In the old days, Royal Mail staff occasionally got stamps that were slightly different to the sheets we would get at a Post Office so I was delighted when my local postman brought his staff gift round this morning and let me have it.
OK, so it's a sheet of the Children's Christmas 1st Class and not some nice Machins but my heart began to race when I looked a bit closer and couldn't see any phosphor bands. I did try checking on-line but failed to get any technical printing details. The best I could find was that the stamps would have bars as appropriate. Great.
Being quite late in the day I was not inclined to dash out and buy a 'normal' sheet over the counter at a Post Office for comparison so I tried looking again. It seems that there are bands but they must have been so precisely positioned - covering exactly the wide white area to the right and exactly the very narrow strip of white from the design to the perforations on the left. On first glance, even seventh or eight glance, you just think that the 'shading' is the different reflection from the part of the stamp not printed with the kid's drawing. To test that I tried viewing stamps at an angle but from a side rather than the bottom. Ah ha! Now there is no 'shading' so what I see on the left and right must be phosphor bands after all.
So, presumably, there is nothing special about these staff gift packs this year, other than a card from the boss. Just to emphasise the point that I really needn't have either bothered nor got particularly excited this year, I was successful in buying a complete staff gift pack of two sheets of 25 plus the card for less than the face value of the ruddy stamps this afternoon!
Now, if I sell all 75 stamps I'll have almost enough to buy the UV lamp I need so that I don't get confused any more. I shall also be able to tell the difference between yellow and blue phosphor and even get a grip on things called fluor and maybe even iridescence! My regular supplier of all things different keeps firing these at me and they look exactly the same as each other so I might finally be able to appreciate what I'm spending my money on.