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'.

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