Scrappage scheme for stamps

Stamps first issued in 1971 and 1978, not posted until 2022
Stamps first issued in 1971 and 1978, not posted until 2022.
© Stamp Design Royal Mail Group Ltd (1971, 1978)

When I was a boy, I eagerly examined my change in the hope of finding coins from the pounds, shillings and pence era. I never found any rare coins, but did amass a collection of sixpences, shillings and florins.

These coins have long since disappeared from our loose change. But pay careful attention to what comes in the post. You might find some interesting vintage stamps.

In the last few weeks, I've seen a few stamps from the 1970s on modern letters and parcels.

The group above has five 11p stamps celebrating one hundred years of cycling between 1878 and 1978. There is also a definitive 10p stamp from the 1970s and a 3p Christmas stamp from 1971.

1971 Christmas stamps
These three stamps are from a first day cover posted on 13 October 1971. I saw the same stamp on a large letter postmarked 26 February 2022.
© Stamp Design Royal Mail Group Ltd (1971)

The Christmas stamp was posted fifty-one years after it was first issued. Is this a record I wonder?

The oldest stamps you could use today are from 1970. We still had 'old money' then. But on 17 July 1970 the Post Office issued the first decimal high value stamps: 10p, 50p and £1.

You could buy the new stamps with 2 shillings, 10 shillings and 20 shillings respectively. So the Post Office got in early. The Royal Mint had beaten them to it. The first decimal coins, the 5p and 10p, came out in 1968.

In case you are wondering the £1 stamp in 1970 would have cost £11 in today's money.

1978 stamp celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Coronation and 2012 Hannah Cockcroft stamp
This group contains a 2012 stamp celebrating Hannah Cockroft's gold medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games, held in London and a stamp celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Coronation. It was posted on 17 February 2022.
© Stamp Design Royal Mail Group Ltd (1978, 2012)

The group to the left contains a stamp celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Coronation and Hannah Cockroft's gold medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games, held in London. These two events are forty-three years apart.

Why is this happening? Royal Mail is introducing barcoded stamps. Older stamps are non-barcoded. They must be used by 31 January 2023. Hence the panic.

You can also exchange non-barcoded stamps. Royal Mail is operating a 'Swap Out' scheme from 31 March 2022. It's a bit like a scrappage scheme for stamps. And just like the real scrappage scheme, there is no exception for 'classic' stamps. So sadly that means many will be taken out of circulation and probably destroyed.

Are these stamps valuable? Not really. They are probably worth a few pence. Most sell on eBay for £1 including postage.

Will they be in the future? Who knows? But it's a shame to see something that's survived fifty years in mint condition being thrown away.

If you're thinking of using these stamps check the eBay value first. Use them if you must, but don't 'Swap them out'. They will almost certainly be destroyed.

By Steven Braggs, March 2022

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Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles

Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

★ Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles ★