Wednesday 31 March 2021

What do Books, Science, Young Carers, Rugby, Autism, and Easter have in common?

... they - and other events - have all been the subject of a slogan postmark in use during March.

As we near the end of the month I have been updating (again) the month's first blog-post.  There may have not been many different stamps to write about, but there have been TEN slogan postmarks so far.  If you don;t get many stamped letters this is what you may have missed:

World Book Day

International Women's Day

British Science Week

Young Carers Action Day

Census 2021

Clocks go Forward

First International Rugby Match

Opening of the Royal Albert Hall

World Autism Awareness Week

Happy Easter.

And it's possible that there may have been time for the default 'Action for Children' slogan running over from February.

Remember, there is only one post per month showing slogan and other interesting postmarks.  The first April post will probably follow in a couple of days.

Monday 29 March 2021

Classic Science Fiction - 15 April 2021

As usual I can't show you the pictures or tell you anything about these until Royal Mail permit it, but they can't seem to control their retail partner, Post Office Ltd.  And when you have stamps distributed to at least 7,500 retail outlets who have been encouraged to use social media, it is not surprising if pictures are taken as soon as they open their supplies, and their social media accounts are used to advertise them, thus putting them in the public domain.

1995 Science Fiction Set

So it comes to pass that the stamps can currently be seen on the website as my fellow blogger who writes on Commonwealth stamp matters - you can see a link in the blogs list on the lower right of this page.

Thursday 18 March 2021

Barcode added to 2nd class business sheet stamps: improved facilities for customers, and possible anti-fraud device.

Royal Mail is adding barcodes to a limited number of 2nd Class stamps from March 23rd, as part of the company's extensive modernisation drive. The unique barcodes are poised to pave the way for innovative customer services and benefits in future.

New 2nd class business sheet Machin definitive with datamatrix code.
Click on all images to see enlarged versions

The initial pilot will see the new-look barcodes appear on around 20 million 2nd Class stamps supplied to UK businesses through the retailer Viking Direct and through Royal Mail online channels.

These first trial stamps will not be available from Post Offices but are being distributed by Royal Mail philatelic.  However as these are a different product not normally supplied, a new arrangement has been made.  All normal category preferences (strip, pair, 2/3, cylinder, gutter) have been combined into a single offer.  Royal Mail recognise that 

customers getting the most simple and basic item will of course say 'I normally get xyz'...but they need to bear in mind this xyz comes from a completely different type of sheet.

Indeed even we dealers are only being supplied with 5 singles or complete business sheets at this stage. 

No coil printing

Both the singles and stamps on first day covers have been cut/peeled from the business sheets.  There has not been a special printing for application to first day covers as there is, for example, with tariff change stamps.

The barcodes, which will match the stamp colour, will sit alongside the main body of the stamp, separated by a simulated perforation line.

According to Royal Mail the move forms part of its ongoing modernisation drive aimed at bringing even greater convenience to its customers. 

But we would be surprised if they missed the opportunity to do more to combat the widespread use of forged stamps with each stamp incorporating a different datamatrix code.

Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail, said: 'This initiative will see Royal Mail become one of the first postal authorities in the world to add unique barcodes to stamps. By doing this, we are looking to transform the humble stamp so that we can offer our customers even more convenient, new services in the future.

Datamatrix codes

The stamps use datamatrix technology which means that every stamp will be different.  The so-called 2D-barcode at the right of the new stamp will be scanned on use, and any reuse could show that the stamp has already been used.  Of course if these stamps too are forged but all have the same code pattern, every one of them should be rejected.  There are no die-cuts where the blue printed 'perforations' appear.

Anybody with a smartphone can use a QR-reader app to decode the information in the datamatrix (DM) code on this stamp. For those who don't, the code reads 

JGB S11231017031159975990006623112001   0CC21532C9BBE27301

Some of this data is the same on every stamp, but some strings of characters vary.  


UPDATE 23 March (yes, I know it's apparently random, but this is illustrated above!)   Eagle-eyed readers have spotted that the 231120 is probably the printing date of 23 November 2020, and at least the 66 is the current price.  I don't think that is coincidence, but it does make you wonder whether we will find a new price before the new price is announced! 


UPDATE 22 March: my thanks to an eBay seller who was 'identifying' the stamps that you would receive, individually.  The datastring includes a sheet number, and a stamp number within the sheet.  The bigger surprise was that these are numbered 1-100, sort of. 

These are the first two stamps on a sheet, on the header.

These are the last two stamps on the next sheet, on pane 5.  On this you can also see the iridescent printing showing the M21L MBIL coding.

Royal Mail 2021 2nd class Datamatrix coded stamps with iridescent codes M21L MBIL


These are the datamatrix codes from the first two followed by the last two

Two sets of Royal Mail datamatrix codes showing stamp numbers 01 - 100

Now this may mean that first sheet number 41338 has 01-50 and the second has 51-00, but the last digit of the sheet number increments as well, so maybe there is no sheet number as such and the stamp numbers simply increment from a starting point through to the end.  Obviously whatever the lead characters on the datastring the first will end 01, and the last will therefore be 50, followed by 51-x00.

It will be interesting to see just where the numbers are contstant, and where they change in the strong before the highlighted characters.

Does it matter?  I think the answer must be, "we don't know yet", but assuming this continues into next year, at some point the year code will change to M22L.  I'm guessing that those who study these things intensely will want to find the lowest number stamp for the new year, just as they presently log the lowest and highest sheet number on the back of headers for each printing date.

Similarly if the practice continues to booklets then which other characters will change?  IS there in fact a part of the code we see here that indicates that it is from a business sheet rather than counter sheet or booklet?  

Time will tell.

These stamps are produced in sheets of only 50, rather than 100, so the bar-code for point of sale use is new.  The top panel has two stamps, and is followed by four panes of 12 stamps, in three rows of 4. The whole is narrower than the existing sheets, each panel being 170 x 100 mm.


A further surprise is that not only is the stamp wider due to the addition of the DM code, it is taller, as this comparison with a 2017 counter sheet stamp shows.  The dimensions of the design are 34 x 27 mm, the stamp being 38 x 30 mm.

The normal security features remain, with the U-shaped cuts at the foot, and the iridescent printing, although the text and U-cuts are scaled up in line with the size of the stamp and the letters are more or less in the same place as on the smaller stamp.  As expected the source code is MBIL and the year code is M21L.  There is no date or sheet number on the reverse of these first supplies.

As this is likely to be the first of a completely new range of stamps I have decided to start a new range of Norvic numbers.  These have '50' as the first two digits, then follow the same pattern as the stamps they replace. Finally the year code reverts to a single digit. Replacing 2911B.20, the small 2nd class business sheet stamp with year code M20L, this one is 5011B.1.

First Day Covers

We are servicing a few first day covers for this stamp.  If the trial is successful and other values are produced we will add the others so as to produce double-dates covers for as many as we can.

In addition to Royal Mail's usual Windsor and Tallents House First Day of Issue postmarks there is now one for Swindon which is where Royal Mail's engineering and technology development unit is based.  (Thanks to Stuart 'Post & Go' Leigh for noticing this.)

Sponsored handstamp for date of issue of these datamatrix stamps.

UPDATE 18 October. Although none of these have yet been seen on commercial mail, Royal Mail are trying a new postmark layout aimed to ensure that the code is not obscured.  This despite our testing of used examples showing that existing postmarks are no problem in scanning with a QR-code reader. 

Trial postmark layout Bristol IMP 6 October 2021

Printer etc.

The stamps are printed by ISP/Walsall in gravure, perf 15 x 14½ with backing paper SBP2 with small upright text above Large inverted (suLisiLu).  We don't know what type of machine is used; it might have been sheet-fed for this trial run, or it may be web.

Technical Details (not provided by Royal Mail).

The datamatrix code is printed by a digital ink-jet printer with what seems to be a glossy UV coating (more specifically using a Digital Inkjet Spot UV Coater).  These operate on sheets and at least one company printing in this way uses Artificial Intelligence alignment to make sure the 'varnish' is properly positioned even if the sheet it is being applied to is misaligned or the precise area slightly distorted.

The stamp itself is gravure printed in a single colour.  Below are some pictures of the datamatrix code area which show that it is printed in 4 colour process, topped with a layer of possibly waterproof varnish.

20x magnification under light, showing how light is reflected from UV varnish.

2400 dpi scan revealing magenta dots misaligned so that some are above the edge of the cyan.

400x magnification showing uneven 'splash' of magenta at random (which shows as darker blue), and more rounded and sharp black dots, possibly regularly spaced (further investigation needed on these).

UPDATE 27 July 2021

I have been sent information about the new "advanced hybrid print, finishing and inspection systems for barcoding of postage stamps."   I'll write this up separately soon, but in the meantime you can read it at Digital Labels & Packaging website.

Use of Datamatrix codes on other countries' stamps

Datamatrix codes in the post are not new despite Royal Mail's claims, although the way that they are going to be used probably is.  In the USA a similar code has been used on machine vended stamps as far back as at least 2001.  

Block of 4 Neopost Online 'stamps', USA, 2001.

La Poste in France introduced stamps with the code in 2015, but the code is the same on all the stamps, and continues on the following design, so possibly only indicates the service being performed - they are used on international mail rather than internal.  Both types of these have been forged (the forgeries are below the genuine.)

Most recently, Deutsche Post in Germany introduced DM codes with the first new stamp being issued in February 2021.  Unlike the French and British ones, the German codes are all to be printed in black.  Consequently German postmarks have been changed from black to blue (as with modern franking machines) to avoid 'interference' of the code reader.

February 2021 Germany stamp with datamatrix code 🔍.

This shows how the code will be incorporated into other sizes of stamps used in Germany.  The familiar flower definitives will be wider by almost 50%.  Note that in the first two examples one is taller after the addition of the code, while the other is shorter.

Click on image to see enlarged version. 🔍
New German blue postmark (stamp applied sideways)

One of the new stamps issued by Germany marks the 50th anniversary of a children's television cartoon mouse 'Die Maus'.  What separates this from the others is that the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) channel has produced a programme for children to show how the stamp was produced.

UPDATE 26 November: The original programme link no longer works, but a reader in Germany has sent another.  I believe this contains a lot of the same material but some different.  I have not checked the timing to see whether the detail mentioned below is still accurate.  Click here.

You can see the whole programme, in German, here, for the present.  Whilst the whole programme is interesting, and even more so if you can actually understand German, rather than just getting the gist of the commentary, the key parts for collectors are as follows (all times approximate)

6m 50 - web printing, laying down the colours  - pale orange, then the normal process colours cyan, yellow, magenta and black.  This is followed by 'Maus orange' as a specific colour, rather than being produced by a mix of CMYK.  

8m 30 highlights the Datamatrix code, or absence of it on the stamps so far, and the video then proceeds to show these being applied to the stamps, every one different as with Royal Mails.  The printing machine is, in fact, a web printer, so our research which suggested only sheet printing, missed something!  However, the coverage is very brief so we don't know whether these have the Spot UV Coating which may only be possible on sheets.  

9m 45 shows the die-cutter which enables the stamps to be removed from the backing paper, as the matrix is not removed as it is in the UK.   The roll is then cut into sheets, and stacks of sheets are guillotined into saleable size of 10 stamps (in booklet form).   A smartphone app shows how information about the stamps can be found by scanning the code.

11m 30 shows a sorting machine at the Briefzentrum (Mail Centre) though this is understandably short on footage aimed at a young audience.   That section is the last non-animation, apart from a music segment and a 'clunk-click' safety section near then end.

If anybody can provide a synopsis of the German commentary I would be pleased to include it here.

UPDATE 22 March

My thanks to Larry in the US for drawing my attention to the latest developments of La Poste in France. Known as 'Timbres Suivi' (should that be Suivis?) these stamps (in books of 9!) have unique datamatrix codes.  The important detail of the code is printed on the stamp, and on the booklet matrix, so when the stamp is used the sender retains the code.  As you will see from the left-hand page of the cover, the letter can be posted in a normal box. After which either through the website, or mobile app, or telephone, the sender can check whether the letter has been delivered.  


That certainly isn't possible with these Royal Mail stamps unless they get a receipt at the Post Office branch after the stamps are scanned - which means queueing for just that, or if they scan it and make a note of the code - but which part of the 50-odd character string is relevant?  Who knows until more information if made available on how these are to be used?

Wednesday 17 March 2021

New retail booklet - Musical Giants IV: Queen, 1st x 6 'band' definitive - 29 March 2021.

In July 2020 Royal Mail issued the fourth megapack of music memorabilia, this time honouring the band Queen which was formed in 1970.  The usual wide-range of stamp products included a black & white definitive-sized stamp portrait of the band which was included in a gummed miniature sheet and the prestige book definitive pane, and in a self-adhesive collector sheet.  This would seem to have all bases covered.

However, when sending out the details to dealers Royal Mail also mentioned a second retail booklet which was not released at the time, and which we were forbidden to mention.

29 March 2021 - Music Giants IV: Queen retail booklet II

Royal Mail explain:  The iconic line up was only completed when John Deacon joined Roger Taylor, Brian May and Freddie Mercury in February 1971.  In recognition of this anniversary the second Retail Book, featuring the definitive style stamp from the original Minisheet, will be issued on 29 March 2021.

The booklet is in the usual format for 6 x 1st booklets (£5.10) and is printed by ISP/Walsall in gravure.  The cylinder numbers are W1 in process colours and gold.

If the retail release follows the normal pattern Post Office branches will be supplied by Swindon stores on their next order for 6 x 1st after the issue date.  Only those who are (made) aware will pre-order so that they have supplies on the first day (and there is no guarantee of that with less than two weeks before the issue date.  The philatelic product code us UB442.

There is no first day cover and no Royal Mail postmark for this issue although one fdc producer is using the sponsored handstamp marking the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Royal Albert Hall.  This is applied by the London Special Handstamp Centre at Moutn Pleasant and has reference number 15298.

Special handstamp: 150th anniversary of the Royal Albert Hall 29.3.21


Tuesday 16 March 2021

A tale of the unexpected, a myth, a legend: King Arthur makes a comeback - 16 March 2021.

King Arthur makes a comeback on stamps, his first appearance since 1985.  To quote from Wikipedia, "The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and modern historians generally agree that he is unhistorical."

As far as we know there are no reasons for these stamps to be issued now. No films, video games, new books.  Which is, I suppose, 'a good thing' because if these were happening then there would be a lot more products than 10 stamps, and the normal philatelic products.

(There is a video game 'King Arthur: Knight’s Tale', which is being updated this spring, but it is even more fiction than myth in that involves role-playing games and 'turn-based' combat.)

Part of the BBC education website helps children to understand the difference between reality and myth, which is encouraging because seeing these stamps, which they might just do, they might be forgiven for thinking that there was a firmer basis in history for these, coming ahead of the Wars of the Roses (which did, of course, happen) issue in the summer.

The brief Royal Mail write-up for this issue:

The Legend of King Arthur is one of the most enduring stories of all time. Though his tale is rooted in the fifth and sixth centuries, it has captivated people for a millennium and a half, with its sword in the stone, knights of the round table and the wizard Merlin. At least 50 films have been made on the subject, which over centuries has come to symbolise part of British identity.

The stamps

There are 10 stamps in the set, 5 x 1st class and 5 x £1.70 (the rate for 100g letters to Europe and 20g letters to the rest of the world; one of each will pay the £2.55 rate for 100g letters to the rest of the world.)

The Legend of King Arthur set of 10 stamps 16 March 2021.

1st Class Merlin and the baby Arthur. Merlin holds baby Arthur, the future king, whose origins remain shrouded in mystery, and in Merlin’s power, until Arthur is revealed to be Uther Pendragon’s rightful son and heir.

1st Class Arthur draws the sword from the stone. 
Arthur’s birthright to the crown of England, according to later romance traditions, is confirmed when he pulls out the sword in view of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the whole court

1st Class Arthur takes Excalibur.
Arthur’s famed sword, Excalibur, is the gift of the Lady of the Lake, and a symbol of his tutelage by Merlin and his mission in the world.  Destined for greatness, Arthur excels in all human virtues.

1st Class Arthur marries Guinevere. √Despite Merlin’s warnings, Arthur chooses Guinevere as his wife. Her dowry, Malory tells us, is the Round Table, which Arthur will use to build a fellowship of knights united around the values of loyalty and equality.

1st Class Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Arthur’s nephew and chief counsellor, Sir Gawain, here swings his axe to chop off the head of the Green Knight, whose deadly Christmas game of blows startles Arthur’s court and challenges its values.

£1.70 Knights of the Round Table.
Around the Round Table, knights from Europe and all nations in the British Isles share the same values of loyalty and unite as equals to protect the weak and defend the realm.

£1.70 Sir Lancelot defeats the dragon.
Emblematic since Arthur Rackham’s illustrations dating from the early 20th century, Lancelot’s slaying of the dragon shows God’s grace granted to Lancelot in the fight with the Devil/darkness, despite Lancelot’s own sins.

£1.70 Sir Galahad and the Holy Grail.
Sir Galahad, the pure knight, is the epitome of perfection among Round Table knights, and the opposite of his father, Lancelot. His unique success in the Grail Quest reveals the moral failures of Arthurian chivalry.

£1.70 Arthur battles Mordred.
Arthur and Mordred meet one last time in battle, fulfilling their destiny: Arthur’s, to be mortally wounded by his own son, and Mordred’s, to commit the sin of patricide and treason.

£1.70 The death of King Arthur.
The wounded Arthur departs for Avalon on a barge driven by three queens. This represents hope for the king’s return, and the agency of women in healing and in preserving his memory and stories.


Technical Details

The 35 mm square stamps are printed by ISP/Cartor in litho with PVA gum in sheets of 25/50, and perforated 14½.  

They were designed by Jaime Jones* Stamp designs © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2021

Other products: First day cover, presentation pack, stamp cards.  

Official first day postmarks are from Tallents House (showing Excalibur emerging from the lake) and Winchester§, rather than Tintagel.  Other special handstamps do exist for Tintagel and elsewhere.

* From his website: I'm an illustrator and concept artist working in film, games and print. My clients include Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Bungie, NCSoft, Blizzard, National Geographic, Harper Collins, Penguin Books, Macmillan Publishers and Wizards of the Coast.

§ Helping the legend, there is a round table in Winchester Great Hall which bears the names of the 24 knights of the round table.  This was decorated during the reign of King Henry VIII, but dendrochronolgy dates it back to 1275, and it has been hanging in the hall since at least 1540. (Source: Atlas Obscura)



Jaime Jones has produced some very good pictures which manage to convey key elements of the stories down to stamp size, although it's difficult to know to which period the costumes relate - but then if the story covers centuries picking one would be difficult.  They are attractive stamps even if the subjects are dark, but it is a shame that the artist's talents couldn't have been applied to a stamp set worthy of being issued.

Monday 15 March 2021

New week shop update

Good afternoon everyone, it was a brilliant spring weekend for the most part, so not much was done inside.  Thank you for your purchases from last week's blog post; since then we have added what we think are all the 50p folded stamp booklets we have.

For many of them there is only one example, but there is a good range with cylinder booklets included, and all have reasonable perforations (no straight edges except on the booklets only issued that way.  

Some of these can be very useful for thematic or topical collections or exhibits, with subjects such as vintage vehicles (including a fire engine), amphibians, world heritage sites and cricket.

Again, you can see them under 'Recent Additions' or the booklets category.  In the latter case they are listed from the most recent backwards, so not in catalogue numerical order - to get that, click on the 'sort A-Z' link towards the right.

Here's a selection:

Wednesday 10 March 2021

Mid-week shop update

As we have settled in for another bout of wet and windy weather I have been working through a different shop category and bringing things up to date.

There are major new additions today in Smilers Sheets.  The original Smilers were eagerly sought after by collectors although later over-production by Royal Mail took the heat out of the product.  But many collectors who started late may have gaps in their collections, so here is a chance for you to go back to the start of it all and fill some gaps.

The first British Smilers Sheets were available at The Stamp Show 2000.  This wikipedia article describes the start, but of course Personalised Smilers and Business Customised Sheets have now finished as a personalisation service, although Royal Mail continues to produce similar 'generic' or 'collector' sheets for stamps which have no personalisation available.  Shown here is the first, and the first redesign sheet using the original stamps. 

These are numbers LS1 and LS5 in the Gibbons Concise catalogue.  LS5 was less popular at the time because the stamps were not new.  We have one of each of these, and first day covers for the LS1.

Prices have been adjusted and are below catalogue and current retail in most cases.  In many cases if you buy more than one copy of a sheet, you get a big discount, large enough to take your purchases below the current value of the postage they contain.  So if you need a sheet for your collection, buy two and the saving on postage will make the additions to your collection less expensive.


Also added are many Stampex Sheets.  These were sold by the organisers of Stampex as a fundraising souvenir, and while many are still available on the Philatelic Traders Society website, you can buy them from us at about half the price in many cases.


There are also some privately commissioned Business Customised Sheets (BCS) with part of the proceeds going to charity.  And possibly the only BCS produced without the assistance or inspiration of any philatelic organisation, the one produced in 2008 by FIAT to advertise the Grande Punto.  Donations to Cancer Research on all sales of this one.

See them all here, or click on 'Recent Additions' for the time being.  And don't forget, some of these provide an excellent chance to buy postage with which to surprise your friends or customers!

But more new areas will be explored and opened up soon!

Sunday 7 March 2021

New 2nd class - yes and no!

In answer to many queries either by email or blog comment....

- Yes, I know;

- No I can't tell you anything;

Any other blog comments will be rejected and emails on this subject will be ignored until there is something to say, and then it will be done here. 

I'm sorry but there are just too many, up to about 20 now.


Meanwhile there are three types of 1st class forgery newly added to our e-commerce site.


Thursday 4 March 2021

Coloured postboxes for World Book Day 2021.

The last time Royal Mail decorated their postboxes with a new colour was for the Christmas ones in December.  Now they have unveiled five special postboxes across the UK, honouring British authors and illustrators who have been doing wonderful work using literature to help keep children entertained during lockdown.

Each postbox is digitally activated, containing a QR code linking through to the free services offered by the author it celebrates, for example a YouTube channel offering free online readings

Pictures of a Belfast double-aperture postbox were posted on Twitter by @DJJarlath.

The Belfast box honours Northern Irish writer Sam McBratney, author of Guess How Much I Love You, who sadly passed away last year. The book has been read online by numerous celebrities and high-profile organisations during lockdown and will remain an iconic part of British literature for generations to come. Royal Mail hopes that the beautiful cream postbox in Sam’s birthplace of Belfast is a fitting tribute to his legacy.

Other boxes are located in Oban, Scotland, Shepherd’s Bush in London, Sheffield, and Cardiff, honouring the following authors:

Cressida Cowell, Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate and author-illustrator of How To Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once. As Children’s Laureate, Cressida has filmed hundreds of videos of readings, creative challenges and masterclasses for children in lockdown – all available on her YouTube channels CressidaCowellOfficial, the BookTrust HomeTime website, and Cressida Cowell’s Creativity Camp.

Her postbox, lavishly decorated with Hiccup and Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon, and with gold trim, is located in Oban, Scotland, where ferries to the west coast islands are caught. Cressida spent her childhood summers on an uninhabited island off the coast of Oban, and its beautiful backdrop was the inspiration for the How To Train Your Dragon series of books – now a hugely-popular film and TV franchise. The postbox also features a photo of Cressida writing on that island as a nine-year-old. 

THANKYOU TO @RoyalMail who have teamed up with ⁦@WorldBookDayUK to create specially designed postboxes celebrating books and #readingmagic! Mine is in Oban, Scotland, near the incredibly beautiful place that inspired How to Train Your Dragon. @CressidaCowell on Twitter

Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola, Waterstone’s Children’s Book Of The Year winners 2020. Nathan and Dapo’s “utterly joyful” book about a science-mad young black girl trying to distract her brother from his phone actively looks to challenge perceptions around race and gender. In addition to writing one of the most popular recently released children’s books, Nathan and Dapo have been keeping thousands of children entertained with their lively and entertaining digital events, including their Puffin Storytime event which has been viewed over 25,000 times. The bright yellow postbox is in Shepherd’s Bush in London, where Bryon was born.

Happy World Book Day! Totally honoured and flattered to have our own Royal Mail Postbox dedicated to LOOK UP! - @NathanBryon on Twitter

Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks. The striking yellow parcel postbox gives a beautifully designed nod to Lydia and Julia’s work, in particular their recent ‘What The Ladybird Heard’ series of books. Stories from this iconic author and illustrator duo include ‘Sharing A Shell’ and ‘Princess Mirror-Belle’, among many others. Julia has been working on the second series of ‘Julia Donaldson and Friends’ during lockdown, which offers free weekly broadcasts of stories, songs and poems, accessible through The Gruffalo Facebook Page. 

Lydia has also been running her popular ‘How To Draw’ films on her website, which allow children to create many of her characters, as well as animals and vehicles. This postbox is located in Sheffield, where Lydia Monks lives.

"There is a special What the Ladybird Heard postbox in Sheffield!" - @LydiaMonks on Twitter

Eloise Williams, Children’s Laureate Wales 2019-21 – a project run by Literature Wales. From setting weekly writing challenges for children to providing workshop resources for schools, Eloise has had a busy lockdown! Her postbox is in striking regal navy with gold trim, inspired by her much-loved novel Gaslight, and is situated in Cardiff, where she spent much of her childhood.  The picture is captioned with a tweet by Eloise Williams.

I am THRILLED to have a Royal Mail postbox in Cardiff! Thank you @RoyalMail & @WorldBookDayUK. It celebrates #Gaslight which is set in Cardiff & the work I've been doing with @LitWales as @Laureate_Wales. It is a thing of absolute beauty & I am totally honoured.

(All details provided in Royal Mail Press Release. Pictures from other sources)

We also have a World Book Day postmark slogan again this year.