UNITED KINGDOM. 2017, the 'Post & Go' issues


The 'Post & Go' issues at SPRING STAMPEX 2017

The London Spring Stampex annual event was held from Wednesday February 15th to Saturday 18th, at the usual location, the great 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, specialist publications and a few philatelic services. These were distributed over the two levels of the central exhibition hall and the gallery bays, upstairs.

As in previous years 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 in previous Stampex shows, the 'Post & Go' zone had six Intelligent AR / Royal Mail Series II philatelic kiosks. 
Next to the 'Post & Go Services', Royal Mail again arranged a counter where visitors could obtain the various special postmarks released for the event.

In the picture below, from left to right, the A012 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 (A013) was installed next to the sales counter area (left picture). Visitors could use the kiosk not only to print the 'Post & Go' issues, but also for payment of the various bar-coded philatelic products displayed on the stand.

The usual special imprints programmed in the kiosks on this occasion commemorated two important anniversaries; the 50th anniversary of the issue of the first definitive set of stamps with the 'Machin' design, an image also reproduced in the 'Post & Go' issue, and the 65th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne of Britain, celebrated on February 6th, just a few days before the start of Stampex.
During the four days of Spring Stampex 2017, the Royal Mail A012 and A014 kiosks issued stamps with the 'Machin' definitive design and the special imprints

Machin Anniversary
1967-2017

65th Anniversary of
HM The Queen's Accession 

respectively, in one printer and the new thematic 'Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Rail' series (see next section) in the other.

The A013 kiosk issued stamps with the 'Traveling Post Office, 1890s' design, with no special overprint and the new 'Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Rail' series (right screen, below).

The Jersey Post JE01 kiosk issued variable value stamps with the 'Jersey flag' definitive design carrying the 65th Anniversary of the Queen's Accession special imprint

HM The Queen 
Accession 1952 


on one of the rolls, and the new thematic 'Shells' series with no special imprint on the other.

The stamps issued by this machine were sold with a 20% surcharge on the face value due to the VAT on sales made by Jersey Post in the UK.

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

HM The Queen 
Accession 1952 


on one of the reels, and the new thematic 'Guernsey Bailiwick Lighthouses' series, with no special imprint, on the other.

Like the Jersey kiosk, the stamps issued by this equipment were also sold with a 20% VAT surcharge on the face value.

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 'Gibraltar macaques' definitive design and the special imprint

Spring Stampex 
Feb 2017 


on one of the reels, and the new 'Year of the Rooster' design 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 Spring Stampex 2017, is B2GB17, followed by the machine code, then the transaction number and finally the stamp number.

In addition to these machines, large pre-orders of Collectors strips were printed by using the back office printers B001 (UK designs) and B002 (Jersey and Guernsey designs) and sold by the respective philatelic services.

Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Jersey Post philatelic services shared the booth at Spring Stampex 2017. 
The Isle of Man took advantage of the London philatelic fair to launch its new thematic variable value stamp series, dedicated to the Triskelion, the Three Legs of Man emblem (article & VARIABLE 44).

2017. Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Rail

In February 2016, Royal Mail issued the 'Royal Mail Heritage: Transport' series as part of the celebrations of its 500th anniversary (see article and VARIABLE 40). This was the first of a series of thematic issues dedicated to show the evolution of mail transport systems throughout the centuries. 
Coinciding with the opening of Spring Stampex 2017, Royal Mail issued the second series, 'Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Rail', which depicted the transportation of mail via Britain's railways.

The launching of this series also coincides with the 90th anniversary of the 'Post Office Underground Railway', an underground railway linking several postal sorting centers in London. This railway was in operation between 1927 and 2003, and will be open to the public in 2017 along with the inauguration of the new postal museum.

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 (upper image) 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 C001 or C002 printers.

Since 1830 and for more than 180 years, Royal Mail has transported mail by rail. The series shows different aspects of mail transport, such as the ingenious mechanisms for picking up mail bags without having to stop the train, London's small underground railway, the 'Night Mail' poster produced in 1939, the hive of mail activity at London's Euston station, the postal staff sorting mail on board a Travelling Post Office, and the Travelling Post Office rolling stock on the move (see maximum cards at the end of the article).
The rolls of labels were manufactured by International Security Printers, and have identical characteristics to previous issues. The label design is by Osborne Ross, from illustrations by Andrew Davidson and paintings by Pat Keely, Grace Golden & Ian Cryer.
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 Spring 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 C2GB17 ...)
(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, B2GB17 C001-1840-025. This is the 25th 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

The 'Open value stamps' can only be obtained from the NCR postal kiosks, by selecting the 'Post an item' option from the main menu. These are variable value stamps, usually 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)
The six 'open value stamps' of the central column correspond to the six face value indicators programmed in the left hand set or 'Collectors Strip'. 

An NCR test imprint is shown below.

First day cover with the six designs and the special Spring Stampex 2017 postmark



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

The new thematic series was also available, from February 15th 2017, from machine A001 - 'Post & Go +' of the London Postal Museum. The stamps issued by this machine include the graphic logo and the text 'The Postal Museum'. 
Once again, five of the six printers at the philatelic kiosk were dedicated to printing stamps ('Machin 1st Class', 'Machin 2nd Class', 'Union flag', 'Mail by Rail' & 'Mail coach'), and the sixth to printing receipts.

As in 2016, the new thematic series could only be purchased with the first value / rate of domestic mail programmed into the kiosks i.e. '1st Class up to 100g'.


New museum imprints

STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway

From February 20th 2017, after London Stampex the new thematic series could also be obtained - naturally! - from the A010 kiosk installed at the Swindon STEAM - Museum of Great Western Railway. 

With the celebrations of the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the railway works in Swindon (see article, also published in VARIABLE 40) having ended the kiosk was temporarily programmed with the new permanent imprint, featuring only the museum logo.

From February 20th until March 14th 2017, the kiosk issued stamps with the 'Travelling Post Office, 1890s' design and the new 'Mail by Rail' series, although the thematic series could only be obtained with the first value/rate of domestic mail, '1st Class up to 100g'.

Just over three weeks after this change, on March 15th 2017, Royal Mail decided to replace the 'Mail by Rail' themed series with the 'Machin' definitive design, and introduce a new temporary imprint. In this case, the special imprint 'King George V 90th' marks the 90th anniversary of the construction, in Swindon, of the first GWR 6000 series steam locomotive. It was named 'King George V' in honour of the then monarch of the United Kingdom, in 1927.
The locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1962 and, after a major restoration, was moved to the National Railway Museum, in York.
In 2015, on the occasion of the Swindon 175 celebrations, 'King George V' (right picture) and another York museum locomotive, the 'City of Truro' (which turns 115 in 2018 ...), both built in Swindon, returned to this city museum, where they will be exhibited until 2020.

The 'King George V 90th' special imprint was available at the A010 kiosk for one month only, from March 15th to April 14th 2017.


On April 14th, the special imprint programmed at the A010 kiosk was removed, leaving only the new museum logo, printed for the first time on stamps with the 'Machin' definitive design.


Shakespeare Week

Nearly five months after the installation in November 2016 (see article and VARIABLE 43), of the kiosk installed in the gift shop at Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, the machine was also temporarily programmed with a commemorative text.
The special imprint advertises Shakespeare Week, an annual celebration of Shakespeare in primary schools organized by Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust, which seeks to give children a first experience of Shakespeare's life and work.


The special imprint with the event logo was available on all the stamps issued by the A009 kiosk with the 'Machin' and 'Union flag' definitive designs. The imprint was programmed from March 20th 2017, coinciding with the beginning of Shakespeare Week, until April 21st.


The A005 kiosk at the East Anglian Railway Museum

At the end of February 2017, the A005 'Post & Go' kiosk installed since January 2015 at The Royal Marines Museum, in Portsmouth (see article and VARIABLE 36) was moved from its location and, after refurbishment, transferred to another museum, the East Anglian Railway Museum.
The East Anglian Railway Museum (EARM) is a museum dedicated to preserving the history of railways in the East of England. It is located at Chappel and Wakes Colne station, near Colchester, in Essex, north-east of London, on the railway line formerly operated by the Great Eastern Railway. The museum exhibits a dozen steam, diesel and electric locomotives, as well as other rolling stock.


Located in a remote place, on a railway branch line used by very few passengers, the museum only receives a few visitors a day. In 2014, the museum had just over 12,000 visits, most of them concentrated within a few days, namely the event and railway experience days, which offer different activities for visitors.
 

The kiosk was installed on March 20th 2017, in the museum's small shop. On the date of installation, the machine issued stamps with the 'Machin' and 'Traveling Post Office, 1890s' designs.

All the stamps issued by the kiosk include a simple location identifier, 'EARM' which, in view of what has previously occurred with other machines elsewhere, could soon be replaced by the museum's logo. Then temporary imprints, changes of rolls, etc. will almost certainly follow!

With the small local post office located just a few meters from this museum, and with few visitors to justify a postal need, its use seems to be for philatelic purposes only. This together with an uncomplaining acceptance by collectors of Royal Mail's 'Post & Go' museum policy, will allow this machine to remain in this location in the short to medium term.
 


An unexpected issue at The Postal Museum

With no prior public announcement and totally by surprise, the London Postal Museum introduced, a new roll of labels in its A001 'Post & Go +' kiosk on April 3rd 2017.
The new design, 'Post Office (London) Railway', is one of six stamps that make up the 'Royal Mail Heritage: Mail by Rail' thematic series, released during Spring Stampex, in February this year (see article, also published in VARIABLE 44).

With the new postal museum, due to open in July, the design depicts the underground railway linking several postal sorting centres in London. It's a very appropriate design for the new museum as one of the main attractions will be, precisely, the visit to this underground railway. However, this will be in July. The kiosk will be moved to the new museum and quite possibly will print a new graphic on the stamps. Meanwhile, museum staff decided to create this 'Post & Go' issue with the current graphic logo and the text 'The Postal Museum'.


The Perth's 88th Scottish Congress = new 'Post & Go' errors

Since 2012, after London Spring Stampex, the Association of Scottish Philatelic Societies Congress has become an annual event for Royal Mail 'Post & Go' machines. In 2017, the 88th Congress was held from Friday April 21st to Saturday 22nd, in its usual location at the Dewars Centre, in Perth, north of Edinburgh.

This year, the congress was hosted by the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of its foundation, in 2017. This major annual event in Scotland also included a small philatelic exhibition and a fair.
(See articles dedicated to Perth 2012 in VARIABLE 27, Perth 2013 in VARIABLE 29, Perth 2014 in VARIABLE 33, Perth 2015 in VARIABLE 37
& Perth 2016 in VARIABLE 41).
The host society produced a cover honouring the 'Cameronians', (Scottish Rifles), an infantry regiment of the British army. They also produced a pictorial postcard featuring Lanarkshire postmarks and Royal Mail prepared a special postmark.

Royal Mail installed two kiosks at the congress, with codes A012 and A014. Unlike previous years, Jersey Post decided not to send its philatelic kiosk to Perth.

During the two days of the congress, the A012 machine issued stamps with the 'Machin' and, for the first time, 'Spear Thistle' designs. This design was part of the 'Symbolic Flowers' series, first released in September 2014 (see article, also published in VARIABLE 34), and now also issued as a single design in rolls. For its part, the A014 kiosk issued stamps with the 'Lion' design originally belonging to the Heraldic series of six stamps, together with the 'Spear Thistle' design.
Unfortunately, once again the Perth conference has become synonymous with errors in the 'Post & Go' issues. As in previous years, Royal Mail had announced that the kiosks would include the special imprint ' 88th Scottish Congress 2017 ' on the stamps, but they forgot to include the year when programming the machines, and the text that appeared printed was simply ' 88th Scottish Congress '.

The code at the bottom of the stamps, issued during this philatelic event, begins with B4GB17 A012- or B4GB17 A014-.


There's still more. Once again, Royal Mail 'rewarded' dealers and major customers with new errors. To fulfill pre-orders of amounts over 150 pounds, Royal Mail produced and supplied sets of stamps with -theoretically- the same designs and special Congress imprint, issued with the B001 back office printer. Unlike the stamps printed by kiosks in Perth, the ones issued by this printer do include the year at the end of the special printing ... but they also supplied a completely erroneous design out of the three and instead of using rolls of the 'Machin' definitive design, they printed the stamps on rolls with the 'Machin Anniversary 1967-2017' series, whose release was scheduled two months later, in June! ... What a shame!


Receipts of the six-value sets or 'Collectors Strips' issued in Perth with the 'Machin' design (kiosk A012), and by Royal Mail with the 'Machin Anniversary 1967-2017' series (printer B001).


The 'Symbolic flowers' series in Stratford-upon-Avon

There are more changes at the A009 kiosk installed in the gift shop at Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon. Just ten days after the removal of the ' Shakespeare Week ' commemorative imprint (see article, also published in VARIABLE 44), on May 1st 2017, Royal Mail decided to permanently replace the roll of labels with the 'Union flag' design with the six-designs 'Symbolic flowers' series. This beautiful thematic series was first released in September 2014 (see article, and VARIABLE 34), although the rolls used by the machine correspond to a recent digital reprinting, produced by International Security Printers (ISP).

Although it was initially announced that this series would only be available with the first domestic postage value, '1st Class up to 100g', a programming error allowed visitors to obtain single stamps (not the 'Collectors Strip' version) with the six usual face value indicators (images below).

Receipts of the six-stamp strip for domestic mail or '1st Class Strip', and the purchase of the six values programmed as single stamps.



New imprints at the Royal Navy Museums

The Royal Navy Submarine Museum - HMS Alliance

Unlike in previous years, in which all museums that form part of The National Museum of the Royal Navy shared the same special imprint for a month (see article, also in VARIABLE 42), in 2017 Royal Mail programmed different imprints for each museum, dedicated to themes or commemorations directly related to the exhibits.

This is the case with The Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, and HMS Alliance, one of the three historic submarines exhibited in the museum (see article, and
VARIABLE 38).

HMS Alliance was launched in 1945 and commissioned into the Royal Navy on May 14th 1947. It is the only survivor of the fourteen 'A' class British submarines built for service in the Far East during World War 2. Decommissioned in 1973, it was used as a training boat, then a memorial and a museum ship since 1981. After extensive restoration, the submarine was put on show to the public in April 2014.

The' HMS Alliance 14th May 1947 ' special imprint commemorates the 70 years of the submarine's commissioning.

The printing was temporarily available for one month only, between May 19th and June 18th 2017, on all stamps issued by the A004 kiosk, with the 'Machin' definitive design (with the addition of the usual museum logo), and the 'Union flag'.


Explosion ! Museum - Heligoland Big Bang 1947

The commemoration chosen for the Explosion! Museum in Gosport is very appropriate. This museum is dedicated to the history of naval armaments (see article, and VARIABLE 42).

During World War II, the small island of Heligoland, located about 50 km. off the north coast of Germany, was a major military base. At the end of the war the island came under British control. On April 18th 1947, the Royal Navy detonated 6700 tons of explosives on the island, causing one of the biggest single non-nuclear explosions in history. The operation was called 'Big Bang'.

The ' Heligoland 'Big Bang' 1947 ' special imprint marks the 70th anniversary of this explosion.

The imprint was also temporarily available for one month, from May 19th to June 18th 2017, on all stamps issued by the A007 kiosk, with the 'Machin' definitive design (with the addition of the usual logo of The National Museum of the Royal Navy), and 'Union flag'.


The Royal Signals Museum - White Helmets

The special imprint programmed for the A011 kiosk at The Royal Signals Museum, the military communications museum of the British Army, at Blandford Camp (see article, and VARIABLE 43), celebrates the 90th anniversary of the White Helmets.

The Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team (RSMDT), also known as the 'White Helmets', is a team of about 30 soldiers from The Royal Corps of Signals of the British Army, based at Blandford Camp, performing acrobatic displays on motorcycles.
The team's origins date back to 1927, when the British Army began to use despatch riders with motorcycles to transmit military messages.
After 90 years of existence, the White Helmets team will be disbanded at the end of 2017.
The ' Royal Signals White Helmets ' special imprint also includes the team's logo. It is obtainable from June 9th 2017 on stamps issued only with the 'Union Flag' design up till the annual introduction and replacement of this design with the 'Common Poppy' design (late October).


HMS Trincomalee Museum - HMS Trincomalee 200 Years

The HMS Trincomalee Museum in Hartlepool (see article, and VARIABLE 42) celebrates the 200th anniversary of the ship after which the museum is named.

HMS Trincomalee is a Leda class sailing frigate with 46 guns. Built in 1816-17 by the East India Company in Bombay, it is the only surviving Royal Navy ship built in India, and the oldest surviving battleship in the United Kingdom. The ship was in service until 1986. In 1987, the HMS Trincomalee Trust began the restoration of the frigate, which ended in 2001.

The ' HMS Trincomalee 200 Years ' special imprint could be obtained from June 16th 2017, on all stamps issued by the A006 kiosk, with the 'Machin' definitive design (with the addition of the logo of The National Museum of the Royal Navy), and 'Union flag'.

This imprint will be available until October 2017, when another imprint marking the ship's launching is planned.


The Fleet Air Arm Museum

Coinciding with the inauguration of the 'Cold War to Kabul' exhibition, the A003 kiosk installed at The Fleet Air Arm Museum, (the history of British naval aviation museum, in Ilchester) (see article, and VARIABLE 37), was programmed with two special temporary prints.

The exhibition is dedicated to the important role of naval aviation in a changing world, which has left behind the Cold War era and the nuclear threat, and is now dominated by a process of globalization, international tensions and terrorism. The exhibition features three aircrafts, the Lynx Mk3 (XZ720) and Sea King HC4 (ZA298) (right), nicknamed 'King of the Junglies' after 34 years of service in the Royal Navy, and the Harrier GR9 (ZD433), named 'Dirty Harry', that participated in the Wars in Afghanistan, Bosnia and the Gulf.
Photo: The Fleet Air Arm Museum

On this occasion, the museum, in collaboration with Royal Mail, decided to program different imprints for the two label designs, dedicated to the aircrafts; ' Fleet Air Arm GR9A Harrier ZD433 ' with the 'Union flag' design, and ' Fleet Air Arm Sea King ZA298 Junglie ' with the 'Machin' design, which overlaps the usual museum logo.
Both imprints were available for one month only, from July 19th, the date of the exhibition opening, until August 21st 2017.



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

  


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