Tony Rushton looking at his sheets of one pence stamps

We’re gonna need a bigger envelope: Twickenham resident flooded with ‘useless’ 1p stamps by Royal Mail

An East Twickenham retiree was sent more than a hundred “useless” one and two pence stamps by the Royal Mail after exchanging his collection for the new legal tender. 

Tony Rushton, 84, swapped 292 stamps – valued at £35.59 –  for the new barcoded alternative announced in October. 

An envelope showing one and two pence stamps covering the entirety of the envelope
FIT FOR A QUEEN: The array of new barcoded stamps decorate the entirety of the envelope Credit: Tony Rushton

To his dismay, he received 92 one-pence stamps and 13 two-pence stamps, alongside a more reasonable 47 second-class. 

Tony said: “They hadn’t considered the fact that I would have sheets of one-pence stamps left over, which are utterly useless. 

“It costs 68-pence to send something second-class, so you can guess how many of my one pence stamps I would have to use.” 

Tony looking down at his sheets of one pence stamps, looking quizical
A RIGHT ROYAL STITCH-UP: The Post Office refused to exchange the sheets of one pence stamps for a more sensible denomination. Credit: Tony Rushton

Tony sent envelopes covered in enough low-value stamps to reach the 95-pence it costs to send a letter first-class.

He added: “I took my two sheets of one-pence stamps to the post office to exchange them for a more sensible denomination, but they refused.”

The Royal Mail included a breakdown of quantities they had sent through to make up Tony’s new, 172-piece collection. 

A break down of the amount of stamps given in each denomination: 
47 2nd class
92 one pence 
13 two pence 
9 five pence
2 10 pence 
9 20 pence
YOU DO THE MATH: Royal Mail sent Tony a breakdown of his stamp exchange Credit: Tony Rushton

His letters were received by their bemused recipients: “It’s mildly funny and slightly tragic. When having to cover the whole envelope with stamps, it makes things more complicated.” 

Tony, a part-time art historian, found the collection amongst his mother in law’s belongings after she had died.

An envelope with two 19 pence stamps and six 5 pence stamps
WASTE NOT WANT NOT: Tony uses up the stamps to the bemusement of his recipients Credit: Tony Rushton

The Royal Mail announced the barcodes will connect physical stamps to the digital world through the Royal Mail app. 

Regular stamps will no longer be valid after the 31 July, following a six-month extension to the initial 31 January deadline. 

Some Twitter users expressed outrage at the change, with one user claiming that adding barcodes to stamps is ‘cultural vandalism’.

If you still need to make the swap, you may need a bigger envelope…

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Customers who use Royal Mail’s stamp Swap Out scheme will be sent like-for-like barcoded replacement stamps.

“Any customers who have not, should contact our Customer Experience team on 03457 740740 and we will arrange for the correct values to be returned.”

A spokesperson for the Post Office added: “Post Office is not responsible for swapping the old stamps for the new ones. That is being dealt with by Royal Mail, therefore our Post Office was following the correct procedure.”

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