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.


  1. I'd love to know how the print run of 'Special' stamps has dropped over the years.
    It must now be a tiny fraction of what it was in the 1960s.

  2. I'm surprised there isn't a special handstamp from Melton Mowbray - home of the pork pie!

  3. I wonder if there’s a correlation too between the decrease in the number of handstamps and the increase in stamp issues which have licensing restrictions.

    1. That's what I meant by:

      "difficulty of coping with the intellectual property (copyright) issues surrounding the issues for modern entertainment subjects"


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