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UK Issues High-tech Stamps 176

bgood writes: "According to this story on Excite@Home, the UK's Royal Mail has released a series of "interactive" stamps. Included in the series: A scratch-and-sniff stamp, a stamp with a hologram, and another that shows an electrically-charged particle when warmed by finger heat. The stamps commemorate 100 years of the Nobel Prize and Britain's achievements. The Royal Mail describes the stamps here."
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UK Issues High-tech Stamps

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  • Telepathy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pallex ( 126468 ) on Friday October 05, 2001 @08:15AM (#2391489)
    Theres been a bit of a hoo-ha about the fact that the accompanying booklet has stuff about telepathy in it.,6903,5 60 604,00.html
  • by vacamike ( 248725 ) on Friday October 05, 2001 @08:21AM (#2391503) Homepage
    I can guarantee that among the stamps for british achievements, there will not be one for Orthodontics. :)

    • What is it with you americans and out teeth? We don't go on about how insanely fat you all are!

      Besides, since we invented stamps, we can put whatever we flippin well want on them! So there!

      Hmmm... now if we'd patented the idea, we could claim 20$ for every mail posted. we're rich! rich!
      • Re-reading my post, perhaps I should lie down in a darkened room for a while, yes, that's the ticket.
      • Look at who we learned to cook from! The French and the Germans! What've you guys ever contributed to world cuisine? Hamburgers that will make your brain explode, blood pudding and haggis! It's a wonder your entire nation didn't die of malnutrition centuries ago! Look... We've got a store here that has 31 flavors of ice cream! 31! Try to imagine that for a moment. You could literally have a different flavor every day for a month! I mean, you guys are always telling us to broaden our horizons, but I bet you had a hard time imagining 31 flavors of ice cream. Didn't you? But listen... in the spirit of international exchange, if you're ever in the neighborhood give me a yell and I'll take you to the store with the 31 flavors of ice cream and get you a triple dip of 3 flavors other than chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.
        • You obviously have a very limited knowledge of British cuisine. There's more to John Bull's kitchen than blood pudding, haggis and crappy burgers. BTW, there is no way to cook a good burger, it's still crap no matter how you look at it.
      • From what I know (please go and cress me 8) :

        First stamp ever used was Chinese, a 3 part stamp : one for the sender, one for the office and one for the taker (no Goatse joke !)
        Payment was due by the recipient.

        Funny thing : People had to write the adress and a commentary on the stamp, to identify themselves...
        After some times, people started to "code" the important news on the stamps, allowing the recipient to read the message and refuse the letter, not paying the fee and still having the news 8)..

        => the system got abandonned and they had to wait till 1853 to have another post office 8)

      • Of course, the froggies invented numerical street addresses (Paris was the first city to number their buildings, for postal purposes), so they'd be able to charge licensing fees on mail sent too...
    • I hate to admit it but true. The priority for dentistry here is as a branch of medicine, rather than cosmetics. The upshot is that most dentists are "dental surgeons" and send patients to a specialist orthodontist.

    • "How often do you brush, Ralph?"
      "3 times a day, sir."
      "Why must you turn my office into a House of Lies? Let's look at a picture book, The Big Book of British Smiles!"
    • I can guarantee that among the stamps for british achievements, there will not be one for Orthodontics. :)

      But what about Lemming of the BDA!

  • by nob ( 244898 ) on Friday October 05, 2001 @08:22AM (#2391507) Homepage
    Of course, theres no better way to honor 100 years of the Nobel prize and all that genius scientific research then with a scratch and sniff stamp. What's next, fruit scented markers commemorating Picasso?
  • by BadDoggie ( 145310 ) on Friday October 05, 2001 @08:22AM (#2391509) Homepage Journal
    I do NOT want a scratch-and-sniff Queen Elizabeth II stamp.


    • Hey - don't forget you get to lick it too.
      • Hey - don't forget you get to lick it too.

        Sorry to spoil a moderately good gag (in both senses of the world) but standard UK stamps are now self-adhesive, i.e. you don't need to lick them, just peel off the backing.

        That might not be the case for special edition stamps though, so don't give up hope of getting to scratch, sniff and lick QE2's behind...
        • I thought about adding a rider to that effect - I don't buy stamps often enough to know for sure that they're all self-adhesive now. I use the office franking machine these days, and that's usually only because cheques don't fit in my email.
      • I do NOT want a scratch-and-sniff Queen Elizabeth II stamp.

      <rant>That's Queen Elizabeth the First of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, aka Queen Elizabeth the Second of England and Wales. If you're going to crown James VI of Scotland as James I of the United Kingdom of England, Wales and Scotland, we'll damn well apply that to her Royal Highnessnessess as well.&lt/rant>

      • I think you'll find that Scotland simply bypassed QEI. More interestingly, I remember reading that the current heir apparent would be Charles III of the UK, even thought there previously was a Charles III of Scotland.
        • Actually, Charles will take to the throne as George. It's one of his four names. The previous Charleses apparently weren't such great kings.
          • I think you'll find that Scotland simply bypassed QEI

          I think I'll find that Scotland did not bypass Queen Elizabeth the First, but that the current monarch is properly recognised as Queen Elizabeth the First by the Lord Lyon in Scotland. It's a quirk of the Act of Union, whereby England and Scotland agreed to disagree on the numbering of monarchs. That's why it's no more or less correct to refer to the current monarch as Queen Elizabeth the First or Queen Elizabeth the Second, it's a matter of choice whether you view it from a Scottish or English/Welsh perspective.

          Pedantic quirk, but then this is /. ;-)

  • .. someone got their mail from the UK today!
  • WooHoo! (Score:2, Informative)

    Scratch and sniff the queens head, whatever next!

    Note for non-UK slashdoters. All stamps in the UK must have a pic/silouete of the queens head on to be legal!

    • Another note for non-UK: UK only country that doesn't (have to) put the country name on the stamp, queenies head does the job apparently.

      • Ehm, I always heard that they didn't have to because the UK (English, I mean,...ehm...British) invented the stamps.
        Before invention of the stamps the receiver paid for the delivery, now imagine paying to get your bills ;-) (Okay, I know you already do indirectly)
        • "now imagine paying to get your bills ;-)"

          It's bad enough that I have to pay to send them if Verizon couldn't afford return postage for their customers.

        • That's true, but the queen owns the monopply - as run by the postmaster general ehich is a position in government.

          A chap named Tony Benn while in the labour goverment in the 70's tried get the queens head stipulation removed. Asked her nicely but apparetntly but no dice.
  • Don't forget (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Don't forget the Alan Turing persecution and eventual suicide commemorative stamp, and the cameras on every streetcorner big brother stamp.
    • by stx23 ( 14942 )
      Don't lick the Turing stamp, it has a strange apple/Cyanide flavour to it.
    • There is already a Turing stamp [].

      Anti-lameness-filter text: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ulliam corper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis autem veleum iriure dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse molestie consequat, vel willum lunombro dolore eu feugiat nulla facilisis at vero eros et accumsan et iusto odio dignissim qui blandit praesent luptatum zzril delenit augue duis dolore te feugait nulla facilisi.

  • Spam (Score:2, Funny)

    by manon ( 112081 )
    I'm wondering when the post offices are going to put spam on their stamps to gain some extra money.
    That way you can get a letter from the tax department with the stamp saying "Wanna make $100 fast?" or "Become rich in no time". ;)
    • The parent to this reply is modded as "funny" (and I agree because of the spam reference), but
      this was actually done in the 19th century by one of the states which later became Australia (the ad was printed on the back of the stamp, so the person licking the stamp got the "ad impression"). Italy also had stamps with advertising (this time on the front) in the 1920s.

      Many countries have sold ads on the back of stamp booklets, or on a label which would otherwise be left blank in the booklet.

      If anyone wants exact references, I can look them up (I'm at work, my stamp catalogs are at home). Leave a reply to this, or send an email to me at (omit the dashes and do the obvious) tadas-at-tadas-dot-net.


      Linux demi-geek and member of the American Philatelic Society
  • ok so what did they do, out source this to a sticker maker?
  • Can't wait for the obligatory "pull my finger" issuance.
  • At the risk of sounding like a grim, joyless pragmatist, wouldn't the resources of the Royal Mail be better spent improving service and not producing gimmicky stamps? These things have GOT to be significantly more expensive to produce than regular stamps, even in large #s. The collectors must be all drooling over them, but when I use a stamp, I rarely care what it looks like (Christmas stamps are the exception). I have to admit though, the sticker-stamp sure beats the lick & stick any day. My tongue always felt dirty after licking those things...
    • Re:Practicality? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JimPooley ( 150814 )
      The thing about these stamps is that the Royal Mail probably expect to make quite a lot of money out of selling First Day Covers to stamp collectors.

      The revenue they get from doing this is going to be more than enough to subsidise the cost of production. And probably goes to keeping the costs of mail delivery down.

    • There's also a very significant profit made from stamps bought at face value and never used for postage. Count em - how many collectors, how many of each stamp ... it's free money for the P.O.

      Yes, it's more expensive to make than a plain stamp but it doesn't have the associated cost of having each one deliver a letter.
  • I don't know how the British postal service works, but if - as I assume - it is publically funded then this seems like a collosal waste of money. It's not like people are not using the British mail because they are off using some other mail provider's stamps, is it ? How exactly do they justify the expense needed to commission and produce these stamps ? The only way I could see this being justified is if these were super-expensive, for collector-consumption-only stamps.

    But if I could get a hologram stamp of Princess Di's head before, during, and after it goes through the windshield, I would buy one.
    • No, it's not a waste of money, just like having nice colourful Christmas stamps is not a waste of money, and paying good contemporary artists to design new stamps is not a waste of money. It's something that makes the world nicer and more interesting. I don't want all my stamps to be identical monochrome squares.

      Now, what IS is a massive waste of money is rebranding the post office's holding company as 'Consignia' instead of 'post office counters ltd'. That was fucking stupid.
    • From my limited knowledge of Royal Mail, these stamps, while valid for postage, wont be widely distributed.

      Most people buy their stamps here in little books of between 4 and 10 stamps - these are almost always your standard orange/blue first/second class stamps.

      I'll pop 'round to my local Post Office in a few minutes and specifically request some of these special issue stamps, and, with a fair degree of luck, they may have some in stock.

      All countries produce special stamps that primarily intended for collection. Indeed, I believe some small pacific island states use stamps as a major source of revenue.

      More interesting than Royal Mail producing some funky stamps is the claims that they're about to lay off up to 15,000 workers [].

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Friday October 05, 2001 @09:41AM (#2391783) Homepage Journal
    My coworker has a framed wallmount of very expensive and specialized stamps commemorating NASA - some are round, some have holograms, embedded photographs, etc. Some of them are over $30 dollars. This a big money maker for the USPS because those are stamps that no one will ever use.
    • When I was a student at the U of M Twin Cities, I stopped by one of the post offices on campus to pick up a single stamp for something on two diffrent occasions, and the guy(s) behind the counter handed me an envelope with a 1"x1" hole in it that was filled in with a hologram of a little rocket, some stars, a moon or something, and the postage value, I think it was 29 cents at the time. Kinda cool, buy a stamp, get a free envelope.
    • Yes, there is a world plot to separate "stamp collectors" from their money. The space hologram with the money is especially bad, in that they have marked up US currency by a hefty margin (triple?).

      Switzerland at least has chocolate smelling stamps, a much more useful smell than others. When will we have stamps that smell like magazine inserts?

      As a stamp collector, I agree with the many posts about improving service, rather than emptying our pockets. I quit collecting recent stamps due to the costs. If they issued dumb-looking, dull stamps, collectors would still collect them. What they want is the money from the "pretty trinket" crowd who don't necessarily know what a water mark, or perf guage is.
  • I wonder if they'll do a crack cocaine scratch'n'sniff stamp?

    On the other hand, I'd pay good money (well, CDN$ anyway) for a set of scratch'n'sniff Coffees of the World stamps. Mmmm, Blue Mountain...
  • great. next i'll get a stamp with an mp3 of meg ryan saying "you've got mail". oh wait no, the DMCA will probably intercept my gas bill...
  • Hmmm... . The September 11th tragedies have made me think about all the sick/crazy possibilities that these assholes could use to attack the American public. Are all stamps stickers these days, or are there any "lickers" around anymore? Me thinks it could be one medium for biological warfare in the future. Of course its far-fetched, but someone's got to think about these things, right? What's to stop a group from getting jobs at CVS's across the country and infecting the stamps that pass through the stores with deadly contagions?

    Time to put my gas mask back on and head down into the shelter.
  • The Dutch post organization isn't very high tech, but they did have a nice gimmick: pure silver stamps, see here []. It will be the last stamp issued in guilders.

    It's 'value' is 12.75 guilders (5.80 euro).
  • Here's another oddball stamp: the Dutch PTT has released a stamp of pure silver []

    They have a bit of a problem though with invalidating the stamp. I guess the ink can be wiped off easily!

  • Meanwhile, peace is represented by an embossed image of a dove carrying an olive branch.

    Does this seem a little unfair to anybody else? all the other categories get a cool gimmick or groovy hook (using the old tech for the economics stamp is a great idea). Peace gets a dove and an olive branch. Yeah, that's the symbol of peace, sure, but how about this: all the peace stamps are printed on one big sheet that forms a picture of a dove. Then the postage marks are printed, preferations are added (I'm not familiar with the process, any stamp manufacturers out there?). Then the whole big picture is cut up into stamps with a unique part of the original picture on every one. Each peace stamp could be billed as "a little piece of peace." Or "everybody gets some peace". Or something. 'Kay, I'm officially rambling...

    • The embossed stamp will be the first embossed stamp issued by the Post Office for almost 150 years.

      Embossed stamps were tried between 1847 and 1854 for some of the larger denominations (6d, 10d, 1s), and proved to be a failure. This was probably due to them having to be individually hand pressed.

  • of hologram stamps doing a history of British dentistry!!!!!

    - and please don't make them scratch and sniff either!

  • by 575 ( 195442 )
    Brittish achievement,
    The height of technology:
    Scratch-n-Sniff stickers
  • I guess that Court decision means you can
    arrest cyber-terrorists in their own country...
    Terrorism should be stopped, but I'm afraid
    what definition of cyber-terrorists would really mean.

    By the other hand, should ISP pay taxes?
  • are not new. The US has had a holographic franked envelope as well as holographic stamps on a recent space set, AIR.
  • anything that you just scratched. that's nasty.

    /., Taco, whoever does QA... Something is WRONG Y'all, I posted my comment to this Discussion: 20 3&mode=flat
    and it wound up here.



    Sheesh, second time I've lost karma to ./ fsck-ups. (sigh)

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