July 28, 2016

Beatrix Potter Again

Now I have always been an admirer of the wonderful drawings of Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin and friends in the Beatrix Potter tales but I found the stories themselves really hard work to read to my children. For me, there was no flow to sentences and I struggled to make them entertaining for the young audience and got on a whole lot better with C S Lewis, A A Milne and Roald Dahl. Beatrix Potter was my mother's favourite, though, and maybe it is a generation thing.

There seem to have been lots of Peter Rabbits on stamps over the years too so I was quite surprised to find the lady was getting another outing - and with a second Prestige Book too! The last one was in 1993 so probably long enough ago for most people to have forgotten!

Luckily for us Machin enthusiasts, the pane of Machin stamps is still a feature and this year we have four new main line stamps to add to the lists, three from the pane and one from the Concrete & Clay booklet.

From the pane there is a 5p brown M16L MPIL with two phosphor bands, 10p tan M16L MPIL with two phosphor bands and £1.05 gooseberry green M16L MPIL also with two phosphor bands All are gummed with the usual ellipses in the perforation.I am assuming these are from Cartor. The text says International Security Printers. I believe that could be Walsall, Ensched√© or Cartor nowadays.

My pane also seems to have very weak phosphot on the lower 5p such that it is almost invisible but that is more a specialist variation and, indeed, may still display as a normal line under a lamp perhaps.

In the 4+2 booklet there are four Long To Reign Over Us 1st Class amethysts O16R REIGC stamps, self adhesive.

Also in the Royal Mail envelope this morning was a new 6 x 1st booklet with a gold padlock design and The Future In Safe Hands on the reverse. I have no idea what this is all about. Is that the Royal Mail telling us that our letters and parcels are all nice and secure with them, as some sort of promotional campaign to prevent us switching to other firms? 

The stamps are 1st red M16L MSIL as you'd expect and I am guessing that they are from Walsall. There is a security print background to these self adhesives too which I think will be the first for the 1st Class red. The iridescent background shows the text in quite a fat and very clear style on this issue.

July 06, 2016

Another entry in the 'When Is A Stamp Not A Stamp' competition.

This arrived this morning. It looks like a normal 2nd Class Machin stuck on an envelope but it isn't. The stamp design has been printed on the envelope and it also looks as though the cancellation and other entries below were printed at the same time.

I remember Machin design 'stamps' being printed on envelopes and cards years ago but I have not seen anything like this at all for a long time and certainly not featuring something so similar to a current 'normal' stamp. Even the perforation has been printed and that I certainly don't recall noticing before.

The use of a QR code suggests it isn't an ancient type of label being used rather later than intended but something reasonably of the moment.

It would be nice to know what this is all about. Is it someting commercial organisations can buy in bulk? My guess is that it has been printed by the organisation under some kind of licence (like we can print our own labels on-line). I tried tweeting and mentioning @RoyalMail which usually gets a response but nothing of help has appeared so far and it will now have disappeared from everyone's streams anyway.

It may well be that some of you get hundreds of these and have been getting them for years and my rather limited amount of post has precluded my seeing any. A brief note as to what others we should look out for would be appreciated from those who know.

July 02, 2016

Stamps you'll see on envelopes and labels you can buy in museums.

The 1st amethyst in a slightly deeper shade from HM The Queen's 90th Birthday Concrete and Clay booklet by Walsall. Apparently, it also has much brighter fluor. I must buy a lamp one day as I am clearly missing out on all the additional differences there. It would also have helped me considerably in the 1980s. Remember All Over Phosphor, Phosphor Coated Paper, PCP2 and variations on these themes? I tried to distinguish by holding stamps at various angles to see which were shiniest, not to much avail. That's when I finished up subscribing to a dealer's standing order and just trusted whatever he sent, carefully writing AOP or PCP1, 2 (or even 3 I believe) below the Hawid mount on the page!

The 1st amethyst also has the security backing paper by the way.

A 2nd blue from the books of 12 by Walsall with the M16L MTIL code that is new to the lists. This also has security backing paper. 

A new printing of the Scottish 2nd Centre Band Saltire by Cartor now has a grey Queens's head instead of silver.

From the Great War: 1916 booklet pane come the four National stamps that are similar to those in the Football Heroes booklet from 2013. These have what are termed vignetted phosphor bands instead of the solid type of 2013. These all have a duller fluor than the earlier issue. All from Cartor.

Post And Go collectors will have had another expensive month or two with four strips from the World Stamp Show in New York and a mere nine Battle Of Jutland overprints. I am so glad that I gave up on these. As a collection I am not even that sure they look particularly attractive. One possibility might be to have just one label for each issue, type or change instead of the standard strip of six or whatever is dished out by the machines. The idea of getting each value with a different image is bad enough when that leads to thirty six labels having to be purchased but should the system progress to having a wider range of denominations added then life will become impossible and all but the very rich will have to have something other than everything.

I get lots of parcels each week in connection with my Corgi Toy catalogue project and occasionally these feature the new NCR type label with an amount and service printed on an olive or blue Machin background. These I do find interesting but, strangely, are not regarded as worthy of our consideration by many, if any, of those who might supply us with regular issues. In my view these are far more like 'stamps' than these endless streams of labels issued almost entirely for sale to collectors and exhibition or military museum visitors.

Unless you are an avid collector of military memorabilia or have a specialist collection on the theme of Exhibition or Museum Issues I am pleading with you more general Machin collectors simply to say 'Enough is enough' and cancel those standing orders for strips of six of this or strips of six of that henceforth. Draw a line in the album. By all means get one example from each new issue that you believe has come from a machine with some reasonably likely postal purpose but the cessation of guaranteed demand for the overprints, in particular, might dissuade the Powers That Be from continuing with them other than for very limited interests of a non-philatelic nature. Maybe you can start collecting the NCR types instead and, who knows, they might even prove rather more representative of Britain's stamp future in the collections we pass on to our grandchildren.