Monday, 19 April 2021

Queen's 95th birthday pane 21 April 2021 - re-written and updated.

Royal Mail have produced, in conjunction with the Royal Mint, a commemorative £5 coin cover marking the 95th Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  The cover was launched on 1 April, and is dated 21 April 2021.  The cover costs £19.99.

The cover has a pane of stamps which, based on previous form, appears to be from a prestige stamp book pane but it is not.  There is no prestige book.

A limited edition Coin Cover featuring the new £5 coin released by The Royal Mint, plus a unique pane of eight Definitive and Country Definitive stamps.

Pane of 4 x 1st class Machin definitive and 1st class country definitives from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all with revised font.

For Royal Mail, there are no new stamps, so this is not being made available mint for distribution to collectors with any sort of standing order.  A spokesman for Royal Mail said that they were mindful of complaints by both collectors and cover producers that there were too many stamps to collect/produce FDCs for and this cover is aimed squarely at the 'Royal memorabilia' market rather than the philatelic market.

As usual, dealers were able to buy these ahead of the 21 April issue date and GONJ provided these pictures which show that these gummed stamps are coded M21L and MAIL.  

At this stage no detailed information had been provided to registered dealers through normal philatelic channels.  When details were published, it became clear that although they would not be sold to collectors, nor to dealers for mint resale, they would be made available for dealers to put on covers and have cancelled.

Royal Mail also announced in their publicity, on the filler card, and in information sent to dealers, that the pane would be printed in two processes, with the Machin definitives printed in gravure and the country definitives [and the label, we believe] printed in litho.  This is odd, because the last certain information we have on printing by International Security Printers is that the Cartor factory in France only has the capability of printing in litho, while the British factory near Wolverhampton can only print in gravure.

We don't know the printing process for the phosphor bands, but all copies seen so far have the phosphor shifted upwards as noted in the pictures above, and seen even more clearly in this pictures provided by CH (to whom many thanks):

Photograph of Queen 95 pane under ultra-violet light, showing upward shift of phopshor (the lighter areas) producing short bands at the foot on the England and Northern Ireland and 2 x Machin definitives at the foot, and partly inset bands at the foot of the Scotland and Wales stamps and partly wide bands on the other 2 x Machin definitives (at the top). 
(The horizontal line across the label is from the plastic on the carrier.)


Update 9 August 2021:  MD sent this picture of the 1st class stamp with "the speckled Queen’s face, like a snowy effect caused by a printing error".  Not something I've seen on this pane or any other.

'Speckled face' on 1st class from this pane.

UPDATE 16 August.  Thanks to AJ for this picture of the whole pane with this fault, from the cover.  

This stamp is not on sale through normal channels so it is unlikely to have a full listing in any Gibbons catalogue, but it should be worth a footnote.  We will list it in the Norvic Checklist (number 3702.21) as available used only, as we did for the Sunday Times MA10 2nd class coil.

As this is a unique stamp which some collectors will want despite unavailability of mint copies, we shall provide it used either as a pane or a single stamp.


  1. Seems all the coin covers were sold out through online purchase. At the same time, I found that Buckingham Covers have self-made 95th birthday commemorative covers cancelled with the birthday stamp panel for order.

  2. I see that the coin cover has already sold out on the Royal Mail website.

    This pane seems to be attracting a lot of attention at the present time, partly because it contains a Machin that was never available from Royal Mail either mint or at face.

    In that respect, it is probably worth mentioning that this is not the only Machin only available cancelled and at above face. The MBPC website recently revealed the existence of a prestige book pane that contains three other unique Machins meeting that description. I have not seen this mentioned anywhere other than on the MBPC website.

    In addition to the normal "Marvel Comics" prestige book, Royal Mail also issued a limited edition "80th Anniversary of Marvel Comics" book. This was only available at premium price and contained all panes pre-cancelled. (Oh dear. Yes, this all pretty nasty, I know.) The Machin pane had obviously been reprinted because the error present in the security background in the original prestige book has been corrected from "M IL" M18L" to "MPIL" "M18L". This created 3 unique machins, the 20p, £1.25 and £1.45 with the correct security background. (The 1p with "MPIL" was not new as it had already been issued in another book.) The Machins from the 80th Anniversay edition are also in noticeably paler shades than those from the normal Marvel book.

    The MBPC report also describes several diffrences in the layout of the text on the interleaving panes and also in the text itself.

    MBPC members can find the full and much more detailed description on the MBPC website in the "new reports 2021" section.

    1. On the MBPC website the scan of this new Machin pane is "MPIL" "M19L" and not "M18L" but still three new Machin stamps.

    2. Oh dear. I just checked the actual stamps and it is indeed "MPIL" "M19L".

      I was so busy looking at the interleaves, the shade of the stamps, the fluorescence of the stamps under UV etc. etc. that I missed the fundamental difference of interest to Machin collectors. Spot the loony.

  3. Strangely enough, the Coin Cover is back up on the Royal Mail site today but with an availability date of 5th May. The postmark remains the same 21st April and it's still a 10,000 limited edition. Confused? I certainly am!

    1. They must have pulled some stock from reserve. Sadly they don't put a 'back-order' situation on anything, because they can't do it for limited editions when the stock really is exhausted.

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  5. and off sale 7/5/21 ......... pumping the market

  6. Mint 1st Class 'M21L' being sold on ebay

  7. I bought a pane at Stafford £18 ......... 2 dealers selling one told me RM sold to all dealers not just FDC

    1. Correct, they were sold to all dealers, that's how I got mine, but on the understanding that they were 'for covers' (as are extracted PSB panes), and only therefore available to collectors in used condition.

      Thank you. I'll pass this on to RM so that they will know how ridiculous the situation is.

  8. A vendor on eBay is offering single mint stamps at £35 each. They are also offering mint panes at both £155 and £199.


  9. I have been following the story of eBay sales for some time. A German dealer has made an absolute fortune - well over £1K, and more probably over £2K. A couple or so from UK dealers - one of which was withdrawn with bidding at c£50 (?warned off!). Ian - could this debate move up your blog listing as may be missed by many.

    1. Well this is what will happen when RM issue something which they must surely know will be of keen interest to ordinary collectors, but do not make it available to them!


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