Wednesday 10 April 2013

Doctor Who gets more complex: Tardis has two perforations!

In an earlier report we calculated that there were 30 different stamps in the Doctor Who issue, although there is still some confusion about who printed what. 

But amongst all the confusion we dealers and collectors often forget philatelic basics - and we have to acknowledge that we were not the ones to discover that the Tardis stamps exist with two different perforations!

The stamp from the miniature sheet is perforated 14¾ x 14, whilst the one from the miniature sheet pane in the prestige stamp book is 14¾ x 15.   (The perforations of the 2nd class 'Enemies' stamps are the same from both sources.)

The difference is easy to spot without even resorting to a perforation gauge because the miniature sheet stamp has 11 holes above the elliptical one, and the pane stamp has 12.  The stamps in the Retail Booklet & Generic Smilers Sheet also have 11 holes.

Royal Mail have usually made it easy for the self-adhesive sheets and panes to be removed from the backing paper for fixing to FDCs (or even postal packets) by ensuring that the die-cut perforations are interrupted.  And this factor also demonstrates that perforators were used.

On the Miniature sheet the Tardis stamp perfs are interrupted on the end of the 3rd tooth in from the corners, on each side, except that the interruption is on the 2nd tooth from the bottom on each vertical side (8 in total).

On the PSB pane there are just four interruptions: top left and top right are on the lower side of the first tooth, lower left is on the upper side of the last tooth, and lower right is on the lower side of the last tooth.  There are no interruptions on the short side of the stamp.

Thus 3 are within the sides, and the lower right is right on the corner.  This can be seen in the images as an uneven tear of the paper, rather than a clean die-cut, most noticeable on the top of the right-hand stamp in the image.

Similar differences occur on the 2nd class stamps.  The MS has interruptions on the top of the 4th tooth on each side (hence 8 in total).  The stamps on the PSB pane have just 4 interruptions, in various positions and various sizes, on the last tooth on each vertical side (as with the Tardis).

Incidentally the size of the Tardis stamp image is different on the Retail Booklet.

The stamp design on the Retail Booklet is 17.5 x 21.5 mm but on the stamps on the Generic Sheet, Miniature Sheet, and MS pane from the PSB have images only 17 x 21 mm.


  1. Doesn't this prove that the Royal Mail has lost the plot and has no interest in Quality Control with respect to Printers, they do what they like. I hate to say this but in a professional establishment this wouldn't happen it's just RM's carefree attitude to quality, lets get the stamps out there and make some cash.

  2. Ian,
    Its also interesting to note that the miniature sheet stamp (on the right) has wider margins at top and left making it appear that either the paper was slightly misfed into the perforator or the printing press?

    1. A degree of variation in the perforation always happens which is why the ordinary sheet stamps occur with off-centre impressions.

      The 'nicks' in the perforations are also different on the two stamps. The more we see the more we find. I'll add this information in the main post.

  3. There are also differences in the phosphor bands. The booklet and MS both have the usual 9.5mm bands whilst both versions from the prestge booklet have 13mm bands

  4. Why is the Prestige Book printed inverted part way through? There must be some logic to this.

    1. See


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