discount booklets

Discount Booklets

Something for Nothing

from the British Post Office

by Ron Shanahan

Have you been looking through your collection or club books and come across a mint G.B. machin with a star or a letter D on the back , and wondered about the source? Then read on...

Golden Hinde.
Advertisements appeared in the National Press during July and August, offering a saving of 13p on 'The Holiday Postcard Stamp Book' upon presentation of the cut-out coupon at a Post Office. The booklet was specially printed and was available at all Post Offices from July 12th until September 30th 1982. During July and August the ship 'Golden Hinde' called at many coastal towns as part of the Royal Mail's "Picture Postcard Voyage".

Discounted Books (marked)
Christmas Issues.
1982. Issued November 10th, the special Christmas booklet cover, designed by Andrew Davidson, depicted a Christmas fireside scene with illustrations of Father Christmas and 'mummers' (Concise Oxford Dictionary definition:- Play actors, — actors in dumb show.) The face value of the stamps in the booklet was 2.80, the selling price 2.50 giving a discount of 30p. As the stamps were the Machin definitives they were backprinted , in non-toxic ink, with a double star design to show they were discounted.


1983. Issued on November 9th, the booklet cover illustrated Pantomimes, drawn by Barbara Brown. As before there was a 30p discount and the stamps were backprinted but with a different star design
(Fig. 2)

1984. Issued November 20th, this commenced a new group of booklets containing special issue stamps, and was the first time Christmas stamps were contained in a booklet. The cover showed a Nativity scene designed by Yvonne Gilbert. The discount was again 30p and the stamps were backprinted with a pattern of blue stars to ensure the stamps were not sold at face value.

1986. Issued December 2nd, the cover, designed by Lynda Gray, depicted a mother and daughter cooking traditional Shetland yule cakes. The booklet contained ten 13p Machin definitive stamps and sold at 1.20 giving a 10p discount. The stamps bore stars on the gummed side as with other discounted booklets.

Notes. The 1985 booklet contained twenty of the 12p Christmas stamps and although they had a random series of small non-toxic stars printed on the reverse there was no discount. 1986 was the last of the Christmas booklets to be discounted.

1983. Lyme Regis. Issued on August 10th, the first in an occasional series of covers with designs illustrating Britain's Countryside, showed Lyme Regis Harbour, Dorset. Containing ten 16p definitive stamps the booklet sold for 1.45 giving a 15p discount.

(Fig. 3)

A large letter D was printed, in non-toxic ink, on the gummed side to differentiate the discounted stamps from normal issues. The booklet was withdrawn from sale on September 20th 1983, and replaced by a non-discounted booklet in the same series. Discounted booklets were supplied in bundle wrappers with accounts instructions so that discount stamps were not sold at face value.

(Fig. 4)

1985. Social Letter Writing.

Issued on March 5th 1985, the second in the series of 'Social Letter Writing' illustrated 'letters abroad'.
The booklet contained a pane of ten 17p machin definitive stamps (face 1.70) but was sold for 1.55, a saving of 15p. The reverse of the stamps were printed with a large D similar to that in the Lyme Regis booklet.

1985 Royal Mail.

The 'Royal Mail: 350 Years of Service' discount booklet was issued on July 30th 1985. The stamp content was a pane of 10 special stamps issued to commemorate 350 Years of Royal Mail service to the public. As noted on the front of the booklet the discount meant 10 for the price of 9. Again the stamps were marked with Ds on the gummed side.


1985 Postbox.

The 50p booklet illustrating a Postbox on the cover was issued on November 4th 1985 and contained 3 definitive stamps at 17p plus a printed label 'Please use the postcode' making a face value of 51p, thus a discount of 1p. To indicate the discounted stamps they have a series of small stars printed diagonally across the reverse.

1986 Pond Life.

The first in a new series of 50p booklets illustrating 'Pond Life' was issued on May 20th 1986 and illustrated on the cover, an iris, a dragonfly and a libellula. As in the Postbox edition the face value was 51p, and stars were used on the reverse.

1986 Pond Life.(II)

The second in this series was issued on July 29th 1986 and illustrated 'The common frog' The stamp content and discount and also the stars printed on the reverse were as for the first edition. This booklet was re-released on August 12th 1986 without the stars printed on the back.

The stars and D marks were all applied to the back of the stamps after they were gummed, so there is no point in looking for a used copy because the marks come off with the gum!

Apart from the 1986 Christmas issue already mentioned this was the last booklet to contain stamps which indicated that they were discounted. Presumably the amount of the discount (varying from 1p — 4p) did not warrant the expense of any type of marking.

For the record, the discounted booklets which were 'unmarked' were:-

50p:- Pond Life 2 (reprint) Gilbert and Sullivan 1, 2, and 3, Marine Life 2 and reprint Aeroplanes 3 and 4.

1:- Musical instruments numbers 1, 2 and 3. Sherlock Holmes 1, 2, 3, and 4, Zoos 3, Dickens 1, 2, 3 and 4, Marine Life 3.

2 Royal Mail Vended new style booklet 2nd issue for new rates.

The discount amounts varied from 1p to 4p.

Booklets are not the only area in which discounts have applied. Back in what seems the dim distant past when I served on the Post Office counter, stamped envelopes were cheaper in packs of 10. They were also sold individually and when the clerk opened a new bundle he was entitled to the discount (I think it was the equivalent of 2p at that time) and perks like that enhanced the job satisfaction!!

Aerograms have also been discounted in packs and I am sure many other items have been since I have been away from the BPO. Maybe someone with nothing better to do with their time could compile a list! Not me — I have been away too long and am completely out of touch except for my own collecting interest — Booklets !

This article was first published in Stamp News the Australian monthly magazine. Copyright EARS Leisurewrite 1996.

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