UNITED KINGDOM. 2019, the 'Post & Go' issues

The variable value stamps at SPRING STAMPEX 2019

Once again, the annual London Spring Stampex was held from February 13th to 16th 2019, in the central hall of the Islington Business Design Centre.

The Association of British Philatelic Societies (ABPS) organized this national philatelic exhibition, which included a special exhibit by members of The Royal Philatelic Society London (RPSL), the oldest philatelic association in the world, celebrating the 150th anniversary of its foundation.  

Although the organization did not manage to rent all available booths, Spring Stampex 2019 brought together just over 80 international philatelic dealers, auction houses and specialist publishers, occupying the two levels of the central exhibition hall and the upstairs gallery bays.

The high cost of stands and limited sales has reduced the number of international philatelic services attending the fair. Five countries attended Spring Stampex 2019; Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey and, for the first time, Ireland and the Faroe Islands, all of whom shared a single booth next to the Royal Mail stand (images).
Indeed, the five countries all issue variable value stamps, and with the exception of Ireland all had a printer or a printing system for this type of stamp, on the stand.
It is noteworthy that the two DKU units from Guernsey Post (GG03) and Jersey Post (JE03) were installed side by side on one side of the stand
(right image).

In addition, as on previous occasions, Guernsey and Jersey Post also installed their two GG01 and JE01 philatelic kiosks on a stand at the end of the gallery bays on the second level.

By contrast, the Royal Gibraltar Post Office decided at the end of December 2018, not to continue using this type of equipment, either locally or at philatelic events, and did not attend on this occasion so no kiosk was installed.

Special issues during Spring Stampex 2019 are dealt with in more detail in the articles dedicated to each country; Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Man.

50 years of the opening of The National Postal Museum

Coinciding with this major philatelic fair in London and the visit of many collectors, The Postal Museum programmed special issues in its A001 philatelic kiosk, to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of its forerunner, The National Postal Museum (NPM).

The first postal museum was established in 1966, and included the Phillips Collection of Victorian philately, donated by Reginald M. Phillips. Three years later, on February 19th 1969, Queen Elizabeth II opened The National Postal Museum, located in the King Edward Building, near St. Paul's Cathedral, in London.

From February 13th 2019 on the occasion of this anniversary, The Postal Museum programmed ' The Postal Museum NPM 50 ' special imprint on all stamps issued with the 'Mail coach' design and the 'Machin Anniversary 1967-2017' series, which temporarily replaced the 'Machin 1st Class' definitive design.  

  The 'Mail coach' design could be obtained with the six programmed face value indicators, while the 'Machin Anniversary' series was only available with the first rate of domestic mail, '1st Class up to 100g'.

As on previous occasions, the museum produced special presentation packs and first day covers for these issues.

The 'Post & Go' issues at AUTUMN STAMPEX 2019

The 2019 Autumn Stampex was held from 11th to 14th September in the impressive central hall of the Islington Business Design Center, in London.
The major ‘London 2020’ international stamp exhibition will also be held here, in May 2020, so the organizers, the Philatelic Traders' Society (PTS), have decided not to hold Spring Stampex 2020.

As in previous shows, the event brought together about a hundred stands distributed across the two levels of the central exhibition hall and the upstairs gallery bays.

The booths were occupied by the main European dealers and philatelic companies, as well as by auction houses, philatelic publishers, and several national philatelic institutions and associations. With the exception of Royal Mail, no other philatelic service or postal administration participated with its own stand at this event.  

The Association of British Philatelic Societies (ABPS) were responsible for organizing the national philatelic exhibition, with some 70 collections displayed in about 250 frames. Among them, and related to our field of study, was an interesting collection by Brian Warren entitled 'Irish Variable Value Stamps', dedicated to the history of variable value stamp issues in Ireland from their introduction in 1990 to the present (image below, right).

The theme of the show was aviation and the organizers put on an exhibition dedicated to the 50th anniversary of Concorde's first flight. In a similar vein, at its booth The Postal Museum displayed an exhibition marking the centenary of the transatlantic airmail service (below, left) and also programmed a special imprint for the variable value stamps issued from the philatelic kiosk installed in the museum (see next section).
The organization scheduled several talks during the four days of the show.

  Focusing in now on our field of study, Guernsey and Jersey Post again installed their two philatelic kiosks GG01 and JE01 on the Intelligent AR stand located at the end of the gallery bays on the second level.

Special issues during Autumn Stampex 2019 are dealt with in more detail in the articles dedicated to each country; Guernsey and Jersey (in preparation).

100 years of airmail at The Postal Museum

As in previous years, coinciding with the opening of Stampex, the London Postal Museum scheduled a special imprint for its A001 philatelic kiosk.  

2019 marks the centenary of the first flights carrying mail; the Royal Air Force and British Army Postal Services experimental flights between Folkestone and Cologne, the first non-stop Atlantic flight (June 1919), the first regular airmail between London and Paris (November 1919), and the first flight between the United Kingdom and Australia (November-December 1919). The latter is also the subject of a special issue of variable value stamps from Singapore released during Singpex 2019 (see article and VARIABLE 54).

From September 11th 2019, the museum staff replaced the 'Union flag' definitive design roll with the 'Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Air' series of six designs, issued in September 2017 (see article and VARIABLE 46). All the stamps issued with this series roll include the 'The Postal Museum Airmail 1919' special imprint and, as in earlier similar issues, could only be purchased with the first rate of domestic mail programmed, '1st Class up to 100g'.  

  The museum produced a commemorative presentation pack and a pictorial first day cover (upper image) with the six designs and the special imprint. The stamps included in the packs and covers were preprinted using the original 'offset printed' 2017 rolls of labels. What was left of this particular roll was then initially loaded into the 'Post & Go' kiosk early in the morning of the 11th (left strip and image below). Once sold out, a new roll of the same series but a 'digital reprint' produced in 2019 (right strip and image below), was loaded into the kiosk thus producing notable printing differences, as can be seen in detail in the images.  

'The Great Train Robbery', the new temporary exhibition at The Postal Museum

Just one month after the previous special issue, The Postal Museum announced a new special imprint for its 'Post & Go' kiosk, commemorating its new temporary exhibition, 'The Great Train Robbery: Crime and The Post'.

  The exhibition is dedicated to the so-called 'theft of the century', the 'Great Train Robbery' carried out on the Glasgow to London postal train. On August 8th 1963, a gang of robbers stole 2.6 million pounds (equivalent to about 50-60 million Euros today) from a Royal Mail postal train travelling from Glasgow Central Station to Euston, London. Although all members of the gang were arrested, most of the stolen money was never recovered.

The Postal Museum announced that, starting from October 11th, the date of the exhibition opening, only the stamps issued with the specific design 'Mail Coach' would include the 'Crime & The Post' special imprint. In addition to these stamps, the museum also announced the sale of a presentation pack with the same imprint but on all six 'Mail by Train' series of designs, first introduced in February 2017 (see article and VARIABLE 44). This followed the same logic of the previous special issue marking the 100 years of air mail which was printed on rolls of labels with the 'Mail by Air' series. However, shortly before the issue was due, Royal Mail did not authorize this special imprint and the museum staff decided to replace it with a generic one, 'New exhibit 2019' ...

The 'Mail Coach' design with this revised imprint could be obtained from the kiosk with the six programmed face value indicators, while the 'Mail by Train' series version was only available by purchasing the presentation packs (right image), which included a strip of six stamps with the first rate of domestic mail, '1st Class up to 100g'.  

At the same time, The Postal Museum staff took advantage of the changes in the kiosk to replace the 'Machin Anniversary 1967-2017' series with the 'Machin 1st class' definitive design, which for the first time became available with the ' The Postal Museum NPM 50 ' special imprint.

The A005 kiosk at Mail Rail

The philatelic activity continues at The Postal Museum. At the end of October 2019, Royal Mail installed a second 'Post & Go' kiosk at the 'Mail Rail'.

The 'Mail Rail' is an exhibition attached to the London Postal Museum and located a few meters away, in the Mount Pleasant Mail Center compound. Opened on September 4th 2017, the 'Mail Rail' offers a visit to the historic Post Office Railway. Called 'Mail Rail' from 1987, it is the first underground electric driverless railway used to transport mail between 1927 and 2003 to the various London sorting centers.

The new kiosk was installed on October 29th 2019 in the museum access area. It is the A005 machine previously installed in The Royal Marines Museum in January 2015 (see article, and in VARIABLE 36), and later transferred to the East Anglian Railway Museum in March 2017 (article and VARIABLE 44).  

  On the date of installation, the kiosk issued variable value stamps with the 'Machin 1st class' definitive design and, very appropriate to its location, the 'Post Office (London) Railway' label design that depicts this exact underground postal train. All the stamps issued include the permanent ' Mail Rail ' indicator.

Royal Mail resumes issues at the 'Post & Go' kiosks

After about two years of 'philatelic inactivity', with the exception of the machine installed in The Postal Museum, Royal Mail decided to resume special imprints from its 'Post & Go' kiosks installed at the various museums. And also, unfortunately, with the new imprints came the usual errors ... too many! ...

From November 1st until the end of the month, the A002, A004, A006 & A007 kiosks installed in the various Royal Navy museums temporarily used the 'Common Poppy' design. The stamps issued with this design include the particular museum identifier plus the ' Lest We Forget 100 ' special imprint, commemorating the centenary of the Armistice of Compiègne, signed on November 11th 1918, ending the First World War ... although in 2019 its 101 years ...

  The A002, A006 and A007 kiosks continue with their common permanent identifier 'Royal Navy', so the stamps issued by these machines only differ by the kiosk code.
The A004 machine however, installed at The Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport prints the 'RN Submarine' identifier on the stamps.

Although this special imprint should no longer have appeared on stamps issued from December 1st, when the rolls with the 'Common Poppy' design were replaced by the 'Machin 1st class' definitive design, it remained programmed in -at least- one museum kiosk, enabling visitors to buy stamps with an erroneous or 'unintended' label design-imprint combination.
Similarly, in some museums the 'Common Poppy' design was installed before or kept in the kiosk after the planned dates, so Poppy stamps with the respective permanent imprints, programmed for the 'Machin' design, could also be obtained.  

  The A009 kiosk, installed since November 2016 at the 'Shakespeare Birthplace Trust' souvenir shop in Stratford-upon-Avon (see article and VARIABLE 43) was also temporarily programmed with special imprints, starting from November 4th 2019 and lasting the month.
The stamps issued with the British flora - Symbolic flowers series designs included the 'Shakespeare 1564' imprint, the year of the writer's birth, while the stamps issued with the 'Machin 1st class' definitive design included the 'Shakespeare 1616' text, the year of his death.

During the first sales sessions of these two sets of labels, stamps of both series were printed with error imprints, due to the superposition (double imprints) of the permanent kiosk identifier and the special imprint.  

The Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton has on exhibit the second Concorde prototype, a test and development aircraft that was in operation between 1969 and 1976. In 2019, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Concorde, the museum programmed the 'Concorde 50 Years' special imprint on the 'Machin 1st class' and 'Union flag' stamps issued by its A003 kiosk.

  The stamps issued with the 'Machin' design, having more free space for imprints, also include a graphic design of Concorde, although a large number of the stamps issued during the first day of issue have a faulty imprint on the label’s phosphor vertical strip.
These special imprints were available for a month from November 6th.

  In December, with the onset of Christmas, many of the NCR / SSK postal kiosks installed in post offices used rolls of the 'Winter Greenery' series first introduced in 2014.

The Postal Museum also decided to temporarily use this festive series at the A005 kiosk installed in 'Mail Rail'. From December 2nd 2019 and throughout the month, the 'Machin 1st class' definitive design roll was replaced with a 2017 'Winter Greenery' series reprinted roll. For the first time with this series the issued stamps include the museum's permanent identifier, 'Mail Rail'.

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This page was created in April 2019 and last updated: 21.01.20 . English edition last rewritten by J. Gareze (17.01.2020)