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!

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Constant flaw on Darwin's Machin PSB pane

An eagle-eyed collector in Singapore has spotted something that two dealers handling his stamps failed to spot, and that is a constant flaw on one stamp on this pane.

It might have been a fleck of paper, except that it appeared on all the panes in my stockbook. And it might have been on every Machin pane - except that it isn't any of the panes I have with the dark 5p stamp, and it isn't on any of the panes in the books I have, or the FDCs. But it is constant on at least 20 panes!

More next week when I will have had a chance to scan it.

Monday 6 April 2009

Short phosphor bands on Faststamps

Several people have reported that the labels we know as Faststamps (but which Royal Mail refers to as 'Post and Go stamps') exist with misplaced phosphor - inset right, short top or bottom.

As you may know, the Philatelic Bureau (aka Tallents House) now sells sets of 5 labels in a specially designed carrier - not quite a presentation pack, but similar, along with badly creased cellophane sleeves. These are not dispensed from Post & Go machines, which produce labels with thermal print values etc, but are specially printed by Walsall in gravure.

It seems that short bands on these are more common than on the machine dispensed labels. Here are the findings from some of our batches:

1. Inland (2) and Europe very short at foot; worldwide slightly short at top.
2. World 10gr slightly short at top, World 20gr slightly short at foot; remainder OK.
3. Inland (2) very short at foot; World slightly short at top; Europe OK.

Remember, these are each sets of 5 dispensed from the same pack, so the packs are assembled from various parts of the print run.

I still have more to check, but I have 3 type 1, 4 type 2, and 1 type 3 packs. Not scarce at all, it would seem!