They destroyed my stamps

Sadly a common occurance at Royal Mail sorting offices and mail centres
It is believed that the new management haven’t invested in new hand stamp equipment for mail that is rejected by the Ink-jet printers (usually the older, old rate stamps and out-of-position stamps).

Roughly 3 out every 5 pieces mail from/within the UK has the dreaded Ball-Point Pen or Permanent Marker.

I gradually got to known which are the worst offending and best mail centres.

If I know the postcrosser I am sending my card to is appreciative of stamps, I sometimes route my postcards through one of the three RM special handstamp centres, sometimes adds 2-3 weeks on the card.

Alternatively, I sometimes ask the Post office to cancel the stamps with the counter date stamp, but some post office Clerk’s don’t like doing that,


I’ve never heard of the RM special hand stamp centres. Would you mind please educating me how I might go about routing my mail through one?

Hi Richard, RM have three special handstamp centres, they primarily issue the postmarking for Royal Mails Special Stamps, such as First Day Covers and Presentation Packs where customers would like the stamps cancelled with a pictorial postmark.

Buried on Royal Mail’s website are pictorial postmarks and the monthly postmark bulletin.

You can submit mail to be postmarked with one the special or permanent postmarks available (usually the impose a maximum of five items, to reduce the workload).
Initially I would submit a couple postcards fully written, addressed and stamped and then ask one of the handstamp centres to forward the postcard, some arrived, many expired and did not (they also forward the postcards/letters in a plastic envelope to prevent further postmarking).

I normally submit cards blank and ask them to be returned undercover in an envelope (I know it adds more postage, and you cannot use the postcard/stamp again so it will add further costs)

Also briefly they have certain rules to what can be postmarked, even I am still learning, I recently had a telephone call from the Cardiff SHC explaining that they could not postmark my cards, as the requested postmark was for first day covers only of a particular stamp and offered me an alternative.

I personally only use them for postmarks I wish to collect or for those postcrossers who will appreciate them.


Wow! Thanks for the super helpful and thorough explanation.


Your Welcome,

Here is an example of an International Letter to the Netherlands postmarked by the London SHC in December 2018.

Not sent by me though.



One last post about RM hand stamps, when they forward the covers/postcards, most of the time they will provide these type of envelopes, as explained in my post above.

Hope this helps,


Recieved in today’s Post.

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This is a letter from UK.
I was very excited with the queen stamps and then I screamed when I saw what they did to the Queen’s face.


There is a tape over the stamps


And look at these stamps. Beautiful mushrooms and trains.
Look what they did to them. Scribble again??? You have that circle cancellation, why did you add scribble :scream:


they even scribbled the sticker… what the he…rd!


Yes, very disappointed. They are the only envelopes I’ve ever received from Czech Republic.

Well this postcard from Austria is quite exact canceled, nice on the edge of the poststamp everything good readable.

However most postcards are canceled in a terrible way!

Here a printer and barcode is printed over the stamp and the cancelation is only 50% visible.

Or these just a blob of ink. USPS is very good in blobs of ink.

However sometimes it is almost nice …


some additional stamps were already vanished on arrival, the remaining two were badly damaged

root cause: rough handling on bigger letter and bad glue of the stamps positioned at the very edge of the cover

an the next one:

the beloved star trek stamps :frowning:

tiny but significant faults due to the maschine handling

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One of the worst obliterating postmarks in the US last fall was an Energy Awareness cancel with an electrical outlet and plug. Now they need to have a “Save Ink” cancel! I’ve seen some stamps that you couldn’t make out the design at all. A real shame if the sender is making the effort to select attractive stamps.


Oh. Normally I just get the stamped over. It usually on the edge of stamp, just enough to deface it, but not enough to ruin it. Idk

There’s a long thread about this on this stamp forum.

In this thread, I found an excerpt from the UPU requiring pen-cancellation on items that have not been cancelled when they should have been…

I have read somewhere (possibly somewhere in that thread) that in some places, the posties who are delivering the mail are even told to do this - not just the staff in the sorting centres.


Well you learn something new,

… And what a great shame it is.

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I have often got stamps cancelled with a pen or black marker too. Royalty of course gets doodled over… :

Maybe someone was in the festive mood as they used a red marker instead of a black one in December:

(For some reason it doesn’t look quite as bad).

Worst are maybe the stamps that have been ripped off. I saved this one because it bothers me that I don’t know what it was:

It says princess Ma…so it must be princess Margaret and I am assuming some object, rather than her portrait. Haven’t solved that riddle yet.
(By the way, I don’t remove stamps of postcards, so I don’t do any destroying of my own. These examples have all been on envelopes sent from UK).


I think I can help you :smiley:

Centenary of the First World War (1st issue) - 2014
(it was fun to solve your riddle!) :blush:


Meh, I was about to post the same! :smiley: