UNITED KINGDOM. 2020, the 'Post & Go' issues

In an atypical year, marked by the global pandemic and with no new designs for the Post & Go kiosks, the main activity in this field of collecting in the United Kingdom has concentrated on a confusing change of postal rates and some special imprints brought about by the pandemic situation.

The annual London Spring Stampex 2020 was cancelled in favour of the major London 2020 International Stamp Exhibition, which was to have taken place during the month of May. However, in March, given the situation created by the virus pandemic and following government recommendations, the organizers decided to postpone this great philatelic event until February 2022. During the following months, most of the philatelic events were cancelled and the museums with 'Post & Go' kiosks remained closed for extended periods.
Following the threat from the United States to withdraw from the Universal Postal Union, an extraordinary congress was convened in September 2019, in which the UPU decided to accelerate its amendments to the current terminal dues system, the amount that each postal administration receives for the handling and delivery of mail received from other countries. From July 1st 2020, the United States postal administration established its own rate system. As a direct consequence of this decision, Royal Mail on July 1st introduced a new zone in its tariff system for shipments to the United States - 'Zone 3'.

In addition the increase in operational costs directly related to the increase in the costs of air transport during the pandemic forced Royal Mail to further change its postal rates from September 1st 2020.

Both changes had to be reflected, of course, in the postal rates programmed in the kiosks installed throughout the country, and in particular in the six values of the 'Collectors Strips'. So, from September 1st, the face value indicators of the last three stamps in these strips were changed, grouping the first three stamps whose rates remained unchanged with the 'new' three non-European mail zone stamps - World Zone 1, 2 (mainly Oceania) and 3 (United States).

However, one of the new face value indicators proved to be misleading; 'World 100g Zone 1-3' (right image). This could be interpreted as being valid for shipments to the three zones, when in fact the current rate for shipments to Oceania (Zone 2) was higher than the other two zones (see table below). Consequently, just a few days later, on September 18th, Royal Mail reprogrammed this face value indicator to read 'World 100g Zone 1 & 3' with the change from hyphen to ampersand.

These changes in the indicators were programmed in the NCR / SSK postal kiosks installed in post offices and other points of sale (right), as well as in the 'Post & Go - Intelligent AR' machines installed in different museums, some of which remained closed in early September.

Basic postal
rates from
UK Europe Zone 1 Zone 2 Zone 3
1st Class 2nd Class
Letter Large letter Letter Large letter
Up to 10g £0.76 £1.15 £0.65 £0.88 £1.45 £1.45 £1.45 £1.45
10-20g £1.45 £1.70 £1.70 £1.70
20-100g £1.70 £2.50 £2.55 £2.50

Royal Navy museums

All Royal Navy museums having an operational 'Post & Go' kiosk were open on the date of the change in postal rates, September 1st 2020, so visitors were able to obtain the sets of stamps with both combinations of rates. The images below show the designs and face value indicators of the sets obtained from the A003 kiosk installed in the Fleet Air Arm Museum, with the 'Fleet Air Arm' permanent imprints. The same sets were also obtainable with the 'Royal Navy' and 'RN Submarine' imprints.

  Sets programmed from September 1st 2020. The indicator for the fifth stamp is 'World 100g Zone 1-3'.

To avoid crowds of collectors at museums and post offices, Royal Mail only announced the change on the actual day of the change.
  Set programmed from September 18th, with the change 'World 100g Zone 1 & 3'.

The Fleet Air Arm Museum in Ilchester, the British naval aviation history museum, had planned for a special print for its A003 kiosk, to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Taranto, a successful RAF attack during World War II against ships of the Italian Navy. The special imprint would have included a graphic with the image of a Fairey Swordfish torpedo plane and the text 'Taranto 80', and would have been available on the stamps issued by the machine from November 11th to 29th. Unfortunately, the new government restrictions imposed on November 5th led to a new temporary closure of the museum and the cancellation of this special issue.  

The Postal Museum

Virtual Autumn Stampex 2020

With Spring Stampex having been replaced by what would have been the largest philatelic event in recent years, the London 2020 International Stamp Exhibition (delayed until 2022 due to the pandemic), the last major event of the year was to have been Autumn Stampex.

However, a few weeks before the start of Autumn Stampex the Philatelic Traders' Society as organizers of the biannual London fairs, decided to radically change the nature of the event as there was concern about the health situation and possible restrictions to be imposed by the government during the dates of the show. The traditional face-to-face fair, would be replaced by a virtual event to be held online from October 1st to 3rd. To that end, they created a website from which visitors could access the virtual stands of dealers, auction houses, philatelic associations, postal administrations and museums, meet collectors, participate in talks and seminars, and visit the stamp exhibition.

  Like Guernsey (article) and Jersey (article), and directly related to our field of study, the London Postal Museum decided to prepare a special 'Post & Go' issue for this event.
This is nothing new, since in recent years The Postal Museum has been releasing special issues from its A001 philatelic kiosk to coincide with the opening of the spring and autumn Stampex fairs. However, 2020 was a bit special, as the museum had been closed due to government restrictions and no-one was able to access the kiosk on the dates of Autumn Stampex. Consequently the museum managers decided to put on sale sets of 'Collectors Strips' that could only be purchased via the museum's online shop.
These sets are printed on rolls of labels with the 'Machin 1st Class' definitive design and the stamps include 'The Postal Museum Virtual Stampex 2020' special imprint. Although in theory this special issue had been printed during the three days of the virtual event, the receipts delivered together with the sets are dated Monday October 5th.

Postcards 150

  With the relaxation of restrictions, the London Postal Museum was able to reopen its doors from October 29th. To mark the 150 years of the first British postcard, the museum announced a special issue from its A001 'Post & Go' kiosk. From October 29th and initially until September 2021, stamps issued with the 'Mail Coach' design include the 'The Postal Museum Postcards 150' special imprint.

The museum set up strict sanitary precautions for this issue and announced that it would temporarily move the A005 kiosk from the nearby Mail Rail to the Postal Museum's large entrance hall. In the end, because of a breakdown the Mail Rail machine was not moved and instead a third kiosk with the code A012 was installed with the same 'Mail Rail' permanent imprint.

From November 3rd, and with the onset of the Christmas season, the museum's A001 kiosk together with other postal kiosks across the country installed rolls of labels with the seasonal 'Winter Greenery' design.

STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway

  Also closed for some periods of time due to the pandemic, the Swindon Steam Railway Museum reopened on September 17th, just one day before the new zonal values had to be reprogrammed at postal kiosks.
  There are therefore 'Collectors Strip' issued by the A010 kiosk installed in this museum with the two designs used by the machine, 'Machin 1st Class' and 'Traveling Post Office', with the 'STEAM GWR' permanent imprint and with the two rates combinations, 'World 100g Zone 1-3' (upper strips) and 'World 100g Zone 1 & 3' (left).

  To mark its 20th anniversary, the museum added the 'Celebrates 20 Years' special imprint on the stamps issued by its kiosk with both designs from October 12th until the end of the year.

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

  In operation since November 2016, the A009 kiosk installed at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's gift shop in Stratford-upon-Avon was also programmed and reprogrammed with the postal rate indicator changes.
Like the Swindon museum, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust reopened on September 17th, so the first version (left strips) was available for just one day.
  During these dates, the kiosk issued stamps with rolls of labels with the 'Machin 1st Class' definitive design and the thematic 'Symbolic flowers' series, and with the museum's permanent imprints.

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This page was created in December 2020 and last updated: 16.02.21 . English edition last rewritten by J. Gareze (16.02.2021)