Tuesday 19 December 2023

Review of the Year 2023

Where has this year gone?

The first half of the year, and to a lesser extent the second half, was dominated by the decision by Royal Mail to invalidate ordinary Machin and Country definitives from 31 July.

From my point of view, I had already decided to sell as much of my stock as possible to people who might not have these stamps in their collections. As I had really only been selling the security stamps (Gibbons' 'U' numbers) this involved a lot of time sorting and identifying the previous two versions of decimal Machins, the original and those with elliptical perforations.

And I found a lot more than I expected to, in various stock books 'for later sorting' or in packets, boxes, and presentation packs. As I prepared Stock lists of stamps for sale I was also able to share – for the benefit of newer collectors – key information about the phosphor arrangements on booklet stamps from the 1970s & 1980s.

So while the first half of the year was largely writing about the system, and answering questions - here, by email, on social media, and even phone calls - the rest of the year has involved sorting more stamps to send in to the Swapout scheme, and to make up into lists for sale.


The surcharge for using a non-barcoded stamp started at £1.10 (which was the then 1st class postage rate) but in October a new range of charges was introduced pushing this charge up to £2.50 (the previous rate for unpaid letters), with the rate for using a counterfeit stamp or no postage at all rising from £2.50 to £5 (£7 for small parcels). The rates for insufficient postage remained at £1.50 for letters and £3.50 for small parcels.

With the invalidation, counterfeit stamps - about which more later - and simple error, the scope for postal history collections is wide.

Postage rates

Tariff changes came as usual at the beginning of April with a 15+% rise in the cost of a basic 1st class letter and therefore of many of the collectible stamps. The Worldwide 20 g letter rate was abolished meaning that the £2.20 stamp now covered letters up to 100g anywhere in the world. This eliminated the need for anything other than a £2.20 airmail stamp – which was issued, along with all the King Charles NVIs, the day after the rate increase.

A second tariff change took effect from 2 October affecting inland post, with the £1.25 rate for a basic 1st class letter being 31% higher than in April 2022. It will need only a 7p increase in 2023 to produce a rate double than in effect from March 2020. 

A new reign, part 2

Last year, I discussed what portrait would apepar on the first King Charles definitives, preferring the banknote full-face portrait over the coin profile.  Royal Mail duly used the unflattering profile – used without the sculptor's input – from the coins prepared by the Royal Mint for the first stamps issued

The second wave, the make-up values from 1p to £5 was issued at the end of August – with the £3 value being dropped from the range. Royal Mail confirmed that there would be no £2.20 country definitives as there were a lot of old stamps to use.

Following His Majesty's line that there was to be no waste and stocks of old stamps were to be used to exhaustion, it took many months for the first definitives of the new reign to appear apart from on the date of issue.

The need for a new portrait to appear on other products was discussed but so far only the Horizon label (in one location) and digital stamps for PPIs have appeared.

Commemorative or Special stamps ...

...  followed the pattern of previous years with many issues extolling the virtues of internationally

famous television, film, and game (etc) brands. The 'Coronation' issue was a big disappointment with only a miniature sheet being issued: if one of them had been issued as a single stamp in sheets it would have seen wider use. As if the programme wasn't full enough RM saw fit to have two Music Giants issues in one year.

An innovation was to produce stamps with face values without an equivalent postage rate: sadly, rather than produce a few lower-make-up-values, stamps were issued with £1 and £2 denominations (the latter actually paying the little-used worldwide surface rate).


Barely a year goes by without a Prestige Stamp Book being issued with an error, whether it's missing or duplicated panes or covers, or mis-cuts.  This year it was miscuts on the X-Men booklet and on the Shirley Bassey booklet - which was also inverted.  We were also sent some pictures of errors from the 1990s.

But Royal Mail – and it's printer International Security Printers – was plagued by other errors through the year.  The River Wildlife 1st class stamps were issued with a single central phosphor band, and a reprint was necessary. Royal Mail offered to replace the wrongly-printed stamps with reprints!

The stamps applied to first day covers of the second tranche of King Charles Definitives were found to have no security cuts; Royal Mail did not admit it was an error (although it clearly was) and no reprint was necessary because the stamps were not made available to anybody in mint condition. In other words, there was no operational effect, so they didn't change them.

The third error of the year to escape scrutiny (I understand that others were caught with closer scrutiny after the first two) was the appearance of a sheet of 2nd class Christmas stamp with no datamatrix code. Unfortunately these were publicised by the postmaster who found them before issue and as yet none have appeared for sale either to the public or from dealers. 


Forgeries of many new stamps were reported regularly, including the datamatrix Machins (not just the NVIs but the airmail values), and the country defintives.  I can't make up my mind whether the forgers are producing some stamps to sell to collectors, or for use as postage, because the next to appear were the 1st and 2nd class Aardman Animations stamps and many Christmas stamps. 

After that the Classic Children's TV (Bob the Builder, Postman Pat etc) and other commemoratives appeared, along with Smilers Sheets!  It's been suggested that this is because there is no doubt that these are valid, as only the Machins and Country definitives were invalidated. Whether this is true or not, who knows.

I have seen, but haven't had occasion to report yet, the forging of the limited use stamps issued by Universal Mail UK.

I was asked to contribute to several radio programmes and newspaper articles; I provided the journalists concerned with ample information but declined to go on air. (Jeremy Vine? - no thanks!)

Post and Go

Stalwart reporters continued to provide information for everybody else on what was happening both at

museums and branch self-service kiosks. My thanks to Malcolm, Trevor, Chris, Stuart, Robert, and Anonymous contributors.

The shock news from Royal Mail in September that Post and Go was to end was tempered by the confirmation that this did not apply to Post Office branches, where at least the machines are likely to be used by people actually sending mail (when the machines are functioning, that is).

Three years ago I reported on a Post Office initiative to introduce the Next Generationof Self-Service machines. Nothing moves quickly, and while some machines may have been trialled, there is no sign of a wholesale replacement of the existing NCR machines.

Tariff changes usually affect Post and Go stamps if only to increase the cost! This year the redundant Worldwide 20g designation was still in use many months after the weight step was eliminated.

Slogan postmarks. 

In 2022 we recorded 26 different slogans.  By my count there have been only 18 reported in 2023 – and that includes the Wales and Northern Ireland variants of the NHS75 slogan. Adding interest, though, has been spotting late usages, with the Windrush and Coronation slogans seeing isolated use months after they originally appeared.   A few other interesting postmarks and postal markings have been reported.


Only two occasions led to Royal Mail's street postboxes being decorated.  The first was the Coronation, and the second was Christmas.

Royal Mail Operations and Philatelic Services.

Following a cyber attack at the beginning of the year, Royal Mail suspended all international mailings as they could not provide customs information to destination postal authorities, or use the internationally linked track and trace system. But fortunately the industrial action which caused them so many problems in 2022 was stopped after agreement of some sort was reached between the company and the union.

In 2022 those problems prevented Royal Mail from attending Autumn Stampex. No such problems prevented their attendance in 2023, however, they simply decided not to go. “following a strategic review”.


The Post Office Horizon IT Scandal

The Statutory Inquiry into this scandal continues. That, and Freedom of Information Requests have

produced some shocking headlines in mos of the mainstream media. The role of inhouse and external lawyers has drawn comment from academics and other lawyers and is likely to lead to action from their professional bodies/regulators.

More and more evidence from Post Office prosecutors points to the possibility of charges for perverting the course of justice. 2024 will continue to be interesting.  (And more still, since I drafted that!)

Mr Bates v The Post Office: an ITV drama series begins its run on 1 January at 9pm, and will be available on ITVX. Staring Toby Jones as Alan Bates, and Will Mellor as Lee Castleton, the series continues with three more episodes on consecutive evenings, and on 4 January an ITV documentary will be aired at 10.45pm. “People watching may need to remind themselves that the story is based on fact not fiction.”

The Business and the Blog

In August the number of page views on this blog passed 6 million. One of our readers pointed out that it was 3.3 million in January 2019 and 5.5 million in November 2022.

Looking at the 'all-time' statistics, the posts which are of interest outside the philatelic community (and therefore appear on search engine results) attract most visitors overall, with the 2014 new tariff hitting the peak at 51,200 visitors. The Swapout scheme has naturally attracted attention as well. The biggest hit for new issues was for the 2018 programme (11.4k).

Although I haven't reported as often on this blog in the last year, I have taken the opportunity to explore the postal history aspects of modern philately "Modern British Postal History".  I hope regular readers of this blog find the other one interesting.  

As more of you stop collecting new issues of stamps that you don't like, but still visit stamp fairs and clubs, I hope this will encourage you to look inside the box and see what dealers have to offer by way of stamps doing the job they were invented for.  Try and build up  a collection of Machins on cover, solo use.  Not easy, especially all the variants of the security stamps!


We hope all our readers have a happy Christmas holiday whatever religion you follow (if any). 
We think especially of those in the care and health sectors who are working while we are relaxing;  those who are no longer with us, especially those who have passed this year; and we think about those who have died awaiting justice.

We hope that you and your friends and loved ones stay safe and healthy. 

Remember those who are less fortunate than you and if you can help one person - try to make it two!  Don't forget the postal workers who we rely on, and who are working harder while so many of their colleagues are leaving for a less stressful life.

Thursday 14 December 2023

Mr Bates vs The Post Office: coming to your TV from 1 January.

I haven't written much of late about the Post Office Horizon Scandal because the Statutory Inquiry is continuing and all hearings are broadcast live or available very soon thereafter on YouTube.

Suffice to say progress continues at a pace slower than the average snail with many SPMs still to be offered anything like recompense and compensation for the false prosecutions.

The Inquiry has heard from many of those postmasters affected and in some cases their families, and has questioned politicians, civil servants, managers in Fujistu Ltd, and many staff at all levels to middle management in Post Office Ltd, although as yet not the Directors or Former Directors.

Reporting continues in Private Eye, Computer World, and Nick Wallis' blog, and the story has gained a lot of traction in the mainstream press including The Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail, and others, as more remarkable and unbelievable revelations have been made.  

Post Office Ltd has continued to find it difficult to provide email and written evidence that has been requested by The Inquiry, frequently finding more just as key witnesses were to be examined, causing their examination to be postponed, in some cases several times.

Toby Jones plays Alan Bates in the ITV drama.

Now a 4-part television dramatisation called Mr Bates vs. The Post Office will air on ITV and ITVX on four consecutive evenings from 9pm on 1 January 2024.

Written by screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes – whose previous credits include Tom Jones, Honour and Vanity Fair – and helmed by Broadchurch and Vigil director James Strong, the four-part drama promises to tell "the story of one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history."  

According to an official synopsis: "Many of the wronged workers were prosecuted, some of whom were imprisoned for crimes they never committed, and their lives were irreparably ruined by the scandal."

Speaking about the case as the show was announced, Alan Bates himself described it as "one of the most egregious scandals the country has ever seen" and added, "thankfully this has now been exposed and the victims are finally on their way to finding the justice they deserve."

Meanwhile, Jones said he was "proud to be a part of this shocking, unsettling but ultimately inspirational drama.”

And speaking about the star-studded cast, ITV Commissioning Editor Helen Perry said: “We are so grateful to the extraordinary cast that have come together for this show. Their talent will help shine a spotlight on one of the most important and unbelievable stories of injustice in recent British history.”  (Radio Times online May 2023)

For viewers in Ireland it's appearing on Virgin Media One at 21:00 on January 1st.

Will Mellor plays Lee Castleton.

From "Campaign4Change", by Tony Collins* and Davie Bicknell

“To my shame I didn’t know very much about this,” said actor Toby Jones. He was speaking at a press screening at BAFTA of “Mr Bates v The Post Office“, a star-studded ITV drama series on the Post Office IT scandal.

The series has prime-time TV slots.  Some scenes in the episodes may lodge in the national psyche, in a way that news stories on the scandal rarely have, however influential they were at the time.

Also being aired in the first week of January is an ITV documentary on the scandal Mr Bates vs the Post Office: The Real Story. It will go out on the same evening as the final episode, 4 January, at 10.45pm.

The series has a a focus on how a respected state-owned institution, the Post Office, intervened in the normal family life of branch sub-postmasters, sub-mistresses and their staff, in ways that had lasting effects on young children, grandparents, wives, husbands and partners.

People watching may need to remind themselves that the story is based on fact not fiction.

“You can’t believe it’s true,” said cast member Will Mellor who plays former sub-postmaster Lee Castleton. “Even when we were filming it, I just kept saying ‘I can’t believe they’ve actually done this to these people.’”

At one level it’s a mystery story. Why did the Post Office’s corporate executives and others at a senior level, including auditors, investigators and lawyers, seem to try and outdo each other in demonstrating inhumanity towards sub-postmasters and their families?


Although this is on prime time television, starting on New Year's Day may not be the best, so watch it on catch-up at ITVX.  There's no indication at this stage as to how long it will be available.  Readers outside the UK will probably not be able to watch it on the app unless using a VPN.

I shall probably watch it earlier in the evening a day behind: although I know much of the story, as regular readers so, I would like to sleep after watching it.  

I hope Post Office Diretcors, Executives and their in house and external lawyers watch it, along with current ministers and civil servants.   I hope they don't sleep until they have firmly decided to do something to recompense the thousands of people affected before any more die. Over 60 have died already, waiting for justice.

Thursday 7 December 2023

International Mail needs Customs Forms - or else!

Readers will be aware that treatment of the mail changed when we left the European Union (1 January 2021), and again in July of that year when the EU countries introduced the same rules.

Customs form CN22

I wrote (edited):

In effect this means that all goods bought from outside the EU are subject to local VAT.  In practice letters containing a few stamps are - as at present - less likely to be examined and charged by local customs authorities who are likely to be concentrating on bigger fry.

Note that if you (in the EU) buy from UK sellers on eBay, eBay will automatically add your local VAT to the price you pay in most cases.  Collectors in the UK buying from outside the UK on eBay have the same problem.  The one ray of light is that you no longer have to pay the Royal Mail/Border Force £8 examination charge.
Further changes introduced recently require customs labels for any goods, including gifts.  Royal Mail would dearly like to have all this done online, but the way remains open for offline processing using adhesive labels, with details input by Post Office staff at the branch counter.  [This has already started causing delays in branches as people send Christmas gifts - with no preparation before they arrived.]

From the Royal Mail website (slightly edited)

A customs declaration is an official document that lists and gives details of goods that are being imported or exported, for more information about why a declaration is needed please click here 

If you are sending goods or any items of commercial value (including gifts and samples) to a country outside of the UK you will need to complete a customs declaration and associated electronic pre-advice must be supplied. The easiest methods of doing this are via Royal Mail Click and Drop or via the Post Office as outlined below.

You will need to complete a customs declaration (CN22 or CN23) for any gifts and goods sent abroad. Items sent without a customs declaration (CN22 or CN23), associated electronic pre advice, or are incorrectly or partially completed may be delayed or returned to sender. It is your responsibility to verify that any items you send meet relevant customs requirements at the time of sending and your item/s are compliant.

Items containing Personal Correspondence do not require a CN22 or CN23. Personal Correspondence is letters, brochures, catalogues, C4 and below addressed to an individual (that are not sale of goods), postcards§, braille letters, individual invoices/statements. 

For example, items such as individual university prospectus/brochures/catalogues sent in A5/A4 envelopes with a personalised covering letter addressed to the individual enclosed making it clear to customs authorities what is contained inside.

This example is interesting in the light of an email received from JE of the British Postmark Society (BPS) today.  The Society's quarterly journal was returned as non-compliant, using an orange label not previously seen - CN15(c)

Returned To Sender C4 envelope with CN15(c) added

CN15(c) Returned to Sender label for Customs non-compliance.

I'm not sure how this differs from the University prospectus examples in the Royal Mail website. It probably didn't have a covering personalised letter.  JE didn't say whether it was opened or not: if it wasn't, how would anyone know that the contents were not 'Personal Correspondence', it's very close to being a Catalogue.

Royal Mail's advice on the link shown is:

Since your item cannot be processed through customs, we have returned it to you free of charge. If you choose to pay for it to be sent again, please ensure that you familiarise yourself with the customs requirements to prevent your item being refused by the destination customs authority.

I doubt that the label is peelable, but if it is covered, it seems that the BPS can send the package again with CN22 added and no additional postage, as Royal Mail have omitted to cancel the stamps the first time.

Another Returned to Sender form CN15 or CN15(b) is applied to mail which has reached a destination country which has been returned to sender for other reasons of non-delivery or non-collection (insufficient address, gone away, not collected, deceased, etc).    Here are two examples of the pink form.

CN15 Return to Sender form from Ukraine 2016
CN15 Return to Sender form from Germany.

This is another example of Postal History being made; the new orange label is the latest in a long line of similar labels which are now codified (presumably) by the UPU.

If you have any experience of having mail returned because of a failure to comply with new Customs requirements, please let us know.  For a form to be printed there must be a need, ie there must be many examples of this.


Music Giants IX - 11 January 2024

Readers who subscribe to Royal Mail's new issue service are starting to receive advance notices of charges to their accounts or cards.

Apparently Music Giants IX (not identified) will be issued on 11 January and includes PSB YB117 priced at £23.70 - which ought to mean more King Charles III definitives.

One reader reports his total bill, presumably for regular stamps, MS, PSB comes to £42.90!  

Will it be another one of these, as suggested by a reader last year?

More information will be provided here when we are permitted to release it - around a week before issue if past experience is anything to go by.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

King Charles III Definitives are starting to reach Post Office branches.

This week we received an image of two covers with King Charles stamps purchased from post office branches.  These were new supplies of the stamps which had their first day of issue at the end of August.

Thanks to PA we can report that the new stamps have appeared at almost opposite ends of the country - Chudleigh in Devon, and Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire.  There will surely be more supplies reaching branches soon.

Pair of covers from different post office branches with a mix of Queen Elizabeth and King Charles definitive stamps, November 2023.

Although I will report new arrivals at different branches in this blog, covers will be shown on the Modern Postal History blog,

Please let me know by email of any covers received, especially if the PO branch is known, or and other findings in branch.


Monday 4 December 2023

December 2023 slogan postmarks and other interesting postal markings.

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. 

Our first stamped post of the month shows a continuation of the British Heart Foundation default postmark, and as it's a square envelope we have a good example of the slogan layout reversed - and the wavy lines go squarely across the barcode due to the position of the stamp.  

Gatwick Mail Centre 02/12/2023 reversed layout.

British Heart Foundation slogan postmark Gatwick 02/12/2023.

UPDATE 19 December. I'm sorry these have been building up and I did not attribute them in my file name, so apologies if I get the attribution wrong.

This one is easy, as it is addressed to us!  We don't often see examples from Home Counties North Mail Centre 17-12-2023. The stamp is in the right corner, but the envelope was processed turned 90º clockwise, and the postmark missed the stamp entirely!

Square envelope causing problems at Home Counties North on 17-12-2023

 The other layout from North & West Yorkshire 11/12/2023

British Heart Foundation slogan postmark North & West Yorkshire 11/12/2023.

JG shows two examples of the BHF slogan from Peterborough Mail Centre on 4 & 5 December in different sizes.  The reason for this was explained once but I've forgotten it.

British Heart Foundation slogan postmark Peterborough Mail Centre 04 & 05-12-2023 in differemt sizes.

Post Early for Christmas?  Last Posting Dates?

When did we last not have a 'Post early' or similar slogan?  UK readers will know of the delivery problems that Royal Mail has simply because it has driven so many of its employees to leave the service rather than put up with the stress of extra long hours and heavy loads.  So this year they didn't bother to ask us to post early or have a slogan with the last posting dates.

Meanwhile, here are some they did earlier...

Last Posting Dates 2017 Norwich Mail Centre

Remember to Post Early, Exeter Mail Centre 2017

Remember to Post Early, Norwich Mail Centre 2018

Last posting dates, Exeter Mail Centre 2018

Last posting dates, Peterborough Mail Centre 2019

Other postmarks, postal markings etc,

It's Christmas and so as is usual at this time of year - despite fewer cards being posted every year - old Universal machines are coming out of retirement.

First out of the trap this year is Stromness, Orkney on 4 December, with the Snowman slogan.  JE writes, "Stromness' machine has not had a year slug for several years - but the stamp and the Inverness inkjet confirm that it is from 2023. This is one of the few Universal SCMs still in regular use by RoyalMail - presumably year slugs are no longer supplied.  The Snowman slogan die dates from 1994. (The Inverness British Heart Foundation slogan applied later the same day.)

Stromness, Orkney, Universal postmark dated 4 December (2023) with Snowman slogan.


My thanks to AB for sending this image,  Packaging from Amazon was reused - very commendable - and the Post Office stuck the Horizon label over the yellow Amazon label.  Remember that these QR-type codes are tracked internally through Royal Mail's system (and may also provide proof of delivery on the website).  

Evidently scanning at the Midlands Parcel Hub was hampered by 'show-through' from the Amazon label, and so they provided a new QR-coded label with the same pattern and same number.  I've never heard of this operational need before, probably because most of the time the packaging is discarded when the goods are removed.  One to watch out for - more modern postal history!

Overlabelled at Midlands Hub - to provide a more readable QR-type code.

Update 22 December. This is one I should have shown last month; it is also on the Postal History blog because of the new surcharge rate of £2.50 effective from 30 October, but we don't get many Northern Ireland postmarks, so this one from CRAIGAVON DELIVERY OFFICE helps to redress that

£2.50 'Stamp no longer valid', surcharge 1 November 2023 at new rate effective 30 October, with Cragavon Delivery Office postmark


My thanks to Mel Holley for this image from Cardiff Mechanised Letter Office.  The packet (which must have weighed between 101-250g) was correctly prepaid at the 2nd class rate of £2.40, but was set aside for checking, maybe because it was a spot check on the weight?

Whatever the reason, no surcharge was applied and the letter was duly delivered.


To the left of the text is the figure 1 for First Class, although this is a 2nd class Large Letter.

If you have any other interesting postal markings, please send them to one of the email addresses in the top right of this blog.  Thank you.

Remember, any other slogans appearing in December will be added to this post, so check here before you spend time scanning and emailing.  I'll add new ones as quickly as possible.


Friday 1 December 2023

Royal Mail make postboxes festive in major cities.

After a quiet year for decorated postboxes, Royal Mail has once again decorated postboxes for the festive season.  

The press release is not yet on the corporate website but the gist of it is in the media already.

Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail, said: “This is Royal Mail’s busiest time of the year.

“December sees about twice as many letters, cards and parcels as other months.

“At Royal Mail, we’re geared up to help with festive preparations, whether that’s delivering the nation’s love and best wishes through Christmas cards, or the presents that tens of millions of people will be shopping online for right now.

“This year we’re adding some extra festive joy and cheer for people sending their letters and Christmas cards to loved ones through our amazing singing postboxes.”

The postboxes are located in London’s Oxford Street, Glasgow’s George Square, Belfast’s Donegall Square West and Union Street in Swansea.


The postboxes are pictured on Royal Mail's X-account (formerly Twitter).  "Four of our Postboxes across the UK have been decked out for Christmas, and merrily respond to post with one of three festive tunes."

Belfast – Donegall Square West Singing Postbox
Glasgow – George Square Singing Postbox

London – Oxford Street (opposite John Lewis) Singing Postbox

From Google Street View, a view from the other side showing the John Lewis store.

London – Oxford Street (opposite John Lewis) Postbox - Google Street View

Swansea – Union Street Singing Postbox

An odd picture against a shuttered storefront. Was it a run-down part of Swansea? No, it was a jewellery store on overnight closure!

Swansea – Union Street  Postbox - Google Street View.

Monday 27 November 2023

Machin Bargain Sales resume now

Observant readers will have noticed that the sales lists which I removed in August have not yet reappeared.

The list of Machin definitives with elliptical perforations (the Gibbons Y-numbers) have not previously been listed at all.

That list is now available on Dropbox.  Quantities available are shown and I will try to update this as soon as possible as stamps are sold.

List 8 - Machin Y-numbers with elliptical peforations. 

List 10 - Smilers Sheets and singles, including Smilers for Kids, and the very rarest normal Smilers. For many of these we have only a single copy.

Other lists, mostly revised versions of previous lists, will be added shortly. 

I'll also be producing a list of Smilers FDCs for sale at attractive prices. 

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Old Smilers Sheets, still valid for postage, for sale at under face.

As part of my operation to run-down business stocks so as to be able to concentrate on my collections, I'm now offering a range of 'Hello' Smilers Sheets issued to mark Royal Mail's participation at philatelic events.

These are all valid for postage and each contains 20 x 1st class stamps, so face value £25.

For sale now at only £15 each plus postage.  They can be used with or without the labels.

Italia 2009

 Beijing Olympic Expo 2008

Washingtgon International Stamp Exhibition 2006.

Hong Kong Stamp Expo 2004.

Thaipex 2009

UPDATE: I found some more, not pictured, one of each: Pacific Explorer 2005,  Belgica 2006, Monaco 2009.

ONLY TWO NOW available, mix and match, postage will cover several sheets.

PRICE £15 each – buy six for £85.
Postage extra – these are A4 sheets so will be Large Letters in the UK and Worldwide.
Check Royal Mail price finder for your area outside UK.

UK by bank transfer or cheque.
WORLD by Paypal family and friends. (or bank transfer from UK account or UK cheque).

If the buyer only wants postage I can remove the stamps from the sheets to send just the stamps, which might reduce the cost of posting them.  Folding the sheets also allows them to be sent as ordinary letters.

First come first served.  Leave a comment to reserve, and send an email providing mailing address and confirming requirements.  Send no money until confirmed by me!

More special offers coming.

Datamatrix Machins, April 2022 printings available - sheets, part sheets or singles. Cheap!

Due to an ordering/supply error I have complete sheets of the low value Machin barcoded stamps.  Knowing that ordinary collectors find it difficult to order positional singles and blocks from Royal Mail I thought I would offer to break up these sheets and only send the remainder back for credit.

1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p Queen Elizabeth II Datamatrix stamps with April 2022 printing dates.


There are many different ways of collecting these: some people collect sheets, some collect a date and cylinder block of 10 (ie the top two rows in this view), and a number of marginal singles. Clearly these are not mutually exclusive.

I use this template to inform Royal Mail of my requirements.

Sheets available at face +15%

Blocks of 8 or 10 at face + 20%

Blocks of 4, 6, pairs singles at face + 25%

Cheque or bank transfer only, no cards.  (Foreign buyers can use PayPal Friends & Family payment.)  Postage extra.  Sheets & blocks of 10 are large letter rate.

First come first served.  Leave a comment to reserve, and send an email providing mailing address and confirming requirements.  Send no money until confirmed by me!

More special offers coming soon.


Wednesday 8 November 2023

The Postal Museum: Final throes of Post and Go

The Postal Museum Press Release:

Following the announcement made by Royal Mail earlier this year, November and December will be the final months that visitors and collectors will be able to make purchases from The Postal Museum’s two Post & Go machines. Please find the final schedule of Post & Go at The Postal Museum below.

Mail Rail Lest We Forget additional inscription for 2023.

UPDATE 24 November - Revised and accurate position*
From 10am Wednesday 8th November to 5pm Thursday 30th November:

  • A001 reel 5: Poppies to replace Union Flags with the overprint “The Postal Museum/Lest we Forget ‘23”
  • A013 reel 3: 1st Class Machins replaced by Poppies with the overprint “Mail Rail/Lest we Forget ‘23”
From 10am Friday 1st December to 5pm Sunday 31st December:
  • A001 reel 1: Winter Greenery 1C to replace 1st Class Machins
  • A001 reel 3: Winter Greenery 2C to replace 2nd Class Machins
  • A013 reel 3: Winter Greenery to replace Poppies in A013 reel 3 (but only until 27th December)
  • A001 reel 5: Mail Coach (The Postal Museum exclusive) stamp to replace Poppies.
From 10am 27th December to 5pm 31st December:
  • A001 reel 1: Anniversary Machins to replace Winter Greenery 1C with the overprint “End of Post & Go at/The Postal Museum”
  • A001 reel 6: Union Flag to replace PO London Railway with the overprint “End of Post & Go at/The Postal Museum”
  • A013 reel 3: 1st Class Machins to replace Winter Greenery 1C with the overprint “End of Post & Go at/Mail Rail”



Friday 1 Dec – Saturday 23 December

Weds 27 – Sunday 31 December (5pm)

A001 Reel 1

1st class Machin R20

The Postal Museum

Winter Greenery 1st

The Postal Museum  §

Anniversary Machins

End of Post & Go at

The Postal Museum

A001 Reel 3

2nd class Machin MA15

The Postal Museum

Winter Greenery 2nd

The Postal Museum §


A001 Reel 4

Mail by Bike

The Postal Museum

Dressed to Deliver



A001 Reel 5

Poppies MA15

The Postal Museum

Lest We Forget '23

Mail Coach

The Postal Museum


A001 Reel 6

PO Underground*

The Postal Museum


Union Flag

End of Post & Go at

The Postal Museum

Mail Rail

A013 Reel 1

PO Underground*

Mail Rail



A013 Reel 3

Poppies MA15

Mail Rail

Lest We Forget '23

Winter Grenery 1st

Mail Rail §

1st class Machins

End of Post & Go at

Mail Rail

In both cases Reel 2 produces receipts.

§ Malcolm confirms that Greenery this year will be R19YAL and CL17S into A001 with R17YAL into A013.

*Further information:
Please note that the final overprint wording may still be subject to change. As these are the museum’s final stocks, availability is subject to demand and may run out before the dates listed above.

Although it may seem logical for the End of Post & Go inscription to be on all reels at present Royal Mail have limited it to those three shown.  It would certainly produce more revenue - which would go straight to the bottom line - if all 7 reels were treated alike.   Watch this space.

* I suggested the above to Royal Mail but by the time they had considered it they decided they should not change!

UPDATE 29 December

Show on the "Post and Go 2023" post in January a 'Last Overprint' at FAAM has been in use.

Friday 3 November 2023

November 2023 slogan postmarks and other interesting postal markings.

Slogan postmarks used in November 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.

The month has continued the use of the Movember campaign started on 31 October (see October listing).  Two further examples from RW who provides examples from Exeter and Manchester on 2 November.

The Moustache is Calling
Raise funds. Save lives.
Sign up now.


Movember slogan used at Manchester Mail Centre 02/11/2023

Movember slogan used at Exeter Mail Centre 02-11-2023

The second slogan for November is the traditional one for this time of the year.  Here's an example we received this morning from Norwich Mail Centre dated 7 November.

Lest We Forget Armistice Day 2023 slogan Norwich Mail Centre 07-11-2023

Update 19 November. Thanks to MA for providing this clean example of the other layout on a House of Commons envelope postmarked at Birmingham Mail Centre 07/11/2023

Lest We Forget Armistice Day 2023 slogan Birmingham Mail Centre 07/11/2023


Update 19 November.  Thanks to JH for reporting that the slogans have now defaulted to British Heart Foundation, this one from Chester & N Wales Mail Centre dated 16/11/2023.

British Heart Foundation slogan postmark Chester & N Wales 16/11/2023.

Other postmarks, postal markings etc,

Update 19 November.  I've been sent a picture of an tracked envelope sent from the UK to Canada with £11+ worth of barcoded Machin definitives. I'll add this to the Postal History blog, but show here the counter date stamp from PETERSFIELD HANTS 02 NO 23, nice to see a cover properly cancelled at the branch counter.              

Petersfield Hants counter date stamp 02. NO. 23

Earlier this year
Royal Mail decided against leaving 'come and collect' cards at addresses where they could not deliver packets and instead opted to retry delivery the next day.  This wasn't universally welcome because it added to what the post-person would carry out for delivery, and also meant that if the addressee was out (maybe at work) every day it would be an extra day (or more) before they could collect the item from the Enquiry Office or arrange redelivery elsewhere.

My thanks to MD for sending this example of a new version of the P739 label reflecting the new practice with spaces for '1st Attempt' and '2nd Attempt'.

Royal Mail 2023 revision of label when an item could not be delivered.

UPDATE 22 December.: MD later sent another copy of the same type of label without as much scrawl, and thanks also to PC who sent a variation, in that instead of 'Something for you left' it reads 'P739 card left'.  

'Something for you left' label for two delivery attempts.

'P739 card left' label for two delivery attempts.

Those cards were always known as P739s (something you sometimes used to see endorsed in manuscript on letters delivered or collected later), but in recent years Royal Mail took to using the term 'Something for you' card, presumably on the basis that customers would be happier than with a form number.  It also enabled the term to be used on their website in the same context.

If you have any other interesting postal markings, please send them to one of the email addresses in the top right of this blog.  Thank you.

Remember, any other slogans appearing in November will be added to this post, so check here before you spend time scanning and emailing.  I'll add new ones as quickly as possible.