Monday, 19 August 2013

A Letter Written By Warboys

With thanks to Roy Sanderson

Following your report in the Philatelic Trader of March 1st, I can now add a little to the information on ‘my’ self-adhesive stamps:

Mr E. H. Keeton met me at Stampex, and mentioned the prior existence of self-adhesive 2½p, 3p and 3½p ‘STO’ stamps – and he has since sent me along samples. However, these are printed at the top right corner of labels which measure 3½ x 2½ inches – unlike mine which are printed on paper only slightly larger than the stamp impressions. (The 3p and 3½p of mine are on ‘double size’ paper, as I hoped to persuade the Post Office – so far unsuccessfully – to allow a special motif to be printed alongside the stamp! When the SCPC sheets, apparently with postal use, are issued later perhaps I’ll get them to reconsider…)

May I reiterate my motive for producing these self-adhesive stamps: I honestly believe that we just have to go over to this type of stamp issue – even if it does take a few more years to convince the powers-that-be. If we had used self-adhesive stamps for the past few years and someone said “Look, I’ve got a wonderful new idea: Let’s have stamps we can lick”! What on earth would people say?

I sent samples to the Post Office, and I quote from their reply: “We have decided against the production of self-adhesive stamps for three important reasons: First, many customers (particularly those who use a lot of stamps) would find the extra task of peeling off the backing a nuisance. Second the stamps with backing would be considerably thicker than the present ones; this would increase the amount of storage space necessary in our Supplies Division and in Local Post Offices. Third, self-adhesive stamps would involve us in extra expenditure which we could not justify. As we issue some 7,000,000,000 stamps a year, the increase in printing, distribution, storage and handling costs would involve considerable sums of money.”
I have since written explaining that their Reason 1 is specious and complete nonsense … and suggested that they get someone senior just to try for himself – as I did – sticking on a few100 2½p normal stamps and then the same number of self-adhesive half-pennies. Anyone who thinks I am just suggesting a gimmick should buy some labels and try this for themselves – there simply is no comparison.
Bearing in mind that ‘nuisance’ is the Post Office’s Number One Reason – it makes me wonder just what real thought has been given to the suggestion of self-adhesive stamps. I do not place much credence on their other two stated objections … self-adhesive stamps could be smaller, they could be on the high values, they could be on just one commemorative issue for a try-out – a project which I hope the Post Office will really consider.

Whatever they say now (as they used to about commemorative policy – and the ‘nuisance and irrelevance’ of stamp collectors to the Post Office – in the bad old days of the fifties) we will go over to self-adhesives in the future, I’m sure – and then ‘my’ stamps will be ‘fore-runners’.
I shall not benefit very much financially – I am saving nearly a 100 mint and about the same in FDCs – as I sold pretty well the whole lot to Pat Bullivant, who has sold most of them to other dealers and collectors. I gather a mint set now fetches several pounds and FDCs about a fiver … Ah, well …
I must pay tribute to my Stationery Office Printers – who helped me in every way with care and efficiency AND, I’m delighted to report, to the Post Office people at Trafalgar Square Post Office and West Wimbledon Sorting Office. They cancelled all the covers handed in, neatly and with great care – AND THIS ON A SUNDAY, TOO! As far as I can check not one went astray in the post either – and this included over 100 6½p air letters made up to the 7p rate with a self-adhesive stamp. I never was any good at asking favours of officials so just didn’t try …

Alan Benjamin, of B. Alan Ltd., printed some special envelopes depicting the first Sierra Leone self-adhesive stamps – which they and Shelley Stamps used. I used black envelopes with self-adhesive commemorative and explanatory labels – except for a couple of Alan’s envelopes which I snitched during a visit to Croydon during their printing operation. These I sent along to Sierra Leone.
Sorry I cannot supply the Trade.


1 comment:

GBStamps said...

The Post Office's reasons that Derek mentions are obviously specious, but we do have to note that the technology for the production of large quantities of self-adhesives was not well-developed back in the 1970s, or even as late as the first British self-adhesive booklet in 1993.

It's one thing to produce a few fancy self-stick labels for Sierra Leone or Tonga; it's another to mass-produce millions of stamps for everyday use.

I think Royal Mail did reasonably well in moving to self-adhesives, when the technology advanced and presumably became more cost-effective.