Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Now available from Royal Mail - but not for long

As several people have mentioned in comments on different posts, Royal Mail have produced an updated Stock List for Spring 2022.

This is important because it is likely to be the last such listing the Machin and Country Definitive stamps without datamatrix codes. 

Notably the last day of sale for the old-style Machin sheet stamps is shown as 28 May 2022, ie about six weeks away!  I don't think this has been mentioned anywhere by Royal Mail, and they haven't told their registered dealers, unless I missed it.  Others are listed as 'while stocks last'.

Summary:

Machin counter sheets - 28 May 2022

Mixed Booklets* & PSBs - While Stocks Last except Harry Potter (both), 31 December 2022

Country definitives - While Stocks Last - only 2nd, 1st and £1.70 stamps are available now.

* Other retail booklets - these are not mentioned at all in the Spring 2022 list. 

It seems, though, that the blue and red 12 x 2nd, 12 x 1st, 6 x 1st, 4 x 2nd Large and 4 x 1st Large are no longer available - if you are missing any of these then it is time to find them at local post offices. Those still available from Royal Mail's website shop are shown here.  

My thanks to the people who have confirmed that non-mixed retail booklets were shown as 'While Stocks Last' in September 2021, which means that for some reason (!) stocks only lasted until new-style booklets were issued, and no opportunity was given to obtain any at the last minute.  (My thanks also to AJ for sending me the list I was missing.)

Year by Year

Many readers know that as part of our arrangement with Royal Mail, registered dealers are provided with details of new printings of counter sheet stamps.  While this is not fully comprehensive, it has enabled us in the past to provide new years' printings including date blocks (usually but not always) before you could find them in Post Offices.

On the basis that there is an opportunity to sell rather than burn existing stocks, Royal Mail have now produced a new list, the first since October 2021, and this is a summary:

Stamp

Printer

Year

1p

W

M20L M21L

2p

W

M21L

5p

D

M16L M17L

5p

W

M19L M21L

10p

W

M21L

20p

D

M17L

20p

W

M21L

50p

D

M12L

50p

W

M19L

£1

D1

M16L

£1

W1

M18L M20L

£1.50

D

2009 no code

£2

D

2009 no code

£2

W

M19L

£3

D

2009 no code

£3

W

M19L




2nd

D

2014/5/6/7

2nd

W

2018/9/20

2nd Large

D

2011/2/3/4/5/6/7

2nd Large

W

2018/9/20

1st class

D

2017

1st class

W

2018/9/20

1st Large

D

2015/6/7

1st Large

W

2018/9/20




For values shown up to £3 there is usually only one date (and for some of those no cylinder and/or date blocks are available).

For the NVIs there are in many cases several dates available for each year.  Details on request!

For airmail values between £1.42 to £4.20 there are usually only the one or two original printings.  Again, details available if anybody wants them.



Stanley Gibbons Catalogue Numbers for Datamatrix Stamps

Several readers have asked if I can post the SG Catalogue numbers for the new stamps.  These have been listed in the latest Gibbons Stamp Monthly.

Not surprisingly, a number change is the first thing as the 2nd class blue business sheet stamp was given a U number - with all the new stamps it is logical to allocate a new series of stamps as they have with booklets.   The 2nd class blue business sheet changes from U4500 to V4500.

This is the full list so far, and these numbers will be included in our Checklist.  (Updated 17 May 2022)

Counter Sheets - no source code
V4525    2nd  emerald MAIL
V4526    1st deep violet MAIL
V4527    2nd Large grey-green MAIL
V4528    1st Large greenish-blue MAIL

Booklet and Business Sheets - with source codes
V4500    2nd blue MBIL
V4501    2nd emerald MBIL
V4502    2nd emerald MEIL
V4504    1st dp violet MBIL
V4505    1st dp violet MEIL
V4506    1st dp violet MFIL
V4507    2nd Large grey-green MBIL
V4508    2nd Large grey-green MFIL
V4509    1st Large greenish-blue MBIL
V4510    1st Large greenish-blue MFIL

[Airmail] stamps with solid background
V4600 £1.85 grey-brown
V4610 £2.55 blue
V4620 £3.25 purple
V4630 £4.20 bright green

Valued counter sheet stamps
V4700  1p blue
V4702 2p deep green
V4705 5p dull violet-blue
V4710 10p turquoise-green
V4720 20p bright green
V4750 50p slate
V4780 £1 grey-brown
V4800 £2 new-blue
V4820 £3 purple
V4840 £5 emerald




Booklets

TB1    1st x 4
TC1    2nd x 8
TD1    1st x 8
TE1    2nd Large x 4
TF1    1st Large x 4


The latest, low value, high value, and new tariff stamps issued on 4 April are too new to have had numbers allocated.  I suspect they may be a new range, maybe 455- or 46--.  I'll update this when we know.

Update: now that we have the 4 April numbers it is good to see that the catalogue editors have been forward looking and have left gaps in the numbering for future values.  However, whilst this is most likely for the airmail stamps (4600 series), it seems quite unlikely for the others, especially the low values.


Unsung Heroes: Women of WWII - 5 May 2022

I'm not really sure about the timing of this stamp issue.  The subject is worthy enough, and indeed the Royal Mail write-up makes several references to the Women of World War II memorial in central London. That was erected in 2005, sixty years after the end of the war.  An unambitious miniature sheet was issued that year, but (apart from the Battle of Trafalgar) there was no other conflict commemoration. 

So why now, 77 years after the end of the war?   For sure, with most of the women concerned having contributed when in their 20's they are all reaching an age where there are fewer left to see such a commemoration (certainly fewer than when the memorial was unveiled), but Royal Mail makes no attempt to explain why now. 

The Royal Mail write-up:

A stamp issue paying tribute to the contribution made by women to the war effort during WWII.

Until 1941, women’s work was voluntary, but the increased demands of a global war meant that female conscription was increasingly seen as necessary by the government. By the middle of 1943, most women in wartime employment, both full and part-time, were working in industry, agriculture and the women’s services. The women’s auxiliary services were established at the outset of the war: the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in 1938, and the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) in 1939.

To begin with, roles in the ATS were limited to cooks, cleaners, orderlies, store women and drivers, but as the war went on these were expanded to include other duties, notably work on the anti-aircraft sites. More roles were open to women in the WAAF and the WRNS, while the ‘Spitfire women’ of the civilian Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) delivered planes to airfields around the country.

Among the volunteers were many women from the British colonies and Dominions, who served in the auxiliary and medical services. Other women worked as nurses, air raid wardens and tube and bus drivers, while over one million women volunteered with the Women’s Voluntary Services. At the war’s end, many of these roles disappeared, but women’s contribution to the war effort is commemorated by the Women of World War II memorial in central London.

Women overcame prejudice about their gender, and sometimes about the colour of their skin and their social class, to contribute to the war effort. While much of women’s war work was temporary, ‘just for the duration’ of the war, the changes brought about by their work helped to drive some of the post-war social changes that eventually saw equal opportunities and equal pay legislation. Today, the Women of World War II memorial, erected in Whitehall in 2005, reminds passers-by of the vital work, and contribution to the war effort, undertaken by nearly seven million women in Britain during the war.

The stamp issue

The issue consists of a set of 10 x 1st class stamps, a miniature sheet, and a prestige stamp book. 

The stamps

Set of 10 x 1st class stamps showing Women in Wartime, issued 5 May 2022

Details - 1st class x 10:

Row 1:   Protecting Civilians / Air Raid Precautions; Nursing on the Front Line / Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service; Repairing Army Vehicles/ Auxiliary Territorial Service; Arming The Fleet/ Women’s Royal Naval Service;
Row 2:   Powering The War Effort/ Factory Worker; Deciphering Enemy Messages/ Codebreakers; Supplying Military Production/ Women’s Voluntary Services; Lighting The Way To Victory/ Auxiliary Territorial Service; Maintaining RAF Aircraft/ Women’s Auxiliary Airforce; Meeting Britain’s Demand/ Women’s Land Army.

Miniature Sheet

The miniature sheet honours the ‘Spitfire Women’, an incredibly brave and ground-breaking group of women whose job it was, in the Air Transport Auxiliary, to "ferry” the planes to the front line airfields once they were ready for combat.

Miniature sheet of 4 stamps depicting the 'Spitfire Women'.

Details:

1st Class - Pilot Meet in their Ferry Pool Briefing Room;
1st Class - Pilot climbing into the cockpit of a Supermarine Spitfire;
£1.85 - Pilot Completing her post-flight paperwork in a Lockheed Hudson;
£1.85 - Pilots of the No. 5 Ferry Pool disembarking from an Avro Anson.
Background: Airfield photograph of the first eight women to join the ATA in 1940.

Technical details
The stamps and miniature sheet were designed by Supple Studios, printed in lithography by ISP (Cartor).  The 35mm square are in two sheets of 50.  Perforations are 14½, and there are two phosphor bands.  The 192mm x 74mm miniature sheet contains 41mm x 30mm stamps perforated 14½x14.  © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2022

Credits and acknolwedgements.

Air Raid Precautions photo © Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service photo © IWM B 5842, Auxiliary Territorial Service (Repairing Army vehicles) photo © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images, Women’s Royal Naval Service photo © IWM A19470, Factory worker photo © Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Codebreakers photo used with kind permission of Director GCHQ, Women’s Voluntary Services photo © Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Auxiliary Territorial Service (Lighting the way to victory) photo © Popperfoto/Getty Images, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force photo © Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Women’s Land Army photo © Sayers/Popperfoto/Getty Images,

Miniature sheet: Background image – First eight women to join the ATA, 1940 photo © Saidman/Popperfoto via Getty Images. Pilots meet in their ferry pool briefing room photo © Leonard McCombe/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images. Pilot climbing into the cockpit of a Supermarine Spitfire and Pilot completing her post-flight paperwork in a Lockheed Hudson photos © Maidenhead Heritage Trust. Pilots of the No. 5 Ferry Pool disembarking from an Avro Anson photo © Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty.

Prestige Stamp Book

The Prestige Stamp Book is a 24-page booklet written by Professor Lucy Noakes, Rab Butler Chair in Modern History, Department of History at the University of Essex. The book starts with the outbreak of war, looks at the discussions around female conscription and then goes on to explore specific areas such as women in the military, women in industry, women from across the Empire, the Ferry Pilots, the front line, SOE and Home Front. The book is filled with photographs of the women, many in action in their wartime roles and contains all 14 Unsung Heroes stamps perforated as ‘panes’ within the book plus an extra pane of definitive stamps which is unique to the stamp issue.

In the information provided to us before the issue, Royal Mail made much of the fact that "this is the first PSB to include barcoded definitive stamps and also the first gummed Barcode Stamps as those issued to date have been printed in self-adhesive only."

Except that it isn't.  The definitive pane actually turns out to be self-adhesive, with stamps coded MAIL, not MPIL, which makes them the same as the stamps printed in sheets.

UPDATE: a new picture of an actual definitive pane is shown below.  The backing paper is the same as for counter sheets in the same orientation; there are no roulettes between the stamps of course.

Because of the new size of the definitive stamps, the book is a slightly larger size to accommodate this barcoded pane – it will be 4mm larger in height - 96mm increased to 100mm.  (A larger leaf for the PSB album will be needed and will be available to buy at issue.)

Prestige Stamp Book cover and some open pages (above).

Panes 1-4 (below)

Click on the images to see enlargements.


Pane 1: 4 x 1st class stamps; Pane 2: 'Spitfire Women'; Pane 3: Machin definitives with datamatrix codes, 2 x 50p, 3 x £1.  Pane 4: 6 x 1st class stamps.

UPDATE - images of real definitive pane:

Scan of actual definitive pane from Women of World War II Prestige Stamp Book.
The Datamatrix codes are different on each stamp.

 


50p stamp from Unsung Heroes Women of World War II Prestige Stamp Book definitive pane, showing iridescent printing with year code M22L and source code MAIL (the same as on counter sheets).

Other products

First day covers x3, presentation pack, uncut press sheet of 14 miniature sheet. / Framed set, and framed miniature sheet.



Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Another anonymous letter.

My thanks to the anonymous writer in the Southampton Mail Centre area whose letter with the 1st class 1d red stamp I received today.


The contents will be used appropriately in the near future; thank you.


Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Slogan Postmarks for April, and other postal markings

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine continuing the humanitarian effort needed is increasing, and Royal Mail have continued use of the relevant slogan over from March.

The slogan advertising the Disasters Emergency Committee's Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal which has been widely used since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  

UKRAINE
HUMANITARIAN
APPEAL
DONATE NOW AT
DEC.ORG.UK

The first April example comes from a reader in Italy and it also shows the new £1.85 barcoded Machin. used on the day of issue.  It's posted in Cumbria Dumfries & Galloway 07/04/2022, apparently with two strikes of the date and place section. 

Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal slogan postmark from Carlisle Mail Centre 07/04/2022 on new barcoded £1.85 Machin definitive.

UPDATE 14 April: My thanks to JH & BM for April versions of the other layout from Jubilee Mail Centre. I'm showing BM's as it was placed at the foot of the envelope away from the stamp: date 13-04-2022.

Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal slogan postmark Jubilee Mail Centre13-04-2022.

UPDATE 26 April: The Ukraine Appeal continues to keep the student artists recognition slogan away from the mail.  A new 1st class datamatrix stamp shown here with a Lancashire & South Lakes postmark dated 20/04/2022.  (Thanks to DB for this one.)

Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal slogan postmark of Preston Mail Centre 20/04/2022 on new datamatrix 1st class Machin definitive.




By this time we might have expected a slogan for a Happy Easter or some religious message but, given how close we are to the Easter weekend, I don't expect one now.  

Update: according to the Royal Mail press release on the Heroes of the Pandemic stamps, "In addition, to mark their success, a special postmark will feature on stamped mail delivered to addresses nationwide. Each child will have their name included on their own congratulatory postmark over the coming weeks."

Clearly this has given way, for the time being, to the DEC Ukraine appeal.  More news when we get it, but look out for these postmarks coming soon. 



Other postmarks etc

It's a while since this Manchester postmark from their 'Large Flat' postmarking machine has had a mention in this column.  We showed an example in 2016 but this is an earlier one from 2009 with bars, or a frame, over the upper and lower parts of the postmark.  I am including it here not because it is new, but because every now and then collectors find one and don't know what it is.

Postmark from Manchester Large Flat Machine dated 25 November 2009

MM also sent a picture of what he described as 'Litter'.  I know some people collect anything postal and certainly there is a huge range of bag labels and crate routing tickets available.  I don't think I've seen one for Sunday Delivery before.  This is from North Tyneside Delivery Office and the purple colour certainly makes it distinctive.

North Tyneside DO Sunday Delivery crate label, for routing.



 

This is the place where all news about April postmarks - provided by readers or discovered by us - will be posted.  Please check back and refresh the page before sending anything which may have already been sent since you last looked: this will save you time scanning and writing.  Variants on postmarks already shown are welcome.


 



Thursday, 7 April 2022

Migratory Birds, 10 x 1st class - 7 April 2022

It's three years almost to the day* since Royal Mail last issued a set of stamps on the bird theme, and this time they specifically feature migrating birds.  

From Royal Mail's write-up:

This ten-stamp set on Migratory Birds explores the spring and summer bird visitors to the UK. Bird migration is the annual, seasonal movement of birds along predefined routes between their breeding and
non-breeding grounds.

The ten featured birds have been illustrated in detail by the Irish ornithologist, Killian Mullarney and the set showcases the diversity of migratory birds that all arrive in the UK; from seabirds that migrate along the UK’s coastline, such as the Arctic Skua and Arctic Tern, to the exceptionally rare bird of prey, Montagu’s Harrier.

10 x 1st class stamps - 95p each when issued.
Row 1: Nightjar - Caprimulgus europaeus; Pied Flycatcher - Ficedula hypoleuca; Swift - Apus apus; Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava; Arctic Skua - Stercorarius parasiticus;
Row 2:
Stone-curlew - Burhinus oedicnemus; Arctic Tern - Sterna paradisaea; Swallow - Hirundo rustica; Turtle Dove - Streptopelia turtur;  Montagu’s Harrier - Circus pygargus.

Technical detail

Illustrated by Killian Mullarney and designed by hat-trick the 41x30 mm stamps are litho printed by Cartor Security Printers in sheets of 50 with conventional gum, perforated 14½ x 14.

Other products

First Day Cover, presentation pack, stamp cards, framed set.

(* As I had to check the catalogues to make sure of my facts on this, readers may be interested to know that the 4 April 2019 Birds of Prey issue is 21 pages back in the SG GB Concise catalogue which only covers issues to March 2021!)