Tuesday 24 May 2022

Taking another break

As indicated earlier, we are taking a break for a week, to allow the batteries to recharge and see some different scenery.

The shop stays open and orders will be dealt with quickly on our return.  Don't forget the Booklets list - see below - orders have started already and for most we only have one example, so act now!

The next list is likely to be booklet panes, if I can work out a way to identify the ones not containing a mix of values (which are not listed by SG Concise), followed by regional Machins.  Again we have many of these, but very few of each. 

Please do not phone and leave messages until 2 June.  Thank you.

Monday 23 May 2022

Cats - no, not the musical - set of 8 issued 9 June 2022

For no apparent reason, Royal Mail will issue a set of 8 stamps on 9 June.  

The embargo for this set is the issue date, though doubtless while I am away later this week the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog will have the details taken from a cover producer's website, and a few days before the issue date Royal Mail will start putting them on their website*.  Royal Mail's First will probably be issued, and it is quite likely that the Philatelic Bulletin and Postmark Bulletin will appear around the time of issue, but not before.  

* And so it came to pass more quickly that I realised it would with First landing on doormats on 26th May; my complaint to Royal Mail was simply answered by the fact of the (new) publicity date.  So all that I have written below is wrong, as the Postmark Bulletin also appeared by email last week and may have been delivered before everything shut down yesterday evening for the Platinum Holiday Weekend.

[This, of course, means that there is no possibility of putting your order in early, although standing order customers will find out soon enough how much they are being charged and be able to work out what the face values are (easier now that everything is not a multiple of 85p!). And with the Postmark Bulletin arriving similarly late, only dealers will be able to send their covers in early, and they will only be able to use a handstamp that they have sponsored or know the details of.

The consequence is that the Special Handstamp Centre at Tallents House will receive everything at once, including from dealers who haven't made up their minds which handstamps to use, and many collectors and dealers will likely still be waiting for their covers at the end of June.]

The last time we had a set devoted solely to cats was in 1995, but there have been mixed sets of cats and dogs since then.

UPDATE: As you will see from the comments, the May Philatelic Bulletin suggested that this is a set of 6, with two each 2nd class, 1st class, £1.85.  Well there are two £2.55 as well; it's a set of 8

The stamps

2nd class Siamese and Tabby; 1st class Ginger and British Shorthair cats.

£1.85 Maine Coon and Black and White cats; £2.55 Bengal and Tabby and White cats.

A4 self-adhesive collectors sheet of 10 stamps, being the set of 8 and additional 2 x 1st class.

From Royal Mail:

Reason and inspiration

Cats are the most enigmatic of domestic pets. Today there are over 10.2 million cats in the UK with almost one in four UK households owning a cat. Whilst they are now almost entirely kept as pets there was a time that businesses, including The Royal Mail from 1868 - 1984, formally employed cats to keep out mice.

As one of our two favourite pets, Cats are enchanting, independent and fiercely discerning in who they choose to engage with. They do as they please and will not be trained unless it suits them – and while you might think you own your cat, rest assured, your cat owns you!

This special issue features eight beautiful stamps showcasing cats doing what they do best, grooming, stalking (they share 96% of their genes with tigers), playing, sleeping, staring, being on alert, being curious and stretching, these stamps are sure to melt the hearts of stamp and cat enthusiasts everywhere.

Technical Details

The 41 x 30mm stamps were designed by Studio Up and printed by ISP on gummed paper in lithography. The stamps are in vertical se-tenant pairs in sheets of 60.

Acknowledgements: Siamese grooming, Tabby stalking and Tabby-and-white stretching © Warren
Photographic; Ginger cat playing © YAY Media AS/Alamy Stock Photo; British Shorthair sleeping © Michal Bednarek/Getty Images; Maine Coon staring © Life On White/Alamy Stock Photo; Black-and-white cat on alert © Bailey-Cooper Photography/Alamy Stock Photo; Bengal being curious © Juniors Bildarchiv GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo.

Products available from Royal Mail, some also from Post Offices:

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

Great Britain Stamp Booklets 1979-2000 for sale

I mentioned earlier in the month that I was sorting my stock and collection of GB decimal booklets containing Machin definitives, because it seemed sensible to offer them to collectors ahead of sending the balance to Royal Mail for destruction.

The first booklet list is now available for download here.

All items are subject to availability and you will see that for many we have only one copy.

Orders must be sent by email to ian@norphil.co.uk.  We will reply as quickly as possible with details of what we can supply and the total cost of your order, together with payment details.

UPDATE: A new version of the list has been uploaded today. Very few have been added, but we still have stocks of the FQ, FP, FT, FW, FAX, G-, and H- booklets.  Take a look now.

Orders will be posted after receipt of payment except for regular customers. 

Identification: Booklets have been identified to the best of my ability. All are sold subject to satisfaction. Cylinder books are priced at a premium.

This is not an illustrated list, because most collectors will be familiar with the basic booklets, and where varieties are mentioned not listed in the catalogue, they will be easy to see.  Scans can be provided if required.

Booklet panes, Regional Definitives (Machin and pre-decimal) will be listed next.

As you will see from the post which will appear above, our office will be closed from 25 May to 3 June.  We will deal with emails and orders as quickly as possible, taking care to ensure that customers who ordered first will have first pick.

We have some other booklets - including all Prestige and Security booklets - listed in our e-commerce shop.  If you wish to order from both we can combine for postage savings.  Please do not use card of PayPal payments on the shop: instead choose 'Pay by Cheque', and we will then calculate the total of your order and P&P with arrangements for paying.

We hope you find something of interest - if you do, write immediately to avoid disappointment.

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Gibbons numbers for newer datamatrix stamps

Stanley Gibbons' monthly magazine for June includes numbers for the datamatrix definitives issued on 4 April.

These have been added to the original post.

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Gibbons' Great Britain Concise catalogue due in two weeks.

Stanley Gibbons have announced that their Great Britain Concise catalogue 2022 edition will be available week commencing 30 May.   Buy from your favourite dealer or independent bookshop.

From Stanley Gibbons press release - the 37th edition of the Great Britain Concise catalogue.

The 2022 edition has been extensively updated with all prices reviewed and revised in line
with the current market.§

• Priced listings of definitives, commemoratives, regionals, postage dues, departmental officials,
postal fiscals, first day covers, miniature sheets, booklets, specimens and post office ‘Smiler’
• Priced listings of watermark varieties, major plate varieties, missing colours, phosphor,
embossing and imperforate errors.
• Priced listings of Post Office Telegraph stamps, including watermark varieties, major errors
and specimens.
• Priced listings for all booklet panes, including single value panes and those with inverted
watermarks up to 1967.
• Commemorative design index included.
• Listings are complete from May 1840 to April 2022.
• Helpful introductory notes.
• PHQ card and presentation pack listings include Royal Mail reference codes for easy
• The Machin definitives are amalgamated in an easy-to-find separate section and fully updated.
The highly collectable source and date codes are individually priced.
• Post & Go stamps are brought right up to date, with clear notes describing stamps from
different machines. Separate illustrated tables give details of those only available at
exhibitions and museums.

§ This will presumably reflect recent increases in postage rates, but I wonder what the changes will be in the 2023 edition, when the postage value of old 1st class definitive stamps drops from 95p to zero?

Monday 16 May 2022

First Post and Go Stamps Illustrator, Robert Gillmor, dies at the age of 85.

The death has been announced of Robert Gillmor MBE, one of the country's most popular and respected bird artists, aged 85.

Robert Gillmor at his North Norfolk studio overlooking Cley Marshes (Photo: John Walden)

He is best known to the stamp world as the illustrator for Royal Mail's first pictorial Post and Go Stamps, then known as Faststamps issued in September 2010, which depicted garden birds.  This first set of 6 was followed by more Garden Birds, Water Birds, and Sea Birds.

He was also responsible for the 2012 Farm Animals (Sheep, Pigs, Cattle) and 2015 Fur & Feathers series of Post and Go stamps.

Before that he produced designs for the local carriage labels of the Summer Isles, off the coast of Scotland.  

Six 'stamps' from the (Scottish) Summer Isles depicting birds often seen in the area of the western isles: Arctic Tern, Red-breasted Merganser, Gannets, Barnacle Geese, Heron and Gold Eagle.

But he was known for much more than stamps: the first publication containing one of his works appeared when he was still in his teens.  Many obituaries have been published, including this one in The Guardian.

A more personal comment appears in John Cooper's blog "Britain is no country for old men" (a quote from W B Yeats).

Robert, who has died at the age of 85, was a highly regarded by ornithologists throughout the world for his illustrations in numerous books, especially those on bird behaviour. He drew from life and his many hours of observation were reflected in the quality of his final prints, in which he captured the essence of the birds, using his brilliant draughtsmanship and beautiful compositions. From an early age, the Quaker blend of humility and a celebration of life, shone through all his work.


When Mark Avery asked Robert : "How many individual pieces of bird art have you produced?" as part of his interview for inclusion for his 2015 publication, 'Behind the Binoculars', Robert replied : "I haven’t the faintest idea!  There would be several thousand drawings altogether and then all the paintings.  All the calendars – I did calendars for over thirty years and latterly there were two calendars a year, needing twenty-four paintings, so those add up". In recognition of his work, in 2020 Robert received the 'SWLA Outstanding Contribution to Art & Nature Award'.


When the Norfolk & Norwich Philatelic Society commemorated its centenary in autumn 2011, the project leader compiled a book of Norfolk Posts & Personalities (still available here!) which included as many stamps associated with Norfolk, and Norfolk-related stories about stamps as he could find. 

Robert was kind enough to be interviewed, and to have photographs taken for publication in this book. He also loaned some of the original artwork for our exhibition, which he attended, signing his latest book of bird illustrations, and our souvenir covers (and some past first day covers). A charming man, and I am pleased to have a complete set of 4 of the Post and Go birds first day covers signed by him - probably unique.

Detail from signed commemorative cover, 2011.

He said, "It is a delightful thought that my stamps will appear on people's letters and packets using the very latest technology, especially as my artwork was created using a 150-year-old printing press.".

UPDATE: My fellow-blogger WhiteKnight shows on a recent post (Commonwealth Stamps Opionion) some stamps designed by Robert in 1972 for the Seychelles.

Monday 9 May 2022

May slogan postmarks and other postmark news

Royal Mail continued use of the relevant slogan over from March, through April and into May

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


The first May slogan is advertising Mental Health Awareness week, the slogan for which this year is #Ivebeenthere. Whilst this is clearly grammatically incorrect, punctuation marks break up hashstags, so #I'vebeenthere would simply translate on social media platforms as #I.

I've had two poor examples supplied so far (thanks to MM and LT).  This one from Sheffield Mail Centre is dated 06/05/2022

Mental Health
Awareness Week
9 - 15 May
Together we can
tackle loneliness

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 slogan used at Sheffield Mail Centre 06/05/2022 #Ivebeenthere

Covid Heroes artists.

Last month we reported that 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."  These may be used, or they may have been abandoned.  More news when we get it.

UPDATE 11 May 2022: Before Mental Health Awareness week is over, it is International Nurses Day, and thanks to LT for another slogan from Sheffield Mail Cente on 10/05/2022.

Nurses' Day
12 May


International Nurses' Day slogan postmark Sheffield Mail Centre 10/05/0222

UPDATE 3 June: this example of the other layout was given to me by a neighbour.  Norwich Mail Centre 09-05-2022

International Nurses' Day slogan postmark Norwich Mail Centre 09-05-0222


UPDATE 16 May 2022.  Continuing the medical theme, RL has sent this latest slogan from Mount Pleasant Mail Centre dated 14-05-2022 marking Dementia Action Week.  The dates aren't shown but the week runs from 16 - 22 May 2022.

It's not called getting old,
it's called getting ill.

Alzehimer's Society
Dementia Action Week

Dementia Action Week slogan, Mount Pleasant Mail Centre 14-05-2022

20 May:  KD (see below) also sent the 'other layout' of this slogan with 6 lines, from Birmingham Mail Centre 17/05/2022:

Dementia Action Week slogan, Birmingham Mail Centre 17/05/2022

UPDATE 20 May: Thanks to KD for yet another new slogan in May, this time marking 'Find Every Child Week'  highlighted by Missing People, "the only UK charity that reunites missing children and adults with their loved ones".  This example is from Medway Mail Centre 19-05-2022

Find Every Child Week
23rd - 30th May

Find Every Child Week slogan used at Medway Mail Centre 19-05-2022

UPDATE 3 June: Thanks to KD for the alternative format from South East Anglia Mail Centre 23/05/2022; another less clear example from N&W Yorks was also supplied but I have lost track of by whom - sorry!

Find Every Child Week slogan used at South East Anglia Mail Centre 23/05/2022

Update 4 June:  A surprise arrived in the post today, the reappearance of the Ukraine Appeal slogan, which could only have been for a few days between 'Missing People' and the Platinum Jubillee. This is from the Southampton Portsmouth & IOW mail centre on 26/05/2022.   

Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal slogan postmark Southampton Mail Centre 26/05/2022

PLATINUM JUBILEE: Another new slogan started on 28 May and will probably run over until next month; as there is no postal service on 2nd & 3rd June it may resume on 4th and 6th.  We will see: all reports welcome.

Her Majesty's
Platinum Jubilee
70 Years of Service
Thank you ma'am

Meanwhile thanks to several people for sending these examples from Exeter Mail Centre (poor as usual from there) on 28-05-2022, and the other format from Sheffield Mail Centre on the same date, and South East Anglia and Plymouth and Cornwall Mail Centres on 30/05/2022

Platinum Jubilee slogan postmark Exeter Mail Centre 28-05-2022

Platinum Jubilee slogan postmark Plymouth and Cornwall (Mail Centre) 30/05/2022

Platinum Jubilee slogan postmark South East Anglia Mail Centre 30/05/2022

Platinum Jubilee slogan postmark Sheffield Mail Centre 28/05/2022


LT has sent this example of a packet stamp from Sheffield Mail Centre with postcode S9 2XX dated 9 May 2002

Sheffield Mail Centre S9 2XX handstamp May 2022



This is the place where all news about May 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.

It's interesting to note that alternative formats have not (by the end of the month) been provided for one of this month's slogans (and another is one that has been given to me by a friend) perhaps reflecting the small amount of stamped mail we get these days.

Now, on to June!

Before Definitive Disposal, Booklet Bonanza !

Royal Mail's decision to invalidate Machin definitives has certainly made dealers consider their stocks, and collectors and dealers alike are deciding what to keep and what to release.

I have been surprised as to how many booklets I had in my collection, and how many different booklets there are, which otherwise appear the same.  It's also interesting to note how printing has changed since the 1990s.

Selection of four 1st x 4 'window' booklets

These booklets, catalogued in Gibbons' HB series were produced from 1993 - 1997, and printed by Walsall.  Whereas these days the same cylinder (appears) to be used for months and months (that is, the cylinder number remains unchanged), back in the 90s not only were as many as four cylinders were used for printing the (apparently) single colour stamp, but they frequently changed as shown here.

Above, HB 3b - cylinders W9 W18 W12, and HB 4 - cylinders W5 W11 W10 W1 

Above, HB 6 - cylinders W15 W25 W22 and W19 W28 W26

Above, HB10 - cylinders W35 W43 W46 and W42 W47 W52

HB12 - cylinders W48 W51 W60

Many booklets are already listed in our online store, but of necessity I concentrated on the security issues from 2009, and prestige books.  Most of the others we have only one of and so they will not be listed in the shop but I'll produce a priced list and it will be first come first served.

Remember, there will be a limited opportunity to buy these - most of the stocks will be sent back to Royal Mail next year.

Friday 6 May 2022

Latest maximum card

There is not a great deal happening at present until the pre-release images of the Cats stamps break the embargo and are shown elsewhere!

So here is my latest maximum card, the only one I produced from the Migratory Birds set.  I didn't have time to search for or buy other subject cards.  

The card design is by Robert Gillmor who produced the designs for Royal Mail's Post and Go Birds stamps and others.

1st class stamp illustrated by Killian Mullarney. Postmark Nightjar Close, Poole.

Nightjar maximum card, Migratory Birds stamps, 7 April 2022 with Poole pictorial postmark.

Sunday 1 May 2022

Datamatrix low values: positions, blocks at face.

Although these new stamps are readily available from Royal Mail's philatelic service, and many post offices, it is often difficult to get collectable positional singles, or cylinder and date blocks from either.

As I have a spare set of sheets, I am able to provide these at face value, but I only have one sheet of each.   ALL THESE VALUES are available: preference will be given to applicants who want a complete set of positions.  Set of eight is £1.88.     This offer is now closed.

Low value Machin datamatrix stamps 2022.

Full counter sheet of 1p datamatrix definitive stamps.

Cylinder block options:   

block of 4, 6, 8, 10 with stamps vertical and cylinder number in top margin;

block of 4, 6, 8 with stamps sideways and cylinder number in left margin;

block of 10 with stamps sideways and cylinder number and date & grid in left margin.


Date block options with stamps vertical:

block of 4 with date, grid in top margin;

block of 6, 8 or 10 with date, grid in top margin and colour tab in right margin;

UPDATE 13 May 2022:

We also have some of the airmail and high values with date, and colour name, from the top right of the sheets.


Delivery and payment

For UK delivery postage will be low (unless signed for or special delivery is required), and with payment by bank transfer.  

For international delivery postage below cost (unless tracked/registered is required): payment by UK bank transfer or PayPal friends and family.

To apply

Please email ian@norphil.co.uk with your requirements, name and postal address for delivery.  

I will wait two weeks for responses and then email replies with costs.  

Thank you.

Last dates of sale for special stamps announced

Earlier I reported on the last dates of sale for Machin stamps without datamatrix codes.  We can now report the last day of sale for a range of commemorative/special stamps.

The following stamp issues will all come off sale on 29 June 2022.  It is interesting that this date is not shown in the Stock List issued only last month.  Collectors now have only two months to buy the stamps and associated products shown in blue.  

This is the list for stamps to the end of 2021.

MINT STAMPS (values and Royal Mail product code)

Stock list

New announcement

Lest We Forget (3 x 1st) 06.11.08 AS474


Lest We Forget (Poppy 1st) 23.10.12 AS841


Harry PotterTM 16.10.18 AS4123


Marvel 14.03.19 AS4355


D-Day 06.06.19 AS4659



End of the Second World War AS5700 £9.36



Queen 09.07.20 AS6000


Sherlock 18.08.20 AS6200



Rupert Bear 03.09.20 AS6300 £9.56



Brilliant Bugs 01.10.20 AS6400 £8.20



Star Trek 13.11.20 AS6600 £11.40


National Parks 14.01.21 AS6700 £9.50



Only Fools and Horses 16.02.21 AS6800 £10.60


UK Celebration MS 26.01.20 MZ160



The Legend of King Arthur 16.03.21 AS6900 £13.25



Classic Science Fiction 15.04.21 AS7000 £10.40



The Wars of the Roses 04.05.21 AS7100 £11.76



Paul McCartney 28.05.21 AS7200 £10.60


Dennis and Gnasher 01.07.21 AS7300 £7.95



Wild Coasts 22.07.21 AS7400 £9.50



Industrial Revolutions 12.08.21 AS7500 £6.66



British Army Vehicles 02.09.21 AS7600 £10.60



DC Collection 17.09.21 AS7700 £11.40


Rugby Union 19.10.21 AS7800 £11.76


Christmas 2021

Already withdrawn

Platinum Jubilee Cover 1 June 2022 - Royal Mail learn from their 95th Birthday mistake

Twelve months ago we had been debating the rights and wrongs of Royal Mail's 95th Birthday cover commemorating the 95th Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.  That one included a special definitive pane similar to one from a prestige stamp book, but not available elsewhere and including stamps not otherwise available.

They have now announced their Coin Cover to mark Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee.  This utilises the similar pane from the Platinum Jubilee prestige stamp book issued in February this year, combined with a 50p commemorative coin.

Royal Mail Platinum Jubilee commemorative coin cover, 1 June 2022

Postmark and reverse & obverse of coin for Platinum Jubilee cover.
"In celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee , Royal Mail is releasing a limited edition Coin Cover featuring the 2022 Commemorative 50p coins in Brilliant Uncirculated plus Silver and Gold Proof versions released by The Royal Mint.

"Affixed to the Coin Cover is the definitive pane from Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Prestige Stamp Book issued on 4 February 2022. The special edition envelope and information card celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s lifelong love of horses. Available to pre-order now the Coin Covers will be postmarked and issued on 1st June 2022 just before the 4 day national Platinum Jubilee celebration weekend." 

In an edition of 15,000 the basic cover with brilliant uncirculated coin costs £17.50.
There are also 750 covers with a 925 Ag silver proof costing £57.50 and 50 covers with a 916.7 Au gold proof coin, costing £1,095.

We hope that this is produced from the original printing, rather than being a reprint with a year code of M22L.   I'm sure this cover was planned long ago.