A somewhat over-designed prestige booklet came out this week. Inventive Britain sort of excuses the enthusiastic design evident in the front and rear covers, celebrating as it does some remarkable achievements by inhabitants of our islands over the years.
Inside there is some good text and the set of 10 special issue stamps, with two of them duplicated to make the three panes of four add up. There's invention all right. More to the point, though, and the first stamp pane for a welcome change too, is the Machin pane in what has become a very fixed three by three affair with someone having to conjure up something suitable to go in the middle. Why we have to have a label in the middle when another stamp would be perfectly acceptable is beyond me.
Some commentators are promoting this as of equal importance to the Wedgwood £3 book and its ½p pale blue left band because there is just one 81p in this book and I suppose the 81p is vaguely similar in colour. It is, though, some 162 times higher in face value so may have a chance but with the ½p stamps currently going for about £10 in a complete pane a £10 price tag for the 81p isn't that difficult to envisage anyway.
There does appear to have been quite a bit of advance interest with Royal Mail apparently restricting orders of panes as dealers tried to stock up in a big way, expecting this to be something of a special item. I am not convinced, especially as no-one uses the stamps in prestige books these days. In the Wedgwood book days they did and there lies the difference. Even the design of the panes doesn't exactly encourage anyone to tear the stamps out, even on the special issue pages. The firm want you to but the book and put it away somewhere. If you need to post something the pop down to the post office and they'll put a Horizon label on it or just get some NVIs at the supermarket.
The book has four new Machins that we need:
1p crimson 2B
2p deep green 2B
81p sea green 2B
97p mauve 2B
All have the M14L MPIL code and are printed by International Security Printers who, I think, get called Cartor still.