Friday, 17 April 2009

Security codes B B C T F & S - codebreakers!

In a move worthy of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park Royal Mail has coded the new security definitives to identify their source. So as well as the variations in slits reported here earlier, we now know that there is a much easier way to identify the stamps.

As reported by Larry in the Machin Mania blog, Douglas Myall published the news yesterday that the non-denominated security Machins have a hidden code that identifies the format in which the stamp was issued.

I don't usually replicate entire threads, but this one is important for completeness.

The code is a change of one letter in the curvy ROYAL MAIL pattern, located at the top right, above the diadem.

The codes are as follows:

B replacing A in Royal - ROYBL MAIL - in business sheets (Large 1st and 2nd Machins) (corrected previous error)

B replacing A in Mail - ROYAL MBIL - in business sheets (standard 1st and 2nd Machins) (corrected previous error)

C replaing A in Mail - ROYAL MCIL - in mixed booklets with four 1st Machins and two commemoratives ("C" is for custom)

F replacing R in Royal - FOYAL MAIL - in booklets of four stamps (large 1st and 2nd Machins)

S replacing A in Mail - ROYAL MSIL - in booklets of six (standard 1st Machins)

T replacing A in Mail - ROYAL MTIL - in booklets of twelve (standard 1st and 2nd Machins)

There are no hidden codes in counter sheets, which means that no denominated Machin has a code.

Royal Mail says that these codes let them know the source of a stamp when a problem is discovered, for example, a sub-standard application of the phosphor bands.

So now we have different slits, different perforations, and ID letters. Who said Machins were boring!


  1. WHAT , No Roy or MYALL? :-)


  2. Why the specific changes to those words? For instance the F could have gone in the MFIL or even ROYFL like ROYBL. Or to keep the large stamps together they could have ROYBL and ROYFL with the other stamps amending the word MAIL. Maybe the F could be confused with a poor print of a B who knows, somebody got paid a lot though I'm sure.

  3. No, Who said Royal Mail are not putting collecting beyond reach.. I for one have had enough.

    It has become a joke in my humble view..

    Michael (cddstamps)

  4. Regarding the selection of a letter to change, take a look at the images I posted on the Machin Mania blog (use the link in the original post above). There are only a few complete letters in the small space in the upper right corner of the stamp, so Royal Mail had to choose one of them on each stamp.


  5. This creates only six additional stamps, and all are either first-class or second-class rate. Plus, this is a fairly specialized aspect of the Machins (as so many of them are), and I think most collectors will ignore these varieties (if they even know about them).

    Myall will list these, the Machin Collectors Club almost certainly will, and maybe Gibbons Specialised.

    Royal Mail is doing a lot of things to make collecting unattractive to many people, but I don't think this is one of them.


  6. Ian,

    It appears you copied my error in the description. I reversed the two "B" codes when I wrote my post. ROYBL MAIL is on the large Machins and ROYAL MBIL is on the standard ones. Please fix your post so that this error is not perpetuated. I apologize for my carelessness.


  7. These codes that were put by Royal Mail onto the First and Second Class Self-Adhesive Machins are a great way, for myself anyhow, to easily discern where the source of them came from. Beings as these are somewhat like an overprint, it brings back memories of times gone by where many stamps of many nations had put overprints on stamps for various reasons,and thus could be readily differentiated from one another in this way. The fun and challenge of the Specialised Machins collecting is that there are many things indigenous to these stamps and to no other stamps in many ways, and that is what makes them so unique and satisfying a pastime.