Tuesday 17 January 2023

Clarification of validity and acceptance of non-barcoded stamps.

I have added this to the general summary post on the Swap-Out system, it is worth repeating here to bring to your attention two important aspects.

There have been suggestions that Post Offices will not accept letters and packets with non-barcoded stamps after 31 January 2023.  I asked about this in my Crown PO today and was told that this was not true: they have been specifically told that they should continue to accept them as normal.

On the other hand the Royal Mail Special Handstamp Centres will not accept items for postmarking with a date after 31 January which have non-barcoded definitives on.

UPDATE 31 January.  As the official validity date of non-barcode Machin and Country Definitives is now the 31st July 2023, we can confirm that these stamps will continue to be accepted by our Special Handstamp Centres until that date.


Further thoughts, on the effect of changes in postage rates on the Swap-Out scheme have been posted on the summary thread.

Thursday 12 January 2023

Mystery booklet has collectors baffled!

It's not often these days that the philatelic community finds something modern which nobody has seen before.  Yes, a collector did find a new 2019 printing of the 2nd class Scotland stamp last year, but....

The latest discovery is in a different league entirely.  It is is a booklet which has almost certainly never seen a post office, so most dealers and collectors would not have seen it in the normal course of events.

The story behind it is confused, but I'll start with the pictures:

Outside cover

Outside cover of mystery stamp booklet


Advertising slogan on inside front cover.

The stamps are clearly MSIL as they should be, and M14L indicating a 2014 year of production.

Investigating the elements.

The inside cover. The quote is from Nik Roope who was creative partner at Poke which he co-founded.  After the merger in early 2019 between Poke, Publicis London and Arc, he became creative chairman at Publicis.Poke.  He left the group in August.   (He's the one wearing the glasses in the photo.)

The outer cover. The source of the image appears to be a Royal Mail direct mail cmapaign, orchestrated by Publicis Chemistry according to an article in The Guardian in 2015, written by David Prideaux, executive creative director at Publicis.

We took the Royal Mail logo off the ads so there would be no negative associations whatsoever and replaced it with MailMen. We wanted our campaign to have a rallying cry, this set a playful tone for the campaign and made it feel a bit like a movement.

We wanted our mailmen to look like rock stars so we chose Kasabian’s photographer of choice, Neil Bedford, to shoot the ads.

Royal Mail Group awarded a framework contract for strategic direct marketing services to Publicis Chemistry in 2013.  Publicis was contracted to "provide all direct marketing services, including advertising, creative, design and sales promotion, for all of Royal Mail Group’s range of services."  The MailMen campaign launched in the early part of 2015.

See You Tube video on MailMen here.

Unfortunately although the video shows a wide range of approaches to Direct Mail users, and a pack sent to the CEOs of FTSE100 companies, there is no mention of the book of stamps.  Maybe it is in the pack?  Maybe there was more than one in each pack?  

Certainly many more than 100 would have been printed: although the inside cover advert could have been added manually, replacing the normal one, the stamps are stuck to the outside cover, so the same trick is unlikely.  You could bet that if the whole thing was made up manually, Royal Mail would have supplied counter sheet or business sheet stamps, rather than the sort that should be in the book.

The source of the story.

The story provided by the current owner of the booklet is that he and others visited a company that their employer was using.  "For their 100th anniversary they had commissioned a booklet from Royal Mail and I was given  one. I have never seen anything similar nor heard of any other company that did the same (or for which RM did the same)."

The identity and business of that company is unknown, but it seems from our investigation that this booklet was probably not custom-produced for that company for their centenary, but it's a very good find. 

Do please let me know if you have ever seen this or similar booklets, especially if you have one still!

UPDATE: And if you are interested, offers around £300 or more will be considered by the owner. Email me or phone - the number is at the top right.

Wednesday 11 January 2023

January 2023 Postmark Slogans and other interesting postal markings

All slogan postmarks used in Janaury 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 earlier default 'Use your old stamps' slogan continues with the original 31 January date. This is because the deadline is still said to be 31 January, and the extension to July is only a 'grace period', during which no charges will be levied.   I suppose there will be so many being used in spring that Royal Mail decided not to put effort into raising surcharges and collecting money, and alienating recipients.  

We actually had one delivered here from Home Counties North, but it's not as good as this one from Jubilee Mail Centre dated 09-01-2023.

Use up your non-barcoded stamps default slogan Jubilee Mail Centre 09-01-2023

UPDATE 26 January: Thanks to OT32 for sending this obscured slogan from South East Anglia (Chelmsford) Mail Centre 26/01/2023 marking Holocaust Memorial Day 27 January.  I can't find any Royal Mail publicity about this, so I can't yet say what the wording of the slogan is:

Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 slogan at South East Anglia 26/01/23

UPDATE 27 January: My thanks to several people who have confirmed the wording, which is shown slightly more clearly in the scan below which arrived this morning.  It is in the other layout, from Jubilee Mail Centre 26-10-2023.

Holocaust Memorial Day
Light a candle
in your window
4pm 27 January 2023

Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 slogan at Jubilee Mail Centre 27/01/23

UPDATE 1 February:  A last example, and the clearest so far thanks to WU of London.  This is from Nottingham Mail Centre on 2601/2023, particularly apt because the The National Holocaust Centre and Museum is located in that county, by coincidence a few miles from Tuxford (see below).  This confirms the wording shown above.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 slogan at Nottingham Centre 26/01/23

A new, possibly default, slogan was introduced on 31 January for mail delivered on 1 February, and this is pictured in the February post.

Other postmarks

Anybody collecting branch postmarks these days may make more use than before of their gazetteers or online searches, as the inscriptions so often tell little about where the post office actually is.  So it is with this cds from Tuxford dated 14 JA 23.  Google tells me that it is in Nottinghamshire, north of Newark and not far from Markham Moor.   But don't we wish for the days when counter date stamps included the name of the Post Town or county?

Counter date stamp from Tuxford Nottinghamshire 14 January 2023.


Tuesday 10 January 2023

Norvic Machin Security Stamps Checklist version 2.6.7

Experts have now established that the Machin definitive stamps in the Tutankhamun PSB are printed in lithography, so although we don't know how Stanley Gibbons will catalogue them, we have now produced an updated list which may even be the last.

Only four things could really affect our publication now:

1. New printings of existing Queen Elizabeth Machins in 2023 with a year code of M23L.  This is unlikely, although as Royal Mail seem to be having to use a great number of existing barcoded stamps in their Swap-Out scheme I suppose we should not rule it out.  We know that 2022 printings are still appearing - although some of the recent discoveries date back to April.

2. New values due to new tariff.  This seems even less likely.  One would imagine that preparations for the design of new definitives have been in place for decades even if the possible design has been changed over the years as King Charles has got older.  With the coronation due on 6 May it is likely that new definitives will be issued earlier, in time for the new tariff which - if Royal Mail are losing as much money as they say they are - is more likely to be February/March than June.

3. A new Prestige Stamp book containing new values.  The first issue of the new year, all 'blockbuster' issues, and Music Giants have included PSBs - until this latest one.  Whilst not conclusive evidence, this suggests to me that there are no plans to have PSBs - or maybe no plans to have Machins in them - until after the definitives for the King are issued.  

Because nothing is ever certain, I'll consider a fourth reason - that somebody discovers something not yet reported, from the security period 2009-2022!  New date printings of listed stamps are not added unless there is something significant about them.

Download from the link above or from the link in the right-hand navigation column, where you can also find the link to our sales lists if you have any Machin or Country definitive gaps to fill.

Thursday 5 January 2023

Music Giants VII: Iron Maiden 12 January 2023

As announced, Royal Mail start the new year once again with a Music Giants issue, this time for "one of the most revered and influential bands of all time, Iron Maiden". 2023 marks the band’s 40th anniversary of their studio album Piece of Mind.  (But their first album Iron Maiden was issued in August 1980.) 

From Wikipedia:   Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. While fluid in the early years of the band, the lineup for most of the band's history has consisted of Harris, lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson, drummer Nicko McBrain, and guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers. The band have released 41 albums, including 17 studio albums, 13 live albums, four EPs and seven compilations. They have also released 47 singles and 20 video albums. Two electronic games have been released with Iron Maiden soundtracks, and the band's music is featured in a number of other video games.

From Royal Mail:  With 2,000 live performances across 64 countries to pick from, some of their most historic from over the years have been showcased on the eight-stamp set. The official set also pays homage to the band’s long-serving mascot and pop-cultural icon in his own right, Eddie, with his own miniature sheet. With a strong focus towards the band’s legions of loyal fans, the 8 new Special Stamps focus on some of the band’s renowned and iconic live performances. They range from the 1980s until more recent years and feature all 6 current band members.

The stamps in the Miniature Sheet feature four notorious Eddie artworks, including the latest addition in the form of Senjutsu (released in 2021) featuring Eddie in a samurai-warrior makeover. 

Set of 8 stamps celebrating the band Iron Maiden, issued 12 January 2023

The stamps in detail

1st Class: Steve Harris performs in Vancouver, June 2010
1st Class: Bruce Dicksinson performs at Hammersmith Odeon, London, May 1983
1st Class: Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Steve Harris perform in Pamplona, September 1988
1st Class: Nicko McBrain performs in Quito, March 2009
£1.85: Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson & Janick Gers perform in Rio de Janeiro, January 2001.
£1.85: Adrian Smith and Steve Harris perform in Helsinki, May 2018
£1.85: Iron Maiden perform at Twickenham Stadium, London, July 2008
£1.85: Bruce Dickinson sword fights with Eddie in Birmingham, Aug 2018 

Iron Maiden miniature sheet of 4 stamps, issued 12 January 2023

The Miniature Sheet

The miniature sheet is a celebration of Eddie through the ages.  From left to right 

£1.85 - gracing the cover of Iron Maiden’s debut album in 1980 (Iron Maiden).
1st class - ‘The Trooper’ Eddie from one of the band’s greatest singles. 
1st class - ‘Aces High’ Eddie, reimagined as a fighter pilot for a song honouring the RAF servicemen who defended Britain during the Second World War.
£1.85 - the most current re-imagining as Senjutsu Eddie.  Samurais, feudal Japan and flashing blades inspired this katana-wielding warrior, from the band’s most recent album.

The backdrop of the miniature sheet is taken from Iron Maiden’s first official live album, Life After Death (1985). 

Technical Details and acknowledgements

The 50 x 30 mm gummed stamps have been printed in lithography by International Security Printers in sheets of 48 in horizontal se-tenant strips of 4,  perforated 14.  

The 192 x 74 mm miniature sheet contains 35 x 37 mm stamps printed in lithography by International Security Printers perforated 14.5 x14.

The stamp design is credited to Royal Mail Group Ltd, Iron Maiden LLP.  The stamp acknowledgements are Under license to Global Merchandising Services Ltd. Photographs: Steve Harris performs in Vancouver, June 2010 © John McMurtrie; Bruce Dickinson performs at Hammersmith Odeon, London, May 1983 © Pete Still/Redferns/Getty Images; Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Steve Harris perform in Pamplona, September 1988 © dpa picture alliance/Alamy Stock Photo; Nicko McBrain performs in Quito, March 2009 © John McMurtrie; Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson and Janick Gers perform in Rio de Janeiro, January 2001 © George Chin; Adrian Smith and Steve Harris perform in Helsinki, May 2018 © John McMurtrie; Iron Maiden perform at Twickenham Stadium, London, July 2008 © John McMurtrie; Bruce Dickinson sword fights with Eddie in Birmingham, August 2018 © John McMurtrie.

Products available

Set of 8 stamps, miniature sheet, first day covers (2), presentation pack, press sheet of 15 minitaure sheets, stamp cards, medal covers (2), fan sheets (2), collectors sheets (2), gold stamp set, platinum miniature sheet, framed products.    I shan't write anything about the items in italics or show pictures - you'll see them soon enough on Royal Mail's website if you are really interested!

Collectors sheets

The collectors sheets each contain a full set of 8 stamps, printed in lithography but self-adhesive, price £12.40.


Eddie Live Collectors Sheet - Iron Maiden stamps issued 12 January 2023

Eddie Collectors Sheet - Iron Maiden stamps issued 12 January 2023

Fan Sheets

Eddie sheet contains just three of the stamps from the miniature sheet, one 1st class and 2 x £1.85,  printed in litho with ordinary gum.  Limited edition of 5,000 - £7.50.

Eddie Rips Up The World sheet contains just three of the stamps from the set, one 1st class and 2 x £1.85, printed in litho with ordinary gum.  Limited edition of 5,000 - £7.50

Eddie Fan sheet - Iron Maiden stamps issued 12 January 2023

Eddie Rips Up The World - Iron Maiden stamps issued 12 January 2023

I'm not sure I could name any of their work, but having ventured into it for the first time, I'm impressed by the videos.  Was it unusual for a band to keep making music for five years before releasing their first record?

UPDATE 6 JANUARY: Postmark Bulletin not yet available on Royal Mail's website but I have a pdf; email if you need it now rather than next week.

The Postmark Bulletin is now available here.

I checked social media yesterday evening to see how Royal Mail's publicity machine was working and found reports from RAI (Italy), Deutschlandfunk (Germany), Sopitas (Mexico), HellPress (Spain), Radio Rock (Brazil), SoundofBrit (France), Kosmodromio & Rock Attitude, (Greece), NME Japan.

Also seen tweets from Finland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Indonesia.

Sooo, I reckon they've done quite well. Brazilian sites were reporting it early - 6pm Wednesday UTC.

Tuesday 3 January 2023

Post and Go News 2023

This post will hold all news on Post and Go stamps, machines, UK and foreign (and islands), including museums and PO SSKs.

There's nothing to report yet so the first emailed report will form the basis for this post.

As we have no new tariff until at least early February (a month's notice must be given to the regulator and to the Stock Exchange), maybe there will be nothing new for a while.

And what will the new definitive design be?  How long before King Charles III Post and Go will appear (if at all), and how long before all the Machin and other QE2 stocks are used up?

January 6:  A significant number of useful comments has just been let through on the 2022 post, having been identified by Blogger as spam, rather than sent for moderation.  Comments for 2022 will be closed soon, so if you have any more Christmas/Museum/SSK news for last year, please send it through soon.

A reminder that this post relies on contributors to add into the comments, where all new information will normally be.

However, having just seen this on WOPA's Twitter feed, I feel it appropriate to show what the island's postal service is doing.  The new design featuring the Jersey Crest also shows the crest of King Charles III.  The issue date was 6 April.  Jersey Post had shown them earlier but in a short animation which gave nothing away in the opening frame.  I think WOPA have shown them how to grab (my) attention.

Redesigned Jersey Post and Go stamps featuring the Jersey crest and that of King Charles III

There is no news of Royal Mail doing anything similar: as the comments below show, many Post Office SSKs seem to be notable for being broken or switched off due to lack of attending staff, and the only Royal Mail Machines now are at Museums.  If anything does happen I would expect it to be at The Postal Museum first, but who knows!

UPDATE 1 September 2023.

Some postage rates will be increased again on 2 October 2023, affecting the cost of Post and Go stamps and strips.  More details here.

More importantly for this thread;

"Following a thorough review of our Post & Go Kiosks we have taken the decision to end all remaining Post & Go activities by the end of this year."

More details here.

UPDATE 18 September 2023.

Post Office Self-Service Kiosks, and Guernsey and Jersey Post IAR machines will continue in use into 2024.  

More details here.

UPDATE 8 November 2023.

Postal Museum press release on final two months of Post & Go with a variety of combinations of stamps and inscriptions.  [Update: the exact arrangements still have to be confirmed! 23/11]

UPDATE 23 November 2023.

Malcolm reports that at last the inscription on the stamps has at last been changed, on Wednesday 22 November.  Europe 100g now replaces the dual value E100 / W20.  The example below is from Milton Keynes.   Note that the Postal Museum machines had already been changes as shown on another post.

Winter Greenery with Europe 100g inscription from NCR Post Office self-service kiosk Milton Keynes 22 November 2023.

The same change took effect earlier on Royal Mail machines earlier - this is the Postal Museum/Mail Rail.

All news about P&G in 2023 will be here, and comments for the old (January 2022) post are closed.

There are a few other posts on Post and Go during the year, notably concerning the withdrawal of machines at Museums.  

Post and GOne – Royal Mail announce P&G Closing at Christmas 2023.

Post Office Self-Service Kiosks will remain in use for the forseeable future - official.

Museum Post and Go machines are in the final throes but not dead yet.

The Postal Museum: Final throes of Post and Go

In the Comments to this post, Trevor has told us of an unannounced inscription at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, "Last Overprint".  I suppose it gives them a few more sales in the final week, although they must have told somebody because they are listed on eBay! 

For the record, these are the edited pictures.  Swindon GWR and Shakespeare now added - thanks to Trevor for these also.

Fleet Air Arm Post & Go Last Overprint Machin MA13 strip.

Fleet Air Arm Post & Go Last Overprint Union Flag strip.

Shakespeare Post & Go Last Overprint Union Flag and Machin 1st class.

Swindon Steam GWR Post & Go Last Overprint Union Flag and Machin 1st class.

This may be the last entry for the 2023 Post and Go story.  I'll leave the comments open until something happens in January to warrant making a new 2024 post.

Thank you to all contributors and readers.

Last Post about the ending of Museum P&G.

This comment is included at the end: Someone was trying to sell an ‘R20YAL’ Machin strip from the Postal Museum with the ‘End of Post & Go …’ overprint that was installed for the last half hour after the Machin Anniversary stamps ran out.

So, bearing in mind that the Postal Museum had indicated in its press release that (to paraphrase) "if the rolls we announced run out we will replace them with something else, this shouldn't be a surprise.

More important, if someone reading this decided to find out what would be installed afterwards and spends money to find out, why is there a problem?

So the starting price of one of these 'last half-hour" strips on an auction site was £140, you buy it or you don't.  If you MUST have it because it exists, then that is your choice - you decide just how much it is worth to you.

As my customers will know, I went especially to the East Anglian Railway Museum. My regular customers got them at regular prices, others paid more.

Likewise I sourced stamps from Perth (Australia and Scotland) and Hong Kong Exhibitions, and charged accordingly. If I had any left to auction they might have made better prices. 

And when new labels were introduced (Europe and Worldwide 60g stamps,  Wincor Europe 20/World 10g etc) I arranged with customers and collectors in many parts of the country to buy the older reels which were still (or had been put) in their local machines to be able to supply my customers with the less common versions or bought them by mail order/phone from distant post offices (eg Kidderminster).

All my speculation*.  And some of these I still have so while they are still good for postage (and their value has increased of course), I didn't always get all my money back in initial sales.

I could have, but didn't, put them on eBay.  I could still.  And then they either sell or they don't. Just because somebody lists something with a Buy it Now price of £140, it doesn't mean it sold at that price. And if it did, it was worth it to someone.  If they achieve a high price at auction, then they are worth it to more than one perosn.  

Get in, or stay out, but don't complain that somebody spent enough money to exhaust what was left of the announced labels, and then bought some of what replaced them.

* If you found a stamp with a printing or perforation error at your post office, would you only buy one or would you buy the whole sheet?

Limited comments will be allowed on this before I shut the post for comments completely.




Similarly don't comment on the 2024 post about the final days of the Postal Museum please.


Thank you!

 Thank you for the Christmas & New Year wishes and cards, 

and to the person who sent a postal order. 

 (Unfortunately the letter wasn't postmarked so I can't work out where this came from.)