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Why this site?
Machin Technical Stuff (AKA. Machins-101)|
(page updated: Aug 31/10)
I am a firm believer in hands-on training. Whether it is to learn a new computer program or Machin stamps, having someone show you the "ins and outs" can make all the difference.
I wish I had someone to show me actual Machin stamps and point out the various varieties!
The discussions found here are based on the methods of self-study of the Machins. They are not a complete study - I will leave that up to the experts. These are written by a novice Machin collector for other novice Machin collectors. As you will see from other philatelic parts of this web site, I enjoy the study and identification of definitives (particularly in my home country of Canada).
How detailed do you get when sorting your Machins? The most detailed (ie. complete, specialized) Machin catalogue on the market today is The Complete Deegam Machin Handbook (simply put, this is a must have book by all Machin collectors). The Deegam book suggests collecting the Machins in 3 levels. I use 4 levels. However, what I include at each level is a bit different - but that is just a personal taste.
Here is how I would begin to specialize in Machins (each of the various types of sorting are discussed further down on this page - just follow the links):
Technically, a perforation gauge is not required to check the various perforations used on Machins (just count the number of perfs across the stamp). However, having one will certainly speed up the monotonous task.
Three different perforations have been used on the small-sized Machins:
Click for a list of Machins that come with more than one perforation.
The Pre-decimal Machins, large-sized Machins, and self-adhesive Machins only had one perforation used so you do not need to worry about perforations on these.
[ The above discussion suggests the most common way that perfs are noted in most catalogues and price lists. To be completely accurate, the perf 15 x 14 is actually 14 3/4 x 14; 13½ x 14 is either 13½ x 14 (Questa and Waddington) or 13 3/4 x 14 (Walsall). ]
Machin stamps with elliptical perfs began to appear in 1993. They were instituted as a security feature. Since then, two types of perfs have been identified:
Five different printing companies have been employed to print Machin stamps. By far the most prolific (and the first) is Harrison:
Most of the Machins are printed using photogravure. The second most popular printing method is lithography. This is followed by engraved printing. A special booklet released in 1999 to celebrate the printing of Machins, included NVI Machins printed by the above three methods and typographed and embossed.
Photogravure stamps (two different methods of preparing the plates were employed for Machins: camera and computer) show more tones than those printed by lithography. This is due to the different printing methods. Photogravure plates use recesses of various depths to give different colour tones; lithographed plates don't have recesses and thus, usually result in "flat" looking images.
The easiest place to tell the difference between photogravure and lithographed stamps is in the denomination. Lithographed stamps produce a very clean-edge to the value while photogravure stamps have a "bumpy" edge to the value (it is actually the colour 'cells' from the printing process that "intrude" into the white space). [ click for illustration ]
The phosphor tagging on some stamps can be spotted by the naked eye, either by a quick glance at the stamp or by tilting the stamp at an angle. However, an ultraviolet light will be required to check the tagging on other stamps.
Different types of tagging and positioning of phosphor bands occurs on Machin stamps:
For cosmetic reasons, around about 1983 the width of the denomination was narrowed to allow the profile of the Queen to show better (some of the values were getting too wide to fit nicely, such as 20½p).
A few Machin values exist with the wide and narrow value types:
Starting in mid-1997, Regional stamps from Wales began to appear without the designation of 'P' after the value. The list includes:
The following values (and many others) exist only with the new EME image:
Introduced in 2009, certain high-value and Non-Value Indicated Machin stamps began to include security features. These include "slits" and/or background text. [click for a list of Machins with security features.]
Four different kinds of slits have now been seen and different letter "coding" in the background text has been introduced.
Security slit types:
Background text letter coding:
The first group of Machins with security features had background text and slits. subsequent printings included single-letter coding to denote the source of the stamp, and, starting in 2010, a year-indicator was placed just in front of the Queen's image.
The values of the stamp design that are intended to be completely white in fact show a screen pattern (in the same colour as the stamp). This is due to the carbon tissue being underexposed to the screen during the photogravure process (preparing of the printing "plates") Click for a detailed image of a screened value.
For reference copies, find any of these stamps (they only come with a screened value):
With the aid of a magnifying glass and a little practise, the screened values (and borders) can be seen relatively easily.
For even more varieties on Machin stamps, check out The Complete Deegam Machin Handbook
(simply the best Machin
handbook available anywhere) by Douglas Myall - click for details.
Booklet pane numbers used courtesy the
Great Britain Decimal Stamp Book Study Circle
who publish 'The Bookmark' Catalogue
© 1999-2012, 2013 Robin Harris
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