Wednesday 7 July 2021

Bits and Pieces - various news snippets.

This will be a short summary of early July news items which don't necessarily warrant a full-blown blog post in their own right.


Special Postmarks and First Day Covers

Royal Mail's on-off relaxation of normal rules for obtaining special postmarks on first day covers and other items, previously mentioned in July and November last year, will come to an end on 31 July 2021.  This means that the 22 July Wild Coasts stamps (about which more later) can be sent until the end of the month, but the 12 August Industrial Revolutions issue will be subject to regular rules as detailed in the Postmark Bulletin.    The usual concessions will apply to those (especially overseas) who do not receive the stamps or blank covers by the date of issue, and for Bulletin late announcements.  Always include a note to the SHC manager if this applies.   

And now that we only have one handstamp centre covering the whole country bar London and the Wales and West area, it is even more important to ensure that the instructions in the Bulletin are followed especially regarding having an address on the item to be postmarked and providing a return envelope for covers for each handstamp requested.  (Multiple items can still be enclosed in one larger parcel or box, though.)  Guidance and clarfication from the very helpful people at Tallents House on 0345 071 2000 (os&

Doctor Blade is back!

Ok, it never really went away because it is an integral part of the printing process, but on the Dennis & Gnasher post we have a picture of a booklet with two distinct flaws. 

Major break in value on McCartney Machin.

Jim P has sent some pictures of a nice flaw, which I don't think is constant, on the 50p Machin in the McCartney PSB.  I've added it to the Music Giants V post.

Industrial Revolutions

According to the July Philatelic Bulletin this set consists of six stamps (2nd class, 1st class & £1.70 in se-tenant pairs), and a miniature sheet (2 x 1st class & one each £1.70 and £2.55 in a block of 4).  As well as the usual products there is a Prestige Stamp Book the definitive pane of which contains 3 x 10p, 2 x 5p, 2 x 20p and a single £1.70.  Now to make this useful to dealers as well as collectors, one of the 10p could have been another £1.70 so providing two sets.  But that would have been an expensive book which is £18.03 already.  Anyway, any collector buying for the new stamps alone (the 10p isn't new unless it's somehow different) will only have 55p-worth of postage - plus the special stamps, of course, which includes two pairs of the sheet-origin 1st class.

More details towards the end of this month.

Coin Covers

Two Royal Mail/Royal Mint products have been announced and doubtless they will be on the Royal Mail website ere long.

The Duke of Edinburgh in Memoriam cover will be issued on 19 August.  Bearing the miniature sheet with a special handstamp of the same date, the cheapest cover (in an edition of 10,000) will contain a £5 cupro-nickel coin, and is priced at £19.95.  The Silver Proof cover is £92.50 (750 produced) and the Gold £2,650 (50 produced)  

The second cover marks the 75th anniversary of the death of author H.G.Wells.  The Royal Mint bi-coloured £2 coin has already been criticised for inaccuracies (the tripod creatures have four legs) but it stands (pun itended!) there alongside three of the 1st class Time Machine stamps from Royal Mail's Classic Science Fiction set issued earlier his year.  

The stamps are cancelled with a 13 August Bromley handstamp showing Wells' signature.  There are three bi-coloured coins, cupro-nickel at £19.95, sterling silver part plated in gold (£92.50), and yellow gold + red gold (£1,095).  Quantities are the same as the other cover.

Queen's 95th Birthday cover - pane

Regular followers of Machin sales on that well-known auction site will have seen a single 1st class stamp from this pane realising £62 - because it was mint.  A reader commented on the original thread that the panes were on sale mint at the Stafford Stamp Show for £18 (two dealers were selling) and I saw them on sale at Midpex last Saturday for £25.  The ultimate folly today saw a German dealer sell a mint pane for £365.99 with the underbidder £10 less.   

Value Added Tax and the European Union

Collectors in the EU should by now be aware that rules on importation of small-value items changed from 1 July, in much the same way as they changed in the UK from 1 January.  In short this means that business to consumer sendings are now taxable no matter how low the value of the goods.  Royal Mail explain it on their shop website thus:

Any customer that resides within an EU member state and orders any product from the RM Web shop or any other channel that we offer, since 1st January 2021 may have had to pay additional VAT and handling charges to the local post or parcel delivery company before their orders got delivered to them.

Royal Mail is registered for the IOSS (Import One Stop Shop), so from 1st July 2021 whenever the order placed by our customers meets the conditions for using the scheme, Royal Mail pays the VAT due instead of the customer thus ensuring our customers do not have to pay customs charges (although a few of the national posts / parcel operators may charge a very low fee) and suffer potential delays when receiving their goods.

In effect this means that all goods bought from outside the EU are subject to local VAT.  In practice letters containing a few stamps are - as at present - less likely to be examined and charged by local customs authorities who are likely to be concentrating on bigger fry.

For Norvic Philatelics we continue unchanged.  Customs labels will be added to despatches where required (ie not normally for letters or large letters) and customers in the EU will be treated in the same way as those in any country outside the UK.  Local taxes are the responsibility of the customer.

Note that if you (in the EU) buy from UK sellers on eBay, eBay will automatically add your local VAT to the price you pay in most cases.  Collectors in the UK buying from outside the UK on eBay have the same problem.  The one ray of light is that you no longer have to pay the Royal Mail/Border Force £8 examination charge.


  1. With your very helpful information about the reintroduction of special postmark cancellation rules, does this mean if I can't buy commemorative stamps on the first day of issue (due to my main Post Office and local sub post offices not having them in stock), if I submit a note to the handstamp cancellation centre, they would kindly oblige me with cancellations after the first day of issue?
    Any advice of which department at Royal Mail that I could send a comment to about my local post offices not stocking commemoratives? Thanks !

    1. In principle YES.

      As for no stock, branches in other shops established under the PO 'Locals' system do not stock special stamps, we're told due to space constraints.

      Your main PO (email me with details if you wish) ought to have them, depending on what model it operates under. We are told that of the 11,500 branches (including every stop on a mobile, and outreach services) 7,000-ish should have all special stamp issues.

      Complain to Post Office customer services, get the number from a branch or their website.

    2. For the Queen's 95th Birthday cover Royal Mail issue “a unique pane of Machin Definitive and Country Definitive stamps, of particular interest to Machin aficionados” but the “product range” is only their coin cover at £19.99.
      I complained to them about them about the pane not being available mint, mentioned in a letter of 16th May that they “are now being sold from Rushden “used” at £9.95 each” adding that “I expect mint panes will soon similarly be offered for sale as I’m now well aware that stamp dealers can buy such products that are denied to “keen collectors” and “Machin aficionados” such as myself” and you have now confirmed that availability.
      I have enthusiastically collected ALL se-tenant British definitives mint since the 1963 Holiday Books, and used until 2003, but that’s me finished now.

  2. Industrial Revolution issue now being shown on BFDC but no PSB panes as yet


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