Thursday 16 September 2021

Break(ing) news, mid-September 2021

I apologise that I forgot to include here a message that we would be away from the office for a few days - which meant that an unusually large number of people wrote about the latest postmark slogan (see previous post).

I hope you all received the 'out of office' message from gmail.

Aside from the new slogan postmark not much news has broken in the few days for which we were away.

However I understand from an anonymous source that the Christmas stamps will be the first stamps with barcodes readily available to ordinary users.  If this applies to the stamps in booklets they will be much larger than usual; if it applies to the large letter stamps then the sheets will be much larger than usual!

This is what last years 2nd class might have looked like.

Whether this is just a rumour or a rumour based on fact, only time will tell.

UPDATE 28 September:  two of the Bureau's customers have sent me this message which appears on their latest advice notes regarding a payment due from their accounts in due course.

In this context 'Format' means stamps which are available (or were when the customer set up his standing order) in specific formats such as cylinder blocks, date blocks, traffic light blocks (remember then), gutter pairs.  

So the inference is that the 1st, 2nd, 1st Large and 2nd Large sheet stamps (only) will have datamatrix codes; these and the two airmail stamps (£1.70, £2.55) are in counter sheets and will be available as formats described above.  The 1st & 2nd without datamatrix codes are only available from booklets and will not be available in formats.

UPDATE 5 October

According to the October Philatelic Bulletin under 'new issues', the set consists of 1st, 2nd, 1st Large and 2nd Large, £1.70, £2.55 (six stamps) but there are 9 cards in the set (usually one for each stamp plus one for the miniature sheet).  In addition there will be the usual booklets, miniature sheet and 'Collectors Sheet' aka Smiler sheet.


  1. As there are at least three different types of forgeries for the 2020 Christmas stamp set. It will be interesting to see what this year produces!

    How will Royal Mail treat stamps which have had the barcode innocently removed by a user ignorant of its purpose?

    Whilst it’s proper for Royal Mail to safeguard its revenue, they risk a wave of bad publicity if they fail to educate the end user correctly which could be this management team’s ‘Consignia’

    1. It could be that Royal Mail will use Christmas to promote and educate the public on these barcoded stamps since Christmas stamps are always sold in much larger quantities than other commemorative issues.

  2. Might also be a size problem for the 'Smilers' sheet.

  3. Having looked at the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion column, the images portrayed there would seem to indicate that there will be both a 2nd & 1st Class stamp with and without a barcode. So it would appear that the barcodes will appear in sheets, rather than in booklets / Smilers sheets. Only time will tell.

  4. If barcodes were to be on other than definitives then it’s no surprise that it’ll be the Christmas stamps as there are probably more of them used postally than all the other ‘Special’ stamps of the year combined.
    A barcode alongside the Chritmassy picture doesn’t actually look much more unsightly than the “Large” panel at the left of two denominations from in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
    Rather than to prevent reuse aren’t barcodes more likely to be for preventing forgeries as the crooks couldn’t produce a unique and acceptable barcode on each stamp ? If so though producing both barcoded and normal versions of the 1ST and 2ND stamps defeats the object as forgers would of course only reproduce the normal version. And barcodes on the two “Large” denominations might be of little use as I don’t think many Large Letters, especially stamped ones, are automatically sorted, Manchester being the only Mail Centre with a Flats Sorting Machine (FSM) a dozen years ago.

  5. From my Order Advice Note it’s clear that standing order customers will NOT receive any of the non-barcoded 2nd and 1st stamps as individual stamps, but only as part of the booklets and miniature sheets if they regularly receive them.
    This is a change from the barcoded Machin 2nd last March when standing order customers were sent ONE no matter what quantity they expected.

  6. With mention in the October edition only of the six values subscribers to the Philatelic Bulletin will get NO advance notice of two of the Christmas stamps appearing as both normal and barcoded.
    As barcoded stamps are printed in sheets of fifty or forty maybe the two in the forthcoming eight-stamp miniature sheet won’t have unique codes with the sorting machines programmed to accept them like that, not that they’re likely to be used other than on first day covers.


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