Great Britain Machins, by Adminware

Machin Pages:
Machin home page
Intro to this site
Why this site?

Machins 101 PDF
Album pages

Main Lists:
Pre-decimal values
Decimal values

Northern Ireland
Isle of Man

Other lists:
Perf changes
Elliptical perf
High value
Non-value indicators
Service Inscribed

Technical stuff
Postal rates

Head/Symbol types
Bklt Phosphor types
Imperf sides
Back prints


Machin FAQ     (Frequently Asked Questions)
(page updated: Apr 7/17)

In no particular order...

1Do 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).

2Are 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).

3I 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 ( ? ) instead. Here are three half-characters, all coded in HTML a bit differently - all should be visible as the half-character: , 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 the code).

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 immediately.

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.
4Why 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).

26p (2k)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.

5How 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!

Good luck...

6I 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.

7Do stamps with perforated initials (PERFINS or SPIFS) have value?

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.

8What 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.

2-band tagging:

Centre-band tagging:



Disclaimer: We apologize for any errors of information that might be present. Your feedback is appreciated.

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 Modern British Philatelic Circle
who publish 'The Bookmark' Catalogue

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