September 05, 2015

Post and Go. I give up.

That's it. I have made a decision. No more Post And Gos. Anyone who has been following this story for a while will know that I started happily collecting everything, first cancelling the Post Office presentation packs and then dropping all the pretty picture labels after a while, then the Flags as well and then the overprints, leaving what I thought would be a reasonably manageable and quite interesting set of Machin labels to follow.

It is pretty clear, though, that staff are putting the wrong rolls in from time to time and we're going to get 2nd Class values on olive backgrounds as well as 1st and higher denominations on blue. There will also be fading inks and font style changes as the months go by. Multiply each change by n where n is a very large integer representing different date codes or machines used and even normal versions will be rare. In fact, for many already released, the short phosphor varieties seem to be the norm and the 'normal' positioning types get sent as a 'variety'!

If I had seen more of these in actual use that might have convinced me to stick with them but we're dealing here with a label that lacks the scrutiny in production of the definitive issues and so may appear in all sorts of strange forms with mistakes and errors depending on who filled or serviced the machine last. The Post Office presentation packs are a joke and really are just 'for collectors to collect' being different to those in normal production. They look pretty but so do the porcelain cats on the back pages of weekend magazines.

My main frustration is that I cannot see how I can ever get anything resembling a complete collection as new denominations get printed on old stock so you can never close the file on a particular denomination or background as, at any time, a variety may emerge either by mistake or from a distant office with slow-moving stock.

Add the complication of umpteen overprints and many issues being available only at exhibitions or special locations for a few days and the dilemma of having, in the special picture label issues, 36 possible combinations of denomination and image - actually that is more now that extra denominations have appeared! - and you'll get the idea. Not only is the collection likely to be immensely expensive but it will never be complete and what might appear to be scarce could even become common some time later. All in all, not a good attraction for most collectors.

There was a significant hint about all this when the NCR open values came along, with almost any denomination you want appearing on the Post And Go format labels. Many dealers don't stock or supply these, although, as I said at the time, my view is that they are more like what I would describe as a 'stamp' and, if they become more generally available, I might still consider collecting them. That's quite a big might though.

Now I am quite aware that it is also quite impossible to have a complete collection of Machin definitives but, firstly, most do get issued for a postal purpose. Just the prestige books break that rule but we'll let that pass for now. I have serious doubts that most Post and Gos go to dealers and collectors. Secondly, there will only be one 80p pink with an M16L date code printed by De L Rue. Their security processes see that all their stamps are, indeed, identical. Yes, there may be errors and shades but you needn't worry about another coming out in years to come. If they do print another, it will be different.

Normal definitives are also on general sale. You should be able to buy them from any Post Office although I am aware that may not be the case nowadays but you can certainly get the Philatelic Bureau to send you any current items. That's not the case with the Post And Gos. If there is a machine in your local office then you can get them for yourself but otherwise you're reliant upon a dealer to get them for you and they'll come at a price as they have to stand around plugging coins into machines all day.

So I shall now take some pleasure in listing all that I have, in the knowledge that no more need come to complicate what is already quite complicated, and put them up for sale. The income I receive will mostly go to good Machin definitive causes!

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