Examples of Pen-cancelled mail

Some people who have joined the Campaign Against Pen-Cancels have sent me pictures which I shall show in this gallery.  All these have been sent to Royal Mail's Chief Executive.

Inland packet/large letter:

Four examples to Australia

Four more inland examples, three of which use the wavy-line device - and pens!
Without having them to hand it's impossible to know which came first.


14 March.  Four machineable letters, the lower one posted by me with a cds, which did get the machine cancel as well, but two others didn't, so nothing is guaranteed.


Another example which should have been cancelled at the Post Office counter, and Royal Mail really went to town on this; somebody should perhaps strive for economy in the use of pens!


April 6th: Even after discussion and platitudes, still happenning.  We now have Post Office Ltd engaged in this discussion as a lot of the pen-cancels arise from mail which should be cancelled at the counter.

And then there's the treatment of international registered mail which RM have to highlight - a smaller brightly coloured label would work as well or better than this photocopied monstrosity which hits the stamps nearly every time.

This one may have been vandalised by La Poste, but at least they didn't work out that it was underpaid!

UPDATE January 2022

This page hasn't been updated because this is now such a common occurrence that most people have received or seen similar covers through the mail.

I could as easily create other pages on Forgeries in the post, and genuine stamps declared as invalid by Royal Mail.  But again, many people have horror stories about this and some are being printed in the philatelic press.  

The blog posts occasionally contain examples so browse there or search for forgery.


  1. I have had many communications with the CEO office regarding this issue, and indeed i have begun to notice that it is commemorative stamps which are targeted more so than Machin head stamps.
    The latest excuse of course is good old "Covid"!!. "Postal workers cannot share handstamps due to Covid 19". What a load of crap!!. This has been going on since i began to collect as a child at nine years old and i am 54 now. I have now given up with modern Great Britain new issues, as my personal opinion is that this is done on may occasions out of sheer spite. My regular postman knows i am a stamp collector, and i witnessed him scribbling on comemorative stamps on my mail only last week. The following day he chose to leave two 2nd class Machins uncancelled. I am convinced this is retaliation due to the high volume of complaints i have submitted. Taking a step back though, what other world administrations must think of our postal service would be interesting to know, as this behaviour just demonstrates the classical British lazy worker with the couldn't care less attitude, and indeed a disregard for other peoples property. I am happy for you to publish my full name. It is Peter Bradley, and i live in Cumwhinton in Carlisle Cumbria.

  2. I had a conversation today with an acquaintance who handles complaints in the local sorting office, after a package from a stamp dealer was incorrectly held up for being underpaid, and every stamp had been pen cancelled. He explained in a world weary manner that, it was a business, they were all overworked and didn't have time to properly cancel mail for the tiny percentage of customers who were stamp collectors. I pointed out that they were happy to make profit from us by producing new issues almost every month, marketing FDCs, mini sheets and presentation packs. I'm thinking the way to go on this is to organise a coordinated boycott of all RM products targeted at collectors until policy on pen cancels is changed.


Thank you for reading the blog and commenting: please use an identity (name or pseudonym) rather than being Anonymous; it helps us to know which 'anonymous' comments are from the same person to avoid confusion. Comments are moderated to avoid spam, but will be published as soon as possible.