Back in March we reported that the Security slits on the Business Sheets proved conclusively that they were printed by De La Rue because the semi-circular arcs were the same as those on counter sheets, ie one continuous unbroken arc.
Now we have news that the latest 1st & 2nd (small) Business Sheets have been found with split arcs, similar to those on the Walsall-printed booklets. We're referring to these, for the time being as
Type 1 (continuous arc), Type 2 (Split arc)
At first it appeared that Royal Mail had asked De La Rue to change the die-cut, and this suggested that we might also see changes on subsequent printings of the PO counter sheets of 50p - £5 and 1st & 2nd including Large Letter.
The dates first reported to me were
1st class - 13/02/2009 &
2nd class - 18/01/2009
2nd small -
14/01 Type 1
15/01 , 16/01, 17/01, 18/01 Types 1 & 2
09/03 & 10/03 - Type 2 only
13/02/09 - Type 1 & 2
No changes yet reported to the Large stamps.
It would not be economical to have a printing press printing business sheets in single columns and it must be assumed that they are printed at least two or maybe three or even four columns wide*. As long as all the die-cuts are the same this would be unremarkable. But if two different die-cuts appear with the same printing date it suggests that two different die-cuts were used in different positions on the machine.
* This is not to say that all four columns would be printing the same stamps: there could be two columns of 1st class and two of 2nd class.
If the Walsall/DLR differences are recognised or mentioned in the specialist catalogues it is probably fair to assume that these differences will be as well. And it makes it all the more important to look at ALL stamps received in the mail. Suddenly the 'boring' 1st & 2nd class Machins are starting to look interesting!
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