Tuesday 24 October 2023

Newsbits - October 2023

As we approach the end of the year (yes, really) and Royal Mail's stamp programme is coming to an end, this post contains a selection of disparate news items.

Post & Go Mail by Rail error 1

MC visited The Postal Museum to get the Museum stamps with the new Dressed to Deliver inscription and popped over to the Mail Rail machine just to see what was produced.  Unexpectedly it was the normal stamp, with no additional inscription apart from the Mail Rail, but he was rewarded with this spectacular strip.

He writes:

It happened because the reel printer jammed after printing the first stamp and then, after attention from a staff member, the remainder came out (all attached). The staff member just passed the strip to me as it was, so an interesting error for the files. (The second class reel came out as expected).

Mail Rail Post & Go strip with gaps caused by mechanical problems.

 A nice display item to add to the 'mechanical failures' category.

Post & Go error 2

It's approaching Remembrance Day so the Poppy stamps have been reintroduced (at least at some offices) and RW sent this exaample from Paignton.  

Of course the error should have occurred whatever the stock, but again it's a nice thing to get when you go in to check out the machines. 


Smilers Back in Time

The Business Customised Service was ended by Royal Mail in 2017, followed in 2018 by the Smilers (Personalisation) Service, but Royal Mail continue to provide a Smilers-type sheet at Christmas (although the stamps are not available for personalisation which was the whole point of Smilers Sheets).  

Some of the earliest Business Sheets were produced for Eagle Coaches 75th Anniversary in late 2001. These were catalogued at £1,000 at one time and so few come to market that no reliable value can be placed on them: it is more a case of buyer and seller agreeing and rarely is anything made public.

A reader has sent in a picture of a single which he has.  The stamp is from the top left of the sheet, and the label is damaged, but if anybody is interested in contacting the owner with a view to buying, then do please contact me by email (address at top right) and I will pass your details on.

Single stamp from rare 2001 Eagle Coaches Business Customised Sheet.

Underpayment avoided - Royal Mail being proactive.

Don't guess it, check it!

This isn't recent, as you can tell from the postage rates, but it's a nice piece of postal history, being applied to the back of a letter which came to the UK from the USA in 2002.  

Does anybody know of any other similar labels from the same or different rate periods?

UPDATE 7 November 2023: Many more of these labels exist and we have been sent some images which are on our Postal History blog.


USPS announces part of the 2024  stamp issue programme.

Unlike Royal Mail, the United States Postal Service believes in making people aware of forthcoming stamps well in advance.  Apart from anything else it helps FDC producers, but it also enables people and organisations which have a connection to the new stamps to arrange events around the issue, like unveiling ceremonies and firs day of issue ceremonies.  

“As always, our stamp program features a broad array of subjects and designs. Stamps are miniature works of art and often tell a story that highlights our American culture, our people or an important point in our history,” said Lisa Bobb-Semple, acting Stamp Services director for USPS. 

“Stamps also allow us to show what’s important to us as we carefully select which stamp adorns our mailpieces. The 2024 stamps were designed to offer the American public a broad array of choices for those looking to collect stamps or send a special message.” 

This is a partial list, with more to be revealed in the weeks and months ahead. All stamp designs are preliminary and subject to change.

The US tends to issue a lot more single stamps - although the way they are produced often means that it's difficult to buy just one for a collection.  Some are sold only in books of 20, some - especially a set of 4-10 different designs - only in panes of 20 or 25.  The interlocking die-cuts on sheets make it difficult to get a single mint stamp on its original backing paper without having all the surrounding eight!

Although they use a lot of NVI ('Forever') stamps, they do issue new stamps every year for the Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express services.  The first is provisionally priced at $9.65 and the latter at $28.75 (£23.50) - so they have their bad side too!

Whilst many of their stamps mark what we might describe here as cultural and historic matters, others are even more ridiculous than some of Royal Mail's.

The programme so far includes Lunar New Year, Love (another annual issue), US Flags (new ones every year - booklete & coils), Black Heritage (1), a new range of low value definitives (flowers), 1 ounce and 2 ounce Wedding stamps (another annual issue), Literary Arts (1), 250th anniversary of the arrival of the Shakers (12), Bluegrass music (1), Horses (5), Sea Turtles (6), Autumn colours (10 in a pane of 20) etc. But the one that takes the biscuit for me is a set of 10 Pinback Buttons - or badges as we call them here.

USPS 2024 Pinback Buttons - 10 circular basic letter rate self-adhesive stamps (pane of 20).
USPS 2024 Horses (2 of 5) issued as a pane of 20)

The illustrated list with more descriptions is on the USPS website here.

RW reminds me that Hong Kong post has also published their programme, illustrated; you can see the stamps on the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog here.  This is useful because it means that WhiteKnight already has the images when it comes to the actual issue date!

GB Christmas - 2 November 2023

I'm told that these are now visible on Royal Mail's website: my blog post will be scheduled for the issue date, 3 November, in accordance with my contract.  You can see them now on the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion Blog.

As Royal Mail not only have all the stamps on their website but have sent the First illustrated newsletter to the subscribers I have published here.

No more news for now, so I'll end the post with this older US stamp!



  1. One wonders how on earth it benefits RM by preventing you from advertising (in the broadest sense) an issue which is fully visible and can be ordered on their website. Incidentally, the issue date is 2nd November, not 3rd.

    1. Yes, I was following the Royal Mail Stamps' information which was, as usual, templated from earlier. In this case, being Christmas, from 12 months earlier where the dates are shown as 03/11/22 issue date, and product embargo (ie for FDC producers) 25/10/22. If I were to go by the latter date then I would be in my rights to show everything now!

    2. I was wrong; they HAD sent out a correction - to the dates. Though if you look at the new post on Christmas stamps you will see that they did not correct the errors in identifying the stamp designs.

  2. "FIRST" booklet delivered this morning.

    1. Really - (reaches for phone!)

    2. It's also on the RM website - see https://www.royalmail.com/sending/stamps

  3. Yes, the usual twelve full colour pages, this time all about "A celebration of the nation's favourite Christmas carols".

  4. I'm sure I'll see quite a few of those USPS forever stamps & smaller values on letters to me. I do like the badge stamps - cheerful, like those message monsters from 2021(?). Smile!

    Deutsche Post via the Bundesfinanzministerium website announced their 2024 intentions, back in May. https://bundesfinanzministerium.de/Content/DE/Pressemitteilungen/Briefmarken/2023/2023-05-22-sondermarkenprogramm-2024.html (in German).


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