Tuesday 27 September 2022

HM Queen Elizabeth II Memorial issue - 10 November 2022

Royal Mail has announced details of the In Memoriam Stamp Issue for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving Monarch in British history. The black-and-white set of 4 stamps commemorates the HM Queen Elizabeth II with four portrait stamps, each featuring a photograph over the years.

These are the first stamp images to be approved by King Charles III.

Predictably the stamps draw on previously used black and white photographs of Her Majesty, with the caption 1926-2022 added.

2nd class Dorothy Wilding, 1st class Cecil Beaton photographs as used in the Golden Jubilee set.

£1.85 Yousef Karsh and £2.55 Tim Graham photographs as used in the Golden Jubilee set.


Technical details

The 35 x 37mm stamps are printed by International Security Printers in litho, in sheets of 50, perf 14.5 x 14.  Design is by Kate Stephens and Royal Mail Group Ltd.

Acknowledgements: 2nd class – portrait by Dorothy Wilding © William Hustler and Georgina Hustler/National Portrait Gallery, London; 1st class – portrait by Sir Cecil Beaton, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2022; £1.85 – portrait by Yousuf Karsh © Camera Press London; £2.55 – photograph by Tim Graham ©Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

The original Golden Jubilee values were 2nd, 1st, 45p & 65p, and they were printed in gravure by De La Rue, with a 50 watermark (sideways in sheets, upright in the prestige stamp book). 

Photograph details:

Photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding in 1952. To mark her accession and coronation, Her Majesty The Queen posed for Wilding 59 times, wearing evening gowns designed by Norman Hartnell.

Photograph taken by Cecil Beaton. The Queen is pictured standing in her admiral’s cloakwith her head tilted to the left. Cecil Beaton to this start, simple and direct image of HM The Queen for use in his first major retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery in London. He hoped that the final section of the exhibition would be the highlight and therefore wanted to ‘try something different’ when photographing HM The Queen. There are no familiar regal trappings such as tiaras, jewels or lavish interiors, but despite this simple approach, HM The Queen remains instantly recognisable.

Portrait of HM The Queen taken in November 1984 by Yousuf Karsh.

Photograph of HM The Queen taken in 1996 whilst she attended a banquet at Prague Castle during her visit to the Czech Republic. It was taken by Tim Graham.



Looking back at previous stamps depicting her Majesty, few have been studio portraits and most have included other people.  Although these must be over 20 years old, they are probably the best that Royal Mail has available which makes it much easier to have the approval of The King. 

Monday 26 September 2022

Royal Marines stamps and miniature sheet - 29 September 2022

Royal Mail will issue a set of 8 stamps and a miniature sheet featuring the Royal Marines, continuing the series of stamps on the British Armed Forces.

The issue looks at the history of and modern-day operations of the Marines, as well as some of the key operations they’re involved in by sea and by land.

The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is the UK's commando, and amphibious force, under the Royal Navy. The marines can trace their origins back to the formation of the English Army's "Duke of York and Albany's maritime regiment of Foot" at the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company on 28 October 1664. Today, the Royal Marines are an elite fighting force within the British Armed Forces, having undergone many substantial changes over time. 

The stamps

Set of 8 stamps depicting aspects of Royal Marines operations (details below).

1st class: Aviation operations, Cold-weather operations, Mountain operations, Arid-climate operations.
£1.85: Commando training, Band Service, Amphibious operations, Maritime security operations.

Miniature sheet of 4 stamps showing Royal Marines Uniforms from 1664 to 1944

1st class: Sea Soldier, Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot, 1664
1st class: Grenadier, Chatham Division, His Majesty's Marine Forces 1775
£1.85: Sergeant, 4th Battalion Royal Marines, 1918
£1.85: Officer, 48th Royal Marine Commando, 1944.

Technical details.

The 41 x 30 mm stamps are designed by Osborne Ross using images from the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (Crown Copyright 2022), licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except the Band image wich is copyright Justin Tallis AFP/Getty Images.  The stamps were printed by International Security printers in litho with perforations 14.5 x 14, in sheets of 48 (se-tenant strips of 4).

The miniature sheet was designed by Webb & Webb Design Ltd using illustrations by Graham Webb. The stamps are set against a background of Denis Nighton’s painting of The Fall of Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, on the upper deck of HMS Victory (Copyright National Maritime Museum Greenwich). Stamps size is 27 x 37 mm on a sheet 115 x 98 mm, printed by International Security Printers in Litho, perf 14.

Other products

First day covers (2), presentation pack, stamp cards, mounted and framed stamps, medal cover.

There is also a Press Sheet of 15 miniature sheets, priced at £84, and for the first time in an unusual format.

Press Sheet of 15 Royal Marines miniature sheets

As can be seen, this has the barcoded margin on 10 sheets (2 columns). The other column doesn't even show a selvedge/margin, suggesting that these were primarily intended for use on covers, including Royal Mail's own first day and medal covers.  This is the first time a press sheet has been issued in such a format.

This is the first stamp issue since the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II and the first ever issued by the UK not to bear the image of the reigning monarch.


Previous British Forces stamps were British Army Uniforms (2007), RAF Uniforms (2008), and Naval Uniforms (2009) also illustrations by Graham Turner.  Aircraft were featured in the 2018 issue for the Centenary of the RAF, Royal Navy Ships in 2019, Army Vehicles in 2021, and the centenary of the Royal Navy Submarine Service was marked in 2001.

Army Uniforms

Air Force Uniforms

Naval Uniforms










Friday 23 September 2022

No Royal Mail Stand at Autumn Stampex 2022

Royal Mail has issued the following statement.

“Following the notice of Industrial Action by CWU Postal Workers on Friday 30th of September and Saturday 1st October, Royal Mail Stamps and Collectibles has made the difficult decision to cancel our attendance at Stampex International scheduled to run from the 28th September to 1st October at the Business Design Centre in London. 

Our Stamps and Collectibles team would like to apologise to all our customers who were hoping to see us at Stampex. Unfortunately, it proved impossible to organise and staff a Royal Mail stand at the show during the strike action.”

KEVIN: your comment is not directly relevant, as you say.  If you would like to email, I'll give you an answer.

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Royal Marines - 29 September 2022

Readers will be aware that the set and MS for the Royal Marines issue will be on 29 September.  

Publicity for this was postponed due to the period of mourning, although Gibbons Stamp Monthly's latest issue was printed too late to prevent their inclusion.

Until Royal Mail give the go ahead I won't be able to add details here but you can see the stamps at Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog, and in the following post there are images of the set of 4 stamps issued by La Poste in France on the day of the funeral of HM The Queen to mark her passing.

It is to be hoped that Royal Mail do something pretty sharpish, if a respected foreign government can produce something that quickly.  

Friday 16 September 2022

Wales variety - covers awaited.

For customers who have been expecting cancelled first day covers for the Wales 1st class error I am still waiting for them to be returned by the Handstamp Centre in Cardiff.

Unfortunately after I sent them, there was an announcement in the September Postmark Bulletin that Cardiff's SHC had closed and all covers were now being processed in Edinburgh - which leaves just that one and Mount Pleasant still operating.

Sorry for the delays - outside my control.  (I received a letter from a customer in London today - it was posted on 1 September.)

Monday 12 September 2022

Temporary post

I forgot to announce, but by now you are probably aware, that I was away all last week, returning on Sunday.

Fortunately John was able to record the passing of Her Majesty the Queen on Friday, and I have been dealing with comments on that post remotely.  

I have now closed comments on that, pending a more detailed comment from me on 'Even more thoughts on barcoded Machins' and what comes next.

Royal Mail's position is reasonably clear 

"Following the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Mail has confirmed that stamps bearing the image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II remain valid for use.

These include Definitive stamps - regular ‘everyday’ stamps - and Special Stamps. As previously announced, following the introduction of barcodes to everyday stamps, these non-barcoded stamps remain valid until the end of January 2023. Full details of our Swap Out programme can be found here. 

All Special Stamps that have already been announced will be issued, although the launch dates of some may change.

In line with past practice, following the death of a monarch all existing post boxes will remain unchanged. Post boxes already in production or being prepared for installation, will also retain the insignia of Queen Elizabeth II.

A gallery of GB stamps on which The Queen featured is available here: A life in stamps.

No further announcements on stamps will be made before the funeral, and then only at the appropriate time, after consultation with Buckingham Palace."

Note that paragraph three says that the launch date for remaining special issues may change, but that they will all be issued. 

The Royal Marines set is due for issue on 29 September with the embargo being lifted on 15th. UPDATE: the embargo is now 20th September.

A more considered post later.

September slogan postmarks and other interesting postal markings

Thank you to everybody who has contributed with images of the latest postmark. Nobody would have guessed back in February when we reported this slogan


that before the year was ended we would see the Prince of Wales proclaimed King Charles III and the nation's letters cancelled with a slogan marking the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

Two examples which are particularly clear, JE sent one from Preston (Lancashire and South Lakes) and BM one from North & West Yorkshire, both in the same format.  I don't yet have one in the other format.

In Memoriam
Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II

In Memoriam slogan: North & West Yorkshire 09/09/2022

In Memoriam slogan: Lancashire and South Lakes 09/09/2022

UPDATE 14 September: Thanks to MM I now have the other layout posted in Edinburgh on 13-09-2022 on an appropriate stamp.

In Memoriam slogan: Edinburgh Mail Centre 13-09-2022

I also have an image of an envelope with this slogan, and a Chester & N Wales postmark of September 7th.  JE explains how this would have happened.

The letter appears
to have been posted 2nd class on 7 September in Chester's catchment, and
the date-block and wavy lines - but no slogan - were applied by IMP no.

As CWU strikes were scheduled for 8 & 9 September, it looks as
though 2nd class mail was put aside to be sorted and despatched after
the strike.  As it happened, the strike on 9 September was cancelled, so
the stored mail put through the IMP again for sorting and received the
'In Memoriam' which by then was in use.  

So - probably no premature use,
but an interesting item all the same. I was reminded of a similar
occurrence as few years ago when a comet landing slogan which
appeared to have been posted before the actual landing, for the same

The slogan is not properly aligned with the rest of the postmark, indicating two passes through the machinery.  I'm not going to show it here, because the image on its own would be most misleading, and embarrasing to Royal Mail.  (It is now on eBay and sold for £30)

The slogan which replaced the In Memoriam is another Greetings Card Industry slogan - of course if you are sending a card then Royal Mail hope that you will post it.   This year Thinking of You week is September 19-25.

Send A Card
Deliver A Smile for
Thinking of You Week

19th-25th September 2021

Thanks to MM for these two examples from Tyneside on 21-09-2022, both on PPIs, a better Tyneside example from BM.  The clearest impression, from Southampton also from MM, and the usual poor impression from Exeter from a different BM.

Thinking of You Week slogan, Exeter Mail Centre 21-09-2022

Thinking of You Week slogan, Southampton Portsmouth & IOW Mail Centre 21/09/2022

Thinking of You Week slogan, Tyneside Mail Centre 21-09-2022 on PPIs

Thinking of You Week slogan, Tyneside Mail Centre 21-09-2022 a better example

After Thinking of You Week Royal Mail have returned to what is probably this year's default slogan reminding people to use up their non-Barcoded stamps.  This arrived today from Greenfored, dated 26/09/2022.

Barcoded stamps slogan, Greenford/Windsor, 26/09/2022


The Westminster Collection sponsors many special handstamps associated with royalty and their latest announced one was on 9 September.  Readers will know that all special handstamps are available for anybody to obtain, and collectors also sent in their covers for that date.  

Unfortunately the slogan was singularly inappropriate following on after the death of Her Majesty.

Long to Reign Over Us special handstamp 09.09.2022

So readers may be asking why this was not stopped.  The simply answer is that, for the sponsor at least, covers are cancelled in advance and returned so that the sponsor can prepare them to be sent to customers who have ordered them.

Even for other collectors, the items to be cancelled may be processed so that they are in the post the day before and therefore received by them on the date on the postmark.  Considering the 8th and 9th were both days when Royal Mail's CWU workers were on strike, it made sense to have the handstamps applied in advance.

I don't think the Westminster Collection will be selling these: they are very busy with Accession and other Charles III souvenirs. They will probably return them to Royal Mail for a refund of the postage on however many hundred or thousand covers they produced - not that they would get back the £1 gold stamps, only a credit on their account.

But other collectors have a novelty - as novel as the In Memoriam slogan above, apparently applied on 7 September.





Whilst I expect the In Memoriam slogan to continue for most of the month, any other postmarks appearing in September will be added to this post, so check here before you spend time scanning and emailing.  I'll try to add new ones as quickly as possible.

Thursday 8 September 2022

Queen Elizabeth II

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022

Friday 2 September 2022

Machin datamatrix forgeries widely available: Royal Mail powerless?

Many people predicted that it wouldn't be long before the regular stamp forgery operations would turn their attention to the ones that would be usable next year, rather than producing more than could not.

While a few stamp dealers people are selling 1st and 1st Large stamps as forgeries for collectors, with proper descriptions and above face value, many more are selling to unsuspecting members of the public - and to some collectors and stamp dealers, though bogus websites with links to China.  This is in line with the forgery of modern US postage stamps where the sellers even declare that they will be shipped from China!

So to the first examples, the 1st class business sheet:

Forged pair of 1st class purple business sheet Machin datamatrix stamps.

If your eyesight is good you will be able to see the giveaway clues from the picture as is; if not click on it to see it larger.  If you can't see it then, use your smartphone's QR-code reader to scan the barcodes, and take a screenshot or copy down the resulting display.

If you scan all four, you will see two different.  The stamps in position 1 are both the same; ditto the stamps in position two (and every other position).  As you should know by now, every genuine stamp is different.

The method is simple: take a high-quality scan of an original sheet, make a new litho plate, and print.  I say litho, because that is cheaper than gravure, although the ones that have been sent to me are still on the way, so I don't know the process used.  

UPDATE 3 September:  I've now received one of the forgeries through the post, and the differences are quite obvious on the 1st class.  The finish is glossy, as with many previous forgeries, and there are no obvious phosphor bands, not that they are easy to see on the genuine stamps. This picture shows the glossiness (forgery above).

At higher magnification the screening on the forgery is very obvious (click on the images to enlarge):

1st class datamatrix Machin definitive - Forgery on the left, genuine on the right.

The perforation teeth on the forgery are more pointed although the elliptical perforation is a good match.

Lastly the barcode is not raised (3D) and glossy as on the genuine, it is flat and exactly the same printing as the stamp. 

Genuine, left, and forged 1st class datamatrix Machin definitive stamp.

Here is a scan I was sent of the 1st class Large.  One is a forgery and one genuine (I'm told).  I think the forgery may be the one with the FSC logo closer to the colour of the stamps, rather than the barcode.

UPDATE 18 October 2022

I have been told that the 2nd and 2nd large sheets of 50 and 2nd and 1st books of eight, exist; these were printed a number of weeks ago. No images are available yet. 

The websites that have been offering [the original] stamps include the following:


This site shows a contact address as

The address and phone number are genuine - it's Royal Mail's St Albans Delivery Office.

The complaint email address is used on a large number of websites selling everything from stamps to handbags, and kayaks!

Google search results for the email address used.

Note near the end of page 1 of this list, we see shop.postnord.se. Whilst this is not a current URL, www.postnord.se is, being the Danish-Swedish combined postal service, Swedish website. But the URL of the site is www.postnords.com, and shows much the same as the above images for the bogus Royal Mail site - British stamps.

Another site with the same 'ownership' shows these American stamps.  

Bogus USPS.com website almost certainly selling forged stamps.

Royal Mail's new barcode scanning equipment is not installed widely, if at all.  I don't know what last year's trial was supposed to establish - nobody ever saw any of the stamps used and the unsold 2nd class blue are now being distributed through Post Office Ltd, which means that the sales of 2nd class green business sheets this year are likely to be low - maybe next year, in which case there shouldn't be a 2023 reprint.

They are aware of these forgeries, but will make no announcement - well, that would be an egg-on-face time, wouldn't it?  Of course there is activity behind the scenes but they didn't stop more than a decade of forgeries of the gold and red security stamps, so how will they do anything now?

So what does this mean for the stamp buyer, and for Royal Mail?

Royal Mail still have a mountain to climb when it comes to getting all the revenue for the post they handle. The barcode has been no deterrent - in fact, I think the forgers see every new variant and anti-forgery measure as a challenge to be overcome!  There are also washed bar-coded stamps for sale on eBay.

The one single thing that would solve most of their problems at a stroke would involve extra work by their underpaid operatives, something which may be difficult to achieve whilst an industrial dispute is ongoing, but which could save enough money to at least contribute to the workers' demands being met.

If Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd managed to properly postmark every stamp that is used, then the chances of reuse would be reduced, and there would have been no need to set up expensive measures to detect reuse by mechanical means.  We know that they don't have time to detect forgeries by visual or current mechanical means, and there is no way they can do it with the new stamps.

1. Royal Mail need to set out clearly to Post Office Ltd what the requirements are for cancelling stamps on mail presented over the counter.  Some branches refuse outright, some will follow the rule (Large letters and parcels), and some will happily cancel stamps on any mail.  Remove the doubt and tell them to cancel all stamps on all mail - especially the expensive special delivery and international premium services.

With the latter being barcoded, it is easy to find out where they were posted. Use that to highlight need to further instruction and/or penalties.  I don't like hitting sub-postmaster's pockets but if they don't contribute to revenue protection how can they expect to receive adequate recompense from Royal Mail?

2. All business collections which include stamps should have those stamps cancelled on arrival at the first mail centre (MC), ie the one arranging the collection.  Yes, it's inconvenient and will slow down processing, but make allowances for that in the targets.  Provide MC staff with adequate metal or polymer handstamps to cancel all the stamps adquately (and possibly neatly).  The few businesses still using stamps on parcel mail must be in the stamp trade and this would produce a lot of goodwill as well. 

Mail Centres receiving parcels with uncancelled stamps should know where they have come from (a return address is a good clue), and omissions should be reported back so that the managers at the errant mail centre are penalised if this is not done.  Targets not met = performance pay not paid.

3. All mail centres must ensure that machineable mail is cancelled.  If it's not machineable then manual cancelling must be done.  Again, set targets, penalise if not met.

And to those who say, "it all takes time' - that doesn't wash.  If you are in a mail centre not cancelling the stamps then it may save you time, but down the line somebody will have to do it, even if it is the bloke with the trolley delivering to the door.  Why should the postie out in the rain and snow have to do it because somebody in a nice warm mail centre didn't?

Consumers face a different problem.  As I have pointed out previously the swap-out scheme means that there will be a lot of unwanted new barcoded stamps on the market at reduced prices.

Anybody trading in a collection and ending up with several thousand 2nd class stamps will need to find an outlet, at a discount.  How does the buyer ensure that what he is buying is genuine and that there is a genuine reason for the discount.

The seller should explain just why he is able (or must) sell at a discount.  2nd class stamps bought for as little as 14p are worth 68p.  A collector selling them for 40p will be able to show the paperwork from Royal Mail, and maybe a photocopy of the stamps sent in.  

Buyers should beware - if you buy two sheets of stamps check that the barcodes are different on the same positioned stamp on both sheets.  If not, you have a wrong'un, but ultimately, buy from trusted sources.  Look at the terms, contact details, etc  If they look wrong, they probably are.  Try these examples:

mailshop1 Terms of Service 

This website is operated by . Throughout the site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to . offers this website, including all information, tools and services available from this site to you, the user, conditioned upon your acceptance of all terms, conditions, policies and notices stated here.

Privacy statement ends:

Contact Us 

If you have any questions regarding this Privacy Statement or its implementation, here is how you can reach us:

Delivery Information

6. Where we ship to

Ships to almost all countries around the world, covering North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and more. We use the services of major, trusted international carriers to ensure your package reaches your destination safely and securely. Please see the table below to check if we ship to your country. .

No list follows this!


Thursday 1 September 2022

End of British Forces Philatelic Service - fundraisers for the forces


Media Release 01 September 2022

Permanent Closure of BFPS

It is 10 years since BFPS was formed to take over and operate the then dormant Forces Philatelic Bureau to reinstate the production of commemorative covers and special handstamps to mark military events and anniversaries.  After careful consideration the two volunteer directors of BFPS, Graham Meacher and Darrell Drury, have decided it is time to retire and have made the decision to dissolve BFPS CIC at the end of the current financial year.
During its decade of operation, BFPS has collaborated with many organisations, both civilian and military, to produce philatelic covers to commemorate over 100 anniversaries and special events. In addition, we have produced First Day Covers, Smilers® and specials. We have also issued a large number of bespoke ‘British Forces Postal Service’ special handstamps, each uniquely numbered and very popular with philatelists. 
Apart from resurrecting the Forces Philatelic Bureau, the other main aim of BFPS has been to fundraise for Service charities and in this we have been successful with tens of thousands of pounds having been donated to both the charities related to the covers produced or other worthy charities such as SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity. 
We are very proud of what we have achieved and we would like to thank our friends and family, who have supported us and helped make BFPS a success. We would also like to thank our customers and regular subscribers for the tremendous support shown by purchasing our covers.


Although not announced in the media release, the disbandment of the Postal & Courier Service (PCS) Reserve element of the British Military being this month with the END of an ERA slogan on the postmark serves also to mark the end of the BFPS.

There will be one final cover coinciding with the issue of Royal Mail's Royal Marines stamps.

After this, according to a statement on the BFPS website, they will hold a closing down sale and the online shop will cease trading by the end of November. Any stock remaining on hand will be donated to good causes.

The shop has 188 Commemorative covers, and 53 sets of British Army Service postcards.  There are also Smilers Sheets and Post and Go stamps, and other souvenirs.

BFPS fundraises for Service charities through philately and is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) limited by guarantee.Registered No 417647. Registered address: British Forces Philatelic Service, The Old Post Office, Links Place, Elie, Leven, Fife KY9 1AX

BFPS is officially licensed by the MOD and is a not-for-profit company run by volunteer veterans.

I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing Graham and Darrell all the best for a long and happy retirement. I suspect, like many of us still working, they could have stopped years ago but they can be proud of the work that they have done, the covers produced, and the funds that they have raised.

Link to our post which reported the establishment of the BFPS CIC in 2013.