Stamps Ruined by Royal Mail
I accept that the odd item of mail is going to slip through the bulk postmarking process used in Mail Centres nowadays. I have even defended the very occasional use of the biro by postmen on their rounds as the last line of defence for Royal Mail's "Revenue Protection" efforts against the kiloware sorters. But sometimes you wonder what is going on? Take a look at these six examples of biro scribbled cancellations:
All six of these have arrived at my address in the last two days and they represent nearly one third of the stamped mail I've received. Okay, compared to many people, I get a reasonable level of stamped post most days because of my involvement in philately. I'm grateful that so many stamp traders and correspondents take the time to use interesting and unusual stamps when they write. However, with the volume of these defaced stamps now seemingly higher than ever, it's becoming more than just a great shame that the kindness and consideration of people is being undermined by Royal Mail.
Over the years - and to the frustration and considerable expense of loyal British stamp collectors - Royal Mail has churned out various impressive security features on stamps to avoid counterfeiting and recycling when remaining unfranked. The micro printed backgrounds and the - unpopular with used stamp collectors - security slits are just two examples of very expensive production cost that seem a pointless waste of time if mail is simply going to pass through the system uncancelled by a postmark in a very high percentage of cases.
I've yet to establish exactly who is scribbling on my mail and, even if I do find out, there's no real complaint I can make as they will probably be commended for ensuring stamps are being put beyond future reuse. I know the vast majority of Royal Mail's employees don't give a cow's hoot about stamp collectors, but does Royal Mail appreciate that too much of this behaviour damages the enthusiasm of collectors? You know, those people all around the world that buy fancy coloured bits of paper at inflated prices that wont ever be used? Or the people that pay for stamps to send mail just to get examples of commercial postmarks that Royal Mail wont make available to collectors in any other way? Would any other business be happy to see their products being defaced by staff and annoying the hell out of many of their customers?
Once upon a time, mail that was unsuited to, or simply missed, normal automated postmarking would be cancelled by a handstamp. Sometimes it still is and I have examples to prove it! But would it really be so difficult to issue posties with a self inking rubber stamp to do this rather than use a ballpoint pen? If a small self inking rubber stamp was applied using a device constructed like a small stapler it would probably be quicker and easier to use than a ballpoint pen anyway! Such a simple idea could remind posties that collectors are valued by Royal Mail in addition to making sure stamps are cancelled to avoid future reuse. Such a simple idea could encourage rather than dishearten collectors of commercial postmarks. Such a simple idea could encourage stamp traders not to abandon the use of stamps for their mailings to use cheaper competitors or franking arrangements.
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