Thursday 25 January 2024

Weather Forecasting, 170 years of the Meterological Office - 1 February 2024

Royal Mail celebrates the 170th anniversary of the UK Meteorological Office and the history, science and future of Weather Forecasting with a set of eight stamps.

I am very pleased to see that this issue has proper designs, with distinct elements - and captionsIt would have been difficult to fit the anniversary on the stamps - even more difficult to deal with the questions as to why it was the 170th* anniversary being marked.

Luke Howard, classified clouds in 1803 - Storm barometer of Robert FitzRoy.

Terra Nova Expedition - Marine buoys collecting data

Weather observers preparing for D-Day  -  Radar and Computer assisting forecasting in 1950s

Barbara Edwards, first UK female weather presenter - Supercomputers & satellites assiting forecasting.

Royal Mail's write-up:

For most of human history, people regarded weather as a mysterious force of nature. The wind might blow, the rain might fall or the sun might shine, but it all seemed to happen without a clear pattern. 

For centuries, people relied on folk wisdom or the prognostications of astrologers as they sought to find out what was coming next. But then, about two hundred years ago, in Britain, a bold new scientific discipline began to emerge. It would transform our relationship with the atmosphere, making life safer and more enjoyable. Today, we refer to this discipline as weather forecasting. 

2024 marks 170 years since the foundation of the Met Office in 1854, the UK’s national meteorological service. Since its inception, it has pioneered the science of meteorology and its application. Their experts use a wealth of scientific, technological and operational expertise and work around the clock to provide critical weather services to help us make better decisions, stay safe and thrive in our environment. 

Full descriptions 

2nd Class - Luke Howard, pioneer meteorologist, classified clouds in 1803.
2nd Class - Storm barometer of Robert FitzRoy, founder of the Met Office in 1854
1st Class - Terra Nova Expedition studied extreme weather in 1910–12
1st Class - Marine buoys collect data for the Shipping Forecast, first broadcast in 1924 
£2.00 - Weather observers were vital to the success of the D-Day invasion in 1944 
£2.00 - Radar and computers improved forecasting accuracy from the 1950s
£2.20 - Barbara Edwards became the first British female TV weather presenter in 1974 
£2.20 - Supercomputers and satellites help track the Earth’s weather today

Technical Details

Designed by hat-trick design, the 41 x 30 mm stamps are printed in lithography on gummed paper by Cartor Security Printers in sheets of 30. Perforations 14.5 x 14.

Stamp designs © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2024
Images courtesy of the Met Office and/or © Crown Copyright, Met Office 2024 (with a special thank-you to the Met Office National Meteorological Library and Archive), except where noted: 

2nd Class Luke Howard by John Opie, courtesy of the Royal Meteorological Society © Open Government Licence 2024, Met Office; illustration of cloud formations from On the Modifications of Clouds by Luke Howard, 1803; 

2nd Class Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy’s storm barometer, c.1875; Royal Charter storm synoptic chart, 1859; 

1st Class Antarctic weather balloon research, 1911 © Scott Polar Research Institute/Science Photo Library; page from Terra Nova Expedition weather register, May 1911; 

1st Class ODAS (Ocean Data Acquisition Systems) buoy; Shipping Forecast areas, 1924; 

£2.00 observer taking hourly temperature observations from a Stevenson Screen, 1941; synoptic weather chart showing weather conditions on 6 June 1944; 

£2.00 weather radar system, Lincolnshire © John Birdsall Social Issues Photo Library/Science Photo Library; Met Office radar image showing rainfall intensity during Storm Ciara, 9 February 2020; 

£2.20 photograph of Barbara Edwards with a television forecast map, c.1975 © BBC; 

£2.20 illustration of a Meteosat Third Generation geostationary satellite © European Space Agency, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO/Science Photo Library; satellite image showing water vapour in the atmosphere © Crown Copyright, Met Office, data: EUMETSAT.

Product List

Set of 8 stamps, presentation pack, first day cover, stamp cards, (total £58.05), and framed stamp set (£34.99).

* So why 170 years - and why not combine it with the centenary of the first broadcast Shipping Forecast?  Maybe in 5 years time there will be no more stamps - or no more subscribers to Royal Mail's new issue service.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Last chances to buy Machin Definitives, booklets, etc.

Yes, it's the final countdown.  Whilst I have not fixed a date by which I shall return all Machin stock to Royal Mail (and neither have they announced an end to the scheme), this is the last major chance for you to buy all Machin definitives.

New updated lists of original (X), elliptical (Y), and security Machins (U) are now available to download from Dropbox using the links below.  When this post has disappeared off the foot of the page, the links will still be available on a separate sales page shown in the column on the right.  Country definitives will be added shortly.

Update:  A customer asked about the Castle definitives, and so I have produced a short illustrated list of those.  You can download list 11 now.


List 1 Booklets for sale v13

List 2 Prestige Booklets v3 

List 3 Regional Machin definitives (coming soon)

List 4 Pictorial Country definitives (coming soon)

List 7 Machin X-list for sale v4 (updated 26 January)

List 8 Machin Y-list for sale v4 (updated 26 January)

List 9 Security Machins for sale

List 10 - Smilers Sheets and singles for sale

List 11 - Castle High Values 1988-1997.


NOT included are 1st and 2nd class pre-security stamps or the Queen Victoria double-heads, although some are included in the booklets list.  I do have some of these but they have not been sorted.  Wants lists are welcome.

Please email me your requirements from these lists, one list at a time, preferably in the same order as shown on he list.  

If you know that you (may) require stamps from more one list, mention this with each email you send, and I will consolidate and give you a total figure.

In the past a couple of customers have been surprised by the total cost of their order - please try to keep a rough track of the total cost of what you are asking for.  I don't want to draw all the stamps from stockbooks onto stock cards only to be told that you can't afford them.  This would be especially unfair on other customers who might have been turned down because you had 'reserved' the stamps.

Postage and packing will follow usual rates.  For very large orders special delivery may be advisable. 

Purchases from our online shop can be included; to complete the order payment must be made, but please include a message with the order that you are ordering from the lists as well.  Postage paid on online orders will be taken into account when adding other stamps.

If you have any questions please email or phone.

Marshall Islands Queen's Diamond Jubilee Anniversary sheet of Machin definitives - two available!

I first mentioned this stamp issue from the Marhsall Islands back in 2012 not long after the blog started. 

Issued on 6 February 2012 the Marshall Islands miniature sheet marks the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and contains 6 x $1.05 stamps each illustrated with a British Machin definitive.

The stamp illustrations show stamps in multiples of 10, the 10p orange brown, 20p bright green, 30p olive-green litho printing, 40p azure, 50p self-adhesive 2009 security issue, and 60p light emerald. All the illustrations are slightly larger than life-size and have a line through the face value.

I have now found three of these sheets and they are available at £6.50 each including UK postage. International postage on request.


And that's gone too!

This can be combined with anything from the shop or our sales lists (to be updated very shortly).

Please email to ian - at -

Last Post for the Norvic Security Checklist: I think it's all over!

"From February 2009 1st and 2nd class Machin Definitives and higher-priced 'make-up' values at 50p and £1 will be produced as self-adhesive Stamps with enhanced security features including semi-circular slits and an irridescent overprint.

"These initiatives are part of the on-going development of security features for Stamps. The slits are designed to inhibit the removal of these Stamps for fraudulent sale and re-use. The overprint features the words 'Royal Mail' in a pattern reminiscent of security features on banknotes."

This was how I announced the introduction of Machin definitives with security features on our website back in 2009.

It was only in April 2009 that we listed the different source codes, following the report on the Machin Mania blog. This in turn reported that the late Douglas Myall had written that 'the non-denominated security Machins have a hidden code that identifies the format in which the stamp was issued'.

The following April, the late Alec Withell reported that new retail booklet stamps had a year code, and this was soon found to apply to all stamps printed each year.  There were inconsistencies, with many new years' printings not being sold until the following year - but occasionally in the previous year!

Catalogue producers then had to work out how to list these new stamps with their variations.  Gibbons, sadly, chose a complex way of doing so.  There is a logic to it, but their system caused multiple changes, such as for the Recorded Signed For stamp is listed as

Concise 2010: U2916a;
Collect British Stamps: U2940;
Concise 2011: U2981.

I had already decided on a different numbering system, and started a conversion table, in part so that users of preprinted albums with SG numbers would know where to find the stamps in our sakes listing.

This developed into the Checklist which has developed over the years, with the help of so many readers and other collectors, running to over 50 pages.

Now that the last of the Machins have been issued, there will be no more additions to the Checklist, and no changes unless somebody wants to go through and fill in all the missing printing dates etc. 

The last edition is now available for downloading here.

My thanks to friends, collectors and dealers for their continued contributions to this list over the years.

Thursday 18 January 2024

"Can we still use Queen Elizabeth stamps?" - information and misinformation

This question continues to be asked in social media platforms, and I have had reports of friends not wanting to buy collectors' surplus of Queen Elizabeh stamps arising from the Swap Out scheme.

The invalidation of old-style Machin definitives caused a lot of confusion which will, it seems, continue for some time.  After all, unless you are aged over 75 you have probably never used a stamp from a previous reign (unless you are/were a collector).

Not Valid

Both these types remain valid for postal use

Given that Royal Mail, retail outlets, and Post Office branches, are still selling barcoded Machin definitives, and they are still being supplied in the Swap Out it is very unlikely that they will be invalidated soon.

Whilst no regular definitives were issued after the end of the reign, some were included in subsequent prestige book panes, as were many set of special stamps.

Previous reigns

King Edward VII definitives were printed in two distinct series, by De La Rue and Harrison and Sons. ALL the Harrison printings were issued after the King died.  It wasn't until 1913 that the last stamps of the first long set of King George V definitives were issued.

King George V died in January 1936 and three values of the last (photogravure) definitives were issued in the February, the 5d, 10d & 1s.

The first definitive stamps of the reign of King George VI were issued just before the Coronation in May 1937. Some values were not available until 1939 - all values above 5d, so the stamps of the previous reign continued to be issued.

After the Accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952 the first deinitives were issued in time for Christmas, but the remaining values were spread over the next two years and some booklets in the new reign included stamps of both reigns.

With modern high-speed printing the stamps of King Charles III have had only two issue dates, with NVIs being issued ahead of the (plentiful Machin) make-up values.

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Great Britain 2024 Stamp Programme - Predictions and winners

My thanks to the 21 people who sent their predictions, some regular readers of the blog, and some members of the Stampboards forum (some are both). 

The entries were a mixture of:

- actual predictions of likely subjects; 

- a wish-list of things that might be included but that Royal Mail were unlikely to include;

- a list of anniversaries in the hope that some might be included;

- total spoof (I hope) suggestions

- a mix of these.

Of the 15 stamp issues on Royal Mail's programmme more than half (8) were not predicted by anyone! Leaving aside the obvious Christmas issue, that's 8 out of 14. 

 Of the remaining six, the most popular prediction was for the 150th anniversary of the birth of politician and wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill which eight people predicted.

Next was the Centenary of the first British Commemorative Stamp (4 people), Dogs (3), and Dungeons and Dragons (2).

There were many suggestions which I considered as definitely worthy of a stamp issue, even if Royal Mail couldn't find room in he programme. 

Most notable of these is the bicentenary of the establishment of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, suggested by 5 people. I think it was a mistake not to include the 70th anniversary of the first broadcast 'Shipping Forecast' in the Weather issue next month (suggested by 4 people as an anniversary to be marked). One suggestion was to have a remembrance of civil disasters such as Hillsborough and Grenfell: while I think a National Day of Remembrance would be a good idea, I don't think the subjects could sensibly and sensitively displayed on stamps.

If only we were marking British cultural personalities and notable anniversaries we could have included, among others: the bicentenary of the National Gallery, 75 years of NATO, Detective fiction (Wilkie Collins Centenary), Alfred Hitchcock, Clarice Cliff, Oscar Wilde, the RSPCA, the Normandy landings, athletics, etc. Three people suggested issues on similar 'green' themes: sustainability, environment, global warming or climate change.

Under Politics people mentioned the First Labour government, Margaret Bondfield, Welsh Assembly, creation of Metropolitan Counties, establishment of the Brexit Party (5 years), Ramsey Macdonald, the Welsh Assembly, and the likely General Election. Whilst we have had politicians before, and doubtless there are other politicians who would rank along with them, but such is the state of United Kingdom politics these days, that there is really no possibility.

Some people obviously did a lot of research for anniversaries, but the inclusion of non-British events or people was optimistic to say the least: Abba, Edward Hubble, The Big Bang Theory (tv programme), and others. Some suggestions relied heavily on past issues – maybe so that I could say “we had that before” if it turned out to be true!

Nobody predicted more than 3 issues accurately. Of these D in The Netherlands and AL both suggested a further 5 which I thought could and maybe should have been marked. Three more people recorded four subjects which I thought were justified. Two people were accurate with only two predictions but both produce 7 really good unadopted ideas as well.

I also gave 'commendations' to two people for the inventiveness and/or humour of their ideas. One of them predicted nothing accurately and made no 'worthy' suggestions, but produced a good list.

It would be good to reward everybody who took the trouble to enter, but sadly that is not the case. I shall be writing to the six mentioned for their addresses to send a prize for their suggestions.

Commendation goes to MM for this innovative and humorous programme:

I’m going with some of the “one-day only” issues and the treasure hunt.  

- New Years Day (01/01/2024)

- Burns Night (26/01/2024)

- Chinese New Year (10/02/2024)

- Valentine’s Day (13/02/2024 - £15.00 face value set of six alternative designs guaranteed before 08:00 am

- so that cards can get there before school starts. Special £100.00 limited edition offer to have a red rose delivered alongside the card)

- St David’s Day (01/03/2024)

- Mothers Day (09/03/2024 - £20.00 face value set of six alternative designs guaranteed before 09:00 am Sunday delivery. Special £150.00 limited edition offer to have a bouquet delivered alongside the card)

- St Patrick’s Day (17/03/2024)

- Spring Equinox (20/03/2024)

- St George’s Day (23/04/2024)

- Fathers Day (15/06/2024 - £20.00 face value set of six alternative designs guaranteed before 09:00 am Sunday delivery)

- Autumn Equinox (22/09/2024)

- Halloween (31/10/2024)

- Guy Fawkes (05/11/2024)

- Remembrance Sunday (10/11/2024)

- Armistice Day (11/11/2024)

- St Andrew’s Day (30/11/2024)  

- I’m going to suggest 30/03/2024 for the treasure hunt issue as that would make March particularly crowded. Normal embargo rules would apply which would then make March a total nightmare for everybody.

- We could maybe leave the General Election issue in as a floating set as nobody knows yet when it will be.

And then there is this from WB who wrote:

Really enjoyed coming up with this - the challenge was to go for the (faint!) dividing line between definite spoof and daft, but just the sort of thing that Royal Mail might indeed be stupid enough to attempt to unleash on us...

2024 Royal Mail Stamp Issues- 2 issues per month

January - Reality TV-featuring catchphrases and stars from various reality TV shows

January - Winter Olympics-special stamp to be produced for each British gold medallist

February - Centenary of 1st Labour government-featuring each Labour leader/Labour slogans

February - Music Greats-Taylor Swift

March - Comic Book Heroes-Batman

March - Seasons of UK(Spring)-views from locations around the UK in Spring

April - Cryptocurrencies-stamps priced in both sterling and bitcoin values

April - Artificial Intelligence

May - Premiership clubs-stamps contain QR code linking to offers from that club*

May - Entertainment-Big Bang Theory

June - Music Greats-ABBA 50th anniversary of winning Eurovision Song Contest

June - Seasons of UK(Summer)-views from locations around the UK in Summer

July - Olympics-special stamp to be produced for each British gold medallist

July - Paralympics-special stamp to be produced for each British gold medallist

August - Famous Brands-stamps contain QR code linking to adverts from that brand*

August - Drill and grime artists

September - Seasons of UK(Autumn)-views from locations around the UK in Autumn

September - Disney characters

October - Nonbinary Issue-Non binary personalities-introducing pronoun tags+

October - Nonbinary Issue II-Non binary flora and flora-introducing pronoun tags+

November - YouTube influencers-stamps contain QR code linking to that influencer’s channel*

November - Artemis II launch

December - Seasons of UK(Winter)-views from locations around the UK in Winter

December - Winter Festivals-celebrating Kwanzaa,Hanukkah,Yule and Solstice


There is a long list of other suggested topics which have not already been on stamps included:

Orwell's 1984 (75), Bagpuss (tv) (50), Greenwich Time Signal (100), London Eye (25), Eurotunnel (30), Zulu (film), Gay Weddings (10), PO Tower (60), BBC Belfast (100), Band Aid (10), New Year's Day public holiday (50), BBC2 (60), Golf in England (100), Ben Nicholson, Bronte Sisters, Rosetta Stone (225), Match of the Day (tv) (60), Ceefax (50), Death Penalty abolition (60), Sir Stanley Spencer, Vagrancy Act of 1824 – images of city streets, Great Storm of 1824, The Good Beer Guide (50), Neurodiversity Week, First Municipal Fire Brigade (Edinburgh) (200), Food (150 years of Coopers Oxford Marmalade), Fantastic Fungi, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (film link), British Scientists, Gustav Holst (150), UPU (150), Motorcycle Ice Speedway, Folk Museums, House of the Dragon, Town Halls, other historic buildings, Folk Museums, Open University (50), Pizza Hut in UK (50), Tony Hancock (100), ferries; modern transport; public houses and inns, Howard Carter (150), Arthur Quiller-Couch (80), Benny Hill (100), Charles Laughton (125), Sir Edmund Halley, Sir William Siemens, Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race, Monty Python, Royal Houses from 1066 not prevously included, Burmese War (200), Harry Grundell Matthews death ray (100), Mallory & Irvine (100), DH Comet (75), New Covent Garden Market (50), Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost (100), Eileen Argar (125), first royal broadcast(100), 30th February Harry Mountbatten – Windsor renounces all ties with the UK and takes US citizenship; 31st September GB Govt announces the end of British Summer time and all that clock changing. 


This has been an interesting exercise, and I am amazed at the number of different subjects suggested. I would have liked to have illustrated this blog, but there is no simple way to do that which is not very time-consuming: I didn't ask contributors to illustrate their answers.

It is not an exercise that will be run again, as it took rather more time than I expected.

I hope all readers find the results interesting and I look forward to your comments.

Wednesday 10 January 2024

The Post Office Horizon Scandal - where to now?

(Picture from ITV)
Even if you are a new reader of the blog, and unaware of how I have been banging on about the Post Office Horizon Scandal over five years, it can't have escaped your notice over the past week as it has been and continues to be the lead story most days on television, radio and paper media. (It's been reported in far-flung corners of the world, even though they haven't yet seen the ITV drama). 


I first mentioned it in 2018 and wrote:

This has culminated in a legal case which has come to court this week.  …..  It's going to be a fascinating period for anybody interested in the postal network, and in justice. So far over £10 million has been spent on legal fees.  The result is impossible to predict, however much sympathy one has with the individuals concerned.

Little did we know.  

What's it all about?

For those readers who are new to it all, and have a lot of time to spare, there are two excellent blogs by Nick Wallis (permanent links in the column to the right) The Post Office On Trial and Post Office On Trial, part 2). 

If you don't have a lot of time to spare, Computer Weekly have doggedly reported all stages since 2009 - scroll right down and get the popcorn or a coffee.

And if you want to know more about the making of the programme, the actors and the characters they played, Radio Times has a good page here.  Most of the actors met the people they were playing - and most knew 'too little' about the scandal before getting involved.  Thus it came as much of a surprise to them as it did to many viewers, which may have enhanced their performances.

Why hadn't I heard of this before?

The story has been covered in a piecemeal way for over 15 years.  It has been covered in detail by Computer Weekly and Private Eye magazine, and occasionally BBC local radio, Welsh tv channel S4C, and BBC Panorama (TV), and Radio 4.  More recently there has been occasional coverage in most of the British newspapers, and there are numerous people writing about it on their blogs and social media. If you shun social media and haven't found the blogs, you wouldn't have found out.

Computer Weekly is a specialist industry magazine and rarely has a readership outside the industry.
Satirical magazine Private Eye “offers a unique blend of humour, social and political observations and investigative journalism” but does not appeal to everyone.  It is a long read, which is alright if you are a rail commuter, but finding time to read it all can be difficult! 

BBC Radio 4 is often an 'in the background' programme, although now that catch-up services are available it is easy to binge-listen to the omnibus episode (and more satisfying than 5 x 15 minute broadcasts).  But that only reaches a certain audience.

The audience for BBC's Panorama* (which first aired in 1953) no longer attracts the big audiences it did when there were pm;y three tv channels.  In 1985 it averaged 3.5 million viewers but it was subsequently shuffled around the schedules with no permanent slot. And if a special programme was commissioned, it might be 'bumped' by something more politically topical, which meant that advance publicity could be wasted.  

* The BBC have made the 2015 programme available on their website and he 2022 programme is here.

UPDATE: For UK listeners only, I suspect, TV Channel S4C has repeated the 2009 episode of Taro Nao which reported on the case of Noel Thomas. (Available for a month from 11 January.)
Registration required, as with all TV catch-ups; English subtitles available for those who need them.

In Mr Bates Vs the Post Office ITV scheduled four x 1 hour broadcasts over consecutive evenings at peak time (9 pm). The programme was heavily trailed in the two weeks before and over Christmas, on TV and on their catch-up service ITVX and website.  The trailers must have been viewed many times and they included a stellar cast well-known for their previous performances, rather than journalists.  If it had been all fiction they would still have had good viewing figures: that it all happened made it more compelling.  

Why haven't politicians acted before?

It can be argued that politicians have acted, but within the normal confines of government bureaucracy and the law.  

Whilst we know that some ministers had copies of Nick Wallis's book it is unlikely that the Prime Ministers and Justice Ministers have read it and the case histories, nor any more than reports of the court and court of appeal judgements. 

They are briefed by civil servants from the Business ministry (by whatever name it went under at the time), and of course they themselves had something to hide, as one of them sat on the Board of the Post Office!

Given that the department (and ultimately The Treasury) was the paymaster funding the Post Office's case against everything it could be argued that they could have stepped in at any time and stopped the madness.  But they didn't even step in and stop the awarding of bonuses to the present board for allegedly co-operating with the Inquiry such was the lack of governance and oversight.

Why haven't the convictions been overturned and compensation paid?

Some people are suggesting that an act of parliament should overturn the convictions – but that would set a precedent that would not be welcome in a parliamentary democracy.   The legislature should never interfere with judicial decisions.  

No, it needs a fast-track process to hear all the cases at the Court of Appeal in one go, or several batches, just as was done with the first batch of cases (Hamilton & others).  

The justice system operates along strict non-political lines.  Once the GLO judgement was made the way was open for the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CRC) to review cases.  Only the commission can send a case back to an appeals court. Applications can be made by anyone who believes they have been wrongly convicted or sentenced but the CCRC cannot be proactive: they have a long explanation on their blog on the Post Office cases.

Compensation is a very complex issue, and it is more than compensation.  (There's a brief outline in Wikipedia.)  The Post Office could have returned the money which postmasters were forced to pay - which should have been done at a very early stage, with interest.  

Although many postmasters were convicted and some jailed, some were acquitted. No blanket compensation figure or menu of amounts could cover these situations adequately.  

When you think hard about the consequences of the Post Office's shameful actions, the effects expand; loss of future earnings, loss of future pension, loss of property/investment - that's losses. Damages for malicious prosecution, wrongful imprisonment, loss of reputation, injury to health, extended to family including children who have suffered through the situation their parents were placed in.

What hasn't helped is that, as more cases come to light, and more evidence builds up against the Post Office, three different compensation schemes were set up over the last few years.  If those involved had known what is now known, a single scheme would have been set up in the first place.  If you're a victim, first work out which scheme(s) you are covered by. 

However it is resolved, interim payments should have been made to everybody by now, and that should not affect their ultimate compensation.

Why has no action been taken against the Post Office, Fujitsu, politicians, lawyers, etc?

The simple answer to this, in my view, is that you don't prosecute until you have all the evidence. 

The Metropolitan Police are investigating potential perjury by two Fujitsu employees following the original GLO court judgement. 
They are also investigating “potential fraud offences” arising from the prosecutions, for example “monies recovered from subpostmasters as a result of prosecutions or civil actions”.

They are waiting for the Statutory Inquiry to conclude.

With the Inquiry due to hear from Post Office investigators, Fujitsu prosecution support witnesses, and lawyers, I suspect more new evidence will be revealed - and that is just in Phase 4 of the Inquiry which covers action against Sub-postmasters and others: policy making, audits and investigations, civil and criminal proceedings, knowledge of and responsibility for failures in investigation and disclosure.

Phases 5 & 6 will cover Redress: access to justice, Second Sight, Complaint Review and Mediation Scheme, conduct of the group litigation, responding to the scandal and compensation schemes and  Governance: monitoring of Horizon, contractual arrangements, internal and external audit, technical competence, stakeholder engagement, oversight and whistleblowing.

There is a long way to go before Post Office Directors, including senior Civil Servants, come to face a grilling.


I hadn't intended to amend this post so quickly but breaking news makes it impossible to not mention - if I don't all the readers will!

Post Office victims to have convictions overturned


Monday 8 January 2024

Post and Go News 2024

This post and its comments will hold all news on Post and Go stamps, machines, and PO SSKs.   

For details of new Post and Go stamps issued by the postal authorities in Guernsey and Jersey I recommend WhiteKnight's Commonwealth Stamp Opinion. All issues from the islands, and Gibraltar and the SOAR stamps from Isle of Man will normally be pictured there as announced.

Anything about the old Royal Mail machines which operated until the end of last year at various military and other museums around the UK will continue to be added on the 2023 blog post. Please continue to make comments there or send me news/images by email.

Self Service Kiosks

PW has been dogged in his determination to report on what is happening at Sheffield (a city of more than half a million folks in northern England) ever since the Wilkinson's store closed in October last year.  In late November he reports that the Sheffield Post Office, located in the Wilkinson's (Wilko) Store in Haymarket, closed in early October. It had FAD no. 016340.

The only Post Office in Sheffield City Centre now is now at 33-35 Charles St, S1 2HU. There are now 2 Post and Go machines installed, which could be the 2 machines from the Wilkinson Store

However, as per usual they were not switched on for public use. The FAD no. for the shop is 247340.

This month he has an update. one of the machines in use.  The other machine was not in operation but a different kiosk without 'weighing plate', was present. I am sure this was not situated at the Sheffield Haymarket/Wilkinsons store so I am waiting for another visit to 'test' it. The Staff do not want to turn these machines on because they have to deploy a Staff Member to supervise them. There was a massive queue in the shop and no-one wanted to try and use the machines for their postal needs, but I marched up to them and had a go. 

And a visit to Chesterfield at the turn of the year, brought errors of 'wrong roll position' in two kiosks. Kiosk 67 had 1st stock in the 2nd class position, producing 2nd class brown (R19YAL with inset phosphor bands) and 2nd class stock in the 1st class position, producing 1st class blue (CL17).

(Unfortunately only photos are provided but I have enhanced them to show the results to their best.)

Post and Go output from new location at Charles Street, Sheffield, 04/01/2024.

Chesterfield Post and Go SSK67 02/01/2024 Machin Anniversary strip 2nd class in error.

Chesterfield Post and Go SSK67 30/12/023 errors SSK68, 1st class on blue stock, and 2nd class on brown stock.

All news about P&G in 2024 will be here, and comments for the old (January 2023) post will be closed later in the month.  

Printed stamps as Postage Paid Indicators - Christmas 2023 and more

In September I wrote about the first King Charles III Postage Paid Impressions using images of stamps, what Royal Mail referred to at one time as 'digital-stamps' printed direct onto mailings by large companies or mailing houses.

Now the holiday season is over I can show two examples of the 2023 2nd class Christmas stamp used in the same way.  Usually it is only the definitive and Christmas stamps are used in this way, but occasionally another 2nd class commemorative is made available - if the copyright is wholly Royal Mail's.

Christmas 2023 2nd class - thanks to JE, these are C9 10017 (The Delivery Group) from House of Bruar [and also Healthspan (no TDG logo) and Operation Smile (with logo)],  C9 10018 (Brightpost) from the Salvation Army, C9 10046 (Mi-Post) from Westminster Collection

2023 2nd class stamp design used as Postal Paid Impression, C9 license 10046, unnecessarily postmarked North & West Yorkshire 16/11/2023

2023 2nd class stamp design used as Postal Paid Impression, C9 license 10017 (The Delivery Group), unnecessarily postmarked North & West Yorkshire 14/11/2023

2023 2nd class stamp design used as Postal Paid Impression, C9 license 10018 from the Salvation Army

2023 2nd class stamp design used as Postal Paid Impression, C9 license 10002, used by Pets VIP Club.


Any other pictorial PPIs will be posted on this thread; King Charles examples will, in general, be on the September post linked in line 1.

January 2024 slogan postmarks and other interesting postal markings.

Last year Royal Mail were concentrating on the invalidation of Machin definitives (originally January) and the slogan postmark in use at the turn of the year reminded us of that.  

The first new slogan marked Holocaust Memorial Day - and that is likely to be the case again this year.

Meanwhile the current default slogan is for Royal Mail's staff-chosen charity, the British Heart Foundation.  

The slogan has the BHF logo and web address.  The first example in the new year is from Dorset & S.W. Hants mail centre 03-01-2024, thanks to JH.

British Heart
Royal Mail supporting
heart health with

BHF slogan from Dorset & S.W. Hants 03-01-2024

The annual Holocaust Memorial Day slogan is in use this week. Royal Mail announced this on social media and their 'proof' clearly shows the time as 8pm rather than 4pm last year.  

Holocaust Memorial Day 2024 slogan publicity image

This is useful because I received two examples from Norwich Mail Centre this morning dated 23 and 24-01-2024 in which the time looks more like 2 or 3!

Holocaust Memorial Day
Light a candle
in your window
8pm 27 January 2024

Holocaust Memorial Day 2024 slogan at Norwich Mail Centre 23-01-2024

UPDATE 29 January: Thanks to OT for this better (but still same format) copy of the slogan from Jubilee Mail Centre 25-01-2024

Holocaust Memorial Day 2024 slogan at Jubilee Mail Centre 25-01-2024

A final showing of the standard BHF slogan (see February for the change) in the other layout, from Cumbria Dumfries & Galloway on 29/01/2024.  Nice to see an £2.20 airmail rate Christmas stamp.

BHF slogan from Cumbria Dumfries & Galloway 29/01/2024


A reader in Canada has sent me a photo of "A nice cancel from a local post office" - in fact, MY local post office of Dereham Norfolk, although I didn't send it.  It gives me the opportunity show a similar cancel from a different self-inking datestamp at the same branch.  The one with code E has not had the year rolled over to 2024 instead reading 05. JA 23.

UPDATE. The same correspondent has provided this nice clear self-inking-datestamp impression from Wolviston, which is "is a village and civil parish within the borough of Stockton-on-Tees and the ceremonial county of County Durham, England. The population of the civil parish as of the 2011 census was 877 (Wikipedia).  

They are lucky in still having a post office, and even luckier that the people working there know that they should cancel the stamps on large letters!

Wolviston self-inking-datestamp 15 January 2024.

A very picturesque post office!

Wolviston Village Post Office (Google)

Any more, anyone?

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 January 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.

Friday 5 January 2024

Music is the Spice of life: Music Giants IX, The Spice Girls - 11 January 2024

Royal Mail start the new year yet again with a Music Giants issue, this time for"the biggest girl group of all time, the Spice Girls, on the 30th anniversary of their formation" (*). 

The Spice Girls are global superstars, feminist icons, cultural figureheads and one of the most successful British bands since The Beatles. Between 1996 and 1998, when Spicemania was at its peak, they dominated the airwaves and stormed charts around the world with their inspirational ‘Girl Power!’ ethos and catchy pop hits. They have sold over 100 million records worldwide and scored nine UK number one singles.

* Last year the New York Times ranked the Spice Girls only fourth behind Diana Ross and the Supremes, who had 12 number one hits in first place.

The issue consists - as usual - of a set of stamps and a miniature sheet. The 15 stamps in total are all 1st class, meaning a basic cost of £18.75.

The stamps.

Set of 10 x 1st class Spice Girls stamps issued 11 January 2024.

Miniature sheet of five x 1st class Spice Girls stamps issued 11 January 2024.

The sheet stamps consist of five showing each group member individually, and five group shots from "some of their most iconic live performances internationally and in the UK."
For details, see Acknowledgements below.
The miniature sheet shows each of the band members in an iconic group photo. 
Technical Details and acknowledgements

The 41 x 30 mm gummed stamps have been printed in lithography by International Security Printers in sheets of 50 in horizontal se-tenant strips of 5,  perforated 14.5 x 14. 

The 180 x 74 mm self-adhesive miniature sheet contains 26 x 36 mm stamps printed in lithography by International Security Printers perforated 14 x14.

Designed by Supple Studio.
Acknowledgements in stamp order: (1) Spice Girls performing at the BRIT Awards, 1997 ©; Melanie Chisholm performing at the BRIT Awards, London, 1998 © Richard Young/; Spice Girls performing during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games © Johannes Eisele/AFP/ Getty Images; Geri Halliwell performing at the BRIT Awards, London, 1997 © Dave Benett/Getty Images; Spice Girls performing in San Jose, California, 2007 © Matt Baron/Shutterstock. com; 

(2) Emma Bunton performing at Wembley Arena, London, 1998 © Pete Still/Redferns/Getty Images; Spice Girls performing in Istanbul, 1997 © 2024 Spice Girls; Victoria Beckham performing during The Return of the Spice Girls Tour at Madison Square Garden, New York City, 2008 © MJ Kim/Spice Girls LLP via Getty Images; Spice Girls performing in Dublin, 1998 © Dave Hogan/Getty Images; Melanie Brown performing at the BRIT Awards, London, 1997 © JMEnternational/Redferns/Getty Images. Under license to Bravado Merchandising. All rights reserved. © 2024 Spice Girls. 

MS: Spice Girls, photograph by Christophe Gstalder © Spice Girls/ Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection/Alamy Stock Photo. Under license to Bravado Merchandising. All rights reserved. © 2024 Spice Girls.

Products available

Set of 10 stamps, miniature sheet, first day covers (2), presentation pack, prestige stamp book (PSB), press sheet of 12 minitaure sheets (edition of 200), stamp cards, fan sheets (2), collectors sheets (2), gold stamp set, platinum mini-sheet, framed products, print, stamps & MS each in a special souvenir carrier, limited edition PSB.   

Prestige Stamp Book, price £23.70.

As expected the PSB contains all the stamps in the same form as they are otherwise available, plus a pane of King Charles III definitive stamps coded M23L MPIL, with labels showing stills from the videos 2 Become 1 and Viva Forever.  (Click on the images to enlarge.)

Front cover of regular book.

Back cover of regular book.
Front cover of Limited Edition book.

Limited Edition PSB has the same stamps but is has different covers and comes with a certificate of authenticity.  Limited to 1994 copies, price £49.99. 

Collectors sheets

One collectors sheet contains a full set of 10 stamps, the other two sets of stamps from the miniature sheet, both accompanied by pictorial labels of the group, price £13.70 each.  Both are self-adhesive making the 'sheet' stamps different to those issued in sheets.

Spice Girls Collectors sheet of 10 stamps and labels.

Spice Girls Collectors sheet of two sets of miniature sheet stamps, with labels.

Fan Sheets

1. containing two each of the 1997 Brit Award and Istanbul stamps. Size A4, litho with PVA gum. Edition of 5,000 - £7.00.

2. containing one each of the miniature sheet stamps.  Size 230 x 190 mm, litho self-adhesive, edition of 5,000 price £7.50.

As usual, the first issue of the year has garnered wide publicity in the general media.