Thursday, June 26, 2014

Remarkable Lives stamps now being used by Royal Mail's bureau

Royal Mail Tallents House have been using stamps on some mail for at least a year, with last year's Butterfly stamps being the most common until recently.

Complete Set of 10



Now the Remarkable Lives stamps issued earlier this year are being used:


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

More Modern British Postal History Coming Soon.

I've been prompted by a recent article in Britain's Stamp Magazine to take another look at modern postal history, so look out for some more postings in this blog before much longer.

Just for starters, proof that special stamps are still used here.

2013 Butterfly set and Football Heroes set


These are all on complete covers.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Premium services: registered post, special delivery, and recorded delivery

The fee for registration and special delivery was 3 shillings on top of the basic letter rate, but there was no 3s stamp.

Special Delivery 1967 - 4d brown and 2 x 1/6d Machins
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Registered 1970 - 5d blue and 2 x 1/6d Machins with a nice Burnham Market village registration label. Even now the permanent population is less than 1,000 although it is swelled all year round by visitors from London and has acquired the nick-name Chelsea-on-sea.
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Recorded Delivery. Registration cost a lot of money in 1960 and there was a need for a low-cost confirmation of delivery, without the insurance element. The recorded delivery service was introduced in 1961 with an initial fee of 6d. By 1967 the fee had been increased to 9d, still considerably less than the registration fee. Recorded Delivery could also be used with second class mail from the introduction of the 2-tier system in September 1968. The letters had to be posted over the counter, but no special handling was involved until delivery and ordinary machine postmarks were applied, rather than the counter stamps used for the higher-cost services.

4d Machin and 9d Wilding, 1s Wilding and 1d Machin, 1968 (By this time Machins had been issued for all the values shown here.)
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1d and 1s Machins, 1969
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1st class rate 5d blue with 9d green Machin 1969
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Recorded Delivery (continued) - 1st class 5d rate and 9d Recorded Fee

- paid by 2d and 1s Machins 1969
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- paid by 4d centre band and 10d Machins 1968, a nice use of the 10d unfortunately on an oversize cover
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- paid by a pair of 7d Machins, 1968. Possibly my favourite colour of all for Machins
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Underpaid, surcharged - postage due

Underpaid mail was assumed to be posted at 2nd class rates and usually surcharged accordingly although sometimes, as now, it escaped detection.

Stamped with a 1d Machin, and therefore surcharged at (4d-1d) x 2 - with 6d postage due (1970) (although from the manuscript marking they obviously had to think twice about it!)
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Unpaid, surcharged 8d but not always with postage due stamps applied. (1967 & 1970) (The one with the dues is actually before the two-tier system)
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Underpaid - 1d Machin treated as 2nd class, 2d Wilding treated as 1st class. (1st class mail had the time above the date, 2nd class has no time shown.) The 1d Machin might have been seen as a 4d brown, although the 4d red had been in use for over a year. Both these 1970.
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The 4d second class rate

The similarity in colour of the 5d dark blue and 4d dark brown caused some problems in manual sorting. Separating the two at lower light levels was difficult so a new 4d red was introduced on 6 January 1969. Despite this supplies of 4d brown - with 1 or 2 phosphor bands - and Wildings continued to be used in the run-up to the 1971 decimalisation.

4d red used December 1969


4d blue Northern Ireland (from the pre-Machin era: the colour matches the Wilding 4d) - obvious philatelic use, but there was a lot of using-up to do! The regional stamps were valid anywhere in the UK

4d red Scotland & Wales locally used. The Welsh stamp is postmarked Chester but North Wales received its supplies from Chester and some centralisation of postal sorting meant that some mail posted in north-east Wales received a Chester postmark.



Sunday, March 14, 2010

1968: Two-tier post introduced

On 16 September 1968, in an attempt to give them greater flexibility in moving the mail by holding some back for later processing, the Post Office introduced 'Two Tier Post'. First class post would have a target of next-day delivery, while 2nd class would be delivered in 2-3 days, depending on location and volumes. Because most business mail entered the mailstream late in the day, it made sense to segregate out the less urgent and hold it over for processing when there was less volume entering the system. The printed paper and postcard rates were abolished at this time.

Postage rates 16.9.68 to 14.2.71
Up to 4 ounces, 1st class 5d (the 5d blue Machin had been issued on 1 July), and 2nd class 4d. The 4d brown Machin was issued on 5 June 1967 but that had two phosphor bands, and so a new 4d brown with a single phosphor band was issued on 16 September, when the new system was introduced.


The regional stamps were issued before the new system started, on 4.9.68. These continued with the existing Wilding designs.

Wales 5d regional
postmarked Chester 2 June 1970. Some north Wales POs were supplied from Chester, and some north Wales mail was taken to Chester for sorting and postmarking.

Scotland 5d regional postmark Dundee 13 November 1970

4d brown centre band used 27 September 1969

4d brown (2 phosphor bands) with two ½d Machins to make the 5d rate on day one of the new system: