There is a reason for reminding readers of splendid past issues like these. But first, what's new?
To end 2015 there have been a few slight changes in the most frequently used definitives but nothing very exciting I'm afraid. It's a dull fluor on both De La Rue and Walsall stamps issued in recent months.
There is also a Business Sheet 1st Large coded MA15 MBIL.
And, oh yes, some Star Wars stamps. You can hardly have missed the mass invasion of philatelic journals by celebration of the film series and Britain's contribution to its success. With the very latest movie released this week Royal Mail must surely have received a sizeable contribution to the old coffers from LucasFilm Inc. for the remarkable additional promotion it has provided.
In amongst the many, many special issue stamps we've seen in both this and an earlier issue is a Prestige Booklet with the traditional definitive pane of eight plus a label. This brings us a Union Jack 1st for the first time in gummed style. The 1st and 2nd Machins are also new, being coded M15L MPIL.
You will have to fork out a massive £16.99 for this. For that you do get 24 1st Class stamps, 2 2nd Class and that's £16.20 at present rates, making the Star Wars icon label 79p. So if you do decide in years to come that prestige books are pretty but pretty unnecessary in your collection and it is just the Machin pane you need there is a good chance that'll get your money's worth when rates increase in future years. That's the way I look at the prestige books these days. Occasionally there is something a little special but most of them seem little more than income streams for Royal Mail. I have yet to encounter anyone who has bought one in order to use the stamps. Indeed, I have yet to encounter anyone who has bought one in the last ten or twenty years who has not been a collector!
We should be thankful for small mercies, I suppose. Those who didn't join us in abandoning Post And Gos last year will have the most ridiculous job trying to keep up. Not only have the various military associations decided to have an intelligible name on the overprint instead of a set of letters, involving a mass of reissued strips but there have been new designs, added overprint logos and more from the Channel islands to boot. Here's the list of 36 strips you've missed in the last two months:
Union Flag Royal Navy Trafalgar Day
Union Flag Royal Marines Trafalgar Day
Poppy Royal Navy Submarine
Winter Greenery NCR Strip
Winter Greenery Series 2 Strip
Winter Greenery Wincor Strip
Poppy NCR with 15 date code
Poppy Fleet Air Arm
Poppy Royal Marines
Poppy RN Submarine
Winter Fur & Feathers Presentation Pack version
Winter Fur & Feathers NCR strips
Poppy Series 2 15 date code
Winter Greenery strip with old Euro 20g value
Union Flag Royal Navy
Union Flag Royal Marines
Poppy Series 2 15 date BPMA
Union Flag Hong Kong November 2015
Sea Travel Hong Kong design strip
Union Flag Sindelfingen October 2015
Machin no date Sindelfingen October 2015
Poppy 15 date Sindelfingen October 2015
Heraldic Beasts Sindelfingen October 2015
Jersey Flag Sindelfingen October 2015
Jersey protected Species Sindelfingen October 2015
Union Flag Paris November 2015
Machin Paris November 2015
Poppy Paris November 2015
Heraldic Beasts Paris November 2015
Machin Royal Navy + Logo
Machin Royal Marines + Logo
Machin RN Submarine + Logo
Machin Fleet Air Arm + Logo
Jersey Flag Broad Street RAFA Jersey 90
Jersey Protected Species Broad Street RAFA Jersey 90
Guernsey Flag Envoy House Merry Christmas
What you might have had to lay out to stay vaguely complete might have been better spent going back and filling some spaces in old pages. That ½p left band, perhaps, or the scarcer 17p Northern Ireland type. You could even afford the rare 31p purple type! Or how about getting a nice Royal Wedding £1 or PUC £1?
Whenever I post anything these days my Post Office use, almost without exception, the 'Horizon' labels. These are the ones that used to be gold but are now more white. I do think these are quite collectable but, of course, you can only obtain these 'used' on items so they're not something dealers are supplying much at the moment. It is quite feasible to send things to yourself to get many of the various types of label and I am sure some enterprising dealers will be offering a service to supply these in due course but I don't think there is yet a great deal of demand to make it worthwhile. I do feel, though, that collecting these makes more sense than collecting mint strips of Post And Gos.