August 26, 2016

Grey heads and a £1 from 1969 appears on an envelope in 2016

The English 2nd and Scotland's 1st lion now have grey heads on the sheet issues, replacing what were silver heads. The Scotland stamp has been seen in this guide before in the 90th Birthday book but is now likely to be appearing in general use. These are printed by Cartor.

The 5p joins the ranks of DLR's M16L issues, although this is not on security backing paper.

And, just for fun and fond memories, here is a selection of stamps that appeared on an envelope received recently by a friend. My guess is that the sender has purchased a whole pile of mint stamps at a discount. Quite good prices are available, especially for larger denominations from commemorative issues that can only really be used on parcels or tracked services. It is a pity that they have placed items on top of the edges of the London 1980 50p and I wonder what denomination was awarded to the Northern Ireland E regional? The others add up to £2.25. It would, I think, have been £1.05 each, giving a total of £6.45 which would have been the cost of a Special Delivery up to 100g. I am not sure, though, that the envelope alone wouldn't have weighed more so who knows.

Nice to see a lovely used copy of the original £1 Machin stamp from 1969. That remains one of my favourite stamps of all time. I am a bit surprised that it was going cheap, though, as mint copies of this I would have thought would be worth more than face value.

August 24, 2016

I prefer collecting items not intended to be collected

Now here's something I can collect. Indeed, I think we should make a real effort to get these properly accepted as 'stamps' and someone might make a catalogue of the various types available in due course.

I am talking about labels like this that actually get used on post. Not a lot, admittedly, but in my experience, a lot more than the Post And Gos that we are sold invariably in strips of six and with either a pretty picture or some text marking some event or worthy place and which will probably only appear on an envelope if a customer has ordered used copies.

I would also suggest that it is a used collection that we should aim for. I guess it would be comparatively simple to find someone to print out some mint examples and, whilst that's OK, it would be the postally used examples that would be the most difficult to build up and which, potentially, could be the more interesting and valuable in years to come when another generation takes a fresh look at all this.

What I am pretty certain about is that the mint Post And Go issues of the other type, even those with just a few days' Exhibition or similar life, will seldom be particularly sought after in years to come. In so far as they can be used in place of normal stamps in future, the Post And Gos will have a value but I suspect it will be often be rather lower than the equivalent face value which doesn't make them the best of investments either. Obviously there is a good chance that postal rate rises will outstrip inflation and rates available from banks and building societies in the foreseeable future but you would be better holding sheets of much easier to sell and use first or second class stamps than all the strange Europe and Worldwide rates you've been filling stock books with to date.

It is not really about its potential value but more about promoting a simple, good old-fashioned collection that I like this idea. My collection of these items is a pathetic dozen or so but it is far more appealing than all the pristine strips I had accumulated.

It needn't be a Machin thing either as here are some mint items from the Spring Flowers issue:

August 17, 2016

No prestige Machins and Birthday book design errors

The 2016 Prestige Book finally arrived yesterday. Delayed from June due to an error in the Presentation Pack. I cannot quickly see why that meant we didn't get the prestige booklets but never mind.

As it happens it contains no Machins. That has got me wondering whether this is the first prestige book not to have any Machins? Something I shall have to consider.

The definitive pane has the very attractive small Poppy 1st Class stamp, the newer style English, Scottish and Welsh flags and the familiar Northern Ireland fields. Whilst the English and Scottish flags are quite well-represented, the Welsh dragon really does not seem to have coped as well with the rippling and perspective effect. You also do have to wonder why no effort seems to have been put in to come up with something other than fields for Northern Ireland! 

I have often suggested that scenes from around Britain could be a good future definitive theme and if flags presented problems for the Northern Ireland issue then they should think of something else that would be suitable for all four nations.

I shouldn't worry too much as few people other than collectors will see this particular production anyway. Whilst the booklet, as the preceding two have been, is very well written and illustrated indeed, my interest in the prestige booklets is rapidly diminishing now. That is not just the lack of Machins but for many years it has been mostly just one pane that I have wanted and the chances of any of these being used in a postal sense, always slim, have become almost negligible. When they were promoted in Post Offices and you could fairly easily tear off a few stamps for use on an envelope then it was worth checking your mail for that scarce used copy of a left or right band variant or one from a different printer perhaps. Nowadays you could spend a year and find none. Or probably even longer.

Because I feel that there may not be long to go before we finally see the conclusion of the Machin series I shall not stop now and, for the sake of completeness, I'll keep collecting the prestige books and hope that they don't get too expensive. (Of course, there have been the annoying 'Special Edition' prestige books but I am hoping that these continue not to have different printers or anything that might make the definitive content unique. Now that would be really annoying!

On the topic of booklets that have stamps we might see on mail, here are a couple that you can reasonably expect to be used as intended and not just bought and filed away. The Concrete & Clay booklets have been with us for a while now and work well, 

The second book, ostensibly celebrating H M The Queen's birthday a second time, has four O16R REIGC amethyst 1st Class as has the other Concrete & Clay book with some nice landscapes.

The birthday book is a little strange, though. A sort of half-hearted effort has been made, by the seems of it, to mount the two photographs on some wall, presumably in Buckingham Palace but all that results is quite a confusing jumble of lines that stop and start. It really does not work and is not the sort of design that I would have expected to have survived through to print. 

It was the same with the first birthday book of 4+2 but I didn't notice at the time. They have taken the four stamps from the 90th Birthday prestige book and included them in these panes. Unfortunately, the prestige sheet was one large image and so various bits of background were included in individual photos selected as stamps. In the Concrete & Cay books, however, someone has attempted to put a background  in which simple doesn't work. For most issues they leave the background plain or presented in a way that enhances and does not interfere with the stamps. Notably, for Morecombe & Wise a while ago they were able to extend the photos really successfully, presumably by working with some original stamp design artwork. Someone should have had words with the designers on this occasion. Bit late now.

The landscape issue is pretty enough and a more suitable background is used.

All the Machins have the now standard 'security backing paper'.