have the Norvic numbers 4020Pa.20 and 3702aP.20 respectively.

(We will have limited supplies of these for sale.)

Collectors Sheet


This A4-sized self-adhesive collector sheet contains ten first class Del Boy and Rodney stamps from the Miniature Sheet. Each stamp is presented alongside a label featuring some of the wider Only Fools and Horses cast. The sheet is designed in the style of the Trotters Independent Trading yellow three-wheeled van with Only Fools and Horses branding. Price £9.60.

Other products

Presentation Pack, 2 x First Day Covers, Stamp Cards.

Character packs,  Limited edition Medal Covers, Prestige Stamp Book, press sheet of 14 miniature sheets, Fan Souvenir Folder, framed products.

Monday 1 February 2021


I've had a number of emails about unusual postmarks, ones that are not often seen especially on mail.

JF writes about Contingency Branch 10 which is in Wells, Somerset.

“It has only been open since 13th January.  Prior to this, central Wells has not had a PO for very many months since the semi-Crown office closed.  Efforts had been made for another outlet to be found but nobody wanted it.  Not even WH Smith.  The original owner of the business wanted to retire but could not find a buyer and the property was nearing the end of the lease. 

With no one coming forward the business owner agreed along with the owner of the premises (City council I believe) kept the lease on for a long time.  However Peacocks opened a shop over on the High Street and agreed to take over the PO as well.  All this was prior to the first lockdown.  A public consultation was started but in the interim the owner of Peacocks, as you know, went bust.  Hence the PO was back to square one! 

The City council agreed to free the bus station enquiry/waiting room up on a temporary basis until such time as the regular PO is agreed and set up.  These premises are small and cramped with room for two staff and two distanced customers.  With only one cluttered counter it is a bit difficult to transact business comfortably but at least it is a better option than no PO!

Later I had the opportunity of asking the counter clerk about the designation.  Apparently there are otherwise known as POW 'Post Office on Wheels'!    Perhaps it means it can be set up in temporary fixed premises anywhere as in this case.

Datestamp from Contingency Branch 10, Wells, Somerset 2021.

Wells (Somerset) Bus Station Post Office

I believe this is the type of unit on wheels, and this has now been confirmed. (Thanks PA)


Coincidentally the subject has been covered in the latest Journal of the BritishPostmark Society, which lists 24 branches and provides illustrations of self-inking datestamps (SID) numbers 6, 9, 18, 25, 27, 37, 38, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, 55 62, 64, 65, 67, 76 and five for which no number is identified, and one which continues to use the SID from when it was in the newsagents.

In the same journal John Enfield has started a series of articles on Outreach branches, starting in North West England.

And even more coincidentally, I received an eBay lot posted at Contingency Branch 46 in Westwood Avenue, Lowestoft, Suffolk. 

Datestamp from Contingency Branch 46, Westwood Avenue, Lowestoft, Suffolk.

The sharp-eyed will notice that the elliptical perforations are 'wrong' with parallel sides - yes these are forgeries!  The seller was rather disappointed to find that out when I contacted him and explained all the things that could identify it - like, no year code, straight rather than wavy lines of ROYAL MAIL text, and only 9 of them instead of 13, as well as the perforation. 

If you have any examples of Contingency branch datestamps please send scans and they will be added.