Friday 15 January 2016

Printing on backing paper makes an appearance at last on 2nd class stamps.

Innovation takes time! Back in June 2014 I wrote:

According to Stamp Magazine:
1. Self-adhesive stamps are to be printed with a security inscription on the entire backing paper from next year to deter forgers.  This will include special stamps as well as definitives in counter sheets, booklets, business sheets and coils.
'Next year' of course means 2015 and sure enough we now know that printing of the 2nd class Business Sheet on 1 December (01/12/15 - and of course there may have been earlier printings) has the new backing paper, which we are referring to as SBP - Security Backing Paper.

Now, the question is how to collect these - if indeed you want to add them to your collection.  The stamps themselves are not different, they are coded M15L MBIL just the same as those already in circulation.

The inter-stamp gaps on Business Sheets are not very large, so you may want to collect in pairs, or a strip of 3 with one stamp removed.   With Booklets of 6 or 12, the spacing shows more backing paper on the 1st and 3rd (and 4th and 6th) columns, but the 2nd and 5th columns are as close as the Business Sheets, so again, maybe strips of 3.  For Counter Sheets pairs, or marginal singles (especially top and bottom) will show more of the backing paper than single stamps.

So, what do you think, how will you want to collect - let me know, as dealers shouldn't dictate by limiting what is available.  And do you think this will be any deterrent to forgery? 

As with the new coil, we now have these in stock.

UPDATE: Very interesting comment by stamp printing expert Glenn Morgan in the comments, which I urge all readers to read in it's entirety.

This feature is not there for Joe Public to spot, but it is an essential part of security when bringing a case to court by the very investigators that you write about, who have Royal Mail support by its introduction of such features. 

See the Tullis Russell website for a picture of the Canadian stamp with printing on the reverse.  Again, impossible to see on a stamp which is being used, but for major stocks of suspected forged stamps, then the absence of printing on the reverse is evidence.


  1. I wouldn't put these in my collection, since the stamps themselves are unchanged. The difference is only visible in unused stamps. But I'm not a specialist Machin collector, I do the visible differences (like year codes and stuff), but that's about it.

  2. 1 Stop Stamps (Rob)15 January 2016 at 13:01

    As a dealer I await with interest the feedback on Ian's question - so please don't be shy.
    It's very difficult to know how to offer these to those that will actually want them.

  3. I collect all the single stamp and the Business Sheet header with first row of stamps as per Stoneham GB Stamp Catalogue 16th Edition (Pg539 - g562)

  4. Collecting backing paper, now I have heard it all, knowing dealers they will jump on the band wagon and sell as many types and varients as they can.

    I my self do not collect self adhesives (except for the odd items)I gave them up years ago

    For people that do collect them its a dA difficult one this.

    Booklets will definately get a catalogue number. cylinder blocks I presume will also.

    With single stamps, and other forms of format such as business sheets, i think this will depend on how much money the collector is willing to spend.

    I look forward reading more on this thread.

    1. Dealers will only sell varieties if the collector wants to buy. If a dealer sells backing paper and no-one buys it - it will soon be dropped form the list of options believe me.

  5. How will this deter forgers?
    This seems yet another way of Royal Mail ripping the Collector off!
    We spend hundreds of pounds a year for some 'sticky labels' to put in a book & hardly ever see daylight. Cost to Royal Mail around a fiver with the packaging (& I'm probably being generous at that)
    I'm waiting for QE2 to fall off the perch & I'll seal the end date of my Collection.
    I've collected UM GB since 1965
    And to answer the question - NO I will not be collecting these

  6. This is an innovation in the production of Royal Mail definitives and part of the ongoing story and therefore I will add an example to my collection.

    Your suggestion of buying a pair seems sensible to me so that the backing paper inscriptions can be seen fairly easily without having to cost the collector too much.

  7. I am missing something here I think. Won't it only be the late 2015 printings that will be double catalogued potentially? After that all the printings will be on the security backing paper so it won't change collecting.

    1. Until we get there we won't know, but in principle you are right. For some stamp (sources) the 2015 printings will exist in both forms. It may be that all the business sheets will appear that way. It may be that stamps from some sources will appear with unprinted backing paper in 2016 (eg booklets or counter sheets) with the variant appearing later in the year.

      So yes, the duplication is likely only in one year for each stamp source. Sadly, it will be quite easy to switch a stamp with one year code (eg M16L) to unprinted backing paper, and the other (M15L) to printed backing paper so we should only obtain our stamps from reputable sources and maybe avoid some of the less certain offerings on auction sites.

  8. I don't understand. Won't it only be the 2015 printings that will have varieties in backing paper. For 2016 and beyond won't it all be on the security backing paper?

  9. I do not think this can just be swept aside as it is not just about collecting backing paper. This is another important development in the manufacture of modern GB stamps. Among other things I personally collect single Machins and I know there will not be a place for these in any of the pre-printed album pages to show any backing paper. This does not mean that I will not collect them as I can always produce my own page for this type of thing. I will most likely do as Ian has suggested and collect a pair removing one stamp to show the backing more clearly,(spare stamp can be used for postage). As the printing date for this business sheet was December 2015 there might not be too many anyway and when the stamps move on to M16L etc these will go into the collection and just be shown as a single stamp.

    1. I like the idea of removing one stamp to show the backing paper more clearly.

  10. I can't see how this is much of a deterrent to forgery; anyone competent enough to print the stamps will be able to print backing paper. Besides, is there much of a problem with the forgery of whole sheets? I would have thought a bigger problem would be the people on eBay who sell large quantities of genuine but used and unfranked stamps ('for collectors only', wink wink) apparently with impunity. Of course proper cancellation of mail would fix that.

    1. It will be interesting to know who does the background printing. It can't be done by Walsall/ISP when the stamps are printed because the paper - stamp, adhesive, and backing paper - is put together by the paper manufacturer. That's one thing that makes it more difficult to forge.

      However, unless Royal Mail were to withdraw all old stock (at some time) and say that only books/sheets with the background printing were genuine, I can't see how they can influence use.

    2. What a load of twaddle! This has got nothing to do with forgery or security as with all these so called innovative ideas to stall the onslaught of the forger, it's about all of the comments above in how to collect money without them being used for the purpose they were printed. We have all seen how innovative the forgers are mimicking anything RM tries.
      WHO CARES when the small business person goes into a Post Office to top up his Business Sheets or the busy housewife buys a book of twelve at the local newsagent. Do they say; "Oh my goodness, I couldn't possibly buy these as I see these stamps do not have the correct backing paper and the stamps do not have any security overprint!"
      Alan B is quite correct RM should stop mucking about spending shed loads of money on these so called security measures and leave the forging problem to RM security staff whom are sometimes quite successful in routing them out (I understand they recently had some success in ceasing a considerable quantity?) instead they should be investing all their time, money and engineering innovation in making sure every stamp that is stuck on an envelope is suitably struck with obliterating ink (Which could easily be made attractive) thus stop the haemorrhaging of so much of their revenue in unfranked stamps!

  11. This feature is not there for Joe Public to spot, but it is an essential part of security when bringing a case to court by the very investigators that you write about, who have Royal Mail support by its introduction of such features.
    If all genuine 2017 Machin stamps in all formats bear a year code of xx17 (I chose 2017 as the development may take time to implement fully during 2016) and all Machin stamps have the new security backing paper it will give the juror the ability to know "beyond all reasonable doubt" that any dubious stamps that form part of the case have to be forgeries, as they will not bear correctly printed features. A conviction will follow.
    It is impossible to print under the new stamps without first removing every stamp from the backing paper, printing the repeat Royal Mail wording across the entire surface BELOW the silicone layer, then putting the stamps back on the sheets in their original positions. Yes, a fraudster may print in grey up to the edge of the stamps and on top of the silicone layer, but the white backing paper under the stamps would make them instantly recognisable as forgeries when removed from the sheet.
    I also think that collectors believe that they are the sole reason that Royal Mail exists. This new development is not on a stamp, so most will ignore, or not even notice, the change. Those who already buy booklets, cylinder blocks or year code changes will continue to do so, with little or no extra cost. Those who want examples need only buy a marginal single and remove the marginal matrix to reveal enough of the repeat wording. It's like Post and Go - you buy what you want and ignore the rest.
    Incidentally, this development is not unique to Great Britain, as Canada Post introduced it to the world through Tullis Russell Coaters (TRC) in 2012, where there has not been the "Outraged of Tunbridge Wells" type comments about its introduction, despite the feature only being visible if you remove the stamp. Canada has the repeat wording "CANADA" on the reverse of the stamps under the PSA gum and not on the backing paper, but the idea is the same. This is probably done differently as they do not have a matrix area surrounding each stamp, which tend to butt-up to its neighbour.
    Royal Mail has chosen to have its PSA paper supplier, also TRC, print under the silicone layer of the release paper, making it impossible to forge correctly. Both the British and Canadian methods are jointly marketed by TRC under the brand name of "In-Print" and they describe their product as a "simple, practical and cost effective way of verification". On that basis Royal Mail has not spent "shed loads of money" on its introduction, as implied by your correspondent.
    Forgery helps fund criminal activity - fact - and we should be supportive of any development that helps reduce crime of any kind and not be quite so cynical. GLENN MORGAN

    1. Thank you Glenn - the next-best thing to an official statement from Royal Mail, which we were never going to get - from an expert on the printers, printing methods and inside stories on stamp production.

      Anybody who hasn't looked at Glenn's website will find much of interest, going back many years!

    2. A very interesting account of the latest development of stamp and stamp paper production. Always a pleasure to read information produced by Glenn Morgan and I too can recommend Glenn's website.

  12. I am indebted to Glenn in responding to my rant and pleased that it has generated such a well informed response.
    Of course if such security measures do, or indeed, are making a difference in securing convictions then it is to be commended, it is just a shame that such an upfront explanation is not forthcoming from the horses mouth (RM) whom one feels look to introduce such measures simply to frustrate it's Philatelic customers pockets.
    My main argument still holds in relation to fraudulent reuse of stamps; Security measures should go hand in hand with marking each stamp used on an envelope. I am convinced that no single person in RM is accountable for revenue lost in this practice and does not show against anyone's budget or bottom line (And hence, the individual's Bonus), so when revenue from sales does not match the quantity of mail sent through the sorting office. It is all too easy for them to shrug their shoulders and add another penny to the price of postage at the next review.


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