Thursday 16 May 2024

ALL values of Datamatrix Machins to be withdrawn 1 June 2024 - last chance to buy.

Machin and country definitives without datamatrix codes were withdrawn from sale on 28 May 2022, the new Queen Elizabeth datamatrix definitives having been issued on 1 February and 4 April 2022.

Now these new stamps, and all associated products, will be withdrawn from sale by Royal Mail on 1 June 2024 - some have already sold out, including the NVI presentation pack.

These business sheets will be withdrawn along with counter sheets and booklets.

Make-up values 1p - £5 including £3 which was not replaced.


The full list of products being withdrawn or already sold out is

What does this mean? Well if you prefer the Queen's portrait to the King's you need to buy now!  

But it could also mean that the Swapout will at last be providing new stamps instead of Machins. Only time will tell.  

On the other hand, if they are withdrawn from sale but still valid for use.... I guess we will still get them when we send in our old stamps.

Monday 13 May 2024

May Slogan Postmarks and other interesting postal markings.

Last month we only had St George's Day, and the BHF default.  This month we continue with another example received here, but we're nearly half way through the month with nothing new on the horizon.  

British Heart Foundation Cornwall Mail Centre 08/05/2024

- I am pleased to welcome a new reporter (GO) with the first new slogan for May, which is for Mental Health Awareness Week.  This first example is from Peterborough Mail Centre 10-05-2024

Mental Health
Awareness Week

13-19 May

Mental Health Awareness Week slogan Peterborough Mail Centre 10-05-2024


I recently acquired a job lot of covers which revealed some postmarks that I had not shown here when they were actually used, so I am adding them in their rightful place and will mention them here as well.

But I'll start with an example which still occasionally draws queries on stamp forums - because it is so unsual and unique (in the sense that it was heavily used in Manchester but examples from elsewhere are scarce).

This is a 2019 example from the 'Large Flat machine in use at Manchester Mail Centre, primarily used for magazines and A4-size mail but on this occasion it's on a 19 cm square greetings card envelope.

Manchester 'Large Flat' postmark with Postcode slogan 11.12.19

There was also an unusually good copy of a Universal usage in 2021 from North & West Yorkshire. This has been added to the Christmas 2021 slogans post.

FInally, Aldwych is back on again! It seems that the trials of Post Office Ltd's New Branch IT in house developed replacement for Horizon (as part of its Strategic Platform Modernisation Programme) and I received this 2nd class Signed For label.   It's on a c6 envelope - and it really is big!

2nd class Signed For label from Aldwych PO (London)'s New Branch IT replacement for Horizon, 9 May 2024

If you have any other slogans used this month, or any other interesting postal markings from any period or place, please send them to the email address in the top right of this blog.  Thank you.

Remember, all postmarks appearing in May will be added to this post, so check here before you spend time scanning and emailing. 

Friday 3 May 2024

First Day Cover producing on the wane - 20 years ago it was so different.

Along with the publicity for the Peppa Pig stamp issue Royal Mail published the Postmark Bulletin for May 2024.

This is page 4, the special handstamps available from the London Special Handstamp Centre.

Extract from Postmark Bulletin 26 April 2024, for May stamp issues.
There are four others produced by Royal Mail for their first day covers and medal cover including the non-pictorial one.


Twenty years ago, in October 2004, Royal Mail issued a set of six stamps marking the 150th Anniversary of the Crimean War.  

150th anniversary of Crimean War set of 6

This is the selection of special handstamps available for that issue, taken from our webpage because at that time the Bulletin was issued weekly, and handstamps were not arranged in chronological order, rather in the order the artwork was received by Royal Mail from the sponsor.

These included six from the now closed down British Forces Philatelic Service but even discounting those the number of handstamps is far greater - 12 compared with 4 for Peppa Pig.


Part of the reduction in special handstamps is because of the cost and difficulty of coping with the intellectual property (copyright) issues surrounding the issues for modern entertainment subjects. But there must also be reduced demand from collectors as stamp issues have become more expensive.

Either way the choice for collectors is much reduced.  

I can't help thinking that less pricey stamp issues on more straightforward subjects might have retained FDC collectors and hence a wider range of available day of issue postmarks.  

Sixteen Crimea FDCs cost £52.16 - four Peppa Pig FDCs cost £53.60!

Another self-inflicted foot injury for Royal Mail.

Thursday 2 May 2024

Another entertainment stamp issue - Peppa Pig set and miniature sheet, 16 May 2024

I will start by quoting from Royal Mail about this issue.

This special issue celebrates 20 years of Peppa Pig. 

Peppa Pig, the British animated TV series for preschool children, has been delighting and charming viewers of all ages for two decades. Created by animators Neville Astley and Mark Baker, Peppa Pig is a multi-award- winning series, watched in more than 180 countries around the world. Today, the character has grown into a truly global phenomenon, with theme parks, live shows, toys, books and even music albums to her name.  

The adorable Peppa and her family and friends first appeared on UK screens in May 2004. Each five-minute episode follows the adventures of Peppa and her family – younger brother George, Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig, Granny Pig and Grandpa Pig – as well as her diverse and inclusive group of friends from playgroup. As well as being funny and great fun, part of the show’s appeal is that it reflects the everyday experiences of preschool children and their families, from visiting the dentist and making new friends to going on holiday and having a sleepover. Episodes always end happily, with plenty of laughter, loud snorts and lots of jumping up and down in muddy puddles.

Fair enough, this animation, created in the UK, has been sold worldwide into 180 countries.

Children around the world enjoy it and the merchandise obviously sells well.  There are even lines for adults - T-shirts, socks, key-rings and fridge magnets.

But does it really deserve more merchandise from Royal Mail?  While our postal authority ignores the Royal National Lifeboat Institution centenary and the Universal Postal Union which governs postal relations between countries for 150 years (and many other laudable anniversaries, people, and cultural events) we are faced once again with a set of stamps on a subject of minority interest. Not only that but half of them have a face value for no specific postage rate.

The Stamps.

The set of eight stamps, 4 x 1st Class and 4 x £2.00, features "Peppa Pig and her friends and family, all the key characters loved by young Peppa Pig fans."

Set of 8 Peppa Pig stamps, 4 x 1st class and 4 x £2 issued 16 May 2024

Design Details:

1st Class Peppa and George, Suzy Sheep and Danny Dog, George and Daddy Pig, Mummy Pig and Peppa.
£2.00 Grandpa Pig and Polly Parrot, Granny Pig and her Chickens, Mr Bull and Madame Gazelle,
Mr Zebra and Miss Rabbit.

Miniature Sheet

An additional set of four stamps are included on the Miniature Sheet, celebrating 20 years of Peppa Pig with Peppa and her friends. Two first class and two £2.00 stamps featuring Peppa, George, Zoë Zebra and Suzy Sheep all having fun whilst celebrating Peppa’s Party with balloons and bunting, candles and cake!

Miniature sheet of 4 Peppa Pig stamps, 2 x 1st class and 2 x £2 issued 16 May 2024

 £2.00 Zoe Zebra and George, 1st Class Peppa, 1st Class George, £2.00 Suzy Sheep

Technical details

The stamps and miniature sheet are designed by Michael O’Shea © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2024. The 41 x 30 mm stamps are printed in sheets of 48 stamps in se-tenant strips of 4, by lithography on gummed paper by Cartor Security Printers, perforated 14½ x 14.  The 190 x 67 mm miniature sheet contains 35 x 37 mm stamps printed on self-adhesive paper. (All other details the same).

HASBRO and PEPPA PIG and all related trademarks and characters TM & © 2024 Hasbro / Hasbro Consumer Products Licensing Ltd. Peppa Pig © 2003 Astley Baker Davies Ltd and HCPL Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

Products available

Set of stamps, miniature sheet, two first day covers, presentation pack, stamp cards, two Fan Sheets (see below), branded stamp packs, press sheet of 12 miniature sheets, limited edition medal cover, framed stamp set, framed miniature sheet, framed stamp print.

Fan sheets

An edition of 10,000 A4 stamps with four stamps perforated into the sheet, price £7.50 each (face £5.40).   Basic Fan Sheet has 4 x 1st class Peppa and George stamps and is gummed.  Peppa's Party Fan Sheet has 4 x 1st class Peppa stamps and is self-adhesive.  The stamps included are therefore the same as the basic stamps.

As a reader has commented on Commonwealth Stamps Opinion, "No longer scraping the bottom of a barrel, this is now through the wood and well into the ground below."