December 24, 2006

Machins 2007

As the year grinds to an end, it is somewhat relieving to report that the December issue of Philatelic Bulletin does make mention of Machins. Twice. On 1 March we have a resurrection of the 5p. OK, it's never been away but this is centre stage stuff for the value now. The humble 5p, still in an uncertain shade of brown, lilac, purple that has forever dogged its existence, will be only the third Machin value on self-adhesive paper, in a pane of the World of Invention booklet. And for some reason it seems more important than the 42p and 68p books of 4 that were the first and second in 2002.

That it should have to share the event adjoined to the ugly fat 1st gold is a shame but there you go.

Rather prettier will be the other sheet in the booklet with 44p and 2nd Scottish stamps. Pity they didn't use the new Sctottish first but that's another story.

The other Machin mention was, of course, Mr Myall's article. I am beginning to think that the fellow is losing his marbles somewhat as he devotes most of the first paragraph to remarks about how PiP appears to have gone smoothly as judged from the queue in his local Post Office (which I suspect is a pleasant village one where people are patient and have time to chat). What he has included, though, but made little mention of, is a splendid-looking illustration that appears to accompany the blasted PiP presentation pack. I must get hold of one and try and ignore the ghastly designs of all but two of its contents.

Nice to see him make complimentary mention of both the new Smilers and the Poppy stamp in an article entitled 'Mainly Machins'. We seem to think alike there.

30 November: new Scottish 1st

That nearly slipped past me! I hadn't studied the illustrations terribly closely and had just assumed the one with the blue flag was the 2nd class we know about. Wrong. It's a new stamp, and a fine one too, with a quite different Saltire and a 1st class value. Only available in the miniature sheet with its sister the lion and a couple of long stamps which appear to me to have no purpose in life. Hope we see some more of the 1st flag, though.

14 November: 1st PiP coil

Because I dislike these stamps I shall not add any more.

NI delay

You should have got the 72p NI gravure but the other values expected on 9 November didn't appear. RM say they'll advise an issue date 'shortly'. That was a quote from the November Bulletin! No mention in December. At this rate it'll be a 75p.

November 12, 2006

Don't mention the Machins?

Vol 44 No 3, November 2006. Apart from a solitary 1st gold loitering on a BFPO cover advert, and that's on the back inner page under 'Late news', there are no Machins! never mind 'Is this a record?' I'm inclined to wonder: 'Is this an omen?'

October 05, 2006

7 November: Christmas

20 1st and 20 2nd in sheets by Cartor with labels on which you can have an image included - generic sheets probably the best bet for the collection. Also the stamps themselves and a miniature sheet.

9 November: new NI printings

1st, 2nd, 44p and 72p will be issued printed by DLR in gravure instead of lithography. And don't miss the miniature sheet of 4 country 72p stamps mentioned previously and coming out on 9/11 too, not 11/11 as I thought.

3 October: fat1st and 2nd coils

The title just about says it all. DLR on RMS paper.

September 09, 2006


Once upon a time all was delightfully clear: there were definitives and there were stamps that were not definitives. Christmas stamps were sort of definitives but, being produced in the commemorative style of the day, one could safely leave them to the general collection or ignore them if that wasn't your bag. Now I'm beginning to have doubts. These may pass but this year's 4 small size stamps I mentioned previously have a sort of Smilers feel to them and I've convinced my self of their merit in my definitive collection so I guess I'll have to add the Christmas ones too. That view is confirmed as I see that there will also be two 'Large' additions, being the small size reproduced on a Horizontal PiP size stamp and lots of white space.

What worries me is what I do if more 'special' stamps come out in these formats and I shall have to get them too + all the variations. Maybe I should have stuck to machins after all!

9 November 2006: new NI pictorial definitives

Again, not Machin news, I'm afraid, but pretty essential definitive items, with the 4 NI definitives being reprinted in gravure instead of litho by De La Rue. The Poppy sheet, out two days later on 11/11 will include each of the 4 Country 72p pictorial definitives again in gravure by De La Rue. Until you see the actual stamps you may not be able to decide whether the individual items meet your criteria as new additions but I'd advise playing safe and getting this sheet even if you aren't bothered about gums or less obvious variations by the same printer - and there are some new se-tenant pairings here too.

The poppy sheet will probably be produced in large numbers and is unlikely to command great prices in future but the Poppy 1st class stamp included is a superb piece of design.

17 October 2006: new Smilers

A book of 6 1st class small-size Smilers - the ones I suggested definitive collectors should ensure they keep an eye on - will be issued with new designs. There will also be a presentation pack and a generic sheet. So make sure you get your current issue sheet, either with your own choice of photo or the generic one. At £6.95 this may be pricey but it is the cheapest way to get the Cartor printing. I can see this being a rare item in years to come. With all self adhesive stamps, the backing can vary and there have been issues in the past where a special run is made on white backing just for a year set or individuals supplied to BPB orders. Don't know whether the presentation pack stamps will be the same so watch out in case they aren't. So far there haven't been any white back Smilers specially produced.

2 October 2006

PiPs again - looks like the same 1st class stamps with the large value but in a new booklet of six which features an advert for stamp collecting.

August 08, 2006

VC Prestige book - September 2006

This will contain a 50p and fat 1st gold from Enschede - essential items for the collection although not the most inspiring looking booklets otherwise.

PiP August 2006

I really don't like these things at all. I can see many people getting quite confused. The placement of the value tablet high left leaves a huge space and to me it looks wrong. Oh well. I just hope the series is like Postage Dues. Buy them, stick them in the album and move on.

On 15 August you'll need to get the books, Large (horizontal) 1st and 2nd and coil stamps. there will also be self-adhesive sheets of the standard size fat 1st and fat 2nd.

Pictorial definitives

Although most people use this term to refer to the Regional issues, I think that it could be extended to the new small 'definitive' size issues such as the Smilers sheets and books. So I'm including items like this which appear clearly not 'commemorative' or particularly 'special' issues. If one day they do get regarded as definitives and something similar replaces the Machin series then these early items will be much sought after.

If you do wish to include them in your collection then remember that a new Smilers book was issued on 4 July with reference to PiP on the cover. Same stamps, though. Confusingly BPB refer to a 'Moments' booklet in July which made me think it was a new set but looks like that is the same booklet after all. Note that sheets of stamps will only be available via customised orders or the generic sheet from BPB. As I believe the sheets are printed by Cartor they seem to need to be included. A bit expensive at about £15 a sheet but maybe a few people could share a sheet if all you're after is some for the album.

What will be different will be 4 items from the Christmas set due on 7 October. There will be 4 definitive size items which I'll be including.

On 11 November, there will be 4 regional pictorial definitives in a Remembrance miniature sheet. Whilst I shall regard all 4 as new, the Northern Ireland item is completely new being the first gravure printing for NI.

Dunstable RMS 2005 -

1 crimson 2 D e/pva 20/5/05
2 dp green 2 D e/pva 22/4/05
5 pale brown 2 D e 23/5/05
9 orange 2 D e/pva 18/3/06
10 tan 2 D e/pva 24/3/06
12 dk turquoise 2 D e 1/8/06
14 salmon 2 D e 1/8/06
20 brt green 2v D e 24/3/06
35 lime green Cv D e/pva 24/7/05
37 olive green Cv D e 28/3/06
44 ultramarine 2v D e 28/3/06
46 old gold 2v D e 6/6/05
47 sea green 2v D e 24/7/05
49 rust 2v D e 28/3/06
50 sand 2v D e 24/5/05
72 red 2v D e 28/3/06
100 mauve 2 D e 21/7/05

I guess this list will grow as future DLR items come along. As long as they or Mr Enschede or even the Cartor boys don't start switching plants, we may be able to get back to fairly manageable listings again soon!

All these should have pva gum that is creamy and be bright, sharp images on glossy looking paper. Dates, other than new item known issue dates, from Douglas Myall's article in the June 2006 Bulletin but I've just noticed that these may be for particular printing cylinders so I'll have to look again as there may be earlier ones. Anyway, this is a start.

Byfleet 2003-2005 quick reference

1 crimson 2v D e 19/3/03
2 dp green 2v D e 25/3/03
2 dp green and pale portrait 2v D e 5/11/03
4 new blue 2v D e 1/4/03
4 brt new blue pale portrait 2v D e 18/9/03
5 pale brown 2v D e 2/4/03
7 brt pink 2v D e 1/4/04
8 dark yellow 2v D e 31/3/03
9 orange 2v D e 7/4/05
9 dp orange 2v D e 7/4/05
10 tan 2v D e 20/3/03
10 dp tan 2v D e 30/4/03
20 brt green 2v D e 4/3/03
20 brt green 2v D e/pva 4/3/03
33 dp grey blue 2v D e/pva 20/3/03
33 dp grey blue 2v D e 4/3/03
34 lime green 2v D e 6/5/03
35 dark brown 2v D e/pva 1/4/04
35 dark brown 2v D e 1/4/04
35 brt lime Cv D e 26/4/05
35 lime green Cv D e 26/4/05
37 dk grey 2v D e 4/6/03
37 dk grey 2v D e 16/3/04
39 lt grey 2v D e/pva 1/4/04
39 lt grey 2v D e 1/4/04
40 dk turquoise 2v D e/pva 1/4/04
40 dk turquoise 2v D e 1/4/04
40 dull turq and white head 2v D e 1/4/04
41 red 2v D e 4/3/03
42 sage 2v D e 24/3/03
43 emerald-green 2v D e/pva 1/4/04
43 emerald-green 2v D e 1/4/04
46 old gold 2v D e 7/4/05
47 sea green 2v D e 29/3/03
47 pale sea green e 29/3/03
50 sand 2v D e 31/3/03
68 stone 2v D e 3/6/03
100 mauve 2 D e 26/3/03
100 pale mauve 2 D e 26/3/03
150 red-brown 2 D e 1/7/03
200 dk blue-green 2 D e 1/7/03
200 dk blue-green / pale portrait 2 D e 1/7/03
300 violet 2b D e 1/7/03
300 brt violet / pale portrait 2 D e 14/4/05
500 pale slate 2 D e 1/7/03

These entries ignore variations in the brightness of phosphor and type of pva gum. The dates are when I understand the sheets were printed for items previously in production by De La Rue (which will be rather earlier than issue dates) or an issue date where it was an item that was new during this period. Information on earliest known actual availabilty dates will follow if and when I get any. Help anyone?

Byfleet and Dunstable

As it took me ages to figure out why these two towns now seem set to enter the annals of Machin history, I thought it might help to set out, briefly, what I've learned.

Harrisons had been quite happily printing loads of our definitives and then got taken over by De La Rue in 2002. Questa had also been providing us with some interesting varieties but their Byfleet plant had also been acquired by DLR in 2002. So DLR moved stamp production to Byfleet and that gave us the first batch of 2003 varieties. Different types of print equipment and processes produce the varities we collectors love. Some of them are obvious just be looking at a stamp, others need closer attention.

Then, in 2005, DLR closed Byfleet and moved production to that permanent traffic jam of a town called Dunstable. The fact that I am a lecturer at the college there doesn't help but that's another matter! Maybe I should arrange a trip, for the students, of course(!) So that meant yet another set of equipment and new items that would be a pretty essential part of the collection.

Between 2003 and 2005 there were quite a few postal rate changes too so even items nearing the end of their useful life got new prints.

My main concern is to know which values were printed on the new equipment, what fairly obvious discerning features distinguish varieties and when they were 'issued' so that I could update my listings and also note the items I'd have to buy (before they got scarce - and expensive!)

I won't list the items I found here in full but they're on my new site in Group 7 (Byfleet ATN) and Group 8 (Dunstable RMS). A quick summary will be in the next postings.

Mike Holt has explained the detailed changes very well in his listings as has Robin at GB Machins but if you're not too concerned with what sort of paper is used or the fine detail of types of phospor then some simplification is necessary to get some sort of manageable listing. The veritable Douglas Myall's articles in the Philatelic Bulletin are excellent but I finished up very confused.

New AHI machin Regional site now live

The new site's now available and the daily discovery of errors has diminished to a weekly wondering about a few things I need help with.

There's link somewhere on the page or just click here . I'm using the same Tiscali web space I had back in 1998. It's free and seems reliable and there are no ads. However the url is a bit sad so I'll probably switch the home page to one of my own hosted sites before long.

This web log is where I'll publish news of relevance to Machin collectors, links to useful sites and I shall also be asking some questions myself about a few things! Hope someone reads this that can help.

Definitively crazy

It's not as if I haven't got other things to do but, well, there's something about a stamp collection that is terribly relaxing and it's something you can do in a cool spot while it's burining hot outside. Yes, I admit it, I collect stamps. I have done since I was 11. After that many years you tend to get quite knowledgeable about a topic and my speciality is the Machin definitive issues from Great Britain that look like the picture here.

They started in 1967 and the face values run from 1/2p to 20 1/2p without missing a beat and, with a few exceptions, on to strange vales like 68p, 72p and, of course £5. There's a host of colours, shades, head varieties, phosphor bands, gum types, paper types, perforation changes which can mean that what may look like a boring old stamp may actually have the right combination of features to make it worth £100 or more. Which isn't so boring.

I have had an on-line listing on a web site since the late 90s but it got hopelessly out of date over the last few years. So I have just spent n days, where n is quite a large integer, bringing it all up to date. Of course knowing me, that meant a whole new site as I'd grown tired of the old design! I'd also done the old one with some NetObjects Fusion software with frames and things which I've since gone off. The main problem, though, was the fact that I hadn't paid any attention to the mailings I get from the British Philatelic Bureau and others. These included not just all the details of most new issues but also the stamps themselves. Must have had over £200 in face value never mind dealer value bundled up in envelopes!

I slowly managed to find them all in various boxes that had survived a couple of moves in the meantime. It was then a task of reading through all the bulletins and spotting the changes, new issues and checking that I had what I need to stay complete (by my definition). All was going reasonably well until I reached 2003. More about that in another posting as readers will want to know the detail without ploughing through this intro. Suffice it to say that a lot of complicated changes happened from 2003 to 2005 and it was clear that some print runs must have been pretty short and so prices could be high - and some would be items that I'd have to buy as they weren't in the standard new issue lists. That gave me a sense of urgency and helped me complete the task of creating a brand new list and publishing the new site to go with it.

Lastly, today, I realised that I'd have to update it regularly and it would be a good idea to use a web log with the titles of postings appearing on a news page. This is possible with Blogger and a free newsfeed converter so whatever goes in here will turn up there. So, here I go.

By the way, the title refers to a Scottish Machin regional stamp that came out in 1985 and now retails for £100+. Quite a return on 31p. It's not the one illustrated but I will add that in due course.