Wednesday 17 August 2022

Something old and borrowed from Wales - amazing error!

Our journey started the day before the datamatrix country definitives were issued, but - apart from not being able to find any in the branches in Wales that I visited - that provided the first news, which came from Ian in County Durham.

This is a 'spot the difference' question:

Wales datamatrix country definitives mint (top) and on Royal Mail fdc (below).

I'm not setting this as a quiz, the news is too startling not to reveal.  You might spot the difference if you click on the image above, but to save you the trouble, here is an enlargement.

As most collectors of modern definitives know, there is usually a special coil printing of self-adhesive stamps for use on Royal Mail fdcs.  The direction of print on these is sideways (horizontal) rather than vertical.  I'm not good enough to see that and I don't know how long it would have taken me to see this, even if I did have the first day cover.  

As you will see, the denomination in the sheet stamp is in the new (2017, that is) font but on the FDC stamp the AF is in the original font.   This can only apply on the Wales stamps, and the 2nd class is fine, with AIL/ND all being in the 2017 serifed font.

This isn't the first time that this value has been featured in these columns.  Back in July 2019 we reported that Cartor, having switched to the new font in 2017, did a reprint in January 2019 in the original font.  So they have form!  But this is the first instance of mixed fonts as far as I know.

If anybody is interested in acquiring this FDC please contact me by email. - Sorry, all gone now.

Royal Mail have been approached for comment - the point has been passed to the Production department.


Several people (thank you) have pointed out that there is another difference common to all the stamps on official first day covers.   To quote from one of my correspondents:

All 4 of the 2nd Class Stamps have a 4.5mm wide Phosphor Band on the Sheet issue stamps & 5.5mm wide Phosphor Band on the Coil stamps (FDC).
All other values are Vignetted Phosphor Bands on Sheet versions & Solid Phosphor Bands on Coil (FDC's).

This may be the first instance that the Coil Stamps used by RM for FDC's are identifiable different (apart from print direction) to those issued over the counter or available from Tallents House.  

Doubtless readers who have studied the on-FDC stamps more closely will be able to tell me of other instances if there have been any.

UPDATE 12 September:  My thanks to Rob, who has pointed out (see comments) that the AF on the new stamps is not even the same as the original. The new one is like this:  AF whereas the original is much narrower:  AF  .    That these will now be the last with the head of Queen Elizabeth makes this even more interesting.

Original sans-serif font for Wales 1st class stamp.


  1. Surely with security printing consistency is vitally important to both Royal Mail and Printers , and there incompetence should be widely exposed , differences in font and phosphor bands should never occur . By failing to ensure this in a few years we will be in the same position as with old style Machin and Regionals where Royal Mail is unable to identify its own products . Royal Mail are complicit with criminal gangs of fakers and forgers by virtue of this incompetence. And to the detriment of both collecting AND mailing customers.

    1. I am prepared to agree with many of these comments, but surely this is what adds flavour to a collection and is NOT "to the detriment" of collecting? I like to think that my collection documents the whole postal system and is not just pages containing bits of coloured paper.This is surely the kind of thing that distinguishes one collection from another? This is exactly the kind of thing that lifts my spirit! Well done whoever spotted it!!!

    2. Royal Mail is supposed to be a professionally run Business but whether its consistency of service or its stamps it fails and is a national embarrassment . Nobody in Royal Mail is responsible for anything and that culture continues to exacerbate its decline.
      All these varieties do encourage some collectors but leave many scratching there heads.

  2. That version of the barcoded Welsh First only available on a First Day Cover reminds me of the eight stamp Platinum Jubilee pane last year, though this is an error and that was a stupid decision.
    ( I never did get one of those panes mint )

  3. I should say is for online purchase from RM, you could not find prepared and cancelled FDC/souvenir cover. So what I can made is FDC with the the new "AF" font.

    1. I'm sorry, I don't understand this comment.
      The FDC is no longer available from Royal Mail's website, they must be ordered before the date of issue.

  4. Now that Cartor have joined in with printing barcoded stamps it will be interesting to see how the "unique serial number" holds up.

  5. Its not just the font on the Wales of this issue , the phosphor bands make all very easily distinguishable and really highlights Royal Mails failure to understand their product.

  6. Nothing as classic as this. The 2018 Machin Tariff with its larger joins on the security tags was the previous greatest faux pas.

  7. The font isn't a mix of old and new. It's new and "totally wrong", seemingly a default font that slipped in by accident. If you look at the old font the letters are much narrower and nothing like the one on this hybrid.

  8. Do FDC exist without the error, I get these FDC from Tallents House which have the error, as I can't even get the England stamps locally.

    1. FDCs produced by other cover producers, and by individuals will have the sheet stamps. It is possible for registered dealers to buy the Royal Mail covers with stamps affixed but uncancelled, so that they can obtain other handstamps.


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