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Saturday, July 18, 2009

MACHIN HEAD STAMPS OF GREAT BRITAIN

By:- Dr. Ahmed W. Hassan

Today the comprehensive study of “Machine” head stamps is the most dedicated subject of the modern era. Sensible collector feels much farvour in collecting these stamps and gaining popularity day by day and now it has reached to a culmination among the specialize collectors and connoisseur alike.

In June 1965, the Postmaster General announced in British Parliament that he has invited the designs to replace the old definitive set of Gt. Britain that was in use for last 15 years and commonly known as “Willing”. Many celebrated artists of Gt. Briton like Andrew Restall, Reginald Brill, Stuarrt Devlin, David Gentleman and Arnold Machine were invited to submit their designs for the new definitive set. Several designs based on the novel ideas were submitted and the British Stamp Advisory Committee accepted the design of Arnold Machin, which was adopted from the plastered statue of Queen Elizabeth the second facing to left. The Queen approved the profile of the Queen. Initially, some values were essayed in one and two colour but the Stamps Advisory Committee expressed preference for the single colour treatment. On 5.6.67 a set of 16 values was issued in Pound, Shilling and Pence. M/S Harrison & Sons Ltd was responsible for the printing of the new definitive. Low values are normally with one or two phosphor Bands only. However, most stamps have appeared with the phosphor Band omitted in error. Gum Arabic was used for these stamps. But in 1968 Harrison’s in place of Gum Arabic introduced polyvinyl Alchohal (PVA).

Similar design was used for high values but in large format. This time the printing was done by M/S Bradbury Wilkinson Ltd, in single colour.

In 1971, Gt. Britain changed its monetary system and adopted decimal system and a new set was issued in decimal values to replace the old set, issued only two years ago.

Few would argue against the assertion that the British Post Office’s stamps printers are among the most innovative in the World constantly endeavouring to improve their products. But in term of pure print quality and in those technological aspects in which the stamps themselves contribute to more efficient mail distributor. The result of over eighteen years of innovation and progress is that the decimal “Machin” series now represents one of the most complex and as a result, most interesting and widely collected stamps issues event. It is expected that “Machin” head stamps will supersede all the previous G.B. definitive in future.

A number of printing presses are involved in printing these stamps, in which M/S Harrison’s & Sons Ltd. Played a key role in printing “Machin”. House of Questa was also commissioned for the printing of these stamps and all the litho stamps is the work of House of Questa. Apart from these presses, “Jummelle” and “Halley Press” also shared and honor the machines. In 1979 “Enghede” of Holland has also got the opportunity of printing these stamps. Particularly, 89 stamps are very popular due to the slanting P. Two other printers are also among the list of the printing of “Machin” which are M/S Rembrandt Printing & Chambon.

In 1971, the original ordinary cream paper was used but from 1972 printing appeared on fluorescent white paper giving a stronger chalk reaction than the ordinary cream paper. From 1973, printing appeared in PVA gum to which dextrin a bluish green substance had been added giving a very mottled appearance. Apart from the stamps printed in sheets with two phosphor bands or one center band, left band or right band, a reasonable numbers of very interesting booklets are also issued from time to time on different occasions. Among these, the “Window Booklets” are also very sought after. Coils and multivalue coils are also very collectable items; particularly miscut coils and fluorescent brightener omitted coils. “Prestige Booklets” are still very prestingious to collect and gives a very pleasant impression. So many errors in phosphors bands also exist. With paper variation and uncoated paper stamps still fetch very handsome prices. Imperforate sheets and panes are also circulating among the “Machin” lovers and dominating very high prices.