Monday 31 July 2023

We've made the Last Post 🎵🎵 🎺 - for invalidated Machins and Country definitives.

We posted the last packet bearing now invalidated Machin and Counry definitives to a customer in Canada today.  I'm pleased to say that, together with the stamps on the cover, that meant almost 250 more stamps not going to Royal Mail's incinerator!

Stamps on an International Tracked letter to Canada posted on the last day of validity of Machin and Country definitives 31 July 2023.


This is by no means the end.  We will continue to sort the invalidated stamps until it seems that collectors have bought all they need to enhance their collections.  There will be some special offers, and some more unusual items.  For example, somewhere I have some of the Reader's Digest multi-value coils on or with the original card from RD.  Let me know if you are interested and I'll try to remember you when I find them.  There will also be some PSB panes which can look quite good on an album page.

The stock lists listed here will include many stamps, panes, booklets which are no longer available, Sorry, but we just haven't had time to keep the lists updated over the last few months.

So please send in your wants from our lists, and we'll let you know what we can supply.

UPDATE -in case you hadn't noticed a new surcharge rate has been slipped into Royal Mail's website. Rather than being treated as unpaid and being surcharged at £2.50, letters with non-barcoded definitive and country stamps will only be surcharged £1.10 - let us know your experience, especially if you have a surcharged letter with a mix of valid and invalid postage stamps on.

Examples of last day postings:

Two very clear postmarks from North and West Yorkshire on 31 July, one the packet stamp and one the British Heart Foundation slogan.

North and West Yorkshire packet handstamp 31JUL 2023

North & West Yorkshire British Heart Foundation slogan 31/07/2023

Colinton, Edinburgh counter date stamp 31.JL.23

Card sent from Dereham to Netherlands has 31 JY 23 counter datestamp and Norwich Mail Centre slogan. Delivered 5 August.

Monday 24 July 2023

April Rate Changes coming to Post & Go at last?

Back in April, postage tariffs were changed and the same rate (£2.20) now applies to letters worldwide up to 100g.  This should have been reflected in changes to the service inscriptions on Post and Go stamps, but comments on the 2023 Post and Go News post noted that this had not happened on 9 April, and by the end of May the Europe 100g / Worldwide 20g was still being dispensed.

In some ways this did not matter because the Worldwide 100g stamp is dispensed for the same price, but it suggests that Royal Mail have not regarded the Self-Service Kiosks in Post Offices, or the Museum IAR machines to be very important.

Museum Post and Go stamp with service indicator now obsolete

Thanks to contributor Chris, we now have the news that 

I have at last been informed (24/07/23) that the 'World 20g' will be removed at the next change that goes live on the kiosks. So hopefully this will be soon.  

Thanks Chris.

Thursday 20 July 2023

Look out for King Charles sheet stamps which are now being supplied to post offices.

The stamps of King Charles have been on sale for a while but have been slow to appear in post offices. But look out for more of them on your mail now because I have reports of 1st class, 2nd class and 1st Large counter sheets being delivered from central stores.

I have also seen other (not yet announced) values, printed back in February also being delivered as current stocks for use at Post Offices with no instruction not to sell until they are officially announced.

So look out for these on your mail, and if you or anyone you know buys stamps in Post Offices rather than supermarkets and corner shops.

Monday 17 July 2023

Norvic Machin Security Stamps Checklist version 2.6.9

When I launched Checklist version 267 in January of this year, I speculated that it might be the last. 

Only three situations could produce a new one:

1. New printings of existing Queen Elizabeth Machins in 2023 with a year code of M23L.  This is unlikely.

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.  (The first KC3 stamps were issued in April.)

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.  

Well, that just goes to show that my optimism was unfounded and that Royal Mail produce their stamps well ahead of the proposed issue date (and yet sometimes still have delays in supply).

In the event there were two more Prestige Stamp Books, the X-men in February and Flying Scotsman in March, the first of which produced the 2nd class Machin with MPIL code. 

A fourth reason for a new list, which I should have anticipated given the caveat over Concise catalogue numbering shown in GSM supplements, was that Stanley Gibbons would do some re-numbering.  

And so for these two reasons I have today updated and uploaded version 269 of the Checklist, which really ought to be the last one, and you can download it here.

Remember, if you cannot find this post to download it again, the link is always on the right-hand navigation panel - just under our sales lists!

Addendum: thank you to the several people who have pointed that on page 19, the V4845 (10p barcoded) is from DY45 Tutankhamun, not DY44 Transformers.   In several places the Flying Scotsman PSB number is omitted - it's DY47.

On that subject, a timely reminder that I am selling ALL Machins including my Security Stamps reference collection which includes many stamps not listed on the e-commerce site, for many years.  Use the checklist as a list of what could be available.  Stocks are changing too rapidly for me to keep an active stock list (especially as for many stamps I have only one copy). 

Email to ask if the ones you want are available.  Act now, there are a lot of scarce PSB singles waiting for a customer to decide if he can afford all he wants.  If he can't, they will be available.  Staged payments are possible, just ask.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld - 10 August 2023

Sir Terry Pratchett, OBE (1948–2015) is regarded as one of the UK’s greatest fantasy writers. His defining work is the Discworld series, which spans 41 novels that have been translated into over 40 languages, with more than a hundred million copies sold worldwide.

A flat, circular planet supported by four elephants, revolving atop a vast star turtle called the Great A’Tuin, Discworld is the fictional setting of Terry Pratchett’s iconic series and inspiration for this Royal Mail special stamp issue.

Royal Mail celebrate Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, and the 40th Anniversary of the publication of the first Discworld book, The Colour of Magic, with eight new stamps featuring artwork by Terry Pratchett’s illustrator of choice, Paul Kidby, who has been illustrating Discworld for 30 years

The stamps

Set of 8 Terry Pratchett's Discworld stamps issued 10 August 2023;  Rincewind, The Librarian, Granny Weatherwax, Sam Vimes, and Great A’Tuin, as well as specially commissioned artworks of Death and Mort, Tiffany Aching and Moist von Lipwig.

The characters:

1st class - RINCEWIND
Rincewind the failed wizard is now the Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography at the Unseen University. He has a natural ability with languages and is usually seen running away.

1st class - MOIST VON LIPWIG
Moist von Lipwig was a con artist who, when caught, was given the option of sudden death or becoming Postmaster General. He took the job, transformed the postal service and was given a splendid golden postman’s hat.

The Librarian is a super strong orangutan. A former wizard, he was transformed by a strong wave of magic and found that this made it much easier to get around the multidimensional Unseen University Library.

Granny Weatherwax is the most powerful witch on Discworld and uses magic only as the last resort. Usually she relies on ‘headology’ and common – and even uncommon – sense.

£2.00 - SAM VIMES
Sam Vimes once patrolled the streets of Ankh-Morpork as a lowly copper. He is now Commander of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, but he still likes to walk the beat when he can.

Death is a black-robed skeleton who usually carries a scythe. He has become frustrated with the unfair inevitability of death, but it is a job only he can do. Death takes on Mort, a gangly young man, as his apprentice.

Tiffany Aching is a young witch who grew up in a farming family in an area called the Chalk. She was just nine years old when her talent in magic was discovered. She is also an excellent cheesemaker.

£2.20 - GREAT A’TUIN
The Great A’Tuin is a vast star turtle, which moves through the universe propelled by its massive flippers, avoiding meteors and other hazards. The Great A’Tuin carries the spinning disc of Discworld.

Technical Details and Acknowledgements

The 35 x 37 mm stamps were designed by So design consultants and printed by Cartor Security Printers in litho, with ordinary gum in sheets of 60 se-tenant pairs.  Perforations are 14.5 x 14.

DISCWORLD® and TERRY PRATCHETT® are UK registered trademarks of Dunmanifestin Limited. All trademarks used under licence. © Narrativia Limited. Illustrations © Paul Kidby.

UPDATE 10 August - Phosphor 

A reader wrote that he could see no phosphor bands, and I wondered if despite what we'd been told, these were patch or all-over.  

Holding horizontally to the light in the traditional way I see nothing.  However, using the FDC, holding in two hands and then tipping the hand nearest the window/light down, you can see a distinct edge.

Collectors Sheet

This includes 10 stamps with additional illustrations of the characters. The sheet is self-adhesive making 8 more stamps to collect - the 1st class stamps are featured twice each with different accompanying illustrations.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Collectors Sheet issued 10 August 2023

Products available

Set of 8 stamps, first day cover, presentation pack, stamp cards, collectors sheet, framed set, framed sheet, limited edition prints of the Death, Tiffany, and von Lipwig artwork signed by the artist. (Limited to 100, price £139.99 each.)

Discworld fans would enjoy using the new on their letters and as an avid reader of the books I think it is an excellent tribute to Terry Pratchett.  It certainly has more merit than the stamp subjects with more tenuous connections to this country.  ***** rating!

Wizard Rincewind previously appeared in the March 2011 Magical Realms set along with Nanny Ogg: at that time I was able to show pictures in August 2010.  How times change - although the format is exactly the same because the same consultants were used.  Not much effort there, then!

Rincewind from 2011 Magical Worlds set.

UPDATE 17 August

Despite the increased number of stamp issues the Northern Handstamp Centre in Edinburgh, and that in London have managed to do a same-day service for my covers and cards: I sent them on Tuesday and they were back here today.   I don't do many maximum cards these days, but this one has an absolute concordance to me.  

Rincewind Maximum card, Terry Pratchett's Discworld card published by Psygnosis Worldwide, with artwork from
Discworld II - Missing Presumed...!?, advertising the new computer game.

Friday 14 July 2023

Major error on River Wildlife stamps - 2nd class service for 1st class stamps!

The first major phosphor error for many years, affecting a special issue, has occurred with the River Wildlife stamps.

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.

This applies to counter sheets and presentation packs.

If you find any 1st class stamps with 2 phosphor bands as they ought to be, do please let us know!

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 20 July:

1st class Stamps have now  been withdrawn from Post Offices.

UPDATE 9 August
The reprinted 1st class stamps were available from Royal Mail's website from 27 July. (More detail in the comments.)

Thursday 13 July 2023

First King Charles III non-stamp postal products appears.

In March I wrote about postal products which would, eventually, need to be changed following the accession to the throne of King Charles III - post and go stamps (both 'definitive and the pictorial), Horizon & SSK labels, and 'digital stamps' the postage paid impressions used by mass mailers featuring preprinted definitives.

Now, thanks to JE and a postman in Scotland, I can show the first of these, a Horizon label featuring the same head profile as is on the stamps.  The image is almost certainly from a mobile phone, and has been manipulated, nevertheless it shows what the new Horizon label is like, so we can all look out for them now.

Queen Elizabeth and King Charles Horizon labels, images from different sources.

The label is the same size and in the same format as the one it replaces.  I'll be grateful for reports from any area of the country with images.  Details will be obscured where required.


Coincidentally I was deleting some 2007 emails yesterday and found some from a source within the Post Office which had alerted me to changes in Horizon Label codes - when 1st was replaced by 1L and 1LL etc.  Because this was a national roll-out, first day covers were produced and there was a lot of philatelic interest in the new developments.  

To this day some collectors are still trying to obtain examples of all codes, as they change, and some even from all PO branches - a task made more interesting by closure and reopening with different branch codes.

This exercise continued when the pictorial 'gold head' labels were introduced at Camden PO in 2009,  and the corner head types at Europhilex in 2015.

November 2007 FDCs of Horizon labels with new PIP codes.

July 2009 FDC of 'Gold Head' Horizon label from Camden PO.

May 2015 FDC of Horizon label in new format to accommodate machine readable data codes.

It is unfortunate that we no longer have the contacts inside Royal Mail or the Post Office who think to announce when changes such as this are happening. Of course, they are operational matters.

It's just sad that what used to be a Philatelic Service, keeping collectors and dealers informed about new stamps, and changes that would be of interest to us over the last 60 years, is now a Stamps and Collectibles department, dedicated to keeping us informed about all the latest gimmicks and non-philatelic products that they are producing to keep that department afloat and - they say - subsidise their service to us.

Do please let me know of any more sightings, especially with other codes and in Welsh.  I think that if Post & Go stamps are changed then there will be a philatelic announcement as they have made so much money from these in the past.  

Saturday 8 July 2023

July 2023 slogan postmarks and other interesting postal markings

July's slogan postmarks continued from June with the Supporting NHS slogan.

New July slogan postmarks 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. 


Thanks to KD for this July example of the NHS slogan, from Chester (to an address in England, so not the NHS Wales/GIG Cymru version - which we still haven't seen).

Supporting NHS75, Chester & N Wales Mail Centre 04/07/2023

UPDATE 10 July. My thanks to JE for arranging and supplying images of the NHS Wales/GIG Cymru and HSC versions for addresses in Wales and Northern Ireland, both from Gatwick Mail Centre on 03/07/2023

Supporting HSC 75 slogan used on mail to Northern Ireland addresses, from Gatwick Mail Centre 03/07/2023

GIG CYMRU NHS WALES slogan used on mail to addresses in Wales, from Gatwick Mail Centre 03/07/2023

The Northern Ireland slogan is based on the Health and Social Care system (HSC), rather than just the National Health Service.

Google reveals that In Northern Ireland, the National Health Service (NHS) is referred to as Health and Social Care or HSC. HSC in Northern Ireland provides critical and emergency care and also provides social care services like home care services, family and children’s services, day care services and social work services. 

NHS Wales is the public funded National Health Service of Wales providing healthcare to some 3 million people who live in the country.

The Welsh Government sets the Health Care strategy and NHS in Wales delivers that strategy and services via the seven Local Health Boards, three NHS Trusts and two Special Health Authorities. The NHS has a key principle which is that - Good healthcare should be available to all.

GIG Cymru yw Gwasanaeth Iechyd Gwladol Cymru a ariennir yn gyhoeddus ac sy'n darparu gofal iechyd i oddeutu 3 miliwn o bobl sy'n byw yn y wlad.

Llywodraeth Cymru sy’n pennu’r strategaeth Gofal Iechyd a GIG Cymru sy’n cyflenwi’r strategaeth a’r gwasanaethau hynny drwy’r saith Bwrdd Iechyd Lleol, tair Ymddiriedolaeth y GIG a’r ddau Awdurdod Iechyd Arbennig. Mae gan y GIG egwyddor allweddol, sef - Dylai gofal iechyd da fod ar gael i bawb.

As predicted, the annual Dog Awareness slogan appeared again this week, and this was on our incoming mail last week.   It's a poor example from Warrington Mail Centre 01-07-2023.

Dog Awareness Week 2023 slogan, Warrington Mail Centre 01-07-2023

Fortunately Jon on Stampboards had a much better one from Croydon. Croydon and Warrington are both mail centres that we don't see very often.

Dog Awareness Week 2023 slogan, Croydon Mail Centre 07-07-2023

UPDATE 11 July: Thanks to MM for a better copy of Warrington, though it's still not as good as the Croydon one.  Thanks also to JG for this slightly stretched version of the other layout, from South East Anglia Mail Centre 05/07/2023.

Dog Awareness Week 2023 slogan, Sotuh East Anglia Mail Centre 05/07/2023

We have now reverted to the default British Heart Foundation slogan, this one from Cornwall on a letter received here this morning.

British Heart Foundation slogan Cornwall Mail Centre 10/07/2023

UPDATE 23 July - thanks to RW for this Bristol slogan in reverse layout, where the stamp would be on the left, usually on a square envelope.  RW didn't say where it was on this one!

British Heart Foundation slogan reversed layout Bristol Mail Centre 20/07/2023

Other postmarks, postal markings etc,

This image was sent to me as a puzzle, and it is CONTINGENCY BRANCH 64. It's located in the Hastings, post code area TN35but I haven't been able to track down which branch.

Counter date stamp of branch in the Hastings, Sussex, area using Contingency Branch 64 date stamp.

UPDATE 7 August.  PB reports: CB 64 has been at Ore (Hastings) since re-locating 11 Jan 2021. I met the trainer later at another office and he said they also had an Ore datestamp but the lady in the office said the CB64 was the only one she had been given.

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, all postmarks appearing in July 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 7 July 2023

Why produce forgeries of old special (non-definitive) stamps?

It's a question I asked myself when I first heard about these and then saw a couple online.  The stamps in everyday use are the definitives - Machins or King Charles.  These are the ones that people buy normally, and they will be the ones they most often buy (forged) at a discount from online sources.

Most traders will be happy with definitives; Postcrossers and individuals who like attractive, different, stamps may be attracted to something less usual, like the pictorial country definitives.

And those people may like to have the others which have been forged, the Aardman specials, for instance, or these Classic Children's Television, originally issued in 2014.  Thank you to AB for these forgeries.

These are all scanned in pairs with the same settings, and then one of each stamp is copied along side the other to produce matching pairs (I didn't want to split the strips, not least because I borrowed the genuines from Dave Evans of Jerwood Philatelics!)

Can you tell which is which?  Bear in mind that the colour registration of any Royal Mail stamps is not 100% accurate, so text often has a blurry appearance, but sometimes they are very crisp.

Which would you rather put on your letters, knowing that a forged stamp - IF detected - would attract a penalty charge of at least £2.50 on he recipient?

The forgeries are on the right, on slightly thinner paper.  But really, if you bought the ones on the right (bottom strip on the picture below) would you know that they were not genuine stamps?  The quality is superb - and there was no security printing on the backing paper - and although there are differences, which is which?

What you can't see from singles is that the spacing is wrong.  The genuine measure about 196.5 mm perf to perf.  The forgeries measure almost 198 mm.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

This is the shipping label that was on the package of stamps that AB was sent.

Note the endorsement, Shipper only, not seller.   I wonder what this means in practice and in law.  Clearly the shipper is 'sending forged stamps through the post' presumably with the intent that they would be used for postage.

It's much easier to forge self-adhesive stamps than normally gummed and perforated stamps.  

I wonder what other self-adhesive special stamps will be forged.