Monday 9 April 2018

I Focus... On the 1d Yellow Ochre (Part 3)

It began life as an experiment in a new type of stamp vending machine. The five stamp multi-value horizontal coil strip was issued in these new vending machines on 27 August 1969. The multi-value coil comprised 2x2d, 1x3d, 1x1d, and 1x4d stamps. Rolls of these coils came in two sizes, one comprising 300 sets of fives stamps and one with 600 sets.

To understand the idea behind this experiment we need to remember that Great Britain was close to the switch to decimalisation at the time. With that in mind, let us consider that the total value of each 5 stamp strip dispensed from the machine equaled 1 shilling. Here's the really cool bit to the experiment. The current one shilling coin in use was the same size, weight, and value as the forthcoming decimal 5p coin. Therefore the vending machines - in theory - would not require any alteration when the decimalisation switch was made.

In the midst of all this drama was the humble 1d yellow ochre machin definitive stamp. This new version of the 1d was printed using Head B (see Part 1). It had one centre phosphor band and a change of gum from PVA to Arabic. This is a striking finale in the life of the 1d machin definitive.

Until next time...

Sunday 8 April 2018

I Focus... On the 1d Yellow Ochre (Part 2)

In my previous blog post I launched a new series focusing on the life and times of the 1d yellow ochre Machin head stamp. In that blog I discovered the subtle difference between head types A and B, and I also discussed the first use of coil printings for this stamp. To check out Part 1 click HERE


In this blog we are going to open the cover as it were on 1ds in booklet form.  The 1d first appeared in booklet form on 25 March 1968. This was the first booklet in a series featuring different explorers on the various covers. This first booklet featured the portrait of David Livingstone and its total value was 10/-. The 1d in this booklet was printed in a single pane of 6 stamps. The stamps in this booklet have 2 phosphor bands and PVA gum (Please note that the head type of the 1d is type B throughout all the following booklets).


Then on 6 April the humble 1d made an appearance in a new type of booklet with a total value of 2/-. This time it was printed in a horizontal se-tenant arrangement of 2 x 1d and 2 x 3d. The stamps in this booklet have 2 phosphor bands and PVA gum.  


On 16 September 1968 a new explorer booklet came on the market. The cover of this booklet features Robert Scott the explorer and had a total value of 10/-. In this booklet the 1d appears in a single pane comprising 4 x 1d se-tenant with a vertical pair of 4d stamps. The stamps in this pane have one centre phosphor band and PVA gum.


As if that weren't enough, our 1d friend made one final appearance in booklet form in a continuation of the explorer series which ran from February to November 1969. The covers of these booklets bore Mary Kingsley and Ernest Shackleton. In this series the pane configuration is the same as the last, but the 4d stamps have had a colour change to vermilion. Additionally, the 4 1d stamps have 2 phosphor bands. 

There is a lot of detailed information in this blog, and since I am still a novice Machin collector, there may be some mistakes. If there are any mistakes, do let me know in the comments. Additionally, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Mervin Wallace for the use of his booklet images. Much appreciated.

Until next time...

Friday 6 April 2018

I Focus... On the 1d Yellow Ochre (Part 1)

The 1d yellow ochre machin definitive stamp had quite an interesting career. There are many varieties to collect: from counter sheet examples to booklets and coils; and from different phosphor bands to different head types. So where does one start with such a plethora of varieties? As with a lot of cases, it is best to start at the very beginning.


The 1d first appeared on 5 February 1968 in the form of post office counter sheets. It was printed in photogravre. And it had one distinctive feature which set it apart from all subsequent 1d iterations. This first  printing of the 1d was the only one possess what we now call Head A. All subsequent printings of the 1d had a different head style, known as Head B. So what is the difference between A and B? To make things easier, I've created an  illustration to explain the differences.

If you look closely at the bases of both head types, you can see that Head A has base that is quite flat. Now let's turn our attention to Head B. As you can see, the base of this head type is more rounded in comparison. So now we know the difference between Head A and Head B.

The second printing of the 1d was issued 11 March 1968. As with the first printing, it was issued in counter sheets. Unlike the first issue, this iteration of the 1d was printed using Head B. It should be noted that on this same day, Royal Mail also issued the 1d in vertical coils. These coils also bear the Head B type. These coil stamps can be differentiated from counter sheet examples by studying the vertical perforations to the left and right. These perforations will be machine cut as opposed to the torn perforations found on counter sheet stamps.

Now that our minds are spinning, it is probably a good idea to pause, to ruminate, and to digest all this new information. In my next blog I will delve into the intricacies of 1d booklet stamps.

Until next time...

Saturday 10 February 2018

The Lavender Hill Mob Forgery

The Lavender Hill Mob were a gang of forgers who printed over £50 million of fake currency during the 1980’s and early 90’s. They managed to inject over £30 million of fake cash into the economy, some of which is still circulating to this day. Although specialising in fake currency, the gang also printed Postage, Gas, and TV Licence stamps.


The focus of this brief study is the forged 24p Machin Head Definitive Postage Stamp ...

Genuine Stamp

The gang chose to forge the 24p Rust Machin Head stamp, as 24p was the current inland letter rate at the time. They printed the stamp in offset Lithography. They used a Genuine half-sheet of 100 as their template. The forged postage stamps began to appear in the summer of 1993 in mail posted from London and Essex. Above is an example of the forged stamp alongside a genuine stamp for comparison. Clearly the colour is an excellent match to that of the genuine stamp, enabling the untrained eye to be fooled. To the trained eye, however, the forgery clearly stands out as a fake. For one, the perforations are much larger at 11 as opposed to 14 or 15. The perforations are also Line Perforated, not Comb Perforated. 

Large Forgery Perfs 11

Genuine Perfs 14 or 15

A close look at the gum also reveals a striking difference. The Deegam Catalogue further elaborates:  “The gum ... is very thin and shiny, with no green or blue dye. It does not appear to be gum arabic since there is no 'crazy paving' appearance under magnification … ”  Deegam further suggests,  “It maybe a variant of Polyvinyl acetate (PVAc).”

Until next time...

Sunday 17 December 2017

2013 1st Class - Butterflies Custom Booklet

I was a late-comer to the party when it comes to Machin collecting - by only 43 years! The year was 2010. A year that was both auspicious (the beginning of something new and exciting) and  disastrous (for my bank account and sanity!). So being such a late-comer I had a lot of catching up to do. Especially since at that time,  hadn't decided I was going to focus primarily on my 1's collection. My first purchases were lots and lots of singles, since I hadn't decided yet if I was going to bother with other stuff such as booklets. So my first ever booklet purchase didn't actually come till three years later when I spotted one i rather liked and thought "Hey, why not!". I've written about this booklet before on a different blog, but I thought I'd share it again now that I have a dedicated Machin blog. 


On 13 May 2013 (according to adminware), Royal Mail issued a new Custom Booklet that I thought was rather charming. The booklet contains 4x1st Class stamps in the new 'Royal Mail Red' with M13L date code and MCIL source code. The 'C' stands for Custom. The booklet also contains two 1st Class commemoratives. The Chalkhill Blue butterfly and the Comma butterfly. Although Royal Mail have this booklet listed as having been printed in Lithography, it was actually printed in Grauvre. Royal Mail lists the printer as Cartor. But again this is incorrect. It was printed by Walsall. The two commemoratives are all-over phosphor. The definitives have two phosphor bands, and have type 2a security slits.

M13L & MCIL Security Code Detail

2a Security Slit Detail

There were two things I really liked about this booklet. The new Royal Mail Red colour of the 1st Class Machins and of course the stunning butterflies. Let's take a quick look at those, shall we... click on each of the titles for more info on each butterfly.

Until next time...