World Stamps

Phosphor-band error found on new British stamps

Jul 27, 2023, 10 AM
Some of Great Britain Royal Mail’s first-class River Wildlife stamps were printed with one phosphor band instead of two. Royal Mail withdrew the stamps from sale shortly after the July 13 issue date, but it now has a corrected version available.

By Denise McCarty

Royal Mail removed the five first-class River Wildlife stamps from sale shortly after the July 13 issue date “due to a technical error in the printing” that caused some of the first-class stamps to be processed as second-class stamps, according to a statement by a Royal Mail spokesman.

Further information was given on the Royal Mail website, which said that only the first-class stamps purchased before July 26 were affected, while those purchased after July 27 were not.

According to a July 14 post on the Norvic Philatelics blog, this was the “first major phosphor error for many years” on a commemorative stamp issue.

The blog, which provides news about recent Great Britain stamps and related products, reported that the River Wildlife first-class stamps had only one phosphor band instead of two.

(Phosphor bands are used by the automated mail-handling equipment. Royal Mail’s second-class stamps have one phosphor band, while others are supposed to have two.)

As reported in the Aug. 7 issue of Linn’s, the River Wildlife set includes 10 stamps: five se-tenant first-class (£1.10) and five se-tenant second-class (75 pence).

Cartor Security Printing printed the stamps in separate sheets of 50 (sold in panes of 25 at most postal outlets).

The stamps also were available in a presentation pack, which according to Norvic Philatelics also included the first-class stamps with only one phosphor band.

When Linn’s visited Royal Mail’s online shop on July 27, the presentation pack was not available.

The website did have the first-class stamps available in strips of five, panes of 25 and sheets of 50, all presumably from a new printing with two phosphor bands.

While stamp collectors may not want to return their phosphor-error first-class stamps, other postal customers may, and Royal Mail is setting up an exchange system.

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