Saturday 25 March 2023

Some snippets: through the microscope and get handy with scissors!

I've been sent a couple of emails which don't really fit in with any other blog post and are too small for one of their own, so I'm going to use this to post these here.

First a look at the screens used in plate/cylinder production of modern Machins.  My thanks to CH in Austria for sending these pictures through the microscope showing the screening dots.  I know some people are very interested in these.  They are both 20p stamps, but the angle of the lines of dots is different.

Colour mix variations.

Still on the Flying Scotsman prestige book, one would have thought that the print run was so low on these now that colour consistency would be easy.

But I happened to fan out a few panes and noticed the significant variations as shown here.

Flying Scotsman PSB Definitive pane colour variants.


From the same reader, who is getting some really good pictures from his microscope, these two show the two printing methods on the £1 definitive from recent PSBs.

£1 definitive from X-Men prestige stamp book, printed in litho.

£1 definitive from Transformers prestige stamp book, printed in gravure.

Next is this blatant piece of fraud.  I am sorry to say I cannot find the email that sent this, so I cannot credit the reader, but thank you all the same.  

We know that the Victorians had trouble with people using the clean parts of two previously used stamps to send another letter.  But they would not have matched a 1d black with a 1d red, which is virtually what has been done here - successfully!

Both halves self-adhesive, but one is pre-security!

Wednesday 22 March 2023

Machin definitives - get them before they go up in smoke!

Six weeks ago I alerted readers to the production of my list of Machins with X numbers, that is the first decimal stamps which had ordinary perforations.

I have added a price list of the gummed Machin definitives with ordinary perforations (Gibbons X-numbers) to Dropbox today. You can download it at the link below.

This list includes a number of specialist variants to catalogue listed stamps, including some of the shortened phosphor bands (which are illustrated).

Also included are many of the high-catalogue stamps from Prestige Stamp Books but at much lower prices than elsewhere.

We now have until July to use the stamps, but I shall continue to work on lists so that those readers who wish to add to their collections at bargain prices can do so, while the stamps are still available.  Some are only in very small quantities and when they are gone, they are gone (unless I find any more!). And if they don't go, then it's off to Royal Mail's incinerator. 

List 1 - Booklets: Window, folded, label, mixed content.  

This list contains Stanley Gibbons series prefixed F, G, H, MG1 and the PM series of mixed content self-adhesive booklets.  (More F & G books added; stitched booklets added 25 July)

List 2 - Prestige Stamp Booklets, DX series - no DY series (premium priced) available.

List 3 - Machin Regional Definitives - Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.           

List 4 - Varieties on Machin Folded Booklets 

List 6 - Self-adhesive booklets - Pre-security, airmail, security, greetings.

List 7 - Machin gummed definitives with ordinary perforations - SG X-numbers

Machins with elliptical perforations, the SG Y-numbers: many are listed in our online shop.  We can combine orders from these lists and the shop, but please choose the 'Pay by cheque' option on the shop, do not pay by paypal or card or we will not be able to combine for accounting. 

Thank you to all the readers, especially new customers, who have been able to add to their collections by buying some of these and saving them from the incinerators.  As I am also liquidating my own Machin and country stamps many of these are one-offs, but there are still bargains to be had.

Due to domestic matters and dealing with orders, I have not been able to produce any more lists, nor to update the existing ones, which is I may not be able to supply everything you might want.

List 7 also includes the square high values (SG 829-831b) and the tall high values (SG 1026-28).  

Not included, although I have them are the NVIs and PIP NVIs as shown above.  

I'll be happy to have wants lists, by SG number, for this type of stamp, including self-adhesive and coils.

Please send lists by email - text or spreadsheet welcome.

UPDATE:  Thank you for lists sent since this was posted, especially for spreadsheet lists. These (or word docs in tables) are especially useful for large quantities.  I'm not working on these much at weekends, and there will be interruptions on some other days, so please be patient.  All will be acknowledged so that you know I've got them.

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Blog feed to website - YOU don't have to pay!

A number of people have been in touch to ask if they now have to pay for the blog.  No, you don't!

If you usually reach the blog through the old website you will be seeing this displayed, because the company that supplied the link has broken it while making changes to their system.

That message is addressed to me, not to readers.  I hope it will be fixed soon, meanwhile please use the blog URL in your bookmark and come direct.  Very little has happened on the website recently, and this is likely to continue to be the case.

The blog (hosted by Google) has taken over from the website for supplying up to date information.


UPDATE 22 March: The error has been fixed; if you still see the above please refresh your browser.

Tuesday 14 March 2023

Garden Flowers set of 10 stamps - 23 March 2023.

By now many people will have seen the next stamp issue in print, broadcast and online media, so I felt no compulsion to rush this as I was preparing a display for our local stamp club.

We all know, from the proliferation of garden centres - as distinct from nurseries - over the last few decades, that the British like their gardens.  How much they like - or dislike - gardening is a different matter, as senseless artificial/plastic grass spreads across the country like a plague destroying the environment that wildlife needs just so that no mowing is necessary.  

Anyway, I'll put the soap-box back in the potting shded and tell you about the stamps, which are the first to bear the likeness of King Charles III, being issued before the definitives.

This is a set of 10 x 1st class (95p) stamps showing flowers, rather than the plants. Unfortunately Royal Mail haven't provided any details of cultivars or name varieties but if you can find a keen gardener who can spend a few minutes looking at the stamps you may be enlightened.

Garden Flowers set of 10 x 1st class issued 23 March 2023

The stamp deisgns show Sweet Pea, Iris Lily, Sunflower, Fuchsia, Tulip, Peony, Nasturtium, Rose, and Dahlia. 

Technical details  

The 35 mm square stamps are printed in two sheets of 50 in 10 se-tenant strips of 5 by Cartor Security Printers in lithography with conventional gum.  Perforations are 14½.

Acknowledgements: Sweet pea © Jayar digital art/Getty Images; Iris © Mary Andrews/Alamy Stock Photo; Lily © Juan Carlos Juarez/Alamy Stock Photo; Sunflower © Brian Hagiwara/Getty Images; Fuchsia © scphoto/Alamy Stock Photo; Tulip © letty17/ Getty Images; Peony © Lezh/Getty Images; Nasturtium and Rose © Rosemary Calvert/Getty Images; Dahlia © John Martin/ Garden World Images Ltd.


Set of 10 stamps, first day cover, presentation pack, stamp cards, framed set.

Sunday 12 March 2023

List of other philatelic blogs.

If you look at this blog on a desktop machine, you will see a long panel on the right hand side, which starts with the introduction (a sort of 'About us'), followed by a small advert, which helps to pay for hosting, and a blog archive list.

There's also a Translate widget which is a standard feature and does quite a good job of translating, although there may be problems with the idomatic and casual use of our language!

Then there's a list of LINKS which includes links to our own sales lists, the Norvic, Post and Go, and Forgeries catalogues, and other useful pages.

After this is a list of other philatelic blogs, although if you view on a tablet or mobile phone you may never have gone to the bottom of this list, and if so you may have missed them.

Here's a quick summary:

Commonwealth Stamps Opinion - WhiteKnight's invaluable & incisive commentary on CW & GB stamps and non-stamps

Machin Mania - Ray (& Larry)'s longstanding blog with a wealth of Machin info.

Somerset Postal History - Leamphil's blog covers a wide range of periods, not just old!

UK Stamp Fair reviews and other philatelic matters Alastair Gunn: fairs & articles in SM 3/23

Norvic Philatelics: Modern British Postal History - Our occasional GB postal history notes and one on which I would like to be much more active.

31p purple: News for definitive collectors - Andrew Hill on Machins

Scandinavian Stamps - Peter's sporadic musings on Scandinavia (last updated 6/21)

Musings of a letter writer, stamp user & occasional Postcrosser - Mia's musings on letter writing, bringing us back to the purposes of stamps

Gulfmann ATM Collection - George WU's information on Post and Go / ATM stamps worldwide

cddstamps on stamps - Michael's showcase for his HipStamps sales

Luxembourgian Philately -  'Arsdorf' (last updated May 2022)

Lithuanian philately blog -  Prahandaki, last updated 6/18 sporadic

Trevor Pateman's Philately Blog - 'Russia' (in it's widest sense) specialist – some good older articles.

Great Britain Philately - Andrew Liptak (deceased) (philcovex) Last updated November 2012. Some very useful information and excellent images, espeically pre QE2 postal history.

Postal History Corner -  Andrew Liptak (deceased) Canadian – Last updated July 2014, Now managed by Postal History Society of Canada

DJCMH's Philatelic Blog 2.0 Last updated April 2018

Arnold Machin Stamps! -  Matt in NSW, some useful pictures & info Last updated April 2018

Only the top 10, ie the 10 most recently updated appear normally, although there is a switch to 'See all'. 

If you know of any other useful ones, especially GB, please let me know.

Also, let me know if you do or don't find the list useful.  I had thought of dropping off the older ones, but the British and Canadian ones of the late Andrew Liptak are too good to lose and while the exist, the will be included here.

( And if you write a blog, or have a website, what arrangements have you set in place for its continuation when yo are no longer able to? )


Wednesday 8 March 2023

The new monarch - beyond the definitives.

With the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth this post looks forward beyond the issue of King Charles III definitives.

Whilst there is no postal stationery all these will need to change.


"Digital Stamps" - or pre-printed stamps used for bulk mailings.

Direct Mailers believe (or have been told) that 'stamped' mail gets a better response than that with a different Postage Paid Impression.  As these are printed as required for each client customer, it seems likely that there would not be much difficulty in replacing the Queen Elizabeth Machin design wit another showing King Charles III.  And this is likely to be in green, of couse.


Post and Go stamps at Museums and Self-Service Kiosks in Post Office branches

As with Machin definitive stamps, we are likely to see these used to exhaustion - and there will be all sorts of stocks held in branches across the land.  The 2nd class base stock should appear in green and the 1st class in (probably a light) purple with the head of King Charles III.  I would expect these changes to be made this year, but for the old stamps to be used in parallel initially.

Whilst it is unlikely that there will be any totally new designs for pictorial Post and Go stamps, there are many pictorial stamps available for use at specific locations or on specific occasions.  These will eventually be produced with the profile/cameo head of King Charles, probably as used on the forthcoming Garden Flowers special issue stamps.

1.  Union Flag - for Naval anniversaries and patriotic occasions.

2.  Poppy - leading up to Remembrance Day in November.

3.  Winter Greenery - leading up to Christmas.

4.  Mail by Rail: Post Office Underground Railway single design - used at The Postal Museum.

5.  Other 'Mail by...' issues used at the Postal Museum in conjunction with their exhibitions

Any others?

Horizon Labels at Post Office Counters and similar labels at Self-Service Kiosks in branches.  

These are produced in one colour similar to that of the 1st class Post and Go stock, even though they are used for 2nd class, 1st class and ParcelForce transactions.  Again replacement will depend to some extent on existing stocks.

For the present I can't think of anything else postal - although other Post Office products such as Postal Orders do bear a portrait of the monarch will need to be replaced as well.

My thanks to John E for reminding me of these products which will need changing.

If anybody makes a mock-up of any of these with the new head and colours I will be pleased to add them here.  

And if anybody can think of anything I have forgotten - please remind me!

Cutting error on X-Men Prestige Book

It is some time since anybody reported an error on a Prestige Stamp Book and most of those were duplicated or missing pages.

This time it is a mis-cut, causing two stamps to be damaged, from the X-Men book.  This is a scan on a white background of a photocopy so apologies for the quality. 

The bottom row of stamps has been cut through, almost reaching the barcode and trimming off the lower perforations.  The white line at the top is where the cut should have been.  As the rest of the pages in the booklet were normal, this is a case of sheet of definitive panes being misaligned downwards.

Mis-cut definitive pane from X-Men Prestige Stamp Book.

UPDATE 29 November 2023 From the MBPC website:

Mark Botting has now purchased the book containing this error, and it has been discovered that the rest
of the book is also mis-severed.

March 2023 Postmark Slogans and other interesting postal markings.

All slogan postmarks used in March 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 British Heart Foundation slogan has continued this month, here's a one from Chester & N Wales (Caer a Gog Cymru) which is on a silver envelope, so not too clear.

BHF slogan, indistinct, Chester 01/03/2023

A better example from last month.

The first new slogan for March marks International Women's Day which is 8 March.  My thanks to JE for this very clear example from Preston (Lancashire and South Lakes) 06/03/2023

Women's Day
8 March 2023

International Women's Day slogan Lancashire and South Lakes 06/03/2023


As expected with Mothering Sunday fast approaching Royal Mail provides another slogan for the greetings card industry.  This example (thank you JE) is from the iLSM at Croydon and 14-03-2023 is probably the first day of use.  The only other one I've seen is a poor one from (I think) Peterborough.

Thanks also to JG for the alternative layout from SE Wales on 15/03/2023, and from JE the Preston one.

Mother's Day
19 March 2023

Mother's Day slogan postmark Croydon Mail Centre 14-03-2023

Mother's Day slogan postmark SE Wales Mail Centre 15/03/2023

Mother's Day slogan postmark Lancashire and South Lakes (Preston) Mail Centre 15/03/2023

If you have any other slogans used this month, or any other interesting postal markings, please send them to the email address in the top right of this blog.  Thank you.

Remember, all postmarks appearing in March 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.


Saturday 4 March 2023

King Charles III Definitive stamps - first issue - 4 April 2023.

The passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 has ushered in a new era of philately with her son and heir King Charles III appearing on British postage stamps from 4th April 2023.

A new effigy for a new monarch

Since the release of the world’s first adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black, in 1840, there has been a close association between British coins and definitive stamps. The portrait of Queen Victoria on the Penny Black was based on that designed by William Wyon, chief engraver at The Royal Mint, for the ‘City’ medal of 1838, which commemorated Queen Victoria’s first visit to the City of London the year before. During successive reigns, many artists worked on both coins and stamps or had their designs for the former adapted for use on the latter. In the 1960s, Arnold Machin created an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II for decimal coinage and then designed new definitive stamps, which became an iconic symbol of the United Kingdom around the world, reproduced billions of times. The new definitive stamps are a continuation of this long tradition: they feature a portrait of His Majesty The King created by Martin Jennings for the obverse of the new UK coinage and subsequently adapted for use on stamps.

Studio mock-ups of King Charles III NVI definitives - 2nd, 1st, 2nd Large, 1st Large.

The complete set of Non-Value Indicated stamps featuring the new portrait of His Majesty King Charles III The King’s effigy appears alongside a 2D barcode printed in matching colour alongside the main body of the stamp, separated by a simulated perforation line.

Technical detail

Set of four includes 1st and 2nd class letter and large letter stamps. The colours for all four values are retained from the Machin stamps.  The 39 x 39 mm stamps are printedin gravure by Cartor Security Printers and perforated 15 x 14.5.

The stamps feature a portrait of His Majesty The King created by Martin Jennings for The Royal Mint for the obverse of the new UK coinage and subsequently adapted by Royal Mail for use on definitive stamps. Stamp designs © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2023. Stamp artwork preparation by Endhouse Studio.


Although no details have been provided yet, we expect these to be issued in counter sheets, business sheets and booklets of 8 and 4 as before.   A production video shows a book of 8 x 1st class with the cylinder number apparently W1.  The stamps are coded M23L of course.

The information provided so far is that products available will be:

FDC, Presentation Pack, Stamp Books 1C and 2C plus Succession products – all pre-sale from 3rd March 2023.

I've no idea what 'Succession products' refers to.

UPDATE 3 March

A new £2.20 stamp has been announced for the new All-World airmail rate for letters - see Tariff

Products will be: FDC x 2, Presentation Pack x 2, Stamp Books (5), Business Sheets (4), plus Succession products.

1st Class

Plum Purple (£1.10)

2nd Class

Holly Green (£0.75)

1st Class Large

Marine Turquoise (£1.60)

2nd Class Large

Dark Pine Green (£1.15)

Definitive £2.20 stamp for All-World airmail letters to 100g, to be issued 4 April 2023.

It does seem rather odd that this stamp will be issued the day AFTER the rate comes into effect.

UPDATE 31 March

I've received the basic sheet stamps (all 5 values)  and three booklets, excluding the 1st x 4.  Given the rate at which they are sending these out on the swap-scheme instead of sheet stamps, I would expect that these would have been reprinted by now and I'm expecting them any day.


NVIs and Airmail tariff stamp will be treated separately, with two FDCs and two Presentation Packs.  All the retail booklets will be replaced, therefore 8 x 2nd, 8 x 1st, and 4 x 1st, 2nd Large and 1st Large.

Business sheets of 50 will be issued for all four values.

'Succession products' are a series of covers and framed stamps bearing the new NVI stamps and the equivalent Machins. This is the cover, which costs £19.99; 20,000 have been produced.

Succession cover with 4 x Queen Elizabeth and 4 matching King Charles stamps.

As Simon has put a comment on the relative size of UK and German barcodes, I'll repeat the Scotland gummed stamp with German barcode mock-up here.  I think Royal Mail's equipment probably needed different sized code, or they were afraid that German stamps would be used (joke!).


King Charles III Business sheets are now showing on the 'buy definitives' section of Royal Mail's shop with the warning that 

***Please note, to minimise any environmental impact, existing stocks of definitive stamps that feature Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth will continue to be distributed and will remain valid for use. Please be aware that the stamps you receive may feature an image of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth, rather than King Charles as shown, depending on stock levels and usage.***

Product codes for the new business sheets are shown below

1st Class King Charles Definitive Business Sheet



50 x 2nd Class King Charles Definitive Business Sheet



50 x 1st Class King Charles Definitive Large Letter Business Sheet



50 x 2nd Class King Charles Definitive Large Letter Business Sheet



UPDATE 25 April

In reply to petemk's dealer (see comments) these are the real stamps.  ALL were available on the day of issue, so I can only think he/she was referring to a particular format, say Business Sheets.  And as they are available to order with the numbers above, I think some have been printed.

Mind you, it could be a very small run, like the 2nd Large 2010 sheet which wasn't widely found.

Scan of actual stamps and Large booklets

UPDATE 26 April 

I have confirmed that the 1st class Large Business Sheet is at the printers, is not yet in stock with Royal Mail, so as has been mentioned in Comments, this cannot be ordered yet.  The code will not be activated on the RM computer systems until stock is held.

Later Update

It was later confirmed that with plenty of Queen Elizabeth 1st Large business sheets in stock Royal Mail had decided not to print the King Charles one for the time being.

Friday 3 March 2023

Big Price Rises from 4 April will recoup money lost hrough strikes, but only if people use the service.

Word has reached us of prices rises effective 4 April, 2023, although these have not yet been confirmed by Royal Mail.

UPDATE: Prices are now confirmed and stamp rate card can be downloaded here.

The 1st class inland letter rate is expected to rise from 95p to £1.10

The 2nd class rate is expected to rise from 68p to 75p.








Large Letter – 100g





- 250g





- 500g





- 750g





Small Parcel 2kg





Medium Parcel 2kg





- 10kg





- 20kg





There are no increases in 1pm Special Delivery rates.

As before, there is no single premium for Signed For. It's £1.50 for 1st class Letters and Large Letters and £1.20 for parcels.  

Cost of Post Office Boxes increases by 10% from £300 to £330 pa.


The major change is that there is now only one price for letters worldwide, £2.20.  This means that there is no Worldwide 20g rate (previously £1.85), but the Worldwide 100g rate is reduced from £2.55.

Postcards will also be £2.20 - bad luck for Postcrossers.

The 100g rates for Large Letters in Europe and Rest of the World remain unchanged at £3.25 and £4.20 respectively, but rates for over 100g increase by around 16% Europe and 11.5% Rest of the World.

Lowest rates for Europe Small Parcels will increase by around 30%: given that some of this must be for the profit-making GLS wing of International Distribution Services this seems extreme. There are lower (12-16%) increases for heaver parcels.

Increases for lightest Worldwide Parcels to Zone 1 are up to 39% but to Zone 2 only 21%; increases for heavier parcels are only 6%.


From 3 April 2023, the price of a First Class stamp will increase by 15p to £1.10p, and the price of a Second Class stamp will increase by 7p to 75p to ensure the one-price-goes-anywhere Universal Service remains sustainable.

These changes have been subject to careful consideration by Royal Mail in light of the 25% drop in letter volumes since the pandemic, increasing costs and the highest inflation rates for a generation.

Royal Mail’s First Class stamp prices remain competitive compared to other major European postal operators. Across Europe, the median price for the equivalent of a First Class letter service (0-100g) is £1.25p.

Royal Mail remains committed to the Universal Service, providing the one-price-goes-anywhere service to approximately 31 million addresses across the UK. However, as customer behaviours change, and the number of UK addresses continues to grow, the costs of delivering the Universal Service are increasing. Letter volumes have decreased from more than 20 billion letters a year in 2004/5, to approximately eight billion letters per year now, while the number of addresses has risen by four million in the same period. 

Royal Mail is currently expected to report an adjusted operating loss of £350 million to £450 million for the full year. In light of changing consumer needs, and the company’s materially loss-making position, last year Royal Mail requested that the Government amends the Universal Service Obligation from six days a week to five for letters.

Ofcom’s research shows that a five day letter service (Monday to Friday) would meet the needs of 97% of consumers and SMEs. Being required to provide a service that consumers have said they no longer need, at significant structural cost to Royal Mail, increases the threat to the sustainability of the Universal Service.

Despite this Ofcom refused to allow Royal Mail to cut delivery to 5 days a week.