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There seems to be less and less news around these days so as an experiment I have reverted to an annual update.  Below is our 2019 edition providing an update on any Smilers related information, news snippets and anything else we think you might be interested in!  Full details of all new issues will appear under the New Issues menu option.

Earlier News Reports (e.g. Q1-18) are provided in Adobe Acrobat pdf file format and are generally available during the first couple of weeks following the preceding quarter. Click on this link News Archive to go to the Smilers News Archive page

Q1- Q4 2019

  • Star Wars - The Rise of Skywalker ..... 

    ... and apparently Royal Mail's profits for the year!  A smorgasbord of delights are on offer as we approach the festive season with Royal Mail's latest offering featuring the impending ninth installment of the Star Wars films- like Brexit this saga will run and run.

    The force has been strong in this one with the news blackout finally lifted at midnight last night. I can now reveal the (exciting!) news that Royal Mail are planning their third and final stamp issue celebrating the Star Wars films, due out on 26th November 2019. 

    The new set of stamps features characters and iconic vehicles from the film series, in time for the release of the final installment of the Skywalker saga; Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, due for UK cinema release on 19th December 2019. 

    The original trilogy of films (released between 1977 and 1983) was made at Elstree and Shepperton Studios in the UK. The producers of the series, Lucasfilm and Disney, decided to return to a British studio and crew whose expertise contributed to the success of the original movies. The final trilogy of movies has been filmed at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire and the Royal Mail stamps celebrate the British contribution to Star Wars, and mark the world event of the release of the concluding episode and culmination of the Skywalker saga.

    The new set of 10 characters complete the 30 stamp Star Wars collection from across all three epic trilogies. All 10 characters are original, exclusive illustrations by digital artist and Star Wars fan Malcolm Tween who has blended the main images with background scenes to create striking and hyper-realistic montages. The set includes much-loved characters from the original trilogy such as Wicket Ewok and Lando Calrissian but also introduces three brand-new characters from the latest blockbuster: The Rise of Skywalker.

    As you may imagine, all manner of goodies are on offer from Royal Mail for this bumper stocking filler issue including a set of 10 x 1st class stamps, retail booklets (6 x 1st), prestige stamp booklets, limited edition prestige stamp booklets, presentation packs,  Mini Sheets (with and without barcodes), First Day Covers, composite collector sheets of all 30 x 1st star wars stamps, generic collectors sheets (10 x 1st self adhesive), First Day Covers for sets, mini sheets, collector sheets, framed sets, packs, sheets, etc., etc.,

    That said, there are at least a couple of items that may be of interest to Smilers sheet collectors! The first is a composite sheet comprising all thirty (30) different character stamps which have appeared across Royal Mail’s Star Wars trilogy of issues. Set against the striking backdrop of Darth Vader, we will be stocking this sheet priced at £27.95 including p+p.

    The main event for us Smilers collectors is a new generic sheet featuring, similar in concept and design to the previous two Star Wars generic sheets.  

    This A4-sized collector sheet contains each of the 10 new Star Wars character stamps. The background depicts a key scene from The Force Awakens in which the Resistance launch an attack on Starkiller Base. As may be less obvious, this A4 sheet is Self-Adhesive and as a result these stamps vary from the standard set which are conventionally Gummed. Our Price: £12.95 + p+p. (15/11)

  • Manchester Untied  

    Recently I received this image from a long time contributor which looks to be one half of a business customised stamp sheet, issued in 2013 to commemorate Manchester United's success as Premiership champions in the 2012-2013 season. 

    The striking thing for me about this image is not the fact that Manchester United won the Premiership (remember those days?) but that I have only ever seen this format used once before in the guise of the Oddfellows sheet issued in 2010 (BC276a).

    Returning to the Manchester United find, what I find slightly puzzling about this sheet is that if it were a genuine Business Customised sheet produced privately to commemorate this event then at least 200 half sheets would exist as the minimum print run was 100 sheets of 20 stamps/labels.  If produced for the club's mail shots then I would have thought some of these smilers stamps/labels would have turned up in kiloware. 

    More likely, in my opinion, is that this was an in-house job produced my a keen Man United supporter, perhaps as a marketing tool, but one that never made it off the drawing board.  However, I will keep an open mind and I encourage readers to write in with any comments or suggestions if they have information which can shed any light on its provenance. (10/11)

  • Direct Marketing Awards 2019  

    Royal Mail have been spotted offering a personalised stamp service at the recent DMA (Direct Marketing Awards) Shortlist Awards! It is a great shame in my view that the British  public are excluded from accessing this service and I think we should start a campaign to Bring Back Smilers (but perhaps after the election)! (01/11)

  • Apollo 11 Generic Sheet - Bar Humbug! 

    Today I received a pro-forma invoice from Royal Mail for some items I buy on standing order.  This is called an Order Advice Note and it lists forthcoming purchases and provides a summary costing  This additional new issue is due out on 26th November 2019 and one particular item caught my eye.

    • Apollo Stamp Set
    • Apollo Generic Sheet
    • Apollo Mini Sheet BC
    • Apollo 6 x 1st Bk
    • Apollo PSB

    From the above it would appear that an as yet unnamed Generic Smilers sheet is due for issue on the 26th November 2019, the third in as many weeks!  My first thought was that the name linked to another well known anniversary this year but I was reminded of a certain astral episodic event due out soon (I believe it is Episode 9!) and that may well explain the connection.  (25/10)

  • Christmas 2019 Generic Sheet 

    Royal Mail have announced details of their 2019 Generic Christmas sheet due to be released on 5th November 2019. In addition to a set of eight new stamps, a mini sheet and other collectible products Royal Mail will release a generic Smilers sheet.

    GS-120

    The sheet will comprise 8 x 2nd, 8 x 1st, 1 x £1.35 1 x £1.55, 1 x £1.60 and 1 x £2.30 stamps and labels, complete with illustrated, starry background. The original artwork circulated in the Philatelic Key News publication featured a different image incorporating a quote from The King James Bible, however this seems to have been dropped in the final release artwork - we shall have to wait and see which one is correct!

    The price direct from Royal Mail for this sheet is £18.40 and we will be stocking this sheet as usual for our overseas clients and others priced at £25.00 plus £2 p+p.  It will be available for dispatch by 5th November 2019. Please e-mail  me with your requirements in the first instance. (07/10)

  • The Gruffalo Generic Sheet 

    On 10th October 2019 Royal Mail plan to issue, in addition to a set of six new stamps, a mini sheet and other collectible products, a brand new generic Smilers sheet comprising  10 x 1st class stamps and labels featuring four new stamp designs as featured in the mini sheet issued as part of Royal Mail's latest mega media Gruffalo issue. The issue is timed to coincide with the the 20th anniversary of The Gruffalo, a 1999 children’s picture book. 

    GS-119

    Whilst the stamp designs may have an appeal with younger children, I do not expect this media based issue will be very popular with the British stamp collecting community. Despite an apparent appeal with the younger generation, unfortunately for Royal Mail they don't buy many stamps! Taking into account Royal Mail's falling share price and tumbling profits there appears to be no evidence that these so called pop-culture issues add any value to Royal Mail as far as its shareholders are concerned. Is it not time that Royal Mail re-thought their special stamps issue strategy and selected more traditional themes that the stamp buying public can get excited by? Have your say over on our Smilers-Blog page.  (05/10) 

  • Smilers that failed to Smile # 5   

    Continuing my occasional series featuring Royal Mail Smilers projects that never saw the light of day, this latest installment features the artwork of Adrian Bradbury back in 2011 which I understand did not receive approval from Royal Mail and hence fell at the first hurdle. It is not clear why the sheet failed to please! (18/09) 

  • Latest news from Universal Mail 

    UniversalMail UK has recently released a total of 38 reprinted and 1 new International Postcard stamp strips all dated 07/19. This is the second major release by UniversalMail UK, following a similar "mega" issue dated 02/19, earlier this year.

    The single new strip features images depicting the University of Glasgow and is coded UK0194 07/19.

    The list of updated strips all dated 07/19 are as follows:

  • UK0001 International Postcard Stamp - London Day

  • UK0002 International Postcard Stamp - London Night

  • UK0003 International Postcard Stamp - London Icons

  • UK0004 International Postcard Stamp - Tower Bridge

  • UK0007 International Postcard Stamp - London Eye

  • UK0020 International Postcard Stamp - Scotland

  • UK0023 International Postcard Stamp - Northern Ireland

  • UK0029 International Postcard Stamp - HS Edinburgh

  • UK0040 International Postcard Stamp - Oxford

  • UK0041 International Postcard Stamp - Sussex

  • UK0042 International Postcard Stamp - South England

  • UK0043 International Postcard Stamp - Kent

  • UK0044 International Postcard Stamp - West Country 1

  • UK0046 International Postcard Stamp - Bath

  • UK0051 International Postcard Stamp - Cambridge

  • UK0053 International Postcard Stamp - North West England

  • UK0055 International Postcard Stamp - South Wales

  • UK0057 International Postcard Stamp - Animals of Scotland

  • UK0058 International Postcard Stamp - Scottish Icons

  • UK0061 International Postcard Stamp - Glasgow

  • UK0062 International Postcard Stamp - Inverness

  • UK0063 International Postcard Stamp - Isle of Skye

  • UK0064 International Postcard Stamp - North Wales Attractions

  • UK0070 International Postcard Stamp - Roman Baths

  • UK0072 International Postcard Stamp - St Paul's Cathedral

  • UK0094 International Postcard Stamp - Lake District

  • UK0100 International Postcard Stamp - Wiltshire

  • UK0103 International Postcard Stamp - Devon

  • UK0104 International Postcard Stamp - Dorset

  • UK0119 International Postcard Stamp - Edinburgh

  • UK0120 International Postcard Stamp - Cornwall

  • UK0123 International Postcard Stamp - Titanic

  • UK0129 International Postcard Stamp - National Railway Museum

  • UK0152 International Postcard Stamp - Windsor

  • UK0168 International Postcard Stamp - Tate

  • UK0180 International Postcard Stamp - Westminster Abbey

  • UK0188 International Postcard Stamp - Science Museum

  • UK0190 International Postcard Stamp - Official Queen Elizabeth II

  • UK0194 International Postcard Stamp - University of Glasgow

We can supply all of the above whilst stocks last and all are priced at £10.00 each  inclusive of 1st class UK postage. Additional postage charges may apply for delivery to Europe or Worldwide, depending on order.  Please e-mail me with your requirements in the first instance. 

My Universal Mail UK Collectors Guide has been updated with details of the latest issues and is available as a free download, click on link above. (17/09)  

  • Year of the Rat 

    Royal Mail have announced the issue of their latest Chinese New Year Smilers sheet in the form of the Year of the Rat Generic Sheet. Due out on 18th November 2019, this is a continuation of the series of Lunar New Year Generic Sheets Royal Mail has issued since 2012.  2020 is the ‘Year of the Rat’ which runs from the 25th January 2020 to the 11th February 2021. 

    GS-121

    The sheet has been designed by Hat-Trick and features 20 x First Class "Big Bang" Smilers ‘Fireworks’ stamps alongside labels showing images of Chinese New Year festivities in named cities around the UK set against an ornate background featuring paper cut-outs created by artist Rebecca Sutherland. The Rat is the first in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Individuals born under this sign are likely to be industrious, thrifty, diligent and positive. Presumably we can look forward to at least another three more sheets in this series. 

    The sheet has been given provisional catalogue reference of GS-121 following the issue of the Stockholmia sheet earlier in the summer (GS-118). Lookout for further news of three more generic sheets due out later this year - we would love to share the images but we can't, yet!  (13/09) 

  • 2019 Autumn STAMPEX sheet announced.  

    The Philatelic Traders Society (PTS) will again be selling a Business Customised Stamp sheet at this Autumn's STAMPEX event to be held at the usual venue between 11th and 14th September 2019 (Business Design Centre, Islington). 

     

    We will be supplying this sheet priced at £24.95 each incl. of p+p and pre-orders are now being taken, for those that cannot make it to the show. Please e-mail me with your requirements.

    This sheet is likely to be the last such sheet from a STAMPEX event - I understand there is one final sheet in the pipeline which will be made available at the London 2020 show to be held in May 2020. (14/08)

  • 75th Anniversary of D-Day Commemorative Sheet from Jersey Post   

    Earlier this month Jersey Post released their latest Commemorative Stamp Sheet (A Smilers sheet by any other name!) commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Issued on 6 June 2019 to coincide with the anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy the sheet features 20 x Jersey Flag (UK Letter Rate) stamps and black and white images of the landings in progress. 

     

    We have the sheet in stock and are able to supply this sheet priced at £25.00 + £1.50 p+p.  As usual, please e-mail me in the first instance to reserve your copy. Limited stocks available. (19/06)

  • 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landings   

    It is almost fifty years since Neil Armstrong made history in stepping on to the Moon on 20th July 1969.  Believe it or not it is also ten years since Ridgewood Stamp Sheets issued its business customised stamp sheet commemorating the 40th anniversary of this historical event.

    Given the positive reception we received to our BA100 Customised Smilers Pack we decided to produce a limited edition (50) Customised Smilers Pack to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, and here it is .....

       

    As you know, Royal Mail have ceased production of Business Customised Smilers, so we have used the stamps and labels from our earlier sheet to create this brand new collectible which we hope will keep the Smilers flame alive for a few more months.

    Included in the pack is an individually numbered information card containing a brief history of this event, from the visionary speech by John F. Kennedy in 1962 to touching down in the Sea of Tranquility at 16.18 EDT and taking that first step just hours later.

    This great collectible is delivered in a sealed pack and available for purchase immediately from our e-commerce website. Just click on either image above to purchase online from our e-shop, or alternatively drop me an e-mail with your requirements.  

    We have no other customised Smilers packs planned for the remainder of the year although we are open to suggestions!!!   One significant anniversary we have already identified in 2020 is the 20th Anniversary of the introduction of GB personalised stamp sheets at the Stamp Show in 2000.  Watch this space and keep smiling!!  (20/05)   

  • Stockholmia 2019   

    Royal Mail have released updated pre-issue images of their latest exhibition/Generic Smilers sheet due out on the 29th May 2019. The sheet design sticks to its tried and tested formula of 20 x "Hello" DS stamps and adjoining labels with a panoramic view of the host city in the background.  

    The original artwork did not have the white background bleed at upper right now included in the updated image and I can only assume that there has been a last minute change of heart by Royal Mail. 

    GS-118

    Here is is an earlier image provided to key account customers in March 2019. All other aspects of the design appear to be the same. 

    The sheet will be available from Royal Mail from 29th May 2019 priced £15.10 plus delivery.  We will also be stocking this sheet and it will be available from us at £19.95 inc. UK delivery. Please e-mail in the first instance if you would like to reserve a copy. (03/05)

  • 60th Anniversary of Jersey Zoo   

    Jersey Post have announced the planned issue on the 28th April 2019 of a commemorative sheet celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Jersey Zoo. 

    Jersey Zoo is operated by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and the Jersey Post Commemorative Sheet is made up of twenty Jersey Flag, UK Letter stamps adjoined to labels. The labels feature images of author and naturalist Gerald Durrell, together with several species found at Jersey Zoo. 

    We would be pleased to supply this sheet after the 28th April 2019 priced at £25.00 + £1.50 p+p.  As usual, please e-mail me in the first instance to reserve your copy. Limited stocks available. (24/04)

  • Smilers that failed to Smile # 4   

    The next example of Royal Mail Smilers projects that never saw the light of day comes from the Buckingham stable and is a sheet that would have seen the light of day were it not for the intervention of the Palace!

    Tony Buckingham and his crew met stiff opposition from the Palace when he and his team proposed to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Abdication of King Edward VIII planned for 2012.  The "Dear John" letter from the Palace seems to sum it up. (24/04))

  • Victoria Line 50th Anniversary   

    ... and now for something completely different!  

    In 2013 Royal Mail issued a Mini Sheet celebrating Underground Posters Art as part of their 150th Anniversary of the London Underground issue.  One of the stamps within the mini sheet (87p) featured a poster of the opening of the Victoria Line in 1969 and this year is the 50th Anniversary of the Victoria Line - hardly possible for those of us who can remember it opening!

    Given the existence of this stamp and to mark this event, I have produced a commemorative special-hand stamp cover featuring this stamp,  primarily for all the railway enthusiasts who are suffering withdrawal symptoms at the demise of the multitude of railway inspired Smilers sheets from the stables of Benham, Buckingham and Bradbury!! Enjoy....  

    A limited quantity of only 20 covers were produced as an initial trial to gauge interest in such collectibles,  which I know should be popular with thematic collectors.  Just click on the above image to link to my eBay shop and purchase directly through eBay. If you don't have an eBay account just e-mail with your requirements. (16/03)

  • Spiderman and BA100   

    We at Ridgewood are delighted to announce an innovation in Customised Stamp sheets.  With the demise of the Royal Mail Business Customised service in mid-2018 we have been left with a very few STAMPEX sheets remaining before we draw a veil over this chapter of customised stamp sheet collecting. Or so we thought!

    The arrival of the 150th Anniversary of St Pancras Customised Stamp Pack last November, a product devised by Heritage Media Ltd. for St. Pancras Station's 150th Anniversary celebrations, got us thinking.  What if we could breathe new life in to some of the old Smilers sheets that exist and perhaps create new collectible items of interest for Smilers collectors?  

    Our first product along these lines is a souvenir Smilers cover out tomorrow timed to coincide with Royal Mail's Heroes and Defenders issue.  We have produced a limited number of Smilers covers (25) bearing a pair of 16 year- old Smilers stamps/labels  which, hopefully you will agree, has breathed new life in to the stamps/labels.

     

    Click on the image to buy this cover from our eBay shop (priced £5.95 +pp) or alternatively drop me an e-mail with your requirements. We can supply a complete set of 5 covers with all stamp/label combinations from the sheet for £25 incl. p+p.

    Other products are available as you will see in our eBay shop based on Royal Mail's Heroes and Defenders/Marvel issue, and here's just one we thought worked really well.

    Finally, we are very pleased to announce the arrival of our BA 100 project

    In this the centenary year of British Airways we can only imagine the number and variety of Customised Smilers sheets that may have appeared from the Benham, Bradbury, Buckingham, Westminster stables had Royal Mail  not terminated the customised stamp sheet service last year.  And them we remembered our 90th Anniversary sheet issued 10 years ago and we started thinking, what if ... 

    ... and here it is:

     

    We have produced a limited edition of 50 Customised Smilers Packs providing a fitting tribute in the British Airways centenary year,  backed up by a uniquely numbered information card outlining the history of this great airline all delivered in a sealed pack and available for purchase immediately from our e-commerce website. Just click on either image above to be transported as if by magic to our e-shop, or alternatively drop me an e-mail with your requirements. (14/03)

  • Smilers that failed to Smile # 3   

    Here is my next installment of some of the Royal Mail Smilers projects that never saw the light of day. This time it's an example of an Adrian Bradbury design that failed to materialize. It was to be the first in a series of sheets by Adrian featuring British Books but in the end Adrian dropped the idea in favour of his History of Britain series. Shame! (12/03)

  • Universal Mail Update   

    To all those interested in Universal Mail UK Strips, my apologies for the long silence since the last update, but it's been quite an uphill battle to nail down details surrounding  the latest new issues!  That said, there is light at the end of the tunnel based on additional information forthcoming from Universal Mail UK who have been very helpful recently in tracking down this missing information.  Whilst not fully complete I have made progress and I feel the time is right to share this with you.  

    I have updated my catalogue of these issue as at end of February 2019 and am now trying to track down the following:

    There was a printing in 05/18 but UMUK didn’t have any stocks left of the following:

    • 05/18 UK0020 Scotland 
    • 05/18 UK0041 Sussex 
    • 05/18 UK0051 Cambridge 
    • 05/18 UK0057 Animals of Scotland 
    • 05/18 UK0058 Scottish Icons 
    • 05/18 UK0062 Inverness 
    • 05/18 UK0063 Isle of Sky 
    • 05/18 UK0104 Dorset

    Then there are the Bespoke issues UMUK alerted me to but can't supply.

    • 05/18 UK0076 Beatles 
    • 05/18 UK0126 Madame Tussauds 
    • 05/18 UK0162 Alnwick Castle 
    • 05/18 UK0167 Dunvegan Castle 
    • 05/18 UK0168 Tate Museum
    • 09/18 UK0030 Historic Scotland Stirling 
    • 09/18 UK0036 Historic Scotland Central 
    • 09/18 UK0038 Historic Scotland North 
    • 09/18 UK0068 Giant’s Causeway 
    • 09/18 UK0070 Roman Baths 
    • 09/18 UK0072 St Pauls Cathedral 
    • 09/18 UK0076 Beatles 
    • 09/18 UK0077 Visit Oxfordshire 
    • 09/18 UK0123 Titanic 
    • 09/18 UK0148 House of Commons 
    • 09/18 UK0153 Tower Bridge Exhibition 
    • 09/18 UK0162 Alnwick Castle 
    • ??/??  UK0166 London Icons with £1.50 denomination
    • 09/18 UK0167 Dunvegan Castle 
    • 09/18 UK0168 Tate Museum 
    • UK0169 - Gap
    • UK0170 - Gap
    • UK0171 - Gap
    • UK0172 - Gap
    • UK0173 - Gap
    • UK0174 - Gap
    • UK0175 - Gap
    • UK0176 - Gap
    • UK0177 - Gap
    • UK0178 - Gap
    • UK0179 - Gap
    • UK0180 Westminster Abbey 
    • UK0182 Marble Arch Caves 
    • UK0183 - Gap
    • UK0184 – this code apparently does not exist according to UMUK
    • 09/18 UK0185 Green Welly Shop 
    • 09/18 UK0186 Jane Austen House Museum
    • 09/18 UK0187 National Gallery Museum (Monet) 
    • 09/18 UK0188 Science Museum  
    • 09/18 UK0189 Body Worlds

    When I contacted some of the above Bespoke outlets they could not supply them to me because UMUK had yet to supply them!  

    A conundrum for me in that UMUK would not supply  Bespoke strips to me and the Bespoke Outlet could not supply me. I am therefore trying to resolve these gaps and omissions with Universal Mail as I write and I am hopeful that these can be sorted out before the end of the month.  Universal Mail have already altered me to further re-prints and new issues in the process of being printed so it would be good to get these put to bed before the latest batch are released. (12/03)

  • Smilers that failed to Smile # 2   

    Continuing my short series of Royal Mail Smilers projects that never saw the light of day, here's one from Bletchley Park Post Office which was floated in 2009 to mark Andrew Strauss benefit year but ran into licensing problems and like some others had to be shelved! (26/02)

  • Smilers Programme 2019 

    Royal Mail have provided further insight to their stamp issuing programme for 2019 at a Trade briefing held recently at Spring Stampex.  Most of the following will, by now, be old news but for those of you who don't spend their life thinking about Royal Mail's next issue, here is a brief summary of what we know today.

    • 5 January: Stamp Classics 
    • 13 February: Leonardo Da Vinci 
    • 14 March: Marvel Comics (*Smilers sheet announced*)
    • 19 March : 2019 Tariff Change Definitive and Regional stamps
    • 4 April: Birds of Prey 
    • 2 May: British Engineering 
    • 24 May: Queen Victoria Bicentenary 
    • 29 May : TBC 
    • 6 June: D-Day 
    • 9 July: Curious Customs 
    • 13 Aug: Forests 
    • 19 Sept: Royal Navy Ships 
    • October - TBC 
    • 5 Nov: Christmas 
    • ?? November - TBC 

    Whilst there is still secrecy surrounding most issues (notably May, October and November) and images and products descriptions for most of the above are not yet available, I can confirm that there is interest in this list for us Smilers sheet Collectors in 2019 who should pay close attention to issues in March (Marvel Comics), May, November and December (Christmas) and possibly in late November we might even see a Year of the Rat sheet - more later! (26/02)

  • Smilers that failed to Smile # 1   

    As you may have guessed by the longevity of this website blog, I just love Smilers and the stories that surround them.  I started this website over 10 years ago with help from like minded individuals and we have managed to keep it going through feast and famine.   Now that Royal Mail have pulled the plug on Business Customised Sheets and personalised Smilers the news columns seem a bit thin on new stuff to me.  In an effort  to brighten up the column I am turning to some old stories and hopefully these may stimulate collector interest into this area of stamp collecting. 

    The stories behind the production of these sheets can be quote interesting and some of these have been captured either in the Smilers catalogue or in this column in the past.  But what of the sheets that never made it?  Not a huge number failed but nevertheless some have interesting stories and some are just nice to look at and to think of what might have been!  I have therefore decided to feature a few designs from time to time for the enjoyment of my blog readers.

    Here's a very early design from The Stamp Centre for a sheet based on the 1960's TV series The Prisoner which stared Patrick McGoohan.  It ran into licensing problems and in the end Steven Scott dropped the design in favour of a series of Dr. Who sheets, what a great decision that turned out to be! (21/02)

        

  • Marvel-Less Smilers    

    As hinted at earlier, Royal Mail have now brought forward their official launch date for the mega Film/TV themed issue planned for March to today and have announced a set of stamps and collectibles (far too long for me to list them all) based on the theme - Marvel Comics.  There are stamps, retail booklets, prestige booklets, limited edition prestige booklets, first day covers, presentation packs, framed sheets, more covers but no comics I am reliably informed.

    More specifically, RM have confirmed plans to issue a Generic Stamp Sheet on 14th March 2019 comprising 10 stamps and labels although, I have to confess, I am not sure which are the stamps and which are the labels!!

     

    I get it that it is supposed to look like a comic and I guess to that end they have succeeded. However I would have thought that some enterprising individual or other might overprint the labels with the Queen's head and a "1st" value and use them as postage thus halving the cost of a 1st class stamp!  I am sure some Royal Mail operatives would have difficultly differentiating the real stamps from the overprinted labels.  What an ignominious design this is - Royal Mail have definitely lost the plot and now cannot, it seems, differentiate between stamps of the realm and comic labels!  (19/02) 

  • A Marvelous Start to 2019    

    Royal Mail's 2019 stamp programme has been officially announced and an issue scheduled for March is under strict secrecy until it's official launch on 21st February 2019.  

    What I know is that it is another mega Film/TV theme based issue with lots of products and variations for the collecting community.  Of particular interest to us here at Smilers-Info is the news that there will be at least one 10-stamp generic Smilers sheet featuring these new stamps with additional imagery on the labels and backgrounds. The TV/Film theme has not been announced to the Philatelic Trade but rumors abound with some even claiming to have seen these new stamps at local post offices. However, I am sure we shall all marvel at the designs and collectibles when these are officially announced next week! (16/02) 

  • The Bear Facts!    

    A regular to these columns contacted me yesterday with news of an apparent "new find" based on the Paddington Bear generic sheet from 2006 (GS-030).

    In an e-mail to me I was asked if I was aware of ....

    ".... a newly discovered Paddington Bear Sheet which had a printing of 200 Sheets although 190 were used for postage leaving 10 available to Collectors. Every Label is over-printed with the Anniversary and there are additional 'bear paw' footsteps and information."

    My response was concise and to the point -No!

    I did provide the contributor with my opinion which I will share with readers (see below). However a little more by way of context was added by another reader earlier today who advised me that these sheets (3 of them) had been sold on eBay for an undisclosed amount but that they had originally been offered by eBay seller BFDC1947 from Leicester (Rings a bell!) for £200.00 each!  An amazing mark- up on sheet that originally cost less than £7.00!  Click on the image above to see the completed eBay listing and form your own opinion. 

    In my humble opinion for what it's worth - frankly I don’t believe a word of it. Someone  is trying to pass on a number of overprinted generic sheets and make some easy money with a questionable story.  If 190 sheets were used for postage then you would expect at least one of the 3800 stamps to turn up on ebay in kiloware!  Sorry, but I won't be  buying it, listing it and I certainly don't buy the story! I suggest you do the same. Caveat Emptor!! (16/02)

  • Happy Chinese New Year    

    A belated Happy Chinese New Year for yesterday and I hope all my readers have a great year! As reported earlier, I have produced a Themed Smilers sheet and Commemorative Cover and both are now in stock and available for purchase.  Both items are in my eBay shop so please take a look at the various selection of themed Smilers sheets and covers on offer, which may differ from my routine stock. Here's the cover I have produced to welcome in the Year of the Pig. (06/02)

  • Halley's Comet 00001     

    Mark Brandon has been in touch to let me know about a rather unique Commemorative Stamp Sheet Pack from Royal Mail.  The Halley's Comet Commemorative Stamp Pack was issued in May 2010, just in time for London 2010, and as these were still in their infancy Royal Mail numbered these individually, a practice that has since evaporated in recent years!

    Mark Brandon has advised that a sheet with Serial Number 00001 is available to purchase from him priced £750.00 and if interested readers are requested to make contact with Mark by e-mailing him at: mark@regalstamps.co.uk (06/02)  

  • Kettering Stamp & Philatelic Society    

    RM, an eagle-eyed contributor to this column, spotted a hitherto unseen Smilers item on eBay earlier today and gave me a call to alert me to the find, for which I am very grateful. It has allowed me to share the following rare snippet of Smilers news. 

    The Kettering Stamp & Philatelic Society celebrate their 20th Anniversary this year and have produced a presentation pack featuring two personalised Smilers stamps.

    The club originally planned to do a pack to be given free to all of their members as a thank-you along with a selection of covers and generic sheets to sell, to raise funds for the club. Two sheets of both the Penny Red and Penny Black Smilers stamps were produced initially last year for committee review and approval. However when the Club decided to order a further 30 sheets of each Royal Mail had stopped accepting new orders.  As a result they decided to produce 20 Presentation Packs containing one of each stamp and tab, 20 years so 20 packs at £20 each to raise funds for the club.

    The club also produced 10 souvenir covers of each design with a local Kettering postmark, although I understand there are very few of these left.

    Finally, the club also made available a small quantity of single Smilers stamps sold in plastic bags as follows.

     

    The presentation packs are priced at £20 each, the covers are priced at £3 each and the single stamps are priced at £2.50 all of which are available from the club whilst stocks last.  If interested please e-mail James Dickinson in the first instance (click on link) who will confirm pricing and availability. (20/01)

  • Lunar New Year - Year of the Pig Themed Smilers Sheet    

    Following on from the past couple of years I have produced a limited edition themed sheet commemorating the Lunar New Year, Year of the Pig. As with last year I hope to produce a First Day Cover in February using these Smilers stamps/labels but that will be dependant on the availability  of a suitable special hand-stamp marking the event, details of which have yet to be announced, more later.  For those interested in collecting the sheet here it is!

    TS-572

    As with the previous item I have a very few sheets available for purchase priced £39.95 each including p+p, and again due to limited availability I am offering these on a first come, first served basis. If interested please send me an e-mail to confirm your interest. (12/01) 

  • Isle of Pabay Winter 2018 - Themed Smilers Sheet    

    The Isle of Pabay Themed Smilers sheet for 2018 is out and this year it features an image used for an Isle of Pabay 75p local stamp.

    TS-571

    With a change in Royal Mail's policy this year increasing the minimum order number of personalised themed sheets to c. 40 we believe, it may well be the last themed sheet from Isle of Pabay folks, let's hope that Royal Mail relax this policy going forward. 

    The interesting thing about this sheet is that Royal Mail have reverted to stocks of Glorious Scotland with the Rampant Lion stamp rather than the Saltire flag which appeared unannounced a couple of years back.  Could it be that Royal Mail stocks are being wound down by Royal Mail and as soon as they have been used up,  that will trigger the end of the personalised formats? Only time will tell!

    I have a very few sheets available for purchase priced £49.95 each including p+p, as usual due to limited availability I am offering these on a first come, first served basis. If interested please send me an e-mail to confirm your interest. (12/01) 

  • Spring STAMPEX Smilers announced    

    As the delights of Christmas gently recede into our memories for yet another year it's time to look forward to 2019 and all the delights that the year holds!  The PTS have  announced their forthcoming Spring STAMPEX exhibition Business Customised Smilers sheet which will be available for purchase from the Spring STAMPEX event, to be held as usual at the Business Design Centre 52 Upper Street, London, N1 0QH, during the period 13-16 February 2019.   

     

    This years theme is classic stamps of the world, to coincide with Royal Mail's classic British Stamps issue in January.  I am sure you will join me in complementing the PTS for the foresight to order these before Royal Mail closed the Business Customised Stamp service in 2018.   We will be stocking these sheets priced £21.95 incl. p+p (UK) £25.00 (worldwide) so if interested please e-mail your requirements. (27/12)

Smilers® is a trademark of Royal Mail Group Limited

Keep Smiling!

 
                                    Last updated: November 17, 2019