Thursday, September 21, 2006

A quick question

A few days ago, Blognor Regis highlighted the fact that the Royal Mail had removed the Queen's head from their downloadable stamps.
The Queen's head has been banished from a new hi-tech version of the stamp that is launched today by the Royal Mail. The decision ends a tradition dating back more than 160 years.

In future, the public will be able to download a 'stamp' from the internet which can be printed directly on to an envelope or label.

However, this new era stamp will be a barcode, rather than the traditional image. Currently, all paper stamps have an image of the queen on them, even if it is miniaturised and placed in the corner. However, there is no place for the reigning monarch on the new barcodes.

As someone also points out, prepaid envelopes and franking machines also do not have the Queen's head on them.

Now, a quick theory here; stamps can, in theory, be used as currency. Like currency, in England and Wales at least, the guarantee of a note is the Queen's head on the note or the backs of coins (the lack of which is why Scottish notes do not have to be accepted south of the border, but Northern Irish currency does).

Now, you need to have a licence to print money (although the licence was obviously not good enough for Scottish note printers Pillans and Waddies, who recently went into receivership) and, if you print a stamp with the Queen's head on from your home printer or franking machine or prepaid envelope, that is, effectively, what you are doing.

So, the question is: might this actually be a legal technicality that means that you are not allowed to print the Queen's head on a letter because you are effectively printing money?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Something to bear in mind with the downloadable stamps is that they have a sell-by date. You have two days to get it in the post or it goes off as it were. So as legal tender, no, they are not.

Blognor Regis said...

That all sound very plausible DK.

What's to stop a downloaded stamp being printed out time and time again - up to Longrider's two day limit - I wonder?

Anonymous said...

Well, do you want to keep sending lots of letters to the same address over and over?

Ah, yes, there's the catch. The downloaded pdf file includes the address label.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Ah, well, it was just a question based on an extrapolation (and presumably my not having read the article properly).

Having said that, I still think that you are technically printing legal tender, even if, with those restrictions, you would be hard-pressed to use it...

DK

Anonymous said...

Back in the '1, I did a few weeks temping work for a stamp dealer. He had been buying up loads of old collections of first-day issues and the like. The business sort of had its own insurance, in that all the stock had a face value.

I remember the (heartbraking) experience of sending off invoices and general business correspondence, using 'extra' stamps from collections that were surplus to requirements.

Matthew said...

Stamps are not legal tender in the UK, ie they can be refused in the settlement of a debt. They can, obviously, be used as a form of payment if both sides agree, but so can anything.

Anonymous said...

In fact most money in the UK is not legal tender. Legal tender refers to a form of cash that MUST be accepted in payment of a debt.
The rules are:
£1 oins are legal tender up to any amount.
50p and 20p coins are legal tender up tp £10
10p and 5p coins are legal tender up to £5, and 2p and 1p coins are legal tender up to 20p

ChrisM said...

In fact most money in the UK is not legal tender. Legal tender refers to a form of cash that MUST be accepted in payment of a debt.
The rules are:
£1 oins are legal tender up to any amount.
50p and 20p coins are legal tender up tp £10
10p and 5p coins are legal tender up to £5, and 2p and 1p coins are legal tender up to 20p

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