Tuesday, 9 April 2019

How many definitive make-up values are needed?

Looking back over 2018, there was an interesting pattern for printing of the low 'make-up' values of Machin definitives: the 1p, 2p, 50p 10p, 20p, 50p and £1 values.

The new tariff stamps were first printed (in, presumably, small quantities) in January.  The second printing of these was in February, along with all the make-up values except the 50p - which hasn't been printed since autumn 2017 - and the 1p.

May brought some more reprints, including the 1p, but not the 5p.   And in August the 1p, 2p, 10p and 20p values were printed again.  So the 2p, 10p, 20p were printed three times, the 1p and £1 only twice, and the 5p was only printed once.  Which suggests that Royal Mail had a huge quantity of 5p printed in February.

Of course all this does depend on demand/usage of the lower values.  But so many 'gaps' require several make-up values (all these are 2018/19 rates):

– between 2nd and 1st the gap is 9p which needs at least three stamps (5+2+2)
– between 1st and 1st Large the gap is 34p which needs four stamps (20+10+2+2)
– between 2nd and 2nd Large the gap is 21p which needs only two stamps (and no 5p).

Upgrading a letter to Europe, if already stamped with a 1st class stamp, was easy - add a 2nd class stamp.

So is it fair to assume that Royal Mail production got their forecasts right for the 5p and not the others, or were there good reasons for the variability of the production dates?  We'll never know, but it will be interesting to see how things develop in 2019.

I wonder how many values were actually printed on or around 19 February when the 20p was printed?

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