Post & Go Development Continues
V2 Post & Go Software & Worldwide 40g Birds 3 Stamps
We understand the upgrade to Version 2 (V2) software in all Post and Go machines is nearing completion around the UK meaning the facility is now generally available to buy Worldwide to 40g Post & Go stamps. While there will be numerous examples of Worldwide 40g Post & Go Stamps to buy in future the few remaining machines still dispensing the Birds 3 series of pictorials should be of particular interest to collectors.
We understand Post & Go machine stocks of the Birds 3 pictorial stamps were largely exhausted in most UK Post Offices before the V2 Software update. Therefore the Worldwide 40g rate printed on Birds 3 stamps will only get produced in very few offices. This means, along with the Arnold Machin centenary commemorative Post & Go stamps issued only at Autumn Stampex, the 40g rate on any of the six Birds 3 designs will likely prove one of the scarcest P&G stamps in future.
New Premier Post Office Branch in Birmingham
Pinfold Street, Birmingham is Britain's first "Premier" Post Office branch to open. Instead of traditional counters, staff mix with customers to supervise and assist purchases being made via any of the ten Wincor-Nixdorf Post & Go machines.
If anyone has visited the Pinfold Street Post Office in Birmingham since opening we would love to hear any opinions or news you may have, Please email admin[at]gbstamp.co.uk
Missing the Post & Go Boat?
As with most collectables, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and opinions can vary dramatically. So, by offering my personal opinions here on this website, I sometimes get in to heated discussions with people who also love this hobby! In recent months the subject of Post & Go stamps has easily been the main subject of discussion - and argument - in my inbox which, if nothing else, proves these new type of stamps are making an impact among many GB collectors!
The First Commemorative Post & Go Stamp Issued at Autumn Stampex 2011
to mark the centenary of Arnold Machin's birth
In previous posts I've laboured my view that Post & Go represents the future of British postage stamps. I know some traditional collectors will screw their nose up again at this point and dismiss me with a comment like "labels aren't stamps". Neverthless I will again make my argument and try to help a few of the more open minded collectors avoid feeling regret or having to pay premium prices to back-fill collections in a few years time!
Now I have every sympathy for the folks complaining about the vast quantities of new issues and the new stamp formats being churned out by Royal Mail. Most adult collectors given a modest monthly budget simply cannot hope to build a complete contemporary collection of all new stamps, booklets, miniature sheets, Smilers, press sheets etc. As for the hope that kids will get hooked on the hobby when all they have is a few pounds weekly pocket money to spend....
Today we can only hope new collectors will find their own GB niche - a specialisation within the torrent of new Royal mail products - that they will find interesting enough to collect. My niche in recent years has been mainly limited to postal history items related to a couple of geographic locations and topics but, now after many years, I've developed a new interest and enthusiasm for Post & Go stamps.
So why am I so enthusiastic about Royal Mail's Post and Go stamps? Aren't these just another new "product" enabling Royal Mail to sell vast quantities of colourful printed paper at inflated prices justified because they could be used for postage? I argue that Post & Go is significantly different because appealing to collectors has obviously been less of a priority for Royal Mail compared to most new issues and stamp formats they've produced in the past decade or so. Their initial priority was about getting the technology working in Post Offices for real customers posting real letters.
As the start of this post illustrates, like it or not, self-service is the direction our Post Offices are going. You've seen it in your local Tescos and Sainsburys and now you can see the real start of the Post Office self-service revolution in Pinfold Street, Birmingham. I argue that Post & Go stamps are at the core of future real GB philately, by which I mean the study of the postage stamps in everyday use to get letters and packets delivered. The public will increasingly have to use Post & Go stamps to send their items because alternative choices are going to lessen significantly.
Look at the evidence. The very first Post & Go stamps were designed to work with the machines being trialed and there were no colourful inks or artistic imagination invested in them for collectors. In fact, they weren't even named Post & Go stamps to start with! It would appear that collectors were only considered later, perhaps after the Post & Go trials were deemed successful and the decision to start a self-service revolution in Post Offices was made?
Looking back over the past fifty years the real workhorse among postage stamps has been the humble but iconic Machin definitive. Time will tell but I believe good quality, specialised Machin collections will prove the real treasure of the QEII era of Postage stamps. Why? Because these were the real stamps that paid for real mail services and, with obvious exceptions like Prestige booklets, new Machin stamps were usually justified by rate changes and price differentials.
Now the technology exists to largely remove the need for numerous different stamp values. We don't use stamps on receipts now and we don't pay for telegraphic services using stamps any more either. The vast majority of mail can be accomodated within a few service levels and the technology exists to issue stamps where the service required is overprinted at the point of sale. It's efficient - both in terms of service and cost - so it makes good business sense. So, for the first time in decades, I believe I see in Post & Go stamps a genuine and very significant event in the evolution of Britain's postage stamps that cannot be ignored. Post & Go stamps are going to be the workhorse stamps of the future and, in my opinion, will merit study by even the most traditional and conservative of GB collectors.
So are you missing the boat? If I'm correct then we are all lucky enough to be alive at a time in postal history where we can build our collections and study early developments in the Post & Go technology and stamps at face value. If a time machine took you back to May 1840, how many Penny Blacks would you want to buy at a penny each?
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