Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

The Merchant Navy and Wartime Convoys - 19 September  2013

The Merchant Navy stamps salute the heritage of the UK’s trading fleet of ships, run by various companies, which export and import good from around the world, as well as carrying passengers, and which historically have been intertwined with the fortunes of the nation.

The accompanying miniature sheet honours the contribution of the Merchant Navy in times of war, when its ships assisted in the war effort. 2013 will mark the 70th anniversary of the turning point of what is called ‘the Battle of the Atlantic’, after which losses reduced considerably.

   Stamp showing  East Indiaman Atlas 1813. Stamp showing Royal Mail Ship Britannia 1840. Stamp showing Tea Clipper Cutty Sark 1870.
 Stamp showing Cargo Liner Clan Matheson 1919.  Stamp showing Royal Mail Ship Queen Elizabeth 1940.  Stamp showing Bulk Carrier Lord Hinton 1986.
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1st class - East Indiaman Atlas 1813;
Royal Mail Ship Britannia 1840;
Tea Clipper Cutty Sark 1870

£1.28 - Cargo Liner Clan Matheson 1919; Royal Mail Ship Queen Elizabeth 1940; Bulk Carrier Lord Hinton 1986.

Miniature sheet of stamps showing Arctic & Atlantic Convoys.
The four 1st class stamps depict (clockwise from top left):

- Escorting destroyer HMS Vanoc in an Atlantic convoy;
- merchant ship passing the Naval Control Base in the Thames Estuary;
- naval convoy of 24 merchant ships in the North Sea;
- sailors clearing the decks of HMS King George V in Arctic waters.
Stamp booklet with Cutty Sark and Post Van (Europa) stamp.
The retail booklet of 6 stamps includes the red 1st class red Machin definitive, and the 1st class Cutty Sark stamp - and, for the first time, a stamp from a different stamp issue, the 1st class Postal Van from the British Auto Legends issue on 13 August
(Cylinder numbers - see below)
Merchant Navy prestige stamp book pane 1.Merchant Navy prestige stamp book pane 2.

Merchant Navy prestige stamp book pane 3.Merchant Navy prestige stamp book pane 4.
Prestige Stamp Book.

Pane 1 - 5p & 50p Machin definitives with year code M13L and source code MPIL - and with the perforations inverted from the normal layout. (Scan of actual pane)

Pane 2 - se-tenant strip of 3 x 1st class

Pane 3 - se-tenant strip of 3 x £1.28

Pane 4 - 4 x 1st class stamps from as on the miniature sheet but with a different background.

According to the credits in the book, the stamp panes are printed by Joh Enschede in lithography, but it is believed that the Machin pane may be gravure.  The iridescent security print appears to be printed over the phosphor making the codes more difficult to read. 
(See below)
 Cylinder numbers on retail booklet.Close up of 5p Machin stamp showing security codes. Close up of 5p Machin stamp showing security codes. Cylinder numbers on the retail booklet:

W1 - phosphor, iridescent, Royal Mail red, black, cyan, magenta, yellow, silver

The 'alignment' reflects the poor registration on the pictorial stamps in the booklet.

The stamps in detail

Atlas, 1813
Unusually for East Indiamen, the Honourable East India Company’s ship Atlas was built not on the Thames but on the Humber, by Thomas Steemson of Hull. Her first voyage was to Madras, India, and Whampoa, China, in 1813. This was the year the Company lost its monopoly on trade to and from India, although it retained that of the lucrative China tea trade until 1834.
She made a further voyage to Madras, Penang and Whampoa before the end of the Napoleonic War in 1815, carrying an outward cargo of various goods as well as mail, letters of credit and bullion, all of which facilitated trade. On her homeward voyage she brought tea, porcelain, silk and saltpetre for gunpowder. After two transfers of ownership and nine voyages, Captain Charles Otway Mayne, who had commanded her since her commissioning, sold her for £4,100 in August 1830, by which time she was considered fit only to be broken up.

Britannia, 1840
Following the first crossings of the North Atlantic by steamships, the British government offered a contract worth £60,000 to carry mail to Canada and the United States. Nova Scotia’s Samuel Cunard and his British partners secured the commission and ordered four paddle steamers from Clydeside shipyards. The first of these was the Britannia, which, although fitted with sails, was powered by a steam engine constructed by Robert Napier. Her maiden voyage left Liverpool on 4 July 1840 to be greeted at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 12 days later by cheering crowds and fireworks.
Although Britannia and her sisters were soon superseded by faster, propeller driven steamers, they established one of Britain’s most enduring brand images. As the first steamer to carry letters under contract to Royal Mail, the Britannia added the abbreviation ‘RMS’ – ‘Royal Mail Ship’ – to the nautical lexicon.

Cutty Sark, 1870
Built in 1869 by Scott & Linton at Dumbarton on the Clyde for the China tea trade, the Cutty Sark was named after the chemise worn by the witch Nannie in Robert Burns’s poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’. At 963 tons and of composite
build, with wooden planking secured to an iron frame, she was designed to carry her valuable cargo fast enough to catch the premium prices at the start of the seasonal tea market in London.  Initially blighted by lacklustre commanders and the gradual loss of the tea trade to steamers when the Suez Canal opened, the Cutty Sark realised her potential in the Australian wool trade. From 1885,  under Captain Woodget, she made good passages home via the stormy Southern Ocean and Cape Horn.
Sold to the Portuguese in 1895, she was reacquired for the nation by Captain Dowman in 1922. Moored in Falmouth as a training ship, she was moved to the Thames in 1938 to join HMS Worcester at Greenhithe as a Merchant Navy cadet training-ship. In 1954, she was docked as an exhibit at Greenwich, where today she may be seen newly restored, an astonishing survivor of the great days of British sail.

Clan Matheson, 1919
The Clan Matheson was launched at William Hamilton’s Port Glasgow yard on 18 February 1919. Powered by a triple expansion steam engine built by David Rowan & Co, she was registered at 5,613 gross tons. Owned by the Glasgow firm of Cayzer, Irvine, operators of the Clan Line, she was 397 feet in length, with a beam of 34 feet and a speed of 11.5 knots. The Clan Line of cargo liners ran scheduled services from Great Britain to South and East Africa and to India and specialised in heavy lifts, carrying most of the rolling stock and locomotives for the Indian railways. During the Second World War, in February 1940, the ship was requisitioned by the government; she
was bombed and set on fire by Japanese aircraft while at Calcutta (Kolkata), India, on 5 December 1943. Repaired, she returned to Clan Line service after the war but in 1948 was sold, suffering several changes of name and ownership. In January 1955, renamed Empire Claire, the ship was loaded with obsolete ammunition and poison-gas canisters; after leaving Stranraer on 27 July, she was scuttled off Rockall in the North Atlantic.

Queen Elizabeth, 1940
Built by John Brown on the Clyde and launched on 27 September 1938 by Queen Elizabeth, later The Queen Mother, the Queen Elizabeth was the largest ship in the world, at 83,673 registered tons and 1,031 feet in length. The ship was requisitioned by the government in March 1940 and began carrying troops, first from Australia and then, as Allied forces were built up for the D-Day invasion of France, from America to Great Britain – a total of
750,000 troops over half a million miles. In the first months of peace, the Queen Elizabeth returned troops to North America and took GI brides to their new homes. It was not until 21 October 1946 that she arrived in New York carrying 823 first-class, 662 cabin-class and 798 third-class passengers, a task that she performed regularly until 1968. By this time, the number of passengers crossing the Atlantic by sea was declining in favour of air travel.
The ship caught fire when being converted into a floating university in Hong Kong in January 1972. Having capsized, she was partially dismantled and her remains buried under the reclaimed land of a new container terminal.

Lord Hinton, 1986

The Lord Hinton was constructed in 1986 by Govan Shipbuilders Ltd on the Clyde. She was named after Lord Hinton, a pioneer of atomic energy and the first chairman of the now defunct Central Electricity Generating Board. Her role was to carry coal from the Tyne Tees Coal Terminal to Kingsnorth power station on the River Medway in Kent. Following the collapse of British coal mining and the privatisation of power generation, the Lord Hinton and Kingsnorth itself were acquired by the generating giant E.ON in 2004. For about a decade, the huge collier carried cargo from coal exchanges in Europe to ensure that regular just-in-time deliveries enabled Kingsnorth to supply the National Grid, representing the end of a tradition of coal supply by sea that dates back to the 17th century. After years of loyal service to E.ON and to the UK flag, the Lord Hinton was retired from the coal trade and the British register in December 2012. The vessel was sold for further trading in more temperate climes.

Technical details:
The 41 x 30 mm square stamps were designed by Silk Pearce, perf 14½ x 14, printed by Cartor Security Printing in Lithography. 
The 115 x 89 mm Miniature Sheet was also designed by Silk Pearce, containing stamps 41 x 30 mm stamps are perf 14½ x 14, printed by Joh Enschede, in lithography.  
The booklet is  printed by Walsall Security Printers.  All stamp images Royal Mail ©2013 reproduced with permission.

Products issued - we will be stocking the Machin and Arctic Convoy stamps from the PSB, and the retail booklet.

A limited number of  FDCs are in our shop for the new Machin definitives, and retail Britannia and Postvan booklet stamps.

Set of 6 stamps, miniature sheet, retail booklet.   Presentation Pack containing set and miniature sheet 

Set of 11 stamp cards  Two First Day Covers  Prestige Stamp Book

Special first day of issue postmarks will be shown here. These cannot be obtained the date of issue; more may be added. Not always to scale.

Postmark showing Merchant Navy cap-badge.
Clydebank postmark showing steamship and shipbuilding crane. 
Non-pictorial first day postmark Clydebank.
Postmark showing badge of the Merchant Navy Association.
Postmark showing the Arctic Star (medal).
Ref FD1319TH
Official Bureau postmark
Ref FD1319PL
Clydebank official first day of issue postmark
Ref FD1319NP
Clydebank non-pictorial official first day of issue postmark
Ref N12939
The Merchant Navy Association, Liverpool
Ref N12940
Salute to the men of the Merchant Navy, Liverpool (showing the Arctic Star)
Postmark showing logo of the Russian Arctic Convoy Museum.
 Postmark showing logo of Russian Arctic Convoy Museum.
Postmark showing sailing ship.
Postmark showing ship being loaded.
Postmark showing sailing ship and postvan.
Ref S12941 Arrived Safely - Thanks to British Convoys, Loch Ewe, Aultbea - Russian Arctic Convoy Museum Ref S12865 Russian Arctic Convoy Museum, Aultbea, Loch Ewe, Wester Ross, Achnasheen Ref M12934 Merchant Navy - Shipway Road, Birmingham
Ref M12933 Year of the Convoys - Atlantic & Arctic Convoys, Atlantic Road, Birmingham
Ref M12935 Retail Stamp Book, Royal Mail Street, Birmingham
Postmark showing the logo of Merseyside Maritime Museum.
Postmark showing RMS Queen Elizabeth.
Postmark illustrated with an anchor.
Stampex Merchant Navy FD postmark.
Postmark showing sailing ship.
Ref N12938 Merseyside Maritime Museum, National Museums Liverpool (GBFDCA)
Ref S12930 RMS Queen Elizabeth 75th Anniversary, Clydebank, Scotland
(in use 1.9.13 - 31.8.14)
Ref L12946
Greenwich, London
Ref L12945 Autumn Stampex
Merchant Navy First Day of Issue, London N1
Ref M12955 Birmingham
Postmark showing warship.
Postmark showing warships.
Postmark showing ship's wheel.
Postmark showing sailing ship & letters.
Postmark showing Morris Minor Post Van and letters.
Ref N 12960
Atlantic & Arctic Convoys, Liverpool
Ref S12961 Atlantic & Arctic Convoys, Loch Ewe, Achnasheen Ref S12963 Clydebank Ref S12962 Greenock Ref L12947 London EC

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This page updated 3 October 2013.

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