Friday 14 May 2021

London's Postal Museum re-opens with Post and Go fundraiser.

 Press Release


The Postal Museum announces the reopening of its Post & Go machines with new commemorative overprints 

LONDON, 14 May 2021 – The Postal Museum is set to resume the operation of its two Post & Go machines as the Museum reopens to the public on 20 May 2021. Both kiosks will be in their usual locations The Postal Museum’s Welcome Space and Mail Rail entrance, no admission ticket will be required to access the services.

Additional safety measures are being introduced such as a hand sanitizer station, a queuing system and information on how to scan the NHS Test and Trace QR code located near the machines.

The machine in the Welcome Space will vend a collector’s strip of 1st and 2nd class Machin stamps with an overprint “Wish You Were Here” and a distinctive postcard symbol celebrating The Postal Museum’s new exhibition marking 151 years of the British postcard.

In addition to Post & Go stamps, a First Day Cover and a Presentation Pack containing both 1st and 2nd class Machins with “Wish You Were Here” overprint will be available to purchase from the museum’s shop and online at from 20 May.

Both Post & Go machines are available at The Postal Museum from 10.30 and throughout the museum’s opening hours (Thursdays to Sundays). Please check the full revised opening hours at

The Postal Museum Post & Go stamp with re-opening "Wish You Were Here" inscription.


UPDATE 25 May: My thanks to MC for providing these images from the machines at The Postal Museum, and this commentary.

Year coding on TPM Machins is 'unclear' as the 'postcard' part of the overprint design obliterates the coding! At least one dealer on site reported the situation.

The Mail Rail kiosk, still AO12, is now back in the Mail Rail area over the road (when I got over there after TPM, it was apparent that there had been a delayed start due to 'technical issues'). 

First day covers were available on site at TPM (limited edition of 300 but, unusually, not individually numbered) but Presentation Packs (similarly, 300 issue) were only available to order via the web due to 'production issues'. Staff did, however, provide a code to interested attendees for web ordering so that there will be free postage when despatched, hopefully next week.


Mail Coach, Union Flag, and PO Underground Railway Post and Go strips from the Postal Museum's machine A001 with first 2021 service indicators.

Machin Post and Go strips (1st & 2nd) from the Postal Museum's machine A001 with first 2021 service indicators.

Post & Go strips from the Mail Rail machine (A012) at The Postal Museum with first 2021 service indicators.

These are posted for the online record, but we are not stocking them.

Thursday 13 May 2021

HRH Prince Philip - In Memoriam - stamp miniature sheet 24 June 2021

Royal Mail will issue a miniature sheet of four stamps marking the life of His Royal Highness Prince Philip who died two months short of his 100th birthday, on 9 April 2021.

The Duke of Edinburgh, the longest-serving consort to a monarch in British history, whom the Queen described as her "strength and stay" during her record-breaking reign, passed away at Windsor Castle.

The appropriately black-and-white miniature sheet commemorates the Duke with four portrait stamps, each featuring a photo of Prince Philip from over the years. 


HRH Prince Philip In Memoriam miniature sheet issued by Royal Mail 24 June 2021.

2nd class Photograph of HRH The Prince Philip, taken by the photographer Baron.
1st class Photograph of HRH The Prince Philip attending the passing out parade of Prince Andrew at Dartmouth Naval College, Devon.
£1.70 Photograph of HRH The Prince Philip at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
£2.55 Photograph of HRH The Prince Philip taken by the photographer Terry O’Neill.

Technical Details
The 190 x 67 mm sheet was designed by Kate Stephens and Royal Mail Group, and was printed by International Security Printers in litho. The stamps are 35 mm x 37 mm with all over phosphor except on the 2nd class which has one phosphor band. 
Acknowledgements: 2nd class – photograph by Baron © Camera Press London; 1st class – photograph © Keystone/Getty Images; £1.70 – photograph by Richard Gillard © Camera Press London; £2.55 – photograph © Terry O’Neill/Iconic Images

Miniature sheet, presentation pack, first day cover.

Monday 10 May 2021

This is why forgers produced an 'impossible' stamp.

The forgeries of 1st class Machin definitives are often shown to be 'impossible', whether by the perforations, the iridescent security print, or the phosphor bands.  If it's only the phosphor one has to see the actual stamp to positively say that it is wrong.

But in the case of other 'errors' many collectors and dealers can tell from even a poor scan or photo that it is wrong. One such is this:

Now collectors of Machin definitives with security prints know that the 1st class red was introduced in 2012 with code M12L on counter sheets - indicated by the MAIL at the top right.  So why was this produced as MA12.

Royal Mail's mock-ups of mixed-content retail booklets also have this impossible coding, as shown here from the Music Giants V booklet:

Of course that doesn't explain the many other give-away errors in the forgeries, but it does explain the major oddity.

Addition: As Gwen notes, in the comments, some of these forgeries are collectable - given that there are so many collecting them mint is easier than postally used.  We have some of each for sale here.


The image for the ebay listing in today's comment:

Forged 1st class Large stamps with 9 diagonal (not wavy) lines of text on the stamp and text on the backing paper rotated through 90º - and straight-sided elliptical perforations!

Unexplained delays and invalid charges - the 'new normal'?

When I received a letter last week (7 May) postmarked 6 April, I just put it down to 'one of those things". The stamp is an Olympic definitive, so not current (but valid) so maybe it just got delayed somewhere between Preston and Norfolk.

Posted Lancashire 6 April, delivered Norfolk 7 May 2021 - no obvious reason.

But today I had an email from regular contributor RW who forked out a £2 unpaid item charge for this:

Letter posted Milton Keynes October 2020 - delivered Devon 10 May 2021, after payment of £2 'No postage paid' penalty.

Until recently there was a Royal Mail webpage which showed the complete range of special stamps (from 1964?) issued, at which is now longer functioning although it is still linked from here

If only Revenue Protection had access to that, or some sort of index as is contained in the Gibbons Concise catalogue they might not make these silly mistakes and delay letters while they decided.  

I suspect my Olympic one was put aside so that somebody could check it 'when they had time' and they then passed it on without comment having decided that there was somebody working there for more than 8 years who remembered it.

UPDATE 11 May.  My thanks to GONJ who sent this cover, properly stamped to a customer.  "A large letter 79g so 96p and over paid by ½p, the initial report of non receipt after 10 days was followed the next day by a surcharge card."

April 2021 example of properly paid letter marked as 'Underpaid', but with no indication as to which stamp was not counted.   

It took over an hour with different branches of Royal Mail's customer services team for the sender to get this sorted out.  A standard apology and 6 x 1st class stamps will be sent to the addressee (who paid the fee) although this is not an admission of any error.

Have you had similar problems with mail being delayed when old stamps are used?  Let us know.

Thursday 6 May 2021

Music Giants V: Paul McCartney - another bumper pack to be issued 28 May 2021

This will undoubtedly be another set that some like, some don't, and others would if it only had fewer stamps and/or other products.  As a singer and songwriter Paul McCartney has great talent: whether he still has all the talents or not is a matter of debate.  Live televised performances over the last few years suggest that his voice is not as good as it was, especially compared to others of his age and older.

According to Royal Mail:

Sir Paul McCartney is an icon of 20th century popular music and recognised by Guinness World Records as ‘The most successful songwriter of all time’ having written or co-written 188 charted records in the UK, of which 91 reached the top 10 and 33 to number one and having been awarded more than 60 gold discs.

In the USA he has composed 32 number-one singles and is a 21-time Grammy winner.

Over the course of nearly six decades, he has sold more records than any other artist.

2021 is the 50th anniversary of the formation of solo album RAM and the formation of the band Wings which achieved huge success as among the biggest selling acts of the 70s with 27 US top 40 hits (beating Elton John’s 25) and five consecutive no 1 albums. The 1977 Wings single, Mull of Kintyre, remains the UK’s biggest selling non-charity single.  

Half a century after The Beatles’ split, McCartney remains a vital figure at the centre of rock and pop, an artist whose legacy is immense but whose work continues to generate attention and acclaim.

In celebration of the UK’s most successful songwriter and greatest music legends, Royal Mail is releasing a new set of 8 stamps featuring some of the albums which spanned Paul McCartney’s career and a Miniature Sheet which reflects his passion for studio recording.

As is usual in this series, the issue consists of a set of 8 stamps (4 x 1st class and 4 x £1.70), a miniature sheet, a retail booklet, a prestige stamp book (PSB), and a 'smilers' type Collectors Sheet.  That's in addition to the first day covers (3), presentation pack, press sheet (of 16 MS) and stamp cards.

Then for the real fans, there are the medal covers (2), limited edition PSB, and two 'Fan sheets' in the same LP format as previously. 

The stamps

Set of 8 stamps featuring Paul McCartney Album Covers (Music Giants V 28 May 2021)

1st class: 
McCartney, RAM, Venus and Mars, McCartney II
£1.70: Tug of War, Flaming Pie, Egypt Station, McCartney III

Paul McCartney in the Studio miniature sheet of 4 stamps

Royal Mail's description of these suggests that they are studio photos taken during the production of certain albums, namely: 1st class McCartney, RAM; £1.70 McCartney II, Flaming Pie.  No details of the background image have been provided.

Technical details

The 38 x 31mm gummed stamps are printed in litho in sheets of 48 by International Security Printers (ISP).  On the 115 x 89mm gummed miniature sheet the 35mm square stamps are also printed by ISP in litho.  Images © MPL Communications Inc/Ltd 2021.  The stamps and miniature sheet were designed by Royal Mail and Baxter & Bailey.

Other products

Retail booklet:  containing self-adhesive versions of the McCartney and McCartney II stamps, along with 4 x 1st class Machin definitives (coded M21L MCIL) the booklet is gravure printed by ISP.

Music Giants V: Paul McCartney retail stamp booklet.

Prestige Stamp Book:
as usual this issue includes a PSB which contains all the sheet stamps, the miniature sheet with a different background, and a pane of Machin definitives.

Cover of Music Giants V: Paul McCartney prestige stamp book.

The stamps on the definitive pane are 2 each of 2p, 10p, 50p and an old-looking 1st class.  

Scan of actual definitive pane, McCartney PSB.

It's difficult to get the colours right on the scan: the red is darker, a good match for current 1st class stamps.  The 10p is dull, similar to the Leonardo 10p.  All the stamps are coded M21L MPIL.

There is also a £49.99 special edition limited to 1970 copies, in recognition of the release of McCartney in 1970 (51 years ago).  

UPDATE 11 May.  With apologies to the dealer who sent these pictures when he first received his stock. He has a PSB with a duplicate page - unfortunately not a page of stamps, but nonetheless unusual.

UPDATE 7 July.  We don't often see flaws which stand out quite as well as the one on this image sent from Jim P, who has a fishing website (OK, we don't normally advertise but on this occasion...).  I suspect this is transient as similar circular flaws on litho-printed stamps are well-known, but of late there has been nothing this eye-catching on a British stamp.  

On the lower 50p stamp, there is a large break at the foot of the '0'.  From the images supplied it doesn't look like a fault in the screening, more an ink bubble/blob.  But any collector would be pleased to find one of these.

Collector Sheet

McCartney Album Covers Collector Sheet

This is an A4 sheet containing 10 x of the Special Stamps from the set, with his first two albums; McCartney and RAM 1st Class stamps repeated. Set against a dramatic shot of Paul performing on the Freshen Up tour in 2019.  Price £13.00  (The stamps shown as £1.55 are actually £1.70 - Royal Mail should have updated the images before sending them to us.)
Print process; lithography printed on gummed paper, as are the ordinary sheet stamps.

Fan sheets
The usual assortment of additional stamp products including a numbered RAM sheet and McCartney (runs of 5,000) each containing just four of the relevant stamps (£7.50 each) and an Album Cover Collection sheet containing all 8 stamps, for £10.90 (also a numbered run of 5,000). The stamps shown as £1.55 are actually £1.70 - Royal Mail should have updated the images before sending them to us.

McCartney III Fan Sheet

Ram Fan Sheet

Album Cover Collection Fan Sheet

Other philatelic products

First day covers (3), presentation pack, stamp cards (14), press sheet of 16 miniature sheets (edition of only 200).

Other products

Albums medal cover; 'In the Studio' medal cover; stamp pack (set of 8), miniature sheet pack; Souvenir Folder containing 8 enlargements of the stamps also including the stamps and miniature sheet fixed to the card within the folder.  Framed products or similar but mounted only for personal framing.

Wednesday 5 May 2021

May 2021 slogan and other interesting postmarks

April continued the mass of slogans that we had in March, starting with the continuation of an old one and a day 1 mistake!  This is the only place where May 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 slogan urging electors to Post Early to Vote Early for the 6th May elections was not intended to be used in Northern Ireland as there were no elections there.  Instead the slogan used nationally from (we think) 26 April until 3 May marking the Centenary of Northern Ireland was intended to be used until the end of May at Belfast Mail Centre (Northern Ireland's only MC).

UPDATE from JE: the 'Northern Ireland beyond 100 slogan', this was used UK-wide from 24 to 30 April not from 26 April to 3 May as indicated above. On 1 May, of course, the 'Vote Early' slogan of 22-23 April made its reappearance for 1 day, followed by the Covid-19 Vaccine slogan from 4 to 6 May.

Thanks to JE we can show a clean example of the Voting slogan from Manchester Mail Centre on 01/05/2021.

Post Early to Vote Early slogan, 1 May use in Manchester Mail Centre.

However, the Vote Early slogan was also used at Belfast Mail Centre on 1 May - to the surprise of locals who wanted a copy of the Beyond 100 slogan!  Doubtless this will be corrected and we will see the correct slogan soon.

Thanks to JP for this picture of the Belfast slogan:

Post Early Vote Early slogan mistakenly used at Belfast Mail Centre 01/05/2021

UPDATE 12 May: JE comments:

the key point is that NIMCs IMPs have been programmed to apply the 'Northern Ireland Beyond 100' slogan to letters addressed to BT postcodes, but the current slogan (or default) to letters addressed to all other postcodes.  The reverse applies to IMPs in England and Wales (there are no IMPs in Scottish Mail Centres). For example, on 7 April I sent a letter to Belfast, and this received the 'Northern Ireland Beyond 100' slogan, but covers I posted to myself and to Leeds and Edinburgh received the 'Mental Health Awareness Week' slogan.  Thus two different slogans were in use simultaneously in all IMPs, and JP's cover happened to get the wrong one!

Meanwhile BW in Dublin reports that a letter from JP received the Mental Health Awareness slogan on 8 May, while he was wanting the Beyond 100 - but JE's explanation above shows why he didn't get it.

UPDATE: A new Covid-19 slogan was introduced yesterday 04/05/2021, thanks to JE for the one from Lancashire & South Lakes, to MM for the Jubilee Mail Centre version, and to KD who first reported it but had an example so poor that he didn't scan it.  


Every Covid-19 Vaccination Gives Us Hope - three line version from Jubilee Mail Centre and 4-line version from Lancashire and South Lakes 04/05/2021

UPDATE 10 MAY.  Thanks to JE for the latest slogan, for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week.  Whether or not we know we have been personally affected (and many people don't realise) mental health problems have been exacerbated by the pandemic and successive lockdowns and rule changes.  

This Mental Health
Awareness Week
10-16 May 2021

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 postmark slogan Lancashire & South Lakes 07/05/2021

And this is why #ConnectWithNature is the theme: MHF Website.

UPDATE 13 May: the other layout from Norwich Mail Centre 11-05-2021

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 postmark slogan Norwich 11-05-2021



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!

Surprise unscheduled stamp issue in June 2021 - or not.

UPDATE same day - I've been told officially that this message in the Postmark Bulletin is an error.  It's a pity communications are so difficult within Royal Mail.

There has been speculation among collectors and dealers since Royal Mail made their stamp programme for 2021 public that there was a gaping hole in June that would almost certainly be filled.  The only question was how expensive the plug would be.

This was what they first sent to dealers in October last year:

A later version, and the official list showed Music Giants V on 28 May and Dennis and Gnasher on 1 July, so actually quite close and we foolishly thought that maybe there would be a June break.

But this note has appeared in the May Postmark Bulletin, which can't be about Dennis as the postmarks for that will almost certainly be published near the end of June (or in the same June edition).

UPDATE same day - I've been told officially that this is an error; the Bulletin will be published on the last Friday in May, as usual.  

It's a pity comms are so difficult within Royal Mail.

So the Bulletin will be published about 2 weeks late, on 10 June, (or not) meaning a stamp issue on that date or within a week afterwards.

Dealers have been told nothing yet - and by nothing I mean, we haven't even been told about this delay.  I didn't read it in the Bulletin, it took a customer to point it out, as it doesn't actually get any special highlighting - it is just included with two other Special Announcements which have been published for the last few months.