The four country definitives are in the usual designs but with one major difference this year - I wonder if you can spot it, on the Scotland stamp:
For the first time, the face value on this Scotland design is not in silver, but reversed-out white. From the outset there was an inconsistency in the country definitives. For these designs, the England had a silver head and white value, Northern Ireland and Wales had a white head and value, and Scotland had a silver head and value. Now all we need is consistency in the typeface and we will be getting somewhere! UPDATE 18 May: Not noticed at the time, the Queen's head on the England and Scotland stamps is in grey: there is no silver plate.
The country stamps are produced by Cartor in litho, in sheets of 25 as usual. The Wales and Northern Ireland stamps seem to be produced from the same cylinder, equal quantities being produced for each, with Northern Ireland in columns 1 + 2 and Wales in columns 3 + 4. On the other cylinder, the England stamps are in columns 1, 2 + 3 and the Scotland in column 4. This may not indicate that a small number of stamps are produced for Scotland: if the same number are produced as for the other smaller countries it would mean that 3 times as many were produced for England as for the others, presumably reflecting demand. (Click on the images to see enlargements.)
The new £1.05 Machin is also in sheets of 25, printed by De La Rue in gravure. There are 12 sheets to a cylinder, and the printing date seen so far is 20/01/16 (from Tallents House) and 19/01/16 (from PO branches). The colour is very reminiscent of the 30p and 42p Machins, described by SG as 'deep olive-grey'.
In the Philatelic Bulletin at the time, Royal Mail described the colour of the 42p as 'sage', and I believe that was their description of the 18p and 30p (shown below) as well. Now scanning is always an inexact science and what you see is largely down to your monitor, so how should the colour of the £1.05 be described? It looks very similar to the others, so why have Royal Mail adopted a new series of colour names for existing colours? This is now described as - I kid you not - 'Gooseberry Green', see the sheet picture below.
Note, on reflection, and showing how quickly one can forget recent events, this appears to be the same colour as the 2011 £1.65 described by Royal Mail as 'sage' on the sheets, and by Gibbons as 'grey-olive'.
Now the reprints of existing stamps, starting with pictures of those that I didn't show in the last blog update.
1st class business sheet M15L MBIL code, security backing paper.
2nd class business sheet M16L* and 1st class book* of 6 O16R reprints, both with security backing paper, and new tariff £1.05 counter sheet (M16L) with plain backing paper.
*This new 6 x 1st booklet replaces the O15R version with security backing paper, the first replacement issue so far. It remains to be seen how good supplies of the 2015 SBP version are, but it will be important for collectors and dealers to keep on top of these, and to ensure collections are complete before stocks are exhausted. Similarly the 2nd class business sheet M15L SBP version may not exist in large numbers.
Those not yet in our webshop will be added as quickly as possible. New additions are here highlighted thus. Whole booklets will be added as soon as we have sufficient stock.
2015 Year Codes
2931R.5 - 2nd class coil - MRIL - reported used, then mint
2911B.5a - 2nd class business sheet MBIL on security backing paper (SBP)
2931.5a - 2nd class book of 12 MTIL on SBP
2936.5a - 1st class red book of 12 MTIL on SBP
2914B.5a - 1st class red business sheet MBIL on SBP
3745a - 1st class amethyst purple book of 6 on SBP [O15R]
2937.5a - 1st Large book of 4 on SBP
2016 Year Codes (M16L unless otherwise stated)
2911B.6 - 2nd class business sheet MBIL on security backing paper (SBP)
2913.6 - 2nd Large counter sheet printed 15/01/16 - plain backing paper (PBP)
3002.6 - 2p counter sheet printed 12/01/16 - PBP
3010.6 - 10p counter sheet printed 11/01/16 - PBP
3105 - £1.05 counter sheet printed 20/01/16 new tariff - PBP
3133.6 - £1.33 counter sheet 08/01/16 - PBP
3744.6 - 1st class amethyst purple counter sheet printed 21/01/16 - PBP [O16R]
3745a.6 - 1st class amethyst purple book of 6 on SBP [O16R]
Unless I have missed any, that is 15 new stamps this year, already.