Displaying items by tag: Royal Mail

Saturday, 14 November 2020 04:30

Schnitz-canned! How Austria trolled Brexit Britain

When online images of this stamp surfaced in early 2020, some collectors were sceptical that it was genuine.

There was good reason to think it wasn’t. As if German-speaking Austria would write its name on its stamps in English! (‘Österreich’ is the standard inscription.) And as if a serious, modern nation would issue a Brexit stamp with a ‘strikethrough’ joke on it!

To set the sceptics straight: as it happens, German-speaking Austria sometimes writes its name in English on its stamps. And yes, the serious, modern nation of Austria issued a Brexit stamp with a strikethrough joke on it.

It’s a troll! Those strudel-slurping scamps.

There’s nothing subtle about it, either. I’m surprised they didn’t add “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehn, goodbye.”

The strikethrough joke was a happy accident, but it’s the cherry on top of a great, simple design by Anita Kern. Here is Europe, with EU nations in dark blue. (Did you spot Portugal’s Madeira archipelago hiding among the perforations at bottom left? The Azores and the Canary Islands are further afield and seem to have missed the cut.)

Nestled among the dark blue nations is the rancorous UK. It’s in a light blue – so light that it’s almost invisible, like the personae non gratae of EU holdouts Norway, Switzerland and the funny little Russian exclave of Kaliningrad that the UK now aspires so enthusiastically to emulate.

(Edit: The UK is printed on the stamp with a light blue transparent varnish. Thanks to reader Dustin who mentioned in the comments below that, when held to the light at a certain angle, this varnish makes the UK disappear. Meow! I love it.)

Then there’s the »BREXIT« inscription and that date. The stamp was originally to be released when Britain had scheduled itself for release from the EU: 29 March, 2019. According to reports, 140,000 of those stamps were printed. But as the UK and the EU failed to come to an agreement, the official Leave date was pushed out to 31 January, 2020. Why waste any more money printing new stamps? Austria Post overprinted the stamps accordingly, striking out the old date and adding the new. The stamps were released when the Britain FINALLY left. They were an instant hit.

The denomination is intriguing. I’m pretty sure that €1.80 is the cost of a standard priority letter to the ‘rest of the world’ – outside of European nations, be they EU or non-EU. Letters bearing these stamps are not going to the UK.

Would the cost of a letter to the UK (one euro) have been more pointed? The UK wanted to leave the EU, and the EU surely by then couldn’t wait to see them gone… a one-euro stamp would have helped to bring everyone together to celebrate this momentous occasion.

But perhaps Britain is not the target market for this stamp. By sending Brexit stamps out to the rest of the world, I suspect Austria is trying to broadcast a more urgent message: We don’t know those guys! They’re not with us.

Incidentally, the Royal Mail has so far resisted issuing a Brexit stamp. The internet has been quick to fill the gap:

Search for “Brexit stamps” for more laughs, it’s worth it.

I do feel for Britons as the nation careers towards the end of the transition period on 31 December this year. At least last year’s election result put the wrangling beyond dispute, but I fear that in the long term, that will come to be of small consolation. Brexit was promulgated by charlatans and is built upon a deception perpetrated by a self-interested rich and powerful few. I wonder how many Leave voters may come to nurse regrets as they are turfed out of closing factories. I particularly feel for the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland, where majorities in each voted to stay, but must now confront the ramifications of leaving. Britain now stumbles desperately back to the Commonwealth, deluding itself that a few trade deals with its former empire will magically outweigh slamming the door on the world’s largest economy.

If nothing else, Brexit stands as an eternal reminder to voters in functioning democracies never to assume the outcome of an election. Your vote counts. USE IT. (Ya hearing me, America?) You owe it not just to yourselves, but to your fellow readers of this blog who don’t have the luxury of a meaningful say in their nation’s affairs.

(Side note: this week brought news that the UK is appointing as a trade envoy the former short-lived Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. It’s been greeted with some mirth down under. It says much about Boris’s Britain that it hires a man who complained his way into power in between spruiking his policies to the women of Australia “as they do the ironing”, and whose chief achievements once in government were then to tear down effective climate reforms and reinstate knighthoods so he could award one to Prince Philip. There’s a forward thinker. Good luck.)

What’s that? Enough with the opinion, get back to the stamps? OK. It’s worth pointing out that Austria’s Brexit stamp overshadowed the release nine days earlier of another commemorating the 25th anniversary of Austria’s own accession to the EU. ‘Flags on stamps’ is one of those topical collections that I would love to pursue, but I know that once I start, I will never end. Flags and stamps are made for each other. This is a beautiful example. The merging of the two flags produces such an aesthetically satisfying confluence of the primary colours. (And some white. And some flutters.)

Nice work, Austria, and congratulations on the 25 years. Danke for the laughs.


Source: punkphilatelist.com

Published in News
Thursday, 24 September 2020 04:23

Marvel Superheroes on post stamps


Royal Mail will issue a Marvel Super Heroes set of stamps on March 14, marking the 80th anniversary of the famous comic stories.

Ten stamps sold in counter sheets illustrate popular characters, all facing the viewer in dynamic action poses. A further five stamps are contained in a miniature sheet which takes the form of a specially commissioned comic strip entitled Marvel Heroes UK, with a storyline loosely set in London.

Marvel is an American brand and most of the featured characters were originally created for an American audience; the two which weren’t are the least well known. All this leaves Royal Mail wide open to criticism for straying from British themes in the pursuit of a wider philatelic market.

The Marvel organisation grew out of Timely Comics, based in New York, which launched its first comic book in 1939. After being relaunched as Marvel Comics in 1961, it introduced a new range of characters which revitalised the popularity of superheroes.

An offshoot was Marvel UK, formed in 1972. Initially its comics simply repackaged American stories for a British audience, but in 1976 Captain Britain and Union Jack became its first superheroes created specifically for UK readers.

Marvel Entertainment was acquired by the Walt Disney Company in 2009.

The stamps are boldly illustrated by Alan Davis, one of Marvel’s British artists, designed by Interabang and printed in litho by International Security Printers. The sheet stamps come in se-tenant strips of five.

1st class Spider-Man

Created in 1962, Spider-Man gained his web-slinging abilities after being bitten by a radioactive spider as a teenager, and swore to use his powers to help others.

1st class Captain Marvel

Created in 1977, from a pre-existing character in the Captain Mar-Vell stories, this female Avenger gained super powers after her DNA mixed with his during an explosion.

1st class Hulk

Created in 1962, the Hulk is a mild-mannered scientist who was bombarded by radiation from a gamma bomb, and as a result transforms into a muscle-bound green giant when angered.

1st class Doctor Strange

Created in 1963, Doctor Strange was a brilliant neuro-surgeon who became a master sorceror, protecting the world from evil forces, after his hands were badly damaged in a car crash.

1st class Captain Britain

Created in 1976, Captain Britain was chosen by Merlyn and granted amazing powers to be Britain’s protector, keeping his country safe from harm.

1st class Peggy Carter

Created in 1966, initially as an unnamed character in the Captain America stories, Peggy Carter is a heroine of the French Resistance in World War II, but has no superpowers.

1st class Iron Man

Created in 1963, Iron Man was a billionaire inventor captured by terrorists and forced to create weapons, but he tricked his captors by building a suit of armour to protect himself and defeat them.

1st class Union Jack

Created in 1976, Union Jack was originally an aristocratic soldier, whose mantle was later passed to a working-class hero. He has no special powers except extreme athleticism and a bullet-proof costume.

1st class Black Panther

Created in 1966, the Black Panther is the ruler of a technologically advanced African nation and protector of its valuable supply of vibranium, with his combat abilities enhanced by ancient rituals.

1st class Thor

Created in 1962, Thor is the Norse god of thunder, wielding an enchanted hammer which gives him superhuman reflexes and the ability to manipulate the weather.



Captain Britain spies a portal opening on top of one of London’s high-rise buildings.

1st class

Thanos, one of the most evil supervillains in the universe, emerges from the portal.

1st class

Leading a response by the superheroes, Thor, Doctor Strange and Iron Man deflect the arch-villain’s projection of cosmic energy.

1st class

The Hulk, Spider-Man, the Black Panther and Iron Man declare they are stronger than Thanos.


With Captain Britain to the fore, the assembled superheroes win the day.


Illustrated by Marvel artist Neil Edwards, the presentation pack comes with a set of comic book-style stickers.

A press sheet of uncut miniature sheets and a choice of medal covers are available in addition to the usual stamp cards and first day covers.


Set of 10 stamps £6.70

Miniature sheet £4.71

Press sheet £93.25

Presentation pack £12.15

Stamp cards £7.20

First day cover (stamps) £8.60

First day cover (mini sheet) £6.20

Medal covers from £24.99



The Marvel brand and its best-known characters are American. Even the anniversary is a weak excuse for the issue


The British illustrator is an established expert at dynamic images in the comic-book style


It would be hard to ignore these images if any of them are postally used, but they do little to promote British culture or philately

Source: stampmagazine.co.uk

Published in News

Eurus Holmes' violin bow (left) is erroneously double-ended on one of six stamps issued as part of the Royal Mail's Sherlock Holmes set.

A music consultant recently discovered a design error on a newly issued Royal Mail stamp featuring a still from The Final Problem, an episode from the fourth season of Sherlock.

Issued as part of a six-stamp set this August, the British stamp depicts Sherlock Holmes – a Stradivarius-playing violinist portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch – alongside his sister Eurus, who’s also a violinist.

In the episode, the siblings play a duet together; however, on the stamp, Eurus’ violin bow is double-ended – there’s a “frog” at each end – something that’s unknown to the wooden string instrument. (Bows are held at one end with the “frog,” where violinists grip and tighten the bow’s hair, while the other end includes the “tip.”)

“If you know, you know,” wrote music consultant Kathleen Wallfisch on LinkedIn, a social media site on which she announced the error.

“The tip of the bow has been Photoshopped for some reason. Problem is they’ve mirrored the other end of the bow, otherwise known as the ‘frog’ or ‘heel.’ Massive error – looks really silly. I know it might seem like a small oversight, but it also reminds me why there is a need for music consultancy.”

Source: canadianstampnews.com

Published in News

Another new stamp issue comes from Royal Mail on 1 October. Although we have refrained from writing much until the emargbo date (which was supposed to be the issue date), the stamps now appear on Royal Mail's shop website.

But why? What's the event?

Of course the short answer is that there isn't one. As we in the northern hemisphere enter autumn - although the last week has been unseasonably warm even for an Indian Summer in September - the bees, butterflies and other insects are starting to disappear. Certainly there weren't too many around a couple of weeks ago! So this is what Royal Mail have to say:

To celebrate the enormous diversity, intrigue and importance of pollinating insects in the UK, Royal Mail is pleased to issue stamps that celebrate pollinators found in the UK and explore the range, beyond bees and butterflies, and include other often overlooked important pollinators like moths, beetles, hoverflies and wasps.

It is estimated that there are more than 5 million insect species on Earth. These ‘brilliant bugs’ contribute to essential natural processes in varied and diverse ways. Some ensure the functioning of ecosystems through decomposition – efficiently recycling dead and decaying matter. Others feed on pest insects and so protect plants, including the crops we rely on for food.

These pollinators are responsible for pollination of vast quantities of food crops for humans and farm animals and the pollination of wild plants including flowers and some trees. (In Europe 4 out of 5 crops and wild flowers rely, at least in part, on insects to pollinate and hence reproduce). Sadly, there is evidence the numbers of insects are declining and we are proud to highlight this important area of conservation through this stamp issue.

Nothing that those of us who keep an eye on climate change and conservation issues are not already aware.

The set consists of three se-tenant pairs including a pair of 1st class, and two pairs at the new airmail rates of £1.45 and £1.70.

Details of stamps

1st Class Common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum)
This relatively widespread bumblebee feeds on flowers such as large blue pea.

1st Class Marmalade hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)
Often seen in gardens, this is also an important pollinator of crops like oilseed rape.

£1.45 Longhorn beetle (Rutpela maculata)
This wasp-mimicking beetle is a common visitor of hawthorn flowers in summer.

£1.45 Elephant hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor)
Honeysuckle is a favoured source of nectar for this striking species. Ruby-tailed wasp (Chrysis ignita agg.)

£1.70 Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui )
Thistles are a common source of nectar for these migratory butterflies in Britain.

£1.70 Ruby-tailed wasp (Chrysis ignita agg.)
The adult ruby-tailed wasp feeds on nectar from flowers such as angelica.

Technical details

The 37 x 35 mm stamps were designed in-house using illustrations by Richard Lewington (who was involved with previous similar wildlife issues in 2013 and 2015) and printed by International Security Printers in lithography. Although our briefing notes were a bit short on detail, the FDC insert fills the gaps (so to speak): perforations are 14x14½ and in sheets of 30/60. (See below for more details.)

Source: blog.norphil.co.uk

Published in News

This issue consists of 13 stamps as a tribute to the musical contribution of rock legends, Queen – one of the most popular and enduring groups of all time.

Eight stamps features images of some of their most popular and iconic album covers: Queen II, 1974; Sheer Heart Attack, 1974; A Night at the Opera, 1975; News of the World, 1977; The Game, 1980; Greatest Hits, 1981; The Works, 1984; and Innuendo, 1991.Renowned for the extravagance of their stage shows, Queen’s live performances are celebrated in a miniature sheet of additional stamps, with images from: Wembley Stadium, 1986; Hyde Park, 1976; Hammersmith Odeon, 1975; and Budapest, 1986.

Also included in the miniature-sheet is the iconic shot taken at the group’s first ever studio photoshoot in a Primrose Hill studio in 1974.

Date of Release:9 July 2020

Source: philamirror.info

Published in News
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