Sunday 12 April 2020

Two sides to every - page

I hope readers in the UK have been able to take advantage of a good holiday weekend - in their gardens of course.  It's certainly been good here in Norfolk, although there was brief but heavy rain this afternoon, and the forecast is for temperatures about 16º lower tomorrow!

Looking back through my cuttings from Stamp Collecting (Weekly) I found these pages from 1981. At first I thought that I had saved this for the page by John B Irving, "Collecting Machin Definitives" - and that may well be why I tore it out of the mag.

Here, in October 1981, John writes,
"Now is a good time for the breathless and perhaps bewildered collectors to take stock of the small format Machin decimal definitive stamps.  After a couple of years during which man new values were issued, new papers were introduced, and occasionally printing by companies other than Harrison & Sons, there has been a period of comparative calm.  So those who have been collecting these stamps and fallen behind have the opportunity to catch up."
There follows a table described as 'a tabulated checklist, fairly basic, intended to be used to the enthusiast, whether a novice or a semi-specialist'.   As the image below shows (click on it to see a larger version) the table has each value, with the colour and numbers of phosphor bands), and an indication of the paper, phosphor, and gum types.


All very laudable, and of great interest to the very large number of Machin collectors around the world to build on by adding other types, even though they didn't have personal computers to help them - all this would have been done with pen and paper!

I must admit that I have perpetuated the exploration of the minutiae of Machins especially in the last two years with all the different fluorescences and phosphors that were introduced when Walsall took over, but...

... then there is the other side of the page, continued to a third side, by Ian McQueen - a prolific philatelic writer on a wide range of subjects.  McQueen looks at Decimal Rates, and writes:
"Rather than going tot he vast expense of buying pristine examples from the counter clerk, why not devote the time and money (much more time, but far less money) to collecting each stamp correctly used by itself on cover to pay the charge for which it was intended?"

And on this page and the following, McQueen starts with the 1p, which paid the Certificate of Posting fee from decimalisation day, through to the 25p which paid:
Surface mail to abroad, up to 50g 1980-81
Airmail to Europe, up to 50g, 1980-81
Printed papers by air to Zone C, up to 20g, 1981
Airmail to Zone C, basic letter up to 10g, 1981
In this case 1980-81 referred to 11 February 1980 to 25 January 1981, and 1981 referred the following, then unfinished rate period.

Now the task would be much harder, although some other work has been done and published in a  similar form.  But this is still an area much under appreciated.  A (small) number of collectors have been collecting such material, and a smaller number of dealers has such material available.  Notable among these are Bill Barrell and Paul Jones who both take their wares to the York and other fairs.

But it makes me think that some of the overseas rates might be easier to find than inland rates, such as the humble 20p:
Inland 2nd class up to 300g, 1975-77
Inland 1st class up to 200g, 1977-79 and up to 100g 1981
Airmail to Zone A, up to 10g, 1981
Airmail postcard outside Europe, 1981
I would suggest that the last two would be easier to find than either of the first three.  

What have you got?  Now, in the relative calm as Irving wrote, is a perfect time to find out what you put away in those boxes years ago.  Let me know of any interesting finds, and I'll put them on the accompanying Postal History blog - they don't have to be decimal Machins, we can look back further than that, or come closer!


  1. What I find weird is that not much mention is made of the Machin definitives printed on uncoated paper, these are scarce especially 730a 3d Violet, I have managed to get over the years all the rest:- 724d 1d Olive, 733b 4d Bright Vermillion 1cb, 734a 4d Br.Vermillion lb, 734ba 4d Br.Vermillion rb, 735d 5d Royal Blue 2b, 10d Drab. I believe the 3d Violet was only printed in sheets so have all but disappeared. Anyone got any comments?

    1. I think he is only referring to the decimals.

  2. You're quite right thank you . But generally I never see them mentioned oh well c'est la vie .

  3. Incidentally, the 20p turquoise-green with elliptical perfs (as in the above image) only appeared in 1993. During 1975-1981, the 20p stamps in use would have been the olive-green "high value" (how times change!!) followed by the standard-size dull purple version issued in 1976.


    1. Yes, thanks John, a poor example chosen in haste. I'll pull out an image of a purple one to replace it with.

  4. Would you be able to post the full articles and list of uses? Perhaps on the postal history blog as that seems the more logical place for them

    1. Because I haven't checked for completeness, or later uses I don't want to replicate anything yet, but if you send me your email address to ian - at -, I'll send you scans of what was there originally.


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