Thursday 10 February 2022

Christmas comes late for one FDC collector.

We have often seen in the popular press reports of postcards and letters arriving decades after being posted.  For postcards especially this is often attributed to mischievous collectors putting a common and relatively worthless Edwardian card back into the post just to see what the press make of it.  But this is a story with a difference, and I am indebted to CE of Bristol for sending it to me.

As you can see, these are first day covers of the 2012 Christmas set and miniature sheet.  But if you think the postmark doesn't look right, then click on it and you will see that the postmarks were the 2021 versions.

The story is this:  

In 2012 I was buying my First Day covers from the Crown Office in Bristol City Centre.  On the first day of issue I had to be in Bath so decided to buy my stamps from the Crown Office there.  

I seem to remember that the staff did not seem very knowledgeable but I was able to buy what I wanted.  The stamps never arrived at my home so eventually I complained and I was sent a replacement set.  

I then forgot about the whole thing until recently when these turned up.  What amazes me is that a 2012 First Day cover should still have received a stamp from 2021.  I thought First Day covers were always hand stamped, so did not the clerk notice there was something wrong? 

A strange tale indeed!

I think this is probably what happened.

The stamps were placed in a box, or a pouch, at the Bath PO to be sent to the Special Handstamp Centre (SHC), probably in Cardiff but maybe in Edinburgh.  I think by this time HPOs were no longer supplied with FDoI handstamps for local cancelling and return.

I would not have expected these to be the only ones at Bath, but they were either not sent to the SHC, or they were misplaced there on arrival.  By coincidence they were discovered around the time that last year's FDCs were being processed and were included with them without much thought.  Logically somebody should have asked questions, but I'm not sure what I would have done with them in the same circumstances.  Perhaps telephoned the addressee - that might have been a good idea!

So, when the 2021 FDCs were being processed, and these were included, they totally ignored the fact that these were not the current stamps.  And whereas handstamps which do not include the words 'first day of issue' can be applied to any old stamps, these should not have been.  These are fixed date handstamps, and the original 2012 would no longer be available.  


Does anybody have any other suggestions or similar stories?


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Loughborough: Comment transferred to the Datamatrix post.

  3. I trust your contributor has returned these to Royal Mail ........ having been replaced 9 years they are not their property.

    1. You don't know what he was told when he was sent the replacements. I have had replacements for damaged goods and they have said to keep the damaged ones. I'm sure you are purity personfied.

  4. I did not think my integrity was being questioned. However you have answered questions of your own ...

  5. With Royal Mail I think only ever applying First Day postmarks to the relevant stamps these must be two extremely rare, if not necessarily very valuable, covers.

  6. 10 Years Older than the Pyramids11 February 2022 at 11:46

    Having worked in Royal Mail facilities (at varying stages of the mail's progress through the system), a single FDC being 'overlooked' suggests several possibilities, but most of these would be unlikely to have affected two items (for the same addressee) and only two items.

    It is, of course, possible that there were other affected FDCs, perhaps now undeliverable (many people will have moved home in 9 years), but it would have been surprising if none of any other recipients had gone public either to praise or to villify Royal Mail.

  7. It's a shame I didn't keep it, but I got a postcard which had a sole Royal Airforce centenary 1st stamp (2018) but cancelled with a FDI Postmark of the Video Games stamp issue (January 2020). And no it wasn't one of the sponsored postmarks either.


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