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Innovative printing methods to be used

A report in Linn’s Stamp News of April 9, 2001 indicates that Royal Mail will use several innovative printing methods for a set of stamps to be issued in October to mark the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Institute and the first Nobel Prizes. It also celebrates the six categories of Nobel Prizes.

The methods to be used are:

The second-class stamp for the chemistry prize is shown below. On the left is the stamp at normal room temperature. Pictured is a molecule of Carbon 60. British chemist Sir Harold Kroto was a co-discoverer of this molecule and won the Nobel Prize in 1996. C60 is a polygon with 32 faces, 12 of which are pentagons and 20 of which are hexagons - the same geometry as a soccer ball (called a football in Britain). The dark color of the pentagon is made up of thermographic ink which turns transparent when warmed with the touch of a finger. The image at right shows a partially-warmed stamp. An ion trapped in the middle of the molecule becomes visible when heat is applied. The cameo portrait of the Queen at upper left and the word “chemistry” at lower left are printed with metallic silver ink and are not clearly visible in this scan.

Nobel prize stamp for chemistry at normal temperature Nobel prize stamp for chemistry warmed to make the
		thermographic ink clear

(Posted April 15, 2001. Images added November 22, 2001.) top

More regionals, more souvenir sheets, more Smilers, more gewgaws...

1st class England regional Recent Royal Mail marketing efforts are almost certain to yield more stamps for collectors to buy. The first indication is an extensive promotion of the regional definitives for England issued in April. On the left is the first class England stamp showing a crowned lion of England supporting the shield of St. George. In addition to the usual first day cover, presentation pack and postcards featuring enlarged images of the stamps, Royal Mail is promoting
  • A framed collection of the England postcards for £15 (a similar item is offered for the Northern Ireland regionals)
  • A paperweight featuring laser-produced images of the England stamps inside optical quality glass mounted on a pewter stand for £60
  • A pictorial cover containing the four England stamps plus a sterling silver reproduction of the 1951 St. George and the Dragon stamp, with a first day of issue postmark on April 23, St. George’s Day, for £40.
  • A boxed set of playing cards and dice with images of all four sets of pictorial regionals for £30.
  • Wedgwood plates featuring a reproduction of the 1951 St. George and the Dragon stamp for £30 and £35.
It is interesting that no such treatment was afforded the Scotland and Wales regionals issued in 1999 or even the Northern Ireland regionals issued in March of this year.

Perhaps of more importance to stamp collectors, Royal Mail is now offering a subscription for all new country definitives. This may indicate the intention to issue new stamps fairly regularly, even though three of the four stamps are non-denominated and therefore can remain on sale indefinitely.

Similarly, Royal Mail is now offering a subscription for souvenir sheets. After issuing a few souvenir sheets containing Millennium issues, Royal Mail seems to be making a habit of it. There will be three souvenir sheets this year, including the weather stamps and the buses stamps. They will probably issue a similar number in future years if sales are sufficient.
Pendant with image of Festival stamp Royal Mail is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Festival of Britain, but no new stamps are involved. The Festival was honored with two stamps at the time, and reproductions of those stamps are now being made available as cufflinks, pendants, and a candle holder. The pendant is shown at left.
But wait! There’s more! In June, there will be a coin cover (philatelic-numismatic cover) containing two non-denominated 1840 Anniversary Machins, the Victoria and Albert label from the stamp booklet issued in January, and the new £5 coin featuring Queen Victoria. This cover will sell for £15. If the stamps on the cover are not identical to those in the Special by Design prestige booklet, collectors may be forced to buy the expensive cover to get the new variety. Booklet with Queen Victoria label
1999 Darwin stamp A second cover, also available in June, honors Queen Victoria and Charles Darwin, one of the noted scientists of her reign. Selling for £50, the cover will have two 26p Darwin stamps from the 1999 Millennium series, plus the Queen Victoria £5 coin and the new Bank of England £10 note showing Darwin and a Galapagos Finch on the reverse. The Darwin stamp (at left) shows a fossil of the first known bird and a finch that Darwin found on the island. The finches had developed different beaks to enable them to gather the food on the island, and that led Darwin to his theory of evolution.

And one more thing... Smilers! Smilers are stamps issued in special sheet sizes with personalized images in small labels adjacent to each stamp. Some collectors may want these formats for completeness, even if they are not interested in the personalized images.

On May 1, special sheets of the recent occasions stamps will be available with personalized images. The sheets will be priced at £11.95 with reduced prices for orders of two or more. The new sheets are:

These are all new formats, since the stamps were originally issued in sheets of 100. There is no indication whether Royal Mail will make these formats available to collectors at a lower price without personalized images.

Also available will be what Royal Mail calls a generic sheet containing four of each occasions stamp with special, non-personalized labels, for £5.95.

These new versions will be printed by the House of Questa. The originals were printed by Walsall Security Print. The difference in printer means that there will almost certainly be noticeable differences between single stamps of the old and new versions.

The original Smilers sheet issued for The Stamp Show 2000 remains on sale until May 21, 2001 and the Christmas 2000 Smilers will remain on sale until October, 2001, when, presumably, they will be replaced by a new set for Christmas 2001.

Collectors struggling to keep up with all these issues may want to join the British Decimal Stamps Study Circle. Their comprehensive newsletter provides details of all new issues. New issue announcements are also made in the British Philatelic Bulletin. (Posted April 15, 2001.) top

You can buy a stamp from the Queen

The Queen has agreed to sell material from the Royal Philatelic Collection in order to fund an enhancement program. The program has already begun with the purchase of a first day cover bearing 10 Penny Blacks for £250,000. The sale will be held at Spink, a subsidiary of Christie’s International, in London on May 17, 2001.

The items to be sold are duplicates or surplus material. The sales is permitted because the Collection is the personal property of the Queen, inherited from her philatelist grandfather, King George V. It is not part of the Royal Collection of paintings, china, furniture and other works of art, which the Queen holds in trust for the nation.

Among the Great Britain items to be sold are a wrapper with a The Penny Black cancelled on the first day of use, May 6, 1840, as well as mint Penny Blacks and Twopenny Blues. Also to be sold is a 2d stamp picturing King Edward VII in a color known as Tyrian plum. This issue was planned and printed but then cancelled because of the death of the King. The Stanley Gibbons Specialised Great Britain Stamp Catalogue notes that only a few mints stamps are known and one used on cover on May 5, 1910, the day before the King’s death.

Results: The auction raised over £747,000.(Posted March 8, 2001. Revised May 19, 2001.) top

Goodbye Post Office, Hello Consignia

On January 9, The British Post Office announced that it would change its name to Consignia PLC on March 26. The new name is meant to reflect the fact that, like several European post offices, the BPO has acquired nearly 20 international companies and provides services such as e-commerce fulfillment, billing and cutsomer management, logistics and warehousing.

The new name is derived from the word “consign,” which means “to entrust to the care of.” That’s what the BPO’s customers do every day, according to John Roberts, the BPO’s chief executive. The new name can also be legally protected, which “The Post Office” cannot.

Royal Mail Logo Collectors are not likely to see the new name very often. The BPO became a public corporation in 1969. In the mid-1980s it split into three businesses: Royal Mail (letters), Parcelforce (parcels) and Post Office Counters (post offices). It is the name Royal Mail that is generally seen by the public on buildings, trucks, stamp booklets, etc. That name, along with the well-known logo, seen at left, will remain.

Booklet cover for Royal Mail's 350th anniversary

The precursor to today’s post office started in 1635 when King Charles I opened the postal service to the public. A General Letter office was established in 1660. (The booklet cover above was issued in 1985 to mark the 350th anniversary of The Post Office.) (Posted March 9, 2001.) top

Last update: April 9, 2007   Macintosh!
Copyright © 2001 by Larry Rosenblum