UNITED KINGDOM. 2017, the Post&Go issues (2)

1967 - 2017, 50 years of the Machin stamps

June 5th 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the issue of the first definitive stamp series featuring the Arnold Machin image of Queen Elizabeth II. 
In the mid-1960s, five artists presented their works for a new profile portrait of the Queen, and the Arnold Machin design was selected. After several changes, in the final version the Queen is wearing a diadem, emulating the portrait of Queen Victoria on the Penny Black. This image was intended for definitive stamps featuring the portrait and face value only. However, a smaller image was required for use on commemorative stamps. Arnold Machin created a new design, replacing the diadem with a laurel wreath and ribbons (image). This version has been reproduced on special stamps since 1968, as a relief or solid silhouette version.
Throughout these 50 years, the Machin portrait of the Queen, a national icon, has been reproduced in more than 130 colors and has appeared on more than 200 billion stamps.

Royal Mail celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Machin stamps with the issue of two mini-sheets, '50 Years of a Design Icon' & 'Golden Anniversary Celebration', booklets, and a new Post & Go series.

The design of the new Post & Go 'Machin Anniversary' series shows the full-relief design of the Queen's head with the laurel wreath. The label's security background consists of wavy lines with the continuous texts 'MACHIN ANNIVERSARY, 1967-2017' and 'ROYALMAIL'.
The series with the same six designs come in a colour palette inspired by some of the original definitive Machin stamps issued between 1967 and 1968 (see Presentation Pack illustrations, below); In the left image, from top to bottom we have spectrum violet, olive brown sepia, Paris green, olive brown, orange rust & oriental gold.
The rolls of labels were manufactured by International Security Printers, and have identical characteristics to previous issues.

Royal Mail produced some fifteen first day pictorial postmarks for the different Machin Anniversary issues.

First day cover with the six designs and 'Machin 50th Anniversary' pictorial postmark with Arnold Machin's portrait

The new Post & Go series could be obtained from June 5th 2017, at many of the NCR / SSK postal kiosks installed in post offices across the country. It was also available from the Intelligent AR kiosks permanently installed at the London Postal Museum and Royal Mail Enquiry Offices (images below).
Royal Mail released its usual presentation pack with the six designs (right image), all of them with the first priority domestic postage rate '1st Class up to 100g', and printed by the C001 in-house printer

Unlike the stamps printed by the kiosks, all the stamps included in the presentation packs have the same code at the bottom - B6GB17 C001-1840-026. B is for 'philatelic' issue, 6 is for the month of issue (June), GB for the country, and 17 for the year of issue. In the second block, C001 is the code of the printer. Then follows 1840, the usual fictitious session number, and 026 is the number of the pictorial series issued since the start of the 'Post & Go' series of stamps.

The following images show the 'Collectors strip', or the sets of stamps with the six face value indicators available from this set and issued by the equipment in service on the date of issue. 
Like other previous thematic series the rolls of these designs were intended to be used for priority mail or '1st Class' stamps only, however, a few post offices mistakingly used them in their NCR kiosks, for the issue of economy or '2nd Class' mail stamps

Postal kiosks

(Post Offices)
Postal kiosks
Intelligent AR
(Royal Mail Enquiry Offices)
Intelligent AR
(The Postal Museum)

The 'Open value stamps' can be obtained from the NCR / SSK postal kiosks only by selecting the 'Post an item' option from the main menu. These are variable value stamps, printed for immediate use and include some details about the shipment type, postage rate, destination and weight of the item (see article, also published in VARIABLE 34)
In the image, the 1L stamp correspond to the first postage rate for priority mail, '1st Class up to 100g'.

The 'Machin Anniversary 1967-2017' series was also available from the 'Post & Go +' A001 kiosk installed at The Postal Museum, (replacing the 'Machin 1st Class' definitive design) (see screen below), with the current graphic of the museum's logo. This printing was available for a little more than a month, from June 5th to July 12th 2017. On July 13th, the kiosk was moved to the new postal museum premises, where the machine will be programmed with a new graphic.
The postal museum produced a commemorative Presentation Pack and a first day cover

The new London's Postal Museum

The first National Postal Museum was opened in 1966 at King Edward Building, the former headquarters of the General Post Office near St. Paul's Cathedral, in London. The building was sold in 1998 and the museum closed.

In 2004, Royal Mail transferred the museum's collection to the Postal Heritage Trust, an independent charity which is also responsible for the Royal Mail archives, through The British Postal Museum & Archive.
Twelve years after its creation, in February 2016, The B.P.M.A. was renamed 'The Postal Museum' (see article, also published in VARIABLE 40), and so began the construction of a new museum in a nearby building, next to the Mount Pleasant Mail Center.
The new Postal Museum was opened on July 28th 2017, and includes a visit to the historic Mail Rail, the first underground electric driverless railway, which was used to transport mail between the various London sorting centers between 1927 and 2003.

Having been operating since March 2014, the Post and Go + A001 kiosk has been witness to all the changes and developments at the London Museum, all reflected in the machines' output of ATM issues. The kiosk was moved to the shop of the new postal museum in mid-July 2017.
Although the official opening date was July 28th, three days before on the 25th, the kiosk was available to visitors to buy variable value stamps with a special temporary imprint in advance of the busy opening day.

This commemorative text was printed on all the stamps issued by the kiosk from July 25th until September 12th, through five of its thermal printers; the 'Machin Anniversary 1967-2017' series (only available with the first value of domestic mail - 1st Class) and the 'Machin 2nd Class' definitive design, which having more available space to the left of the Machin head design included the ' The Postal Museum Official Opening 2017 ' imprint. The 'Union flag', 'Post Office (London) Railway' and 'Mail Coach, 1790s' designs also included ' The Postal Museum Official Opening ' imprint but without the year 2017.

Royal Mail also rolled out a new museum permanent postmark.

HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives at Portsmouth

On August 16th 2017, HMS Queen Elizabeth berthed for the first time at its home port, Her Majesty's Naval Base, Portsmouth, one of three operating bases in the United Kingdom for the Royal Navy.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first of two new aircraft carriers, the largest warships built for the Royal Navy, capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft. Its construction began in 2009, undergoing its first sea trials in June 2017, and finally being commissioned on December 7th 2017.

Of course, the celebrations for the arrival of the aircraft carrier to Portsmouth did not go unnoticed by Royal Mail, who wanted to commemorate this important event with two new special temporary imprints on the stamps issued by the A002 Post & Go kiosk. 
In mid-August 2017, the machine was moved to the Visitors Center of The National Museum of the Royal Navy, in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard, next to the naval base
Photo: LPhot Dan Rosenbaum/MOD

From August 19th, the stamps issued with the 'Machin' definitive design, included the 'Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth II Carrier' imprint and the museum's logo in a reduced format, while the stamps issued with the 'Union flag' design included the text 'Royal Navy QE II Carrier'.

However, the correct name of the aircraft carrier is 'Queen Elizabeth' and not 'Queen Elizabeth II' (actually, the ship was named after Queen Elizabeth I, in a July 2014 naming ceremony by Queen Elizabeth II), so it was decided to change the texts printed on the stamps with the addition of the year 2017.

Ten days later, starting on August 29th, the stamps issued with the 'Machin' definitive design included the 'Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth Carrier 2017' imprint and the museum's logo, and the stamps issued with the 'Union flag' design had the text 'Royal Navy QE Carrier 2017'.
These commemorative imprints were available until September 19th 2017.

Because of the lengthy commemorative text programmed into the 'Machin' design, it was necessary to reduce the size of the museum's logo in order to accommodate the imprint.
This change was also transferred to the other two kiosks in operation which included The National Museum of the Royal Navy's logo, A006 (images before and after the change) and A007.

The 'Post & Go' issues at AUTUMN STAMPEX 2017

The London Autumn Stampex 2017 was held from Wednesday September 13th to Saturday 16th, at the usual location, the huge central hall of the Business Design Centre, in Islington.

This major philatelic fair is organized by the Philatelic Traders' Society (PTS), in collaboration with Royal Mail.

The show once again brought together more than 100 international philatelic dealers, auction houses and specialist publishers. Various philatelic groups organized their annual meetings during the fair.

The large Royal Mail stand was located at the back of the exhibition hall, opposite the national philatelic exhibition organized by The Association of British Philatelic Societies (ABPS).

As with the Spring Stampex 2017, the 'Post & Go' zone had six Intelligent AR / Royal Mail Series II philatelic kiosks. 
Royal Mail again arranged a hand stamping counter.

In the picture below, from left to right, the A013 and A014 kiosks of Royal Mail, JE01 of Jersey Post, GG01 of Guernsey Post, and GI01 kiosk of the Royal Gibraltar Post Office. A third Royal Mail machine (A012) was installed next to the sales counter area (right picture).

During the four days of Autumn Stampex 2017, the three Royal Mail kiosks issued stamps with the new thematic 'Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Air' series with no special imprint from each of the 3 kiosk printers (see next section). The A012 & A013 kiosks in addition issued stamps of the 'Machin Anniversary 1967-2017' series but only the first value for domestic mail, and with the special imprint ' Autumn Stampex 2017 '.
The A014 kiosk issued the new thematic series, and the 'Common Poppy' design with the special imprint ' WWI Battle of Passchendaele '. 
This battle of the First World War, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, was fought by Britain and its Allies against the German Empire. It took place between July and November 1917 near the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders.

The Jersey Post JE01 kiosk issued, on one of its rolls, variable value stamps with the 'Jersey flag' definitive design carrying the special imprint dedicated to the Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, on the occasion of his retirement from royal duties, ' HRH Prince Philip 65 Years of Service ', and the new thematic 'Fruits & Berries' series, with no special imprint on the other.

These issues are dealt with in more detail in the article dedicated to Jersey Post

The Guernsey Post GG01 kiosk issued stamps with the 'Guernsey flag' definitive design and the same special imprint as the Jersey Post machine, ' HRH Prince Philip 65 Years of Service ' on one of the reels, and the thematic 'Guernsey Bailiwick Lighthouses' series, with no special imprint, on the other.

These issues are dealt with in more detail in the article dedicated to Guernsey Post.

For its part, the Royal Gibraltar Post Office GI01 kiosk issued stamps with the 'Year of the Rooster' design and the special imprint ' Autumn Stampex 2017 ' on one of the reels, and the new thematic 'Freemasonry in Gibraltar' series on the other, with no special imprint.

These issues are dealt with in more detail in the article dedicated to Royal Gibraltar Post Office.

The first block of the code at the bottom of all the stamps issued by the six philatelic kiosks installed at Autumn Stampex 2017, is B9GB17, followed by the machine code, then the transaction number and finally the stamp number.

2017. Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Air

Following the 'Royal Mail Heritage: Transport' (see article and VARIABLE 40), and 'Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Rail' series (article and VARIABLE 44), Royal Mail took advantage of Autumn Stampex 2017 to launch the third thematic series dedicated to show the evolution of mail transport systems throughout the centuries. 'Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Air' commemorates the history of the UK airmail service.

As with the previous releases, on the date of issue, the new series could be obtained at many of the NCR postal kiosks installed in post offices across the country, from the three Royal Mail Series II philatelic kiosks (A012A013 & A014), installed at London Stampex, from the A001 kiosk installed at The Postal Museum, and also from the M002 kiosk installed in the Royal Mail Mount Pleasant Enquiry Office, next to the London Postal Museum. 
Pre-orders were printed using the back office equipment B001. Royal Mail also released its usual presentation pack with the six designs (right image) printed by the back office machines C001 or C002

The series depicts the main stages in the history of the airmail service in the United Kingdom, with six illustrations of the airplanes used for the transport of mail; the first flight, in 1911, with a Blériot monoplane, the De Havilland DH.10 carrying mail to the British troops in 1919, the international airmail service by Imperial Airways, in 1933, with the Handley Page HP.42E -Helena-, the creation of a regular line of domestic airmail in 1934 with De Havilland DH.84 Dragon II airplanes, the flying boat airmail in 1937, and the express mail or Datapost service introduced in the 80s with an Embraer Bandeirante EMB.110P1 by Air Ecosse (see maximum cards).
The rolls of labels were manufactured by International Security Printers. The label design is by Osborne Ross, from illustrations by Andrew Davidson.
First day special postmarks

The images below show stamp strips with the different printing varieties and the face value indicators available for this set of designs, as issued by the machines used on the date of issue. 
From left to right,
(1) the C001 printer, used for advance printing of the stamps in the presentation packs,
(2) the Intelligent AR equipment (A012A013 & A014), in service at the Autumn Stampex 2017, and B001 for back office use,
(3) the M002 postal kiosk installed at the Royal Mail Enquiry Office (code at the bottom starting with C9GB17 ...)
(4 - Bottom row) the NCR postal kiosks. 

All the stamps included in the folders have the same face value '1st Class up to 100g', and the lower identification code is the same for all the stamps - In this case, B9GB17 C001-1840-027. This is the 27th series, since the beginning of the 'Post & Go' issues.
Receipt for the purchase of one 'Collectors strip', the set with the six values programmed, in the A012 postal kiosk

C001 A012 - A013 - A014 - B001 M002

NCR / SSK postal kiosks.
The strip on the left shows the set or 'Collectors Strip' with the six usual collectors values. The 'open value stamps' next to this strip correspond to the six face value indicators programmed in the left hand set.

An NCR test imprint is shown below.

The 'Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Air' series at The Postal Museum

Coinciding with the launch at Autumn Stampex, the new thematic series was also available, from September 13th 2017, from the A001 'Post & Go +' kiosk at the new London Postal Museum. The introduction of this new series also served to replace the special imprints on all the stamps since July 25th, on the occasion of the opening of the museum (see article), with the new permanent inscription ' The Postal Museum '.

The thematic 'Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Air' series replaced the 'Union flag' design, so that, in addition to this series, the kiosk also issued stamps with the 'Machin Anniversary 1967-2017' series and the 'Machin 2nd Class' and the 'Post Office (London) Railway' & 'Mail Coach, 1790s' designs. The two series of six designs were only available with the first programmed value of domestic mail '1st Class up to 100g';

Even so, the machine still managed to produce a total of 26 new different stamps (!).

Royal Mail returns to the Political Party Conferences

In 2017 for the third consecutive year Royal Mail set up its stand at the conferences of the three main UK political parties. Viewed as inappropriate by some or with suspicion by other countries, in the United Kingdom these conferences constitute a great opportunity for direct promotion by companies, trade associations and lobbyists.

The Labour Party held its conference from September 24th to 27th, in Brighton. The Conservative Party held theirs from October 1st to 4th, in Manchester and the Scottish National Party, from October 8th to 10th, in Glasgow. During the three conferences, Royal Mail installed and operated its M007 kiosk, a development machine with its associated scales, usually located at Royal Mail Headquarters, in London and not accessible to the public.

As in 2016 
(see article, also published in VARIABLE 43), the stamps issued by the kiosk via the direct purchase option include a special temporary imprint referring to the city where the party conference was held, 'Brighton 2017 ', ' Manchester 2017 ' & ' Glasgow 2017 '.

Changes at the HMS Trincomalee Museum

Installed on June 1st 2016, the A006 kiosk at the HMS Trincomalee Museum, in Hartlepool (see article, also published in VARIABLE 42) has recently been one of the most philatelically active machines installed in the various Royal Navy museums.

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the construction of the ship which the museum is named after, Royal Mail programmed the special imprint ' HMS Trincomalee 200 Years ', on all stamps with the 'Machin' and 'Union flag' definitive designs (see article and VARIABLE 45) issued by the kiosk since June 16th 2017. A few months later at the end of August, due to the length of commemorative texts planned for

the 'Machin' design, it was necessary to reduce the size of the logo of 'The National Museum of the Royal Navy' in order to accommodate the size of the imprint (see article and VARIABLE 46).

Built between 1816 and 1817 by the East India Company in Bombay, HMS Trincomalee was launched on October 12th 1817, and is currently the oldest warship afloat in the United Kingdom.

On the occasion of the celebration of the 200 years since the ship's launching, Royal Mail decided to program a new temporary imprint on the stamps issued by the A006 kiosk. From October 20th 2017 and for one month, the stamps issued with the 'Machin' design included the special imprint ' HMS Trincomalee 12th Oct 1817 '. However, the date that appeared on stamps printed early in the morning of the first day was ' 19th Oct 1817 '; an error that was quickly corrected but still causing a quantity of stamps to be issued with the wrong imprint.

Royal Mail planned that from November 20th, this special imprint would also be programmed in the second reel of the kiosk containing the 'Union flag' definitive design. However, again early on the morning of November 20th, this second printer still had a roll of the 'Common Poppy' design installed resulting in the issue of stamps with this unexpected combination for a short period.

From January 2nd 2018 and for two weeks only, all the stamps issued by the A006 kiosk included the ' HMS Trincomalee ' text, together with the reduced logo of 'The National Museum of the Royal Navy' for those stamps issued on the 'Machin' design.

Finally, from January 15th 2018, the permanent imprint reverted to the original version, common to some kiosks installed in the various Royal Navy museums i.e. ' Royal Navy '.

The 'Common Poppy' issue in 2017

In 2017 as in previous years, Royal Mail temporarily reintroduced the 'Common Poppy' design in all its postal kiosks in commemoration of 'Remembrance Day'.

Depending on the machine, this design was available from October 20th until November 13th, when it was replaced by the special designs for the Christmas season (see next section).

While most of the kiosks used rolls of labels taken from previous years printings, some of the NCR machines installed in post offices used rolls with the new 2017 printing right image).
From October 20th the 'Common Poppy' design could be obtained from kiosks A002, A003, A004, A006, A007 & A011, replacing one of the definitive designs in use ('Machin 1st Class' or 'Union flag', depending on the kiosk.

For collectors the issue at the A011 kiosk, installed in The Royal Signals Museum, is especially interesting, since it was the first time that the 'Common Poppy' design was obtainable with the ' Royal Corps of Signals ' permanent imprint.

The 'Common Poppy' design was available some days later, from October 24th, in the A001 kiosk, installed in The Postal Museum, replacing the 'Machin 1st Class' design. In the M001, M002, M003, M004, M005, M006, M010 & M011 kiosks and in many of the NCR / SSK kiosks in post offices across the country, it replaced the 'Union flag' definitive design.
The issues from the A001 kiosk is also interesting for collectors as it was the first time that this design could be obtained with the new permanent imprint of this London museum, ' The Postal Museum '.
Also noteworthy is the issue from the M001 machine installed in Abbey Wood, in Bristol, one of the British Ministry of Defence establishments, only accessible to authorized personnel (article in preparation).

2017, the reprinting of the 'Winter Greenery' series

In 2017 unlike in previous years, Royal Mail did not release a new special series of designs to be used in the Post & Go kiosks during the Christmas season. Instead they decided to reprint the 'Winter Greenery' series, first launched in November 2014 (see article, also published in VARIABLE 35).

The series consists of four designs, two with the continuous blue security background text to be used for the issue of stamps for economy or '2nd Class' mail, and two with the grey security background for priority or '1st Class' stamps. The 2017 reprinting can be easily recognized by the presence of the year inserted in one of the lines of the security background imprint.

The 'Winter Greenery 2017' series was obtainable from November 13th 2017, in six of the 'Post & Go' kiosks installed in the Royal Mail Enquiry Offices (M002, M003, M004, M005, M006 & M010), replacing the existing designs for 1st and 2nd Class.
It was also available from the A001 machine installed in the London Postal Museum (right image) with the usual museum's permanent imprint ' The Postal Museum ', replacing the 'Common Poppy' and 'Machin 2nd Class' designs, respectively.
Finally, the new series could also be temporarily obtained in many of the NCR / SSK kiosks installed in post offices across the country.

The following images show the 'Collectors strip' or sets of stamps with the face value indicators available for this series, for '2nd Class' and '1st Class' mail, issued by the different equipment in service on the date of issue

Postal kiosks
Intelligent AR
(Royal Mail Enquiry Offices)
Intelligent AR
(The Postal Museum)
Postal kiosks

(Post Offices)

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This page was created in July 2017 and last updated: 28.03.18 . English edition last rewritten by J. Gareze (28.03.2018)