Wednesday 30 August 2023


I knew we were getting close but I didn't expect this overnight.

Our sincere thanks to all contributors who have made this blog the success it is.  Whilst others are built on researching past and future stamp issues, ours relies heavily on news and only a small part of that is news that we discover.

Without our contributors providing information, pictures, comments - and especially corrections - we wouldn't have reached this landmark.

It must have been a day to stay in yesterday as we had over 11,000 visitors!

Our Modern Great Britain Postal History blog is only on 64,000 views, but now that the emphasis is off Machin variants (and hoping that there are not too many Carolean variants to report) I hope to provide more information for discussion over there.

Once again - THANK YOU!

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Is this a cunning plan to sell more stamps, ignorance of what matters, or ineptitude?

We have known for decades that the self-adhesive stamps on Royal Mail-supplied first day covers come from a different printing to those sold mint to collectors.  We found this in 2004 when this cover with a paper-join on the 2003 Christmas stamp set demonstrated that the stamps were printed on the same 'sheet', or as was later explained, coil.

Red transparent adhesive tape marking a paper join on a continuous set of Ice Sculpture 2003 Christmas stamps, on Royal Mail first day cover.


Specialists soon determined that because these were coils, they were printed sideways on the web, rather than upright as on ordinary counter sheets.

So those same specialists wanted to buy both the mint stamps and the first day covers (uncancelled if possible), to make their collections 'complete'.

But most collectors don't care about 'direction of print' and settle for just one stamp/set.

Of course last year when a production error produced a totally different 1st class Wales barcoded stamp even the collectors who didn't care about direction of print wanted one of those!

So what do you make of the latest surprise?  My thanks to RB & JG for alerting me to this development.

The low value and high value King Charles III definitives were issued today (29 August), and collectors who buy first day covers from Royal Mail found a BIG surprise - can you see it in these images?

2p and £2 King Charles III definitives.


As is immediately obvious from these pictures the lower stamps have, as you would expect, the security features that we have known in definitives since 2009.  But these are markedly missing from the stamps used on the first day covers!


So, to address the title of this post, is this

- a serious error by Royal Mail or the printers (ISP Walsall);

- ignorance as to what matters to collectors;

- a deliberate production of a variety in the hope that more collectors will want to buy them, even used/on cover? 

Whichever of these is the reason, it marks yet another new low in Royal Mail's relationship with its customers.

Saturday 26 August 2023

Déjà vu - No Royal Mail stand at Autumn Stampex for second year in succession.

With London Stampex now reduced to just one live event per year you might have thought that Royal Mail would welcome the opportunity to meet with their customers and potential customers, but apparently not.

Last year the intermittent strikes by the Communications Workers Union (CWU) led to the late announcement that there would be no RM presence at the premier London stamp event.

This year there is no such excuse, and so there is a much earlier announcement, which is no less unwelcome and even more surprising.

Stampex 2023

Following a strategic review Royal Mail’s Stamps and Collectibles team can confirm that we will not be taking a stand at Stampex International 2023 due to take place in London from 27-30 September 2023.

This also means there will not be any Stampex Postmarks for this event.

What does this really mean?

- the expenditure isn't worthwhile for the effort involved because anybody who wants the stamps will but them online;

- nobody volunteered for a trip to London;

- we will sell more of our special stamps to people who don't normally collect stamps but do like memorabilia for music, a cartoon bear, a fantasy wizard, games and a tv comedy show.  These buyers wouldn't be going to Stampex, so we won't either.

It also means even more pressure on the finances of the Philatelic Traders' Society, and may mean they look again at whether a smaller venue outside London would be better for the hobby as a whole.


Wednesday 23 August 2023

It's that bear again - Paddington set & MS - without Queen Elizabeth - 5 September 2023

Yes, it's that bear again, and after his memorable appearance with Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in connection with the Platinum Jubilee celebrations one might have expected some inclusion of those scenes on this next issue of stamps.


But it is not to be.

Royal Mail's excuse for this issue is the 65th birthday of Peru’s most famous talking bear - Paddington. The marmalade-loving bear first featured in October 1958 in A Bear Called Paddington, written by English author Thomas Michael Bond CBE. 

Paddington’s adventures have now been translated into more than 40 languages, with over 35 million copies sold worldwide, and the friendly bear has also featured in several TV series and two blockbuster films, with a third in development. 

So we have a set of six stamps in three values and a miniature sheet of four stamps in two values, total cost £16.80 - and that's just for the mint stamps.

Maybe now he has reached an age where some people in the UK stop work, it's time to pension off Paddington as well?

The stamps and miniature sheet

1st class ... with marmalade; ... sawing wood;
£2 ... shopping; ... with ice cream;
£2.20 ... carrying presents; ... with a crab.

TV series images. Paddington...
1st class ...  reaching for marmalade sandwich; ... with Mr Gruber
£2.00 ... with Brown family at breakfast; ... baking.

Technical details

The 35 mm square stamps are printed in sheets of 60 in litho by ISP on PVA gummed paper perforated 14.5.  The 192 x 74 mm miniature sheet has four stamps size 60 x 30 mm perforated 14.5.

The designs are attributed to Together Design with the stamps designed by Studio Up and the MS designs taken from the BBC tv series.

Stamp illustrations by Ivor Wood. Paddington Bear TM, Paddington TM and PB TM are trademarks of Paddington and Company Limited. Licensed by Copyrights Group.

Collector sheet

The £12 collector sheet (face value £11) contains the 2 x 1st class stamps repeated across 10 stamps and accompanying labels illustrated by Ivor Wood.  The sheet is self-adhesive making these stamps different to those issued in sheets.   

Paddington Bear Collector Sheet issued 5 September 2023.

Product Range 

Set of stamps, miniature sheet, presentation pack, first day covers (2), stamp cards (11), press sheet of 14 miniature sheets, medal cover, framed set, framed MS, framed Collector Sheet.

These products will be available to order from Royal Mail's website and may be bought from selected Post Office brances nationwide.

Royal Mail employees chosen charity, the British Heart Foundation's Heart now has free Helpline due to support.

Press release 22 August 2023

Thanks to fundraising through our partnership with Royal Mail, the British Heart Foundation's vital helpline is now free to call for the first time since the service was first made available over 20 years ago.

The Heart Helpline is a service where heart patients can call and speak to our experienced cardiac nurses about their condition and concerns. The Heart Helpline, which is open five days a week, offers expert information and support about heart and circulatory diseases and their risk factors to approximately 80 callers a day. 

Switching to a freephone number means the public won’t be charged for seeking support from an experienced cardiac nurse, making heart health information and guidance more accessible than ever.   

The partnership with Royal Mail will last until 2026 with the goal of protecting heart health and saving lives across communities. This first fundraising milestone will be hugely significant for the 1,600 callers that come through the Heart Helpline each month looking for expert guidance.

Greg Sage, Deputy Director Corporate Affairs & ESG, Royal Mail said: “It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to make the Heart Helpline freely accessible for the British public, and brilliant to hear how it’s going to benefit individuals and families across the country. It’s only been made possible through the hard fundraising efforts of our colleagues here at Royal Mail. 

“Royal Mail staff have pushed themselves through physical challenges such as the London Marathon, BHF’s London to Brighton Bike Ride and generously donated through Payroll Giving and worked hard on initiatives to raise money for BHF. It’s a proud achievement for us to have enabled the Heart Helpline to be moved to a freephone number and we’re looking forward to seeing what other impact our partnership with BHF can have.”

No mentioned in the press release, the number is 0808 802 1234

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Post-invalidation treatment of the mail

I should think everybody is expecting to receive some mail which uses old stamps and has been surcharged - or which has been allowed through when it should have been surcharged.

I've started a separate post on my Postal History Blog and look forward to seeing your comments and examples there.

Visit In the post after the Machin and Country definitives invalidation on 31 July 2023

Here's the first one, sent Bristol - Devon 16 August 2023

I'll note here when the other post is updated, but please follow there as well.

UPDATE 29 August - more examples have been added including correctly surcharged cover, and more which should have been but were not.

Thursday 10 August 2023

No airmail country definitives in the near future.

Royal Mail have confirmed that they have no immediate plans to issue £2.20 country definitives to cater for the new Worldwide airmail rate which took effect in the spring.

So this stamp, and similar from the other three countries of the UK will not be printed.

Mock-up of £2.20 England country definitive (QE2 head) which will not be issued.

A spokesman said:

"Our decisions are primarily based on sustainability so we will introduce new stamps on a schedule driven by forecast use and anticipated replacement. There will be a time they need to be replaced but having launched them in 2022, just 5 months before the death of Queen Elizabeth II, it will be into 2024 before we consider the full range. We will then take a view at that point as to the value requirements beyond NVIs. The only decsion taken at this time is nothing was required for 2023."

Wednesday 9 August 2023

King Charles III make-up values official release date 29 August 2023

I've headlined the Official Release Date because I have had several reports of the 20p at least being sold at Post Office branches which have exhausted their stocks of Queen Elizabeth stamps.  Of course they ought to be selling 2 x 10p Machins but as the deliveries of stamps no longer have a 'Do Not Sell Before' notice with them, they will sell them early.  I don't know what Post Office Ltd official policy is.

Poor photo of 20p King Charles III definitives taken in Post Office branch.

According to Royal Mail: "Following the introduction of the King Charles 1st and 2nd Class Definitive stamp in April 2023 the full range of low and high value definitive stamps will be issued on 29th August 2023."   That said, the range no longer includes the £3 value which some people have reported, based on the information on their payment advice.

The complete set of seven new King Charles Definitive low value stamps typically used to make up remaining postage fees. 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. The colours for all seven values are retained from the Machin stamps.

All the stamps are the same size, and the same size as before, 39 x 30 mm.

Enlargement of the £1 stamp, cylinder number allows for a single stamp to be collected rather than a block.  

Block of 10, showing the cylinder number, barcode, colour-spots, FSC certification, printing date, cylinder grid, colour blocks in right margin.

Printing Dates

13/02/23 - 1p, 2p, 5p, 

14/02/23 - 10p, 20p, 50p, 

15/02/23 - £1, £2, £5

(Thanks to JH for spotting the typos)

Products available

Set of 7 stamps, set of 2 stamps, presentation packs (2), first day covers (2).

Some information from Royal Mail said that the high value presentation pack "includes the new £2.20 mint stamp featuring the new portrait of His Majesty King Charles III presented in a refreshed definitive presentation pack with more information about the new portrait."

It doesn't, the pack's cost does not cover the additional stamp, which had its own pack when originally issued.

One of our readers has been told by Tallents House that these will be available to pre-order on Monday 14th August; our embargo date is 15th August - images will be added here then.


Meanwhile, although the embargo is still a few days away, Tallents House are using packing material from the new stamps to send our current orders:

Part of packing material for 5p & 10p sheets of King Charles III stamps.
These large sheets of card also have smaller labels printed with

UPDATE 17 August.

Several people have mentioned that only the sets are available from Royal Mail's website and not the sheets.

Product codes etc are shown below; you could TRY to use these in your telephone or online orders - do let me know how successful this is!

1p Stamp



2p Stamp



5p Stamp



10p Stamp



20p Stamp



50p Stamp



£1 Stamp



£2 Stamp



£5 Stamp



Monday 7 August 2023

Now Machin PPIs replaced by King Charles printed 'stamp'.

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.

Thanks to a member of the British Postmark Society we can now show the second change, which is to the so-called 'digital-stamp' printed direct onto mailings by large companies, in their Postage Paid Impressions.

Preprinted King Charles III profile 'stamp' used in postage paid impression.

The barcode is the same on both (it reads: 01 plus 14 zeroes) and is presumably from a Royal Mail template for C9 licence holders.  C9 10002 is the the downstream access licence of whistl (formerly TNT Mail) and  C9 10033 denotes Primepost.  (Thanks to JE for these details.)

With the Horizon (and probably SSK) labels already showing the King's head from some Scottish sources, it remains to be seen whether any changes are made to Post and Go stamps or if there are sufficient stocks to satisfy the diminishing number of SSKs in post offices around the country. (See notices of relocations and out-of-service machines in comments on the Post and Go post.)

August 2023 slogan postmarks and other interesting postal markings.

Slogans used in August 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.

July's slogan postmarks went out with no new additions, and continued into August with the default British Heart Foundation support slogan.

Here are some with August dates, thanks to RW

British Heart Foundation slogan SE Wales Mail Centre 04/08/2023

British Heart Foundation slogan Bristol Mail Centre 03/08/2023

UPDATE 29 August 2023.

A real surprise from North & West Yorkshire Mail Centre which last week marked the Coronation in May, with this example used on 22/08/2023.

Coronation slogan postmark used in error at North & West Yorkshire Mail Centre 22/08/2023

Other postmarks, postal markings etc,

No reports this month

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 August 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.


Thursday 3 August 2023

Terry Pratchett's Discworld - updated.

The original post has been updated with images and technical details, here.