Tuesday 20 December 2022

Review of the year 2022

This year has been memorable for two things: the end of traditional Machin definitives, and the passing of Her Majesty the Queen, which in turn meant the end of Machins of any sort.

For the first couple of months of the year collectors were preoccupied with just what Royal Mail had planned for definitive stamps.  The next few months were spent digesting and interpreting - and experiencing - the Swap-Out scheme.  Enough has already been written about this for me not to go into any more detail here, although few people seem to have been intentionally producing combination covers with old and new definitives.

I do think that it is worth putting aside any interesting covers that you get because more and more people are collecting modern postal history, even if at present they are concentrating on finding and using or disposing of their surplus (or all) stamps.  

This arrived last week.  Prepaid at 2nd class it needed to be uprated to 2nd Large - which needs four extra stamps!  (See another fine example lower down.)

2nd class Large letter prepaid with 2nd class, requiring the addition of 20p, 10p, 5p & 2p stamps.

Looking back

In my first end-of-year message, in 2010, I expressed my surprise that 'this blogging thing' turned out to be a success.  Some of the followers from then, and some of the people who supplied information have sadly passed on, but I am grateful to the others and many more who are still providing information on stamps, postmarks, and especially Post and Go, which continues to make this blog the repository of useful information that it is.


Special Stamp Programmes 2022/23

At the start of the year I was able to announce the bones of the 2022 programme, with many gaps, and remarked on the apparent shortage of issues based on US entertainment media.  As it turned out those 'to be announced' issues were British based rather than US, or at least had a strong UK element. 

The Covid Heroes set paid a true tribute to those who worked tirelessly during the pandemic, and the Commonwealth Games issue was a fitting celebration.  The biggest surprise was that Royal Mail celebrated the LGBT+ community with the Pride issue in the summer.  The biggest splash on social media was the Transformers issue which was widely appreciated by the now adult fans of this 80s phenomenon.

The statistics for the year [2021 in brackets]: Special Stamps - 116 including 9 x 2nd class, 63 @ 1st class and 44 airmail [101 total]; Miniature sheets - 9 containing 5 x 2nd class, 19 x 1st class, 17 airmail [10]; Booklets - only 2 for Christmas, mixed booklets having been abandoned [10]; Prestige Stamp Books - 5 [4]; Generic/Collector sheets - 10 [9].   After the first two PSBs the other three included Machin definitives with datamatrix barcodes. 

As we have already seen, 2023 will be once again, more of the same, but with the same emphasis on British talent.

In a year which included many frankly poor stamp issues our attention was grabbed by Royal Mail's errors and mistakes - the MPIL source code was missing from first prestige stamp book with datamatrix definitives; the second such had the right source code but some of the marginal design encroached onto a stamp; and the third such booklet, "issued" on 24 November still hasn't been delivered by 19th December. (And there's another error in the next section.)


Machin and Country definitives

2023 also produced 18 face-different Machin definitives, and another 9 from non-sheet sources, plus 12 country definitives all with datamatrix barcodes.  

There was just one new value and five stamps with that value (£1.85 for £1.70), all the others replacing existing stamps.  

Because the stamps are larger than the ones they replaced, the booklets were larger, the PSBs larger, and some Business Sheets smaller, all apparently because Royal Mail has scanning equipment that needs barcodes of that size rather than the size of the ones that Germany uses which would fit perfectly well on old-style Machins. 

Reminding us that new discoveries are still being made, one of our customers found an undiscovered 2019 printing of the 2nd class Scotland definitive on Skye, and another correspondent alerted us to the unusual design error on the 1st class Wales barcoded definitive used on Royal Mail FDCs only.

It seemed to take no time at all for the Chinese factories to step up to the plate and produce forgeries of the NVI barcoded stamps (right).

As for the definitives of King Charles III we don't know exactly when they will be issued, but expect that it will be in 2023.  Just today, hours before I planned to publish this, the Bank of England has issued pictures of the first banknotes, the Royal Mint having already issued the first 50p coin.  So it seems likely that the stamps will use one of these portraits: I prefer the full face over the profile, where the ear is too prominent, however accurate.


Post and Go

In May we noted the passing of designer and artist (and Norfolk resident) Robert Gilmor, who designed the first (birds) and some subsequent Post and Go designs.   As expected there were no new designs this year, although there were reprints of some of the existing designs.  

Output from the Postal Museum and others continued to delight or frustrate collectors around the country.  I wonder just who buys the stamps from these machines apart from Post and Go collectors, especially outside the main tourist season.  Perhaps our intrepid band of explorers could make enquiries - Malcolm, Trevor and others, I look forward to your 2023 reports.


Postmark slogans and others

By my reckoning there have only been 26 slogan postmarks this year including the Action For Children default, and its replacement about using up old stamps.  The Universal machine made an appearance in February and March as well as December, and a new type of counter date stamp was trialled at Boscombe and some other offices.


The Post Office Horizon IT Scandal

This story made its way slowly to the mainstream media as a result of the wide-ranging Public Inquiry,sessions of which are live-streamed on YouTube and recorded for subsequent viewing. I was pleased by a new trick mentioned by Nick Wallis who was also in catch-up mode, that you can change the play-back speed on YT videos. (Use the settings cog and you can go at 1.25x or 1.5x without much distortion unless the witness speaks very quickly!) 

Sadly the issue of compensation and getting it to the wronged continues even more slowly but it was interesting to hear the evidence of witnesses from Post Office, Fujitsu, and the NFSP & CWU, and  former ministers among the senior politicians. Some of these will be returning for further examination. The Metropolitan Police have still not charged anyone with perjury, though.


Post Office, Royal Mail, Revenue Protection and Invalid Stamps that aren't

Failures by some Post Office branches and Mail Centres to cancel mail that they should is continuing to lead to stamps being cancelled in the final mile with a pen.  (The one shown to Australia has a £1.55 Scotland, 20p Machin barcode, and 2 x 5p Machin: a great mixed franking.)

Revenue Protection have continued to incorrectly flag valid old stamps (which we are being urged to use up) as forgeries which wastes the time of users, recipients, and sometimes delays orders to customers, with consequent recriminations.

At the same time they continue to let through as valid, stamps which are - to many of us - obvious forgeries!

Due to industrial action by members of the Communication Workers Union Royal Mail decided at the last minute that they could not attend autumn Stampex - there's no Spring Stampex in 2023 so hopefully they will return in September for the few people who will still be buying from them.

Another announcement that took many people by surprise (including its editor) was the end of publication of the Philatelic Bulletin. Communication being their raison d'être, they printed the notification letter on the back of the July statement, which many people threw away without turning it over!

Unless they come up with another avenue (social media maybe?), this does mean that the poll of Royal Mail's customers' 'favourite stamp issue/favourite stamp' will not take place this year. 

Our business

The invalidation of older Machin and Country definitives has been an unwelcome distraction but readers asked many questions (some of which we hadn't considered) and it has been useful to investigate.  

But it has also been the trigger-point for decision-making.  I'm not the only dealer who has decided to call it a day on these stamps, and collectors and dealers have been sending their surplus stamps for exchange. 

Collectors who are continuing collections have benefited from some bargain prices being offered which has saved some good collectable stamps from the Royal Mail incinerator.  

There is no end date for the swap, so I will continue to produce (and update existing) sales lists in the hope that people will find something they want, and I will avoid a pile of barcoded stamps!

Our online shop will remain open but will have more mint and used GB, postal history* (UK and foreign), picture postcards and foreign stamps including bulk lots.  I'll also be offering some discounted postage, both commemorative and barcoded Machins.  If you would like me to look out anything please ask and I'll let you know what we have.

* Last year I wrote that I would be starting other blogs on this subject but of course the Swap-Out scheme, along with some domestic issues, has provided big a big distraction. 

The future

Club meetings have resumed with more meetings being shared online to a wider audience than the pre-Covid in-room attendances.  I didn't manage to get to many fairs this year, and even our own local fair has been suspended while the hotel venue has been block-booked by the Home Office for immigrants and asylum-seekers.  

If domestic matters allow, I shall certainly be intending to spend more time on my own collection, but I have to dispose of a great deal of my stock and collection.  And if you have decided to stop collecting new GB stamps, and want something more interesting to study then there is plenty here for you to get your teeth into without spending huge amounts.

We have already seen what the future holds by way of Royal Mail's stamp programme.  If you don't follow it I would urge you to read the blog-post from my fellow blogger White Knight on the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion.

It is quite likely that some people will start collecting the stamps of King Charles III. That is a worthy start to a collection, but I hope that they are not marketed by Royal Mail as an investment.  And I hope that people who think they will buy a subscription from Royal Mail will read widely before doing so. 

I will continue to provide details of all new stamp issues as provided by Royal Mail, to their required timetable, but that's all.  You'll get the pictures, you'll get the detail, and you'll get comments from me and from readers.  


We hope all our readers have a Merry Christmas whatever religion you follow (if any).  Thank you for your cards and seasonal good wishes.
Last year I urged you to remember those who are less fortunate than you; with even more people in fuel poverty this year I can do no better than to repeat that messsage.


Wednesday 14 December 2022

December 2022 Postmark Slogans and other interesting postal markings

All slogan postmarks used in December will be shown here; please check for latest updates before spending your time scanning, but if you have something new or another format, then please do send it in for publication.  And look out for anything from machines brought out of reserve instead of from an ink-jet machine!

As a reminder to anybody who is new to the subject, this type of slogan is generally known as the Universal type although over the years other machines have produced similar impressions.  

November 2019 Lancashire & South 6 Lakes Postcode slogan from Universal-type machine.

These are often pressed into service around the country at peak times but they may be few and far between this year.

New slogans

For much of December the current default 'Use your old stamps' slogan has been in use, and continues with the original 31 January date.

But as a result of the current industrial dispute making mail processing days before Christmas fewer than normal, the last dates for posting have been advanced. That for 2nd class mail was 12 December.

A new slogan advertises the 1st class deadline of 16 December - interestingly the date is shown in an unusual format for the UK. Used at Norwich Mail Centre 12-12-2022.

Post early
for Christmas
1st Class deadline
December 16 2022
Post Early slogan for 1st class mail, Norwich Mail Centre 12-12-2022.

UPDATE 16 December. My thanks to JE for this image of the IMP format from Preston (Lancashire and South Lakes also on 12/12/2022.  JE says that this slogan was to run from 12 to 15 December, but with strikes on 14 & 15 Dec. the later dates will be scarcer.

Post Early slogan for 1st class mail, Lancashire and South Lakes (Preston Mail Centre) 12/12/2022.

UPDATE 17 December. And because Exeter always get such a bad write-up, here's the same from there sent in by RW.

Post Early slogan for 1st class mail, Exeter Mail Centre 13-12-2022.

UPDATE 20 December. Despite the strikes reducing collections from mailboxes I know that some managers collected from some Post Offices and maybe some businesses.  Thus even on strike days the mail centres were working and postmarks do exist on those dates.

BM sent the Post Early from Cornwall Mail Centre on 15/12/2022, and MM sent a pair,  on a square envelope from Tyneside NE/SR Mail Centre on 14/12/2022 (I think!), and a conventional one from Plymouth and Cornwall Mail Centre on 15/12/2022.

Post Early slogan for 1st class mail, Cornwall Mail Centre 15/12/2022.

Post Early slogan for 1st class mail, Plymouth and Cornwall Mail Centre 15/12/2022.

Post Early slogan for 1st class mail, Tyneside Mail Centre 14/12/2022.

After the last posting day, the current default slogan to Use Up non-barcoded stamps returned to use,and our own mail included two square envelopes with the backward printing - Post Early on 13/12/2022 and Use Up on 17/12/2022 both from Sheffield Mail Centre.

Reversed layout Post Early slogan for 1st class mail, Sheffield Mail Centre 13/12/2022 and Use non-barcoded stamps slogan used at Sheffield Mail Centre 17/12/2022

But MM went one better and had them both on the same envelope.  Apparently Use non-barcoded on 09-12-2022 from South Midlands and Post Early from Tyneside possibly on 12/12/2022. 

Two for one!



My thanks to RL for sending this image of a Universal die usage (on a forged 1st class MA12 stamp!). This is said to have been posted in Southend-on-Sea but the postmark, I believe, is Jubilee Mail Centre (JMC at lower left), with [KT-TW]-GU postcode areas at the top.  No year unfortunately, but I suspect that mail centres don't have a 2022 die for these machines.

Universal postmarking machine usage Jubilee Mail Centre 6-XII (2022)

UPDATE 23 December. A neighbour has given me this with a (very dumb) Peterborough Universal postmark.  No year, but no date.  The stamp is M16L so nothing to prove that it is this year's which is unfortunate.

Universal canceller used at Peterborough, December 2022 but undated.

UPDATE 29 DECEMBER: My thanks to 'Rapido' for providing these images which conclusive prove that the Peterborough Universal -A- has been in use in 2022 - with a year-coded M22L Machin.

Universal canceller used at Peterborough, December 2022 undated but with year proved by M22L coded 2nd class stamp.

UPDATE 9 January - I'm told that STROMNESS used its universal, without a year plug as usual, but as CP didn't use a 2022 stamp there is no proof that what he has is this year's. Update, I now have a picture from 5 December scanned from a photocopy. I'd forgotten that they used the Snowman Happy Christmas Please Post Early slogan.

Stromness Universal machine postmark used 5 December (2022) with Snowman slogan.

Remember, all postmarks appearing in December 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.


New Stamps for 2023

Normally by this time I would be hoping that somebody had produced a spoof programme for Royal Mail's stamp issues for the New Year, but instead the Stamp Calendar has been leaked on a discussion forum - and not even a stamp forum!

This is the same as that sent to the Trade.  Publishing this early will give collectors, and producers of first day covers and maximum cards, something to be thinking about.


By my count there are seven media/entertainment related issues some (but not, as far as I know, the first one) of which should have prestige stamp books, two thematic, Christmas, and two commemorative.

If collectors hadn't already decided to stop collecting new issues at the end of the reign of the late Queen, this will certainly aid their decision.

UPDATE:  Editable (and searchable) table.

12th January

Iron Maiden

16th February


9th March

The Flying Scotsman

23rd March


4th April

New Definitives and tariff

13th April

His Majesty King Charles III: A New Reign

17th May


8th June


22nd June

Windrush: 75 Years

13th July

River Wildlife

10th August

Terry Pratchett's Discworld

5th September


21st September

Dame Shirley Bassey

19th October

Harry Potter

2nd November


UPDATE 22 December:  I received the Iron Maiden miniature sheets today.

Monday 12 December 2022

Problems with receiving email

Some people are reporting their emails to the 'norphil' address are bouncing or delivery is failing.

But not all of them we still get plenty, so I don't know what the cause of this is.

If I don't answer in a few days please try wild1952-at-gmail.com