Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

Pictorial Faststamps: Freshwater Life - Lakes - 25 June 2013

In 2013 the Post & Go pictorial Faststamps series will be on Freshwater Life.   Freshwater covers just one per cent of the Earth’s surface, yet ten per cent of the world’s creatures live in this environment.

Half of the United Kingdom's ponds have been lost in the twentieth century. The series will feature some of the fish, amphibians and invertebrates that live in the UK’s ponds, lakes and rivers over a set of three issues. ‘Ponds’ is the first issue in the series, followed by ‘Lakes’ (20 June) and then ‘Rivers’ (20 September).

There will be three sets of stamps in the year. This set looks at lake life.   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 from the Hytech machines at Midpex, and then probably Autumn Stampex.

The labels can be obtained with 6 different service indicators: 1st class up to 100g & 1st class Large up to 100g, Europe up to 20g, Worldwide up to 10g and 20g, and the new Worldwide 40g.  The stamps are dispensed singly or in strips of up to 5 of the same value or various values. Thus there are 36 different value/design combinations in total.   

Faststamp showing a Perch. Faststamp showing an eel.
Faststamp showing a Crucian CarpFaststamp showing Cadis Fly Larva.
Faststamp showing Arctic Char. Faststamp showing common toad.

Row 1: Perch - European Eel
Row 2:  Crucian Carp - Caddis Fly Larva
Row 3: Arctic Char - Common Toad
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The stamps in detail


Perca fluviatilis, commonly known as the European perch or just perch, is a predatory fish found in Europe and Asia. The species is popular with anglers and has been widely introduced beyond its native area, into Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and elsewhere. They have caused substantial damage to native fish populations in Australia.  Perch are greenish with red pelvic, anal and caudal fins. They have five to nine dark vertical bars on their sides. They can vary greatly in size between lakes and live for up to 22 years. Older perch are often much larger than the average; the maximum recorded length is 60 cm. The British record is 2.8 kg.  Perch spawn at the end of April or beginning of May, depositing the eggs upon water plants, or the branches of trees or shrubs that have become immersed in the water. The eggs have been known to stick to the legs of wading birds and be transferred to other waters that the birds visit.

European Eel

The European eel, Anguilla anguilla, can reach (in exceptional cases) a length of 1.5 m, but is normally much smaller, about 60–80 cm. Eels spawn and then die in the Sargasso Sea. The larvae drift towards Europe where they enter river estuaries as glass eels and migrate upstream. After entering fresh water glass eels grow into miniature versions of the adult eels called elvers. They grow for between 5–20 years in fresh water. As they become sexually mature their eyes grow larger, their flanks become silver and their bellies white in colour. At this stage the eels are known as "silver eels", and they begin their migration back to the Sargasso Sea to breed.  The European Eel is critically endangered. Since the 1970s, the numbers of eels reaching Europe is thought to have declined by around 90 per cent. Contributing factors include overfishing, parasites, barriers to migration such as hydroelectric plants, and natural changes in the North Atlantic oscillation, Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic drift. Recent work suggests that PCB pollution may also be a factor in the decline.  Eels have been important sources of food both as adults (including the famous jellied eels of East London) and as glass eels (which are eels at a stage in their life cycle just before they reach juvenile stage).

Crucian Carp

The crucian carp (Carassius carassius) is a member of the carp family, the Cyprinidae. It is a European species and its wide range spans from England to Russia, living in lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers. The crucian is typically 15 cm in body length, and rarely exceeds 1.5 kilograms in weight. Young fish are golden-bronze, but darken with maturity to a dark green back with deep bronze upper flanks, and gold on the lower flanks and belly with reddish or orange fins, although other colour variations exist.   The variation in shape of a crucian carp can be very high. When cohabiting waters with predatory fish like pike or perch, the fish become almost perfect disc shape with well-rounded fins, making it difficult for predators to swallow them. The crucian carp can hybridise with feral goldfish producing viable but sterile fry. The crucian carp is scarce but locally abundant in the UK and probably in decline in the UK.

Caddis Fly Larva

The caddisflies are small moth-like insects having two pairs of hairy membranous wings. They are closely related to moths and butterflies. Caddisflies have aquatic larvae and are found in a wide variety of habitats such as streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, spring seeps, and temporary waters. The larvae of many species make protective cases of silk decorated with gravel, sand, twigs or other debris; others live without a case.  Caddisfly larvae excrete silk from salivary glands near their mouths, for case building. The cases are open at both ends, with the larva drawing oxygenated water through the back of the case, over the gills. The front of the case is usually wider and it is to this end that they add material as they grow. Their abdomens are soft but their tougher front ends project from their larval tubes allowing them to walk, dragging their cases along with them.

Arctic Char

The Arctic char Salvelinus alpinus) is a member of the salmon family, native to Arctic, sub-Arctic and alpine lakes and coastal waters. It breeds in fresh water, and populations can be either landlocked or anadromous, migrating to the sea. No other freshwater fish is found as far north. It is one of the rarest fish species in the UK, found only in deep, cold, glacial lakes, mostly in Scotland and Northern Ireland, with a few populations in England and Wales. It is under pressure in its range and considered an excellent indicator species for climate change. In other parts of its range, such as Scandinavia, it is much more common, and is fished extensively. The Arctic char is closely related to both salmon and lake trout, and has many characteristics of both. Individual fish can weigh 20 lb (9.1 kg) or more.

Common Toad

The common or European toad (Bufo bufo) is found throughout Europe. Toads usually lie hidden during the day, becoming active at dusk and spend the night hunting for the invertebrates on which they feed. They move with a slow ungainly walk or short jumps. Their skin is greyish brown and covered with wart-like lumps.  Although usually solitary animals, in the breeding season large numbers of toads converge on often long-established breeding ponds, where the males compete to mate with the females. Eggs are laid in gelatinous strings in the water and later hatch out into tadpoles. After several months of growth and development, these sprout limbs and become tiny toads. The juveniles emerge from the water and remain largely terrestrial for the rest of their lives.  The common toad seems to be in decline in part of its range, including southern England; because it is widespread and still numerous in large parts of Europe it is listed as being of "Least Concern" in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is threatened by habitat loss, especially by drainage of its breeding sites, and some toads get killed on the roads as they make their annual migrations.

Technical details:

Designed by Kate Stephens and illustrated by Chris Wormell the six 56mm x 25mm stamps are printed in gravure by Walsall Security Printers, with two phosphor bars.  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 2013. This website is copyright Norvic Philatelics 2013.

Products issued

The labels will be used in Post & Go machines at Post Offices around the country.
A mint set of 6 x 1st will also be available from Royal Mail's Tallents House Bureau in a pack similar to a presentation pack. All values in the pack are 1st Class with a philatelic branch code.

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

Special Postmarks
Postmarks available for the day of issue will be shown here These are not to scale. These postmarks cannot be obtained after the date of issue.

Official first day of issue postmark for pond life faststamps.
Postmark showing a toad and water lilly.
First day of issue postmark, Lake, Salisbury.
Postmark showing an eel.
Ref FD1315TH
Philatelic Bureau Official Postmark illustrated with a map of the British Isles
Ref FD1315PL
Lake, Salisbury
Ref FD1315NP
Lake, Salisbury
Ref N12872
Grasmere, Ambleside
Postmark showing a toad.
Postmark showing a frog.
Postmark showing a fish.

Ref M12881
Lakeside Walk, Birmingham
Ref L12885
Ref N12886
Windermere, Cumbria

This page updated 3 July 2013

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