Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

Pictorial Faststamps: Hibernating Animals 14 November 2016

Following the success of  the Christmas-period stamps, especially in post office branches' self-service kiosks, Royal Mail is again issuing just four designs, two for 1st class and two for 2nd class stamps.

Hibernation is an extended period of deep sleep that allows animals to survive winter extremes. Reducing metabolic rate and lowering body temperature enables survival through cold periods when food is scarce or has little energy value. Hibernating species usually work hard to build up large fat reserves before they bed down, and subsist on this during their sleep. They might wake up at intervals to defecate or top up on food.

Few British mammals hibernate during the winter – only the dormouse, hedgehog and the bat species. British snakes also hibernate through the winter months. The grass snake is the UK’s largest snake, growing
to 150cm in length and identifiable by its yellow or cream band behind the head and its delicate body markings. They live in a wide range of wetland habitats but also venture into gardens. Grass Snakes eat as
much as possible before they go into hibernation to store up enough fat in their bodies to live off during their long winter sleep

Pictorial Post & Go stamps appear in machines in UK Post Offices for defined periods of time in the year and this series is intended to provide attractive stamps that are appropriate for the season in which they are issued.

Post & Go terminals allow customers to weigh their letters and packets, pay for and print postage labels and stamps without the need to visit the counter. The first Post & Go machine was trialled in The Galleries Post Office® in Bristol in 2008.  The labels will be used in Post & Go machines at Post Offices around the country and can be obtained with 6 different service indicators: 1st class up to 100g & 1st class Large up to 100g, a dual-value Europe up to 20g/World up to 10g, Europe 100g, Worldwide 20g, and Worldwide 100g *.  The stamps are dispensed singly or in strips of up to 5 or 6 (depending on the machine) of the same value or various values.  On NCR machines 2nd class and 2nd class Large denominations can be dispensed on the appropriate (blue background) reel.  NCR Self-Service machines also dispense stamps with these designs for many different weights and services including Small Parcels, Special Delivery, and International Tracked and Signed. 

* Once again a Collectors Strip of 6 (non-2nd class) Faststamps will be printed on dormouse/bat alternately.  A complete set of all available Faststamp values on all designs will therefore be only 16 stamps.
The new background text - see below right - ought to ensure that the correct rolls are placed in the appropriate part of the machines. This is designed to avoid last year's situation where 2nd class stamps appeared with 1st class values.

2nd class Hibernating Animals Post and Go stamps. 1st class HIbernating Animals Post and Go stamps.
1st class reel: Hedgehog and Grass Snake
2nd class reel: Dormouse and Brown Long-Eared Bat

The Collectors Pack includes the stamps with values as shown.
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The stamps in detailPost and Go Winter Fur and Feathers pack.

Hedgehog: As hedgehogs get ready to hibernate, their body temperature drops down to as low as 2°C, and after that they enter a period of deep sleep. They often use piles of dead leaves and vegetation in gardens as shelter, which means that they are particularly vulnerable when garden bonfires are lit.

Grass Snake: Like all reptiles, grass snakes are cold-blooded and rely on basking in the sun to remain active. As the days get shorter, there is insufficient sun, so they crawl under piles of vegetation or into cracks in banks. They emerge in early summer and can be found basking in the sun once again.

Dormouse:  Dormice can spend over half the year in hibernation. Indeed, their name might come from this trait, from the Latin word for sleep, dormire. They bed down in carefully constructed nests, woven from strands of honeysuckle bark and dried grass, for instance, well hidden in their woodland habitat.

Brown Long-Eared Bat: - Bats rely on a constant source of insects to eat. As the supply of these dwindles in the autumn, they find special hibernation roosts, often returning to the same location year after year. Bats prefer to hibernate at very cold temperatures and are often found in caves and old mine shafts.

Technical details:

Designed by Osborne Ross and illustrated by Chris Wormell, the four 56mm x 25mm stamps are printed in gravure by International Security Printers.   The stamps in the pack will have the service indicator and other detail printed in gravure.   All images are by kind permission of Royal Mail, Copyright 2016. This website is copyright Norvic Philatelics 2016.

Products issued

The labels will be used in Self-Service Kiosks at Post Offices around the country, at Royal Mail Enquiry Offices, and at the Postal Museum.
A mint set of 4 values is also available from Royal Mail's Tallents House Bureau in a pack similar to a presentation pack. The stamps in the pack will be 1st, 1st Large, 2nd and 2nd Large, as shown above, with a philatelic branch code.

Royal Mail again produced a First Day Cover and official First Day Postmarks for these.

Special Postmarks
Postmarks available for the day of issue were shown in Royal Mail's Postmark Bulletins (download here)

This page created 17 November 2016

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