Friday 30 April 2021

No new tariff, no new Machin definitive counter sheets.

As postage rates in general, especially international ones, were raised at the beginning of the year, there was no general review at the end of March as there usually is.  Hence there were no new tariff printings in mid-January for initial supplies, and no top-up printings later on in March have appeared as they sometimes do.

Many readers will be aware that Royal Mail provides dealers with a list of current stock of counter sheets, and refreshes it when new stock is received.  There has been no such list since the end of January this year.

Whilst the initial printings of the 1st & 2nd (and Large) stamps didn't appear until June last year, in some years most have appeared somewhere (either in Edinburgh or Post Offices) by April/May, and in some years other values have appeared as early as March.  

Apparently many Post Offices have large stocks of some stamps - and generally if you buy a supply of stamps from a PO you will be offered a booklet or business sheet depending on quantity needed.  It seems fewer people are buying online so less is posted with stamps, and non-prepaid-returns are also fewer as people can go into shops to buy their clothes rather than buying a selection online and returning all bar one!

But look out on your mail, and in your post office.  If you have a friendly sub-postmaster ask him if he expects to order any new stock of counter sheets and to let you know when it arrived.  You may have the kudos of reporting the first 2021 counter sheet printing!

Thursday 29 April 2021

New version of the Norvic Security Machin Checklist now available and up to date - version 2.3.5

The latest version of our much-consulted Checklist includes all this year's stamps with relevant Norvic and Stanley Gibbons catalogue numbers and as much information as we have about printing dates etc.

The checklist (version 2.3.5) can be downloaded here.


If I looked at this with fresh eyes I would say that it has certain disorganised elements.  For instance, the main section of notes is somewhere near the middle, starting on page 25 of 57.  Certainly it would benefit from some reorganisation and some illustrations: but there is little time for that.

My main area of concern at present is the Reverse Cross-reference, which enables users who start with SG numbers to work out what our numbers are and therefore how to find particular stamps.  This is actually larger than it needs to be, I think, and I have asked on page 39 for feedback on this.   

As Gibbons' catalogue does not distinguish between years (on stamps with a year code) nor even between printers - something that even Royal Mail regard as different - there seems little point in having 10 or more lines for the 2nd class counter stamp: Gibbons' number is U2995, ours is 2911 with .0 to .20 so far for different years, one extra entry for SBP, and one for Walsall's phosphor colour variants.  

But the collector having found that SG U2995 is Norvic 2911.- can easily find all the other years in the table on page 5, and so on.  This will save about 8 pages, reduce the file size and download speed, and the printing for those who do.

I propose to change with the next major edition unless I get a European Super League-type backlash from the fans!

Friday 23 April 2021

Recent additions to our online shop.

I'll be posting brief notes about additional items for sale added to our website roughly once a week, as I know that not everybody has time to look everywhere.

The most recent additions have been:

GB: Folded Booklets - back in time to the machine-vended 50p £1 etc booklets.  Not many of any of these, and some have already been snapped up.

Independent Africa postal history - these aren't mainstream but some people are starting to look at post-independent French and British Africa.  Some of these stamps aren't listed in principal catalogues simply because some stamps have never been seen. Some here from Ghana, Benin, Senegal and Malagasy Republic, with more to come.

Benin surcharges 1994.

GB Security Machin 2nd class coils used - although these have been generally available mint their availability used has in many cases been confined to direct mail shots within the UK.  Thus they are only seen by overseas collectors in kiloware, and that is not as plentiful as it was (nor as cheap!).  Here are a few of the 2009, 2012 & 2015 versions.

GB 2nd class Datamatrix barcode - now available mint and used on the first day.

GB odds and ends Machin and other - including a used pair of 26p rosine Type II.  Also the Milennium Fire & Light set with altered (and unaltered) date of issue in the sheet margin.

Postmasters' convictions to be overturned today by Court of Appeal

News as it happens, full report later on the Horizon Trial 'Post Office Scandal

- "biggest miscarriage of justice in history"


Live streaming on BBC News

And if you are permitted to watch live tv




I'm sorry I haven't had time to write more: I've been busy, but so has Nick Wallis and while he has supposed to be finishing his book at a hideaway in Devon, he has still been blogging. You can see all his posts on  Just a few headlines from there:

23 April: Judgment Day - picture gallery 

26 April: Vennells' career ends in ignominy

28 April: Page and Marshall in the clear - these are the appellants lawyers who POL suggested had committed contempt by releasing the Clarke Advice to the Met Police and a journalist.

30 April: ITV commission 4-part drama series on the Scandal

1 May: the book.

Thursday 22 April 2021

Post and Go error news

There really isn't much new to report, with even the news of removals and openings/insatllations slowing down probably as Post Office Ltd looks towards the next generation of SSKs and Horizon.

DP reminds me of the 'lurch to the left' that was reported by several people over two years ago and reported here.  It was reported as far back as 2015, from Bury St Edmunds, Saltash, Tunbridge Wells and Portsmouth.  It was said to "affect all values in the strip bit you only get one shift per strip of six. If you buy 36 stamps in one transaction, you will end up with a shift for each value" though the accuracy of this was disputed in another comment.

Anyway, DP has sent these examples from Hounslow on the Game of Thrones stamps:

Game of Thrones 1st class Post & Go stamps with different 'left-shift' errors on two strips 19/4/21.

Additionally in the left-hand strip the Euro 100g/World 20g designation has a further error - "World 20g omitted"


Now that Museums are re-opening it might be opportune to check out their machines for software updates or lack of them.  Mike C sent this example from Swindon's SteamGWR showing the previous service indicators issued on 12/04/2021 - and charged at £10.11.  Current worth is actually £10.64 I believe!

Post & Go set sold 12/4/21 using late 2020 service indicators (and value) sold at SteamGWR, Swindon.


UPDATE 30 APRIL   Stuart Leigh reports a different problem at the Shakespeare Gift Shop - a collector strip with the Worldwide (Large 100g) missing part of the caption on the MA13 Machin.   Whoever said that computers were faultless (answer, Post Office Ltd)

Machin head Post and Go strip (MA13) from Shakespeare Gift Shop with 'up to 100g' missing from final (Worldwide) stamp - 12 April 2021.

Latest Direct Mailing PPI examples

We have some more examples of digital stamp postage paid impressions to report, including the rarely seen 1st class Large.

Not all of these are for fund-raising purposes: the 2nd class Machin one from VisionExpress was and individual one reminding me that I should have my eyes tested - probably one of thousands sent to their customers who have kept away during various lockdowns.  (Licence C9 10020)

The other one in the first image is 2020's 2nd class Christmas issue from medicine supplier Healthspan (licence HQ23777).

The other image, supplied by DL, shows a flyer from the Wood Green Animals Charity, and uses the 1st class Large letter stamp, using licence HQ11348.  These are reported very occasionally and if you are adding them to your Machin collection they may be difficult to find.   

1st class Large digital stamp on charity mailing, 2021.

Wednesday 21 April 2021

Royal Mail London Special Handstamp Centre 2021

I have mentioned previously the present situation at the London Philatelic Handstamp Centre caused by absences partly due to Covid-19.  

Much of their work is being handled by the Northern SHC at Tallents House Edinburgh, and currently even some of the operational handstamps have been transferred to Edinburgh while London is short-staffed.

Hopefully this situation will improve before too long, but in the meantime we must all be patient while our covers and cards are processed.

Personnel: Many regular users of the Mount Pleasant SHC and visitors to Stampex and Europhilex who have had their items handstamped there, will have met the SHC manager, Mr Pritpal Mann.  

I'm sure many people will be sorry to hear that Mr Mann has joined this year's tranche of managers who have left Royal Mail employment.

As far as I can recall Pritpal was at the SHC from at least 2000 (though I may be wrong) and so has served collectors and dealers alike for around 20 years.  From my point of view, he was invariably courteous and conscientious in all our dealings, whether by telephone or email, and always strove to achieve what the customer wanted.  

When mistakes were made with postcards he tried to source cards locally if they were London (especially Museum) related and was always able to replace covers and stamps. If customer instructions were unclear he would phone rather than guess.  It had to be right.

I'm sure everybody will join me in wishing him well in what I assume is his retirement.  I understand that he will return to the office when conditions allow him to say a proper farewell to his colleagues, so if you wish to send a personal message you can address it to him c/o the London Handstamp Centre usual address.

Revenue Protection & other Royal Mail processes: some you win....

I think most people agree that it is important for Royal Mail to protect its revenue, even if they don't always manage to cancel mail that is machineable and seem to make little effort on parcels which are collected from firms by mail centres.

Sometimes Revenue Protection get it right, sometimes they don't as recently received scans demonstrate.

Here's one where they got it right, although it's difficult to read the cachet from Newcastle Upon Tyne. The boxed rectangular mark reads something like:


17 APR 2021

FULLY PAID..........

I suspect the missing part is something like 'First Class', although at 94p it's well overpaid for 1st class and underpaid for 2nd class Large (it isn't a large letter).

Next two examples where two different Mail Centres got it wrong.

The first example has four of the horizontal self-adhesive 1st class stamps (SG 1789) issued on a trial basis in the Newcastle upon Tyne area in 1993.  But despite these being accepted at a Post Office (no real guarantee, we know), South Midlands Mail Centre decided they were counterfeit.  Now, I ask you, why would the current crop of forgers produce a stamp in this format when they are so good at doing them properly?

4 x 1st class 1993 stamps held to be counterfeit by South Midlands Mail Centre, 2021.

The second example sent to a dealer has a block of 9 of the same - still on the backing paper as they are now almost impossible to remove with the gum intact - again, accepted (but not cancelled) for special delivery.  This could have been at a post office or a company collection - 9 x 1st class exactly matches is another rate, in this case the 500g Special Delivery rate. This time tracking shows that it was processed at Home Counties North Mail Centre.

9 x 1st class 1993 stamps held to be counterfeit by Home Counties North Mail Centre, 2021.

I used Royal Mail's Twitter channel to show them these covers and the original booklet and they said the addressees should claim for a refund via their website.

20 x 1st class self-adhesive booklet 19 October 1993, SG MG1.


UPDATE 22 April:  DP has sent this even more bizarre example of an incorrect assessment of 'Invalid Stamps' (you can just see that endorsement on the yellow label).  A 2nd class from a booklet with imperforate lower edge, and two pairs of 8½p and 6½p stamps from a booklet, all perfectly valid.  I think I might need to make up a reference page for Revenue Protection to print off!

Incorrectly surcharged packet with valid but old stamps assessed as Invalid by Royal Mail Revenue Protection.


Lastly this time, an example of misdirection, which somebody has described as a sad indictment on the state of geographical knowledge in the 21st century, and not only in the UK.  

What's the address, and where did it go? (Click on image to see it larger before scrolling down.)

Misdirected cover.

Whether or not you look at the larger image, you can probably see that this is addressed to Tristan da Cunha, South Atlantic.  The postage, one £1.60 Ashes Victory stamp and a 10p makes the £1.70 rate which was correct when this was sent in the latter part of 2020 (and is so now).

You may need to check the enlargement to see what has been scrubbed out at the foot (it took me some effort even after I had looked at the pink label).  The pink label is inscribed in FOUR languages, and there is a big clue.  There's English (Return) and French (Retour), plus RETURNERAS (which is Swedish) - and the other country which uses Swedish apart from Sweden is Finland - PALAUTETAAN.

And indeed at the foot of the envelope, the word FINLAND has been added in a different hand and later scrubbed out.  So it seems that somebody in Swindon Mail Centre (where it was postmarked) or the Heathrow International Mail Centre did not know where Tristan da Cunha (nor apparently the South Atlantic) are.  What could they have interpreted as suggesting Finland?  

And then in Helsinki, where there is a good command of the English spoken language, they seem to have been unable to interpret the original address and send it on it's way to that volcanic island in the south, marking it both Unknown and Insufficient address.

Edit: I forgot to say that I count this as a WIN.  True the person who sent the letter to the Tristan Postmaster didn't get his reply, but this is an excellent piece of modern Postal History!

And a member on Stampboards has suggested that what I thought was '6B' is actually 'GB' indicating a return to the UK.  Yes, much easier to see from the Machin than the cricket stamp!

I don't think they get any odder than that - but if you have an odd modern example, I'll be pleased to record it here.

Tuesday 20 April 2021

Royal Mail marks the 534th - 566th Anniversary of the Wars of the Roses - 4 May 2021

The latest stamp issue coincides with the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Tewksbury, said to be one of the defining battles of the Wars of the Roses.

Choosing how to mark a significant series of events in a country's history is difficult.  Different historians will have their own thoughts on which was the most significant battle - if the Lord Protector of Henry VI, Richard Duke of York, hadn't led an attack on London which resulted in the Battle of St Albans in 1455 then things might have turned out differently, but once that started it was downhill all the way.

History Hit records Five Key Battles, with the second one being the Battle of Wakefield in 1460 where Richard was killed, but what happened between the two?  And Tudor Times records 17 in total!

As Commonwealth Stamps Opinion summarised it when the issue was announced:

Wars of the Roses, 550th anniversary of the Battles of Barnet (14 April 1471) at which Warwick The Kingmaker was killed, and Tewkesbury (4 May 1471) at which Edward IV crushed the Lancastrians and killed Edward Prince of Wales and other important Lancastrians, hence securing his rule until his death in 1483.

Following the various accounts is sometimes confusing.  The name 'Edward' for instance occurs on both sides as you will see in the preceding paragraph, so by reading on isolated battles it is not always easy to know who is fighting whom and for what.

Rather than issue 17 or more stamps Royal Mail has selected 8 battles and portrays them in this set in reverse chronological order, thus ensuring that the Battle of Tewkesbury gets maximum exposure as it is on a 2nd class stamp.  

Additional details about the depictions from the artist's Facebook page below the images.

Wars of the Roses stamps. 2nd class: Bosworth and Tewkesbury.
Wars of the Roses stamps. 1st class: Barnet and Edgecote Moor.

Wars of the Roses stamps. £1.70: Towton and Wakefield.

Wars of the Roses stamps. £2.55: Northampton and St Albans 1.

Artist's notes:

2nd class - Battle of Bosworth. King Richard is shown dressed in gilded armour, befitting a monarch demonstrating his right to wear the crown of England as God's anointed ruler, his surcoat and horse caparison bearing the Royal Arms and his Standard fluttering above him. His trusted companion, Sir Robert Percy, points out Henry Tudor amongst the enemy host, prompting the King to make the decision to lead his household knights and retainers in their thundering charge towards the challenger to his throne.

2nd class - Battle of Tewkesbury.   Having reclaimed the throne of England and defeated the Earl of Warwick at the battle of Barnet, the Yorkist King, Edward IV, marched his forces from London to intercept those of Margaret of Anjou (wife of the Lancastrian Henry VI) and her son, Prince Edward, who had landed at Weymouth and were heading for Wales where supporters awaited them.

Denied entry to Gloucester and it's bridge over the River Severn, Margaret was forced to march her exhausted army to the next crossing point - at Tewkesbury. Here, with the Royal army hard on their heels and insufficient time to cross the river, they turned to confront their pursuers, the two armies meeting on the 4th May 1471.  Following a heavy bombardment from the King's artillery, Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, led the Lancastrian right wing through the deep ditches and hedges that intersected the battlefield and attacked the Yorkist left, under the command of Edward's younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester. However, the other Lancastrian divisions failed to support the attack and Somerset's men were soon outflanked and routed, the rest of Margaret's army disintegrating in defeat.

1st class -  Battle of Barnet, fought on Easter Sunday, 14th April 1471.  Edward IV leads his army through the fog that enveloped the battlefield and into the thick of the action, his banners flying above him and Knights of the Body beside him. Opposing the King are soldiers wearing the red livery of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, Edward’s one-time great ally, and in the background can be made out the ‘Kingmaker’ himself, along with his brother, John Neville, Marquess of Montagu.
1st class - Battle of Edgecote.  As Sir Richard Herbert cuts his way through the rebel army, his brother, the Earl of Pembroke, nearby, banners bearing the Earl of Warwick’s badges are spotted advancing on the flank. Warwick, often referred to as the ‘Kingmaker’ and once one of the Yorkists’ principal supporters, had now revealed himself as the force behind the rebellion against his one-time great ally, King Edward IV. The battle weary Yorkists assumed these approaching banners to herald the arrival of the vanguard of Warwick’s army (it was not, but rather some local ‘rascals’ rounded up by one of Warwick’s retainers, John Clapham Esquire, as a ruse to give that impression), prompting their collapse and rout, and the two Herbert brothers, Sir William and Sir Richard, were captured and taken to Northampton, where they were summarily beheaded the following day on Warwick’s orders.

£1.70 - Battle of Towton, fought on a bitterly cold 29th March 1461. The Yorkist archers, with the wind and driving snow at their backs, shoot their deadly volleys of arrows into the advancing Lancastrian army, while Edward IV and his knights and men-at-arms move through the ranks to meet their oncoming foe.

£1.70 - Battle of Wakefield.  On December 30th, 1460, the heirs of the Lancastrian Nobles killed at St. Albans found themselves able to avenge their fathers' deaths when their army trapped the Duke of York and Earl of Salisbury in Sandal Castle, near Wakefield. Lured out from the safety of the castle walls and into open battle, York's heavily outnumbered force found themselves surrounded and in the fierce melee that followed, York and many of his followers lost their lives, his son, Edmund, among them. The Earl of Salisbury was captured and taken to Pontefract by the Duke of Somerset where he was summarily executed, his head joining those of the other Yorkist leaders over the gates of York.

£2.55 - Battle of Northampton.  Edward, Earl of March, kneels before Henry VI and proclaims his loyalty, having defeated the Royal army at Northampton on 10th July 1460. The Earl of Warwick and Yorkist troops look on, while one of the guns that failed to fire in the rain stands impotently in the foreground.

£2.55 - Battle of St. Albans, the first battle of the Wars of the Roses, the market place still retains the medieval layout and buildings such as the Abbey and clock tower provide fixed points to help locate the events of 1455.  The painting shows the Earl of Warwick (centre) raising his visor to greet the Duke of York, who is indicating towards the Castle Inn where the Duke of Somerset made his last stand.


Technical details

The 50 x 30 mm gummed stamps are in horizontal pairs in sheets of 30/60 and are printed in Litho by ISP (Cartor). The battles have been "re-imagined by Graham Turner, a leading historical artist specialisting in medieval, military and motorsport subjects".  Copyright Royal Mail.

Other products are a First Day Cover, stamp cards, and a presentation pack.

The presentation pack contains a useful explanation and timeline of the battles and key protaganists.

A framed set of stamps is available from Royal Mail for £29.99.

The stamps are available from the Royal Mail website shop from 20th April.

Monday 19 April 2021

Queen's 95th birthday pane 21 April 2021 - re-written and updated.

Royal Mail have produced, in conjunction with the Royal Mint, a commemorative £5 coin cover marking the 95th Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  The cover was launched on 1 April, and is dated 21 April 2021.  The cover costs £19.99.

The cover has a pane of stamps which, based on previous form, appears to be from a prestige stamp book pane but it is not.  There is no prestige book.

A limited edition Coin Cover featuring the new £5 coin released by The Royal Mint, plus a unique pane of eight Definitive and Country Definitive stamps.

Pane of 4 x 1st class Machin definitive and 1st class country definitives from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all with revised font.

For Royal Mail, there are no new stamps, so this is not being made available mint for distribution to collectors with any sort of standing order.  A spokesman for Royal Mail said that they were mindful of complaints by both collectors and cover producers that there were too many stamps to collect/produce FDCs for and this cover is aimed squarely at the 'Royal memorabilia' market rather than the philatelic market.

As usual, dealers were able to buy these ahead of the 21 April issue date and GONJ provided these pictures which show that these gummed stamps are coded M21L and MAIL.  

At this stage no detailed information had been provided to registered dealers through normal philatelic channels.  When details were published, it became clear that although they would not be sold to collectors, nor to dealers for mint resale, they would be made available for dealers to put on covers and have cancelled.

Royal Mail also announced in their publicity, on the filler card, and in information sent to dealers, that the pane would be printed in two processes, with the Machin definitives printed in gravure and the country definitives [and the label, we believe] printed in litho.  This is odd, because the last certain information we have on printing by International Security Printers is that the Cartor factory in France only has the capability of printing in litho, while the British factory near Wolverhampton can only print in gravure.

We don't know the printing process for the phosphor bands, but all copies seen so far have the phosphor shifted upwards as noted in the pictures above, and seen even more clearly in this pictures provided by CH (to whom many thanks):

Photograph of Queen 95 pane under ultra-violet light, showing upward shift of phopshor (the lighter areas) producing short bands at the foot on the England and Northern Ireland and 2 x Machin definitives at the foot, and partly inset bands at the foot of the Scotland and Wales stamps and partly wide bands on the other 2 x Machin definitives (at the top). 
(The horizontal line across the label is from the plastic on the carrier.)


Update 9 August 2021:  MD sent this picture of the 1st class stamp with "the speckled Queen’s face, like a snowy effect caused by a printing error".  Not something I've seen on this pane or any other.

'Speckled face' on 1st class from this pane.

UPDATE 16 August.  Thanks to AJ for this picture of the whole pane with this fault, from the cover.  

This stamp is not on sale through normal channels so it is unlikely to have a full listing in any Gibbons catalogue, but it should be worth a footnote.  We will list it in the Norvic Checklist (number 3702.21) as available used only, as we did for the Sunday Times MA10 2nd class coil.

As this is a unique stamp which some collectors will want despite unavailability of mint copies, we shall provide it used either as a pane or a single stamp.

Thursday 15 April 2021

News for Subscribers by email.

I don't know whether this affects any readers/followers of this blog, or if you will receive a separate notification.

Google have announced that the email subscription widget, also known as the FollowByEmail widget, will be turned down in July 2021. Specifically, the email subscription system will no longer work and our subscribers will no longer receive email updates.

I am not even sure that this facility is built into this blog, but as it was a notice from Google, I thought it might be useful to alert readers.

Thanks you for reading; we don't send emails, about updates, so please come back often - bookmark this page.



I am reminded by Alan W that 

"The free version of Visual Ping allows you to monitor up to 2 internet pages per day."and they send an email alert for changes.   

But they do require you to have an account and visit their dashboard at least every 6 months (they send reminders I think), to maintain your account.

Friday 9 April 2021

It's a fact! Science Fiction is a very popular literary genre; how about the stamps?

According to an article last year in The Guardian, many authors still don't think much of science fiction, a genre which owes its popularity to the 1920s pulp fiction paperbacks.  But what we now include in science fiction goes back to the previous century to the work of Mary Shelley and H G Wells.

Royal Mail reckon that SF includes one of Britain’s best inventions - The Future. 

"The steam engine powered not only the Industrial Revolution but the imagination too. In 1818, Mary Shelley reworked the Gothic romance to address the advances of contemporary science. By the 1890s, this type of story was called the ‘scientific romance’, and in a few short years HG Wells and his generation had formulated the elements of ‘science fiction’. The genre has since spread around the world and has become a key way in which humans think through their possible futures.

"We celebrate classic science fiction on the 75th anniversary of the death of HG Wells and 70th of publication of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids.

"The illustrations feature on the 6 stamps have a unique interpretation of each of the science fiction classics by 6 different artists."

Pair of 1st class stamps: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Time Machine by H G Wells

Pair of £1.70 stamps: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Pair of £2.55 stamps - Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke, and Shikasta by Doris Lessing

Technical details

Designed by Webb & Webb Design Ltd the 35mm se-tenant stamps are printed in litho by International Security Printers (Cartor).

The specially commissioned artwork is
Frankenstein illustration by Sabina Šinko;
The Time Machine illustration by Francisco Rodríguez, reference image of sunrise in the Namib Desert © Magdalena Paluchowska/Alamy Stock Photo;
Brave New World illustration by Thomas Danthony;
The Day of the Triffids illustration by Mick Brownfield;
Childhood’s End illustration by Matt Murphy;
Shikasta illustration by Sarah Jones;   all illustrations © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2021.


Set of 6 stamps, first day cover, presentation pack, stamp cards.


I like the subjects and I think the designs are innovative - it is so nice to see new artwork, whether or not you like it, rather than stock/library (or even specially commissioned) photographs.  But I suspect, like science fiction as a genre, it's a Marmite issue - you like it or hate it!  Reading more about the issue in the general media may encourage more people to read the books.

Thursday 8 April 2021

More new Machin definitive stamps reported

April is a good time to start reporting on new Machin definitives and it often happens that when one comes, the others follow thick and fast.  So it is this year, with a twist.

Hot on the heels of the 1st class retail booklet of 12 reported last week, the similar 2nd class booklet was reported this week.

M21L stamps issued so far:

Business Sheet
2nd class with datamatrix code (MBIL)
1st class without DMX code (MBIL)

2nd class from book of 12 (MTIL)
1st class from mixed booklet (MCIL)
1st class from book of 12 (MTIL)

Counter sheets (MAIL)
£1.70 (23 December 2020)

Oddball stamps
Not one thing nor another.  Royal Mail have produced a commemorative cover with a block of stamps which looks like a PSB pane, but is neither that nor a miniature sheet. In theory this will only be available used because it is not being made available to collectors, only to dealers for use on covers.  Printed on ordinary gummed paper this is 

1st class M21L MAIL

1st class Machin gummed definitive coded M21L MAIL.

More information will be added as reported.  The Norvic Machin Checklist will be updated within the next two weeks.    

UPDATED REPORT - we have published a re-written report on this product so no further comments will be posted on this product here.

Monday 5 April 2021

Slogan Postmarks for April 2021 - and other interesting postal marks.

After the mass of slogans in March, April came in with a new one on day 1 - and continuation of an old one!  I'm waiting for more post to arrive after the holiday weekend so that there will be more reports to back these up.  Remember this is the only place where April slogans will be shown, so check back to the beginning of the month before taking time to scan and report.  Also, the Action for Children slogan is the default, should there be any days without new slogans.

The World Autism Awareness Week was used on 29 March, followed by an Easter message on 30 March. But the former was used again at Exeter Mail Centre on 1 April. (Reported by BM)

World Autism
Awareness Week
29/03 - 04/04/2021

World Autism Awareness Week slogan postmark used 1 April at Exeter

The other slogan reported for 1 April marks the fact that Robert Walpole was the first UK Prime Minister 300 years ago this week.  This is reported by CH used at Jubilee Mail Centre 01-04-2021. It was also used on 3 April but I don't have any examples.

Robert Walpole enters office
as first UK Prime Minister
300 years ago
4 April 1721

Robert Walpole first UK Prime Minister slogan postmark 1 April at Jubilee Mail Centre.

UPDATE 14 April My thanks to John E for reminding me that although there were no letter deliveries on Good Friday (2 April) and no collections in England, Wales and N Ireland, there were collections in Scotland - although this isn't a very good example from Edinburgh Mail Centre, but it does show the 5-line layout (on an envelope that shouldn't have been postmarked anyway!).


Robert Walpole PM slogan Edinburgh 2 April 2021

The slogan thus exists only in this format on 2 April, as Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness only have iLSMs - no IMPs, with the 'logo' version.

UPDATE 7 APRIL:  My thanks to KD for providing two examples of the second new slogan marking World Health Day.  This is a World Health Organisation initiative - "a new campaign to build a fairer, healthier world."  The slogan is shown used at Swindon and Aberdeen Mail Centres on 06-04-202.

World Health Day
7 April 2021

World Health Day 7 April slogans used at Aberdeen and Swindon 06-04-2021.

UPDATE 20 April.  Following the death of HRH Prince Philip no new slogans were introduced last week.  A new one is reported used on at Cornwall and Greenford/Windsor Mail Centres on 19/04/2021 promoting the Captain Tom Foundation's 100 Challenge.

Everyone is invited to take on a challenge around the number 100 anytime and anywhere over Captain Tom's birthday weekend. It's so simple.

Slogan postmark: Captain Tom 100 30th April - 3rd May, Greenford/Windsor Mail Centre.


Here's the best example to date, from South East Anglia MC on 20/04/2021 in which you can actually read the dates and text.

Slogan postmark: Captain Tom 100 30th April - 3rd May, South East Anglia Mail Centre


UPDATE:  Here's the other layout from Peterborough Mail Centre 20-04-2021.  We also had Bristol in the above format but it's unclear.

Slogan postmark: Captain Tom 100 30th April - 3rd May, Peterborough Mail Centre.


UPDATE 5 MAY:  JE has sent this example of Captain Tom 100 from Manchester dated 17/04/2021 which he says was the earliest day of use:

First day of use of Captain Tom 100 30th April - 3rd May slogan postmark, Manchester Mail Centre 17/04/2021

UPDATE 23 April.  With local and parliamentary elections coming in England, Wales and Scotland Northern Ireland, * a new slogan urging electors to Post Early to Vote Early has made an appearance, albeit through a haze of fog and poor impressions.  Examples here from Tyneside MC on 22/04/2021 and from Exeter on 21-04-2021, the latter maintaining the high standards that we have come to expect from there.   

* Despite there being no elections in Northern Ireland, and the intended use of the Beyond 100 slogan only there, we have a report of the election slogan used on 1 May by Belfast.

The illustrated slogan reads Post Early to Vote Early for the Elections on Thursday 6 May.  I won't attempt to show the layout as it varies in the different layouts, albeit both over five lines.  It is to be hoped that we might get a good impression from somewhere.

Pair of poor examples of 'Post Early to Vote Early' postmark slogans.


UPDATE 27 April: A better example from Manchester MC on 22/04/21 and an even better one from Chelmsford (South East Anglia MC) on 23/04/21 (thanks KD)

Pair of better examples of 'Post Early to Vote Early' postmark slogans.


UPDATE 27 April: Possibly the last slogan for April (possibly) marks the centenary of the establishment of Northern Ireland.   Appropriately the first to reach us came from a the Northern Ireland Mail Centre and appears to be 24/04/2021; the second is a surprising clear impression which we know is from Exeter MC 26-04-2021 (thanks BM)The Belfast date may follow the voting ones above, or it may have been running at the same time as there are no elections in Northern Ireland.

Our Story
in the Making


Our Story in the Making - Northern Ireland Beyond 100 slogan postmark from Belfast Mail Centre 24/04/2021

Our Story in the Making - Northern Ireland Beyond 100 slogan postmark from Exeter Mail Centre 26/04/2021

I've been sent some more from BW in Northern Ireland, courtesy of John Proctor).  BW understands that it is to be used in the UK from 26/4 (yesterday) to 3/5/21 and N.I. only (i.e. Belfast) 3rd to 29 May.  But our Belfast one shown above is almost certainly 24th; it arrived on 26th.

UPDATE 4 May: enclosing recently opened greetings cards I can now show better examples of the Northern Ireland Beyond 100 slogan, from Chester & N Wales (29/04/2021) and Gatwick Mail Centre (30/04/2021)

Our Story in the Making - Northern Ireland Beyond 100 slogan postmark from Chester Mail Centre 29/04/2021

Our Story in the Making - Northern Ireland Beyond 100 slogan postmark from Gatwick Mail Centre 30/04/2021

This will carry over to May from Northern Ireland so I hope to get some examples from readers there to start the new month.  It will be interesting to see what happens in the rest of the United Kingdom.


Earlier reports of new ink supplies at Exeter Mail Centre appear to be premature - 6 April:

Poor example of a no-slogan format from Exeter 06-04-2021 with very little ink.

As usual, this is the place for you to record slogan and other interesting postmarks for other collectors and for long-term recording by the British Postmark Society.

I'll try to record everything but if I don't fit yours in it's probably because I didn't have time when I first received your image and then forgot about it as it moved down the email list.  Give me a nudge!