Tuesday 4 December 2018


Today we are announcing a major change to our business. 

This further change will give me more time to spend on my own collection, and finding a way to dispose of the decades of accumulated stamps and postal history without buying any more!  It will also give us more time together, on holiday, which is as it should be in the eighth decade of your life!

One consequence of this, which I have alluded to in some email exchanges, is that we will not stock Machin definitives after the M18L stamps, ie none of the M19L codes or later.  To clarify, if there is a PSB in early 2019 containing M18L stamps, we will supply this but not any later ones.

I am sorry that this will come as a disappointment to our existing customers, some whom we have been supplying for some years, and quiet a few who have only recently joined us..

The blog will continue to provide news of Machins, slogan postmarks, and other British news.  It will also be used to tell you about additions to our e-commerce shop (of which more below).   The Machin Checklist will continue, using information from many people as at present. 

There are several reasons for this, mainly personal.  For those who don't already know, I turned 70 in April this year. In itself, that isn't a problem, as I am blessed with good health, and a good wife (Val) who keeps me properly and healthily fed. We know from our World Tour in late 2016 that the world can manage without us, and the business has continued as if that never happened.  Meanwhile John takes on all the technical stresses of the business.

We have boxes and boxes of ‘stuff’ here that we don't want to leave for John to sort out in 20 or 30 years time (see, I'm optimistic). There are stockbooks of older Machins, some Wildings and many commemoratives, and first day covers; many foreign & commonwealth stamps;  boxes of postcards mostly for their postal history side, and boxes of postal history from around the world. The sooner we can get these on our shop or eBay, or dispose of them through other outlets like Stampboards.com, the better it will be – and I will find all manner of things I had forgotten about!

I don’t know what I will get to first. I will probably start by listing older Machins, regionals, pre-security booklets, etc, but I also have several hundred postal history covers already scanned, so some of those will be listed early on.

There is also a practical difficulty.  As you know Royal Mail Tallents House do not routinely supply definitive stamps with new year codes, nor singles from booklets or business sheets. They departed from that in 2018 by supplying the counter sheet stamps from the new printer.

But aside from that stock provided by Royal Mail most of the new stamps we sell have come from one or two local people who scour the post offices and retail outlets, and are often the first to discover new stamps. Now that more Crown and directly managed Post Office branches are changing to franchises in WHSmith and other retail chains employing their own staff and using self-service kiosks, the volume of new stamps ordered by those branches for sale to customers will decrease, making the hunt more difficult.

There are many other dealers selling new Machins as they appear, on a combination of their own websites, eBay, at fairs or simply by mail order on their lists.  I don’t intend to make any recommendations although I am compiling a list of other dealers.  There doesn’t appear to be any website using the same platform as we do, so layouts, provision of images, etc, will be different to what you are used to.  But some of you are already using several dealers.  I will be interested to know of other dealers that you can recommend, especially outside the UK as this may assist our customers in, especially, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.

I will supply details of other dealers on request only with comments and contact details.  This will follow as soon as possible.

An updated version of this post, with dealer details was provided, but has been deleted as the information is three years old.

If any other dealer reading this wants to ‘pitch’ for business with our existing customers I will include their submission within those details, making it clear that it is their pitch rather than my comments.

Ian, Val & John Billings


  1. Ian, thank you for all your hard work and great customer service over the years for us Machin collectors. I look forward to continuing to follow your blog and wish you all the best in getting to enjoy the additional time that this decision affords you. Guy

    1. Thank you Guy, and thanks to all the readers who have written to me directly.

      This message will be saved as a page and linked in the RH column, above The Post Office Trial, and the dealer details will be added there when I have finished compiling the information. I'm sorry that this has not been done sooner, but there just hasn't been the time.

  2. Ian, enjoy your retirement, and thanks for all your service over the years. So happy that the blog will continue I have always found this to be a great source of advice and information. Best wishes from one septuagenarian to another.

  3. Ian. Like so many others, I would like to add and record my thanks and recognition for all the hard work you have put into researching, maintaining and publishing via the website and blog. Well done and enjoy your semi-retirement (collectors never retire!). I'm pleased you will maintain the flow of information that is so hard, if not impossible sometimes, to obtain elsewhere.


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