I haven't written since August and, of course, a lot has happened. We have the end of an era as Machin stamps will finally cease to be produced. When we don't know as it will be some time yet before we have the first King Charles III definitives so I need to keep going a little longer. In a way I do hope Mr Machin didn't knock up a bust of Prince Charles which some bright spark at Royal Mail decides to use!
With so few stamps being used on envelopes or packages these days, collecting has become a little lacking in soul, we get the new issues from some place or another and dutifully put them in our books. There's no ta great deal of variety these days either with just two main printers and much more careful quality control to stop less well-finished items slipping out into our lucky hands from time to time.
I can't even buy all the denominations currently available from my local Post Office. that says it all. Recently, with the announcement that our old stamps without a bar code would cease to be postally valid by around now, I had stripped all the duplicates from my albums and packed them all up to exchange for shiny new barcode issues. I had been using B Alan to supply me with all the new Machins for years and years but also had supplies from the Philatelic Bureau in Edinburgh. The dealer would only include me on a Machin subscription service if I had the regular new issues too - hence the duplication. Before sending them off I had used a few to make up most of the postage for a parcel but there was a balance of a few pence still due. The chap at the Post Office counter had to take 10p from my credit card as he didn't have any stamps he could use to make up that simple amount!
The new sheets arrived and, just in case I later discover that these are different in some way to the initial stamps supplied to me by B Alan or the Burau, I have kept one of each different denomination just in case! I did start to use them and then stopped as I am sure that there will be a substantial increase in April so I'll get more value from them by waiting until then. Indeed, I may well be tempted to put them away for another year or two if savings rates stay at the very low rates we have at the time of writing. When people talked about stamps being a good investment, that wasn't what they meant but these NVI issues may well be. Those with a set denomination will, of course, get used. I had about £400's worth in total from duplicates going back to 2000 or so. I do still have duplicates going way back to the 1960s but I think most of them are worth more than their face value so they can stay where they are and my children can decide what to do about them as and when my own era ends.
Getting back to bringing things up-to-date here, I missed the Rolling Stones Prestige Book which had the traditional Machin pane and would have been the penultimate one of those, issued 20 January 2022.