You'll recall that the GB printings had World Stamp Expo
Are these things ever going to go mainstream? Royal Mail are certainly putting a lot into establishing more and more locations where people can buy them but they are still barely known outside the collectors' fraternity and, perhaps, a few who live close to one.
The British quite like queueing and having a human being to take their letter or parcel, do the honours and tell them how much to pay. It's pretty simple and it works. The staff even have the big gold Horizon labels to slap on so they don't have to work out which combination of sheet stamps will add up to the sum required. Now that makes me wonder who on Earth now buys the sheet stamps! And we can see just how many aren't being sold by the dearth of 2013 codes so far this year.
Going back to the Post and Gos, there are several things wrong with them. The size is bigger than people are familiar with. I suppose the space taken up is similar to a few traditional size stamps next to each other but it still seems unnecessarily big to me. I am not sure anyone really needs to know the denomination. Once it's paid and stuck on that's that really. I suppose someone could put a small parcel on the scale and print a load of Europe 10g and then proceed to slap them on 39g parcels to Outer Mongolia. So maybe I can see the reason for a Europe / World distinction up to a point, but then I am never too sure where one ends and the other starts. What is of more concern is the fact that over 40g you're back in the queue talking to people again anyway. Is the vast proportion of parcels sent at weights below 40g so that this makes a significant difference to the administration costs to Royal Mail? So, OK, the denomination needs to be clear to staff handling it down the line but a code would suffice that need not take up much space at all. I guess no-one likes the idea of printing over the Machin head but the label could definitely be smaller.
My main objection, though, or more embarrassment, concerns the designs of the 'pretty' issues. A picture takes up half the label. It's a flat colour background - an impression of the environment rather than photographic or in any sense realistic, which is fine and has a certain style. On top of that, though is a drawing or painting of some animal that is neither in the background style nor sufficiently realistic to contrast as it might. It may well be a good drawing, although I am not so sure about some of them, but it simply doesn't work as a design. Compared to some of the brilliant examples in the commemorative stamp issues, these come a very sad second, or even third!.
Oh well. One thing that has been worthwhile has been my search for the 1985 stamp image. Not collecting commemorative issues for many years now, I had not realised just how many I had missed. Some sets look fabulous but others also look dreadful. I shall revisit some of these, I think, and reproduce some of the best and worst here. It's not exactly 31p purple, I know but something I feel I should do. There are also some Castle Commemoratives that I am none too sure I had. Now those I may have to acquire, even though they were not, strictly speaking, definitive, or even casually speaking for that matter. They just look like a set I should have to go with the other actual Castle definitives.