cddstamps on stamps

my thoughts on stamps, stamp collecting, philately in general and maybe a few other topics !

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Machins, what next I wonder

I have been reading some stamp blogs today and thought I’d pass on the links for you. If you are interested in GB Machins in particular, and …….some thoughts.

To start with there is the excellent blog from Roy Simpson, with three other brilliant writers all with excellent knowledge of the Machin issues at Machin Mania

And second this link takes you to a page from Ian Billings
Norvic Philatelics site, where you can see some good scans and read the listings of new Machin issues in 2009.

One link you may not be aware of is this, it is Dave Arthurs Machin Forum A discussion board site for all topics and discussions on Machins.

If you collect Machins and want to continue to collect in 2009 it could be a very expensive year – as Roy so rightly says – as you will see from the price of the stamps and Prestige booklets packs that will be issued.

If you collect Machins now you might well be thinking, why bother? I quote from Royal Mail (italics) about the new Security Stamps due to be issued in February.

" The slits do not affect removal of the stamps from the backing sheet or from stamp books. ( I actually doubt this because have you ever peeled of a sticker that has a tear in it.. it tears further – thus for the stamp .. the stamp, many of them, could be damaged when it goes on the envelope – I wait for you to tell me I am wrong) - An additional iridescent print working repeats the words 'Royal Mail' in a wave design in the background. The text is designed to be prominent only when viewed at an angle. (You can this in the scans I am showing – very pretty!!)

The new features will affect collectors of used stamps, as the new self-adhesive laminate does not allow stamps to be soaked from substrate. Whilst this is unfortunate for collectors of used stamps, it does reflect the need for Royal Mail to ensure that postal revenues are protected and costs are controlled. "

If Royal Mail had technology that worked and franked the stamps this wouldn’t be the case: only today I received a letter from the UK. The stamp was unfranked. Now here is the next thing: I read this and it might not be as silly as it sounds… the die cut is going to become a pre frank; in other words, they (Royal Mail) can do away with the whole process of franking once they know all stamps will be these security featured stamps. (Don’t mock me. Think about it. Oh and just think what overseas postal workers will do….. scribble in biro on the stamps to cancel them ha ha )

Fanciful I think, but then again, as someone wrote it could be 2030 by the time there are no unused stamps. Now this is possibly silly because as I think we know, when there is a new constitutional monarch in Great Britain we will see a new issue of stamps showing (we assume) the Kings head and the stamps with the Queen’s head will be unusable (not valid) for postage. Will this happen? What period of time will elapse before this happens I wonder? In the same way that the stamps of George VI were replaced by new stamps (Wildings) bearing the likeness of the Queen), and these stamps became the postal usage currency of the day from 1952 onwards. So, will the Machins we know and mostly still love today have any postal currency when there is a new monarch? Precedent suggests not. I could continue my thinking and argument of this for quite some time but I feel that might bore you. And you all probably know where I will end up.

So dear readers, I am wondering, and seriously wondering, will I bother anymore with new Machin issues. To be honest I think not. And will there be new collectors? I think not. And will Royal Mail find the revenues decline or increase. For those of you who studied economics I am sure you will know the answer. For those who didn’t. You know the answer too I suspect. I’d suggest Royal Mail have neither the education nor the common sense to see where this is heading.

Enjoy your stamps ……… Michael

PS with thanks to Roy, Ian, John. Larry and Charlie for their writings that moved me to this and to the Royal Mail who have copyright and ownership of the images of course, and, I welcome your rebuttals and further thoughts.


At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Royal Mail will definitely replace the QEII stamps with those picturing the new monarch (presumably Charles with whatever name he chooses), but it is not likely that they will demonetize the current stamps, especially the non-denominated ones that are good "forever."

The last demonetization in 1972 was because of the change from Sterling to decimal currency the prior year. The only one before that was after Queen Victoria's reign. It did not happen after any of the four kings.

The idea that the slits would be a pre-frank, or pre-cancel, was suggested by Michael Baadke at Linn's. It's a real possibility. And yes, the stamps then will be pen-canceled elsewhere, as so many UK skips are today.

Finally, with regards to whether this will discourage stamp collecting, I tend to agree that it will. Many in the US were unhappy with the conversion to self-stick, and Royal Mail's slits make matters worse.

However, Royal Mail does not target Machins at collectors, at least in general. Sure, there are some special issues, like souvenir sheets and prestige booklets, but the everyday Machins are primarily for use on letters. I'm sure Royal Mail believes that the revenue saved by making stamps more secure will be greater than the revenue lost to collectors. They may be wrong, but I don't think this indicates a lack of education on the part of Royal Mail.

The opposite is true of commemoratives (or special stamps, as they are called in the UK). Royal Mail discourages their use for mailing and has made public statements to that effect. If/when Royal Mail adds slits to commemoratives, the effect on stamp collecting and on Royal Mail philatelic revenue will be more pronounced.


At 11:20 PM, Blogger cddstamps said...

Larry, interesting and good points. Thanks for taking the time to write for us. I'm sceptical about what will happen to be honest. I guess only time will tell.

keep up the good work on your / Roy's blog


At 8:48 AM, Blogger Ian - Norvic said...

The stamps of Queen Elizabeth will not become invalid on her death. The stamps of King George V, KG VI and K Edward VIII continued to be valid until decimalisation in 1971 and many were used on ordinary mail and by dealers in the previous few years.
Ian Billings

At 8:54 AM, Blogger Ian - Norvic said...

Larry's point about lost revenue - the reason for these stamps - reminds me of a calculation done before Christmas. Based only on those offered on eBay, and assuming that the same quantities would be available every week I calculated an annual loss of only just over £400,000 - and that included 1st & 2nd and Large 1st & 2nd, including some commemorative & many Christmas. We may well see similar features on Christmas issues - indeed there seems to be some doubt as to whether the 2008 Pantomime stamps are easily soakable - results have been mixed which is either a result of different methods or may actually mean that De La Rue used two different sorts of paper for the Christmas stamps!

Incidentally the trial 1st class security stamps we were shown at Stampex were Walsall Business Sheets printed in March 2008. The new stamps will be mostly printed by DLR.

At 2:49 PM, Blogger Machin Man said...

If Britain joins the Euro at some stage in the future (it has been said it must do at some time)then all current decimal stamps will be void for postage.


At 1:23 AM, Blogger Ian - Norvic said...

Machin Man is in error. (a) the stamps would become invalid rather than void, and (b) they wouldn't unless invalidated by Royal Mail.

Many eurozone countries still allow pre-2000 stamps to be used. Just yesterday I received a letter from France (no jokes, please!) with two euro-valued and two franc-valued stamps. Some countries have invalidated their pre-euro stamps but by no means all of them.

At 1:27 AM, Blogger Ian - Norvic said...

PS: 1st class and 2nd class stamps, 40gr airmail and airmail postcard stamps would continue to be valid as well, of course, with no need to change.

At 1:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ian says his rough calculation is that Royal Mail's loss is "only" £400,000 per year. I think that's a significant amount of money.

If the new security features cost an extra £100,000 per year - and I have no idea, that's just a number to talk about - then Royal Mail's savings is £300,000 per year. I think that would be well worth it.

Plus, at least in the US, customers like self-stick stamps. Assuming the slits don't make the stamps hard to use, the public may well like this change.


At 1:56 AM, Blogger Ian - Norvic said...

Larry, against a £100M operating loss on the letters business, £400k is not a lot of money.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Click to zoom in on my visitor map!
Click to zoom in on my visitor map!