There was a time when we produced and sold first day covers for every new issue, back before the number of issues was just too much and FDC production and processing was taking all of my time. It was fun, research designs, photographing, and photoshopping to get a unique product. I have to say that some were better than others!
Nowadays there are too many stamp issues and too many copyright issues to worry the cover producer, which is why many UK producers are using cover designs that are not specific to the stamp subject (eg Star Wars). It's a way of avoiding sometimes huge royalty payments to (eg Disney) which would increase the retail price far above what regular collectors would be willing to pay.
When the 40th anniversary of the Machin definitive was marked - with a miniature sheet, a prestige book, and a generic Smilers sheet - I felt that appropriate covers could only be produced with the permission of Royal Mail, and I was very pleased when they allowed the use of the Machin image, stamps, and postmarks. So we were able to produce three different covers. I've just found some of these unsold, and have added them to our shop.
For the miniature sheet, I copied the original 1967 FDC with Windsor first day postmark. Because FDCs were smaller in those days it wasn't possible to create a 'double-dated' cover, by adding the MS to one that was 40 years old, but the design was expanded onto a modern FDC-sized envelope.
For the generic Smilers sheet we used covers with the Machin portrait made up of a mosaic of Machin stamps. Four covers are used for the set, two are pictured below, with 10 stamps and 20 labels.
Prestige Book panes don't leave much room for a cover design, but a special postmark had been used in 2001 with the Arnold Machin signature. (The postmark was not associated with a stamp issue: the original inscription was 'Royal Academy Schools' so I think it must have been for an exhibition.) I had obtained copies of this on the 'Profile in Print' Letterpress stamp, so adapted it as the design for more covers. The actual panes are cancelled with four different postmarks.
A limited number of these, along with some of the stamps and panes on Royal Mail fdcs are available in our shop, so if you are new to Machins and want a different addition to your collection, take a look. We'll be adding more older covers soon.
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