Thursday 29 June 2023

River Wildlife - 2nd class special stamps in abundance - 13 July 2023

Although for many years Royal Mail have said that they don't want to give the wrong impression by using 2nd class stamps to commemorate any person or event, it  doesn't seem unreasonable that some of the many thematic sets which commemorate nothing should at least include 2nd class stamps.

The Blackadder set in May this year did include a pair of 2nd class stamps, but the River Wildlife issue is the first to have 10 stamps divided equally between 2nd and 1st class.  This means the cost is only £9.25 rather than £11 for 10 x 1st class.

Royal Mail included this in their reason for this issue.

Rivers are among the most spectacular of all UK ecosystems, carving pathways through our history, shaping our landscapes and supplying our water. 

They feature a remarkable diversity of plants and animals, either adapted to live beneath the water surface or in closely associated habitats to which rivers bring critical life support. But, without protection, river wildlife faces a range of risks.

All very well.  But that's it.  The presentation pack "showcases the spectacular ecosystem of rivers and explores the habitat diversity, while the outer of the pack goes into more detail about each animal. Written by Professor Steve Ormerod a professor of ecology and former Chair of the RSPB Council".

So unless Prof Ormerod has space in the pack to highlight the threats to each of the species shown, this is in reality just a series of attractive photographs!

Stamps are, at the time of writing, available for pre-order on Royal Mail's shop.

So on to  The Stamps

Set of 10 River Wildlife stamps (5 each 2nd & 1st class) issued 13 July 2023


UPDATE 14 July - the 1st class stamps have a single central phosphor band, the same as the 2nd class, in error.   So far no 'correct' ones have been reported.

Update 19 July - reprint due!

I've received this communication from Royal Mail Stamps & Collectibles:

Due to a technical error in the printing of our River Wildlife Special Stamp issue, some of the 1st Class stamps in the set may be processed as 2nd Class stamps. We have removed the affected products from sale and apologise to any of our customers who have been affected.

We are  currently setting up a mechanism for customers who have purchased 1st Class stamps in this issue, or products that include those 1st Class stamps,  to exchange these for replacements free from technical errors.

Further information will be communicated in due course.

So I was wrong in doubting that there would be a reprint!

UPDATE 27 July. The 1st class stamps are once again on the Royal Mail wesbite.  The technical specification reads "bars as appropriate" - which it probably did before, but they might mean it this time!

2nd class: Beaver, Atlantic Salmon, Kingfisher, Beautiful Demoiselle, Water Vole
1st class:  Grey Wagtail, Common Mayfly, Otter, Brown Trout, Dipper

Technical Details and Acknowledgements

The stamps were designed by Studio Up, using photographs as detailed below, and printed by Cartor Security Printers in litho on paper with ordinary gum. The stamps are 41 x 30 mm, printed in two sheets of 50, in se-tenant strips of 5 as shown.

Beaver © David Chapman/Alamy Stock Photo; Atlantic Salmon © Keith Ringland/Alamy Stock Photo; Kingfisher © Wild Birds, Alius lmago/Alamy Stock Photo; Beautiful Demoiselle © PjrNature/Alamy Stock Photo; Water Vole © Terry Whittaker/; Grey Wagtail © Gavin Rowley/Alamy Stock Photo; Common Mayfly © Paul Young/Alamy Stock Photo; Otter © Dave Vowden/Alamy Stock Photo; Brown Trout © Paul Colley/Getty Images; Dipper © Andy Rouse/2020VISION/

Products available

Set of 10 stamps, first day cover,, postcards, presentation pack, collector sheet, framed set and sheet.

Collector Sheet

The sheet, costing £10.45, predicatbly includes all 10 River Wildlife stamps, printed on self-adhesive paper making 10 different stamps to those available at Post Office branches.  The stamps are printed with similar images on the se-tenant labels.  Although the labels are slightly larger and do not have the King's head or value, they are similar enough to stand a good chance of passing for stamps!  

Collector sheet of 10 River Wildlife stamps alongside labels showing similar images.

The Framed set and sheet are priced at £34.99 each.


  1. I am pleased that we shall have plenty of 2nd Class commemorative stamps. I am not really a collector as I stick my stamps on correspondence & it is fun to use the latest ones. I remember a girlfriend's mother telling me that she liked it when her daughter got letters from me in England because the stamps were so pretty. These are pretty & will end up on letters. First class stamps are not useful because if something were urgent people would ring up or send things from computers. And charming pictures of fluffy animals are nicer than some of the propaganda issues we have been getting lately.

  2. Terry Pratchett Discworld issue now on view on CSOB they look good

  3. I applaud the variety of 2nd class pictorial stamps in this issue, that can be purchased as half sheets. I like to use pictorial stamps on social correspondence, and I cannot justify purchasing and sending 1st class now that the price difference is so great. I would have thought it was a great honour to have 2nd class commemorative stamps used widely for their intended purpose on social mail. The insistence on 1st class as a mark of esteem seems very snobbish, and will restrict the sales. Attractive 2nd class stamps should not just be for Christmas.


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