November 14, 2013

Royal Mail staff gift pack.

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.

November 12, 2013

Christmas - but which way round?

I keep looking at the 'Coptic' design £1.88 value Christmas stamp and wondering if it is just my view or whether, indeed, Mary's hand is wrong. Jesus' fingers are a bit strange too but that doesn't trouble me too much. The artist, Fadi Mikhail, who created this image using ancient techniques and did so specifically for this issue, mentions in a recent interview, published in the November British Philatelic Bulletin, that it is very difficult to correct errors. Perhaps that explains it.

Below I illustrate a similar pose on another stamp which, to me, is much more naturally angled.

November 07, 2013

Regional shades

Some quite distinct new shades appeared earlier this year in the Regionals. I have mentioned the English one in an earlier post and now can illustrate the Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland printings.

I have shown the original 2012 versions. They're the second illustrations in each case.
The Wales 88p is much more blue than before and easy to distinguish.

The Northern Ireland 88p is now almost devoid of the green shade, now simply grey.

Not easy to spot individually maybe, but quite clear when you can compare side by side with the earlier printing, here's the Scotland 2nd with a much more slate blue colour.

The Scotland 1st hasn't changed colour but the phosphor is now described by B Alan as 'vignetted'. Much less distinct edges towards the centre of the stamp.