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Machin FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)|
(page updated: Apr 7/17)
In no particular order...
|1||Do you sell Machins?|
No. One of these years I will begin to dispose of some of our nearly 250,000 used Machins, but I am not selling any right now.
Check out the links page for a list of Machin dealers who have either a web-site or e-mail address (there are certainly other Machin dealers in the world, but this list are those known to myself that have an internet presence).
|2||Are there any good Machin books on the market?|
There are 3 Machin books that are likely better for the Machin specialist: Stanley Gibbons,
Connoisseur, and The Complete Deegam Machin Handbook - take your pick (of course, you should have all three since you can never get enough stuff about Machins!).
The Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue did a major update to their Machin listings with the release of their 2000 catalogue (found in Volume 3). It is a good starting point but still falls short of listing many varieties (such as phosphor bars).
|3||I can't see the "half character" on my system. Why?|
There are 24 Machin values that are something-and-a-half. It is my understanding that
Netscape for the Mac (link to article) cannot display the "half" character (you will see a question mark ( ? )
Here are three half-characters, all coded in HTML a bit differently - all should be
visible as the half-character: ½ , ½ , ½ . The first uses the actual half symbol;
the second uses the HTML code of "frac12"; the third (and that used on these pages) uses the
HTML code of "#189" (the last two include the & in front of the code and the ; after
This site was developed on a Windows 95-based computer and was viewed with Internet
Explorer 4. I have tried all of the HTML-standard ways of getting the half-character to
display on the Macintosh under Netscape - all without success. I am sorry but there is
nothing else I can do. If you know of a "fix" to this problem, please
e-mail me and I will update the affected pages
Related viewing "problems":
- the specialized listings and other charts (such as the questions on this page) include horizontal lines between selected items to help organize the values better). I am aware that these lines are not visible using Internet Explorer 3 for Windows. Again, this site has been optimized for IE4 (or greater).
- the "links" to the various pages are not underlined, as is common on other web sites. I have purposely used other means to show the links without the underline - I feel it gives a "cleaner" look to the pages. Under IE4 for Windows, the links are blue when the mouse is not over them and are red when the mouse is over the link. However, under IE3 the links are red at all times.
|4||Why does it take so long to view some of the pages?|
There are nearly 750 colour Machin JPG files (over 40Mb) used on this site. In addition, there are over 320 GIF files used to illustrate the value tablets and other variety types (such as short tag bars, back prints, and straight-edged singles).
I felt it was necessary to illustrate all of the Machins in colour. Each image is displayed at 150dpi and range between 11k to 17k in file size (many other web sites display their images at 72dpi). I chose to scan the stamps at 300dpi and save/use them on this site at 150dpi (the 300dpi scans are used for other purposes, such as preparing album pages).
I chose to use the value tablet images (illustrated at right) for use on the summarized lists, such as the Pre-decimal, regionals, colour, timeline, etc. pages. This allows the user to easily identify the stamp(s) in their possession. The value tablets are about 2k each - not very large at all. However, if you illustrate over 150 of these on the same page, the time to download the entire page can take some time. Pages that are particularly heavy in graphics include: Decimal listings, Timeline, and Machin colours.
I apologize for any delays you may experience when viewing the pages on this site. However, the internet is a great way to view images and in this case, they are a necessary tool to aid in the sorting of Machins.
|5||How does one sort Machins into all of the different varieties?|
With a lot of patience. If your spouse is not already a Machin-widow, they soon will be.
Some of the varieties are easy to identify. Others require more advanced tools, such as an ultraviolet light (a must for sorting Machins). With that said, you will still pull your hair out and wonder why you ever started collecting Machins in the first place!
|6||I have some used Machins that bear small dots or spots (either circular or diamond shaped) that appear to be sprayed on. Most of the spots are silver or grey. What are these spots?|
I have always considered these spots "cancellation" or "sorting" marks.
Linn's Stamp News in their April 24, 2006 issue (page 42, Collectors'
Forum), notes the following:
"The spots are British mail-test markings that are applied to the faces of
envelopes in tracking mail pieces during a mail test. Some of them happened to
fall on the stamps affixed to the face of the envelope."
[Dec 17/10 update] Ian Billings of Norvic Philatelics notes the following:
Mechanised sorting really took off in Britain in 1959 with the application of
rows of phosphor dots across the envelope. The top row, which sometimes hit the
stamps, reflects the inward half of British postcodes which are much more
precise than most others (except Canada which copied the UK system). The inward
half is used to sort mail within (or arriving in) a sorting office for local
distribution to addresses served by that office.
The outward half is used to send mail from one sorting office to another, and
was translated as a row of dots near the foot of the envelope. The system has
changed over the years, the coloured dots became blue dots, and now orange
fluorescent bar-codes are used.
|7||Do stamps with perforated initials (PERFINS or SPIFS)
Remember that I am not a
dealer in stamps...
PERFIN: PERForated INitials
SPIF: Stamps Perforated with Individuals or Firms
Any stamp in good condition should have some kind of value. Do Machins with a
PERFIN have more value than one without? Generally speaking, I think a stamp
with a perfin is valued less than a stamp without a perfin. This is due
to less demand by collectors, even though perfins may be harder to find!
I have a few Machins with perfins but do not know about specific scarcity
factors. I suspect (like in any country) that certain perfins are quite scarce,
but does that mean they will sell for more? It all depends on supply and demand
- a specialized Machin collector may, on any given day, pay a bit more for a
certain perfin pattern in order to complete their collection.
|8||What is the best UV light for identifying 2-band and
Centre-band tagging on the early Machin stamps?|
I tend NOT to use a UV light to identify the 2-band vs Centre-band tagging on
early Machins ... or at least I try to do it with 'natural' or standard room
lighting as often as possible (this may not work all of the time).
Here are two images; the stamp was held in front of me and rotated until the
fluorescent light above me reflected off the stamp in such a way that the
tagging showed up. This is a very quick and easy process to sorting these kinds
of early phosphor tagging.