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


Varieties to collect
(page updated: Apr 7/17)

How different does one stamp have to be from another before you will collect it?

See: Simplyfying the Machins free PDF document

The degree to which you "specialize" is determined by how you define a variety. One of the joys of stamp collecting is that you determine what you want to collect and how to collect your material.

I would suggest that most collectors limit their collection to what is shown in the album they have purchased - and there is nothing wrong with this. The longer one collects, the more one reads about his/her hobby and the more knowledge (and stamps!) one accumulates. In many cases this means narrowing the scope of ones collection, thus "specializing" begins to occur (whether you like it or not) on selected parts of the collection.

As you study used Machins, you will undoubtedly begin to separate your "hoard" of stamps into more and more varieties.

Here are all of the different ways to specialize your used Machin collection (I think):

Denomination This is obvious. A change in denomination (face value printed on the stamp) is certainly a different stamp to collect.

Colour Colour (13k)This is obvious. A distinctly different colour is certainly a new, collectible variety (some collectors will even go into "shades" - there are a few Machins that have distinct shade varieties).

Regionals Isle of Man (10k)Wales (10k)Scotland (10k)Northern Ireland (10k)This is obvious. Many Machins have been issued with a heraldic symbol in the upper left corner representing one of four regional countries: Northern Ireland (Right Red Hand of Ulster), Scotland (Lion of Scotland), Wales and Monmouthshire (Dragon of Wales), and Isle of Man (Three legs of Man).

Summarized checklists are available on this site for each of these countries (click on image).

Anniversary Anniversary (10k) This is obvious. In 1990, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first postage stamp (the Penny Black, issued by Great Britain in 1840), special Machin designs were issued. These showed Queen Victoria (from the Penny Black) placed behind the familiar Queen Elizabeth Machin portrait.

A summarized checklist is available on this site for these anniversary issues.

Service Inscribed Airmail (10k)First introduced in 2003. different types of services have been seen:
  • region (Europe, Worldwide, Postcard)
  • service (Large, Recorded Signed For)
  • special delivery

These inscribed stamps are very distinct.

Security Features 2nd blueIntroduced in 2009, these Machins have either "slits" and/or background text to provide some security.

Different types of slits and text have been used.

Click for detailed illustrations of security features.

[click for a list of Machins with security features.]

Perforation style Elliptical (10k)This is obvious.

For security reasons, starting in 1993, Machin stamps began to appear with elliptical perfs (towards the bottom on both sides of the stamp).

Perforation gauge Perforate and imperforate stamps are certainly collectible.

So too is a change in perforation. Three different perforation gauges have been used on the 'small-size' Machins - many Machins exist with two different perforations (only one issue exists with three different gauges). [ click for illustration and other details ]

These perf changes are easy to identify with the aid of a perforation gauge. As you study the stamps you may acquire the ability to separate your Machins by "look" alone (ie. without the aid of a perf gauge).

Printing method Since the first postage stamp was issued in 1840, various methods of printing have been employed to produce the hundreds of thousands of stamps that are needed by postal administrations.

Some times, the "same stamp" (i.e. design) is printed by 2 or more different printing methods. A stamp printed by the engraved method (recess printing, consisting of lines to form the image) will certainly look different from the one printed by photogravure (consisting of dots to form the image).

Photo/Litho (18k)During the Machin era, some of the designs have been produced by more than one printing method. The most common variety is created by those printed by photogravure versus lithography. If you are not familiar with these two forms of printing, then identifying your first single specimen may pose a bit of a challenge. However, as you accumulate more stamps and create a "reference" copy of each, the differences between the two printings are certainly noticeable - and therefore collectible.

The easiest place to tell the difference between photogravure and lithographed stamps is in the denomination. As the illustration shows, 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).

Phosphor tagging This may or may not be obvious to identify. Tagging is applied to the stamp in an effort to trigger cancellation and sorting equipment. Various styles of tagging have been used throughout the Machin period. [ click for more details ]

Identifying tagging may require the use of an ultraviolet light. On the other hand, the tag bars on some stamps can be spotted quite easily with the naked eye.

Certainly a stamp with a Centre band phosphor bar is different from one with two phosphor bands (one down each side of the stamp)! Shouldn't they be sorted separately?

Don't forget about short, notched, and inset bars!

Value style Value (16k)This is obvious. In 1983 newly designed numerals (narrower) began to appear. These were required because the larger values (eg. 20½) took up too much room on the stamp! Some values exist with wide and narrow values - certainly two different varieties. [ click for a list ]

Value type A magnifying glass will likely be required to spot these.

Some stamps exist with "thin" and "thick" value types. Although the differences may be slight in some cases, they do create a collectible variety.

Value setting 2d Values (6k) A magnifying glass will likely be required to spot these.

Some stamps exist where the value is set "high", "low", "middle", "close", etc. Although the differences may be slight in some cases, they do create a collectible variety.

This illustration shows the 2d lake brown value and the two different settings found on it.

Revised portrait With a little observation, this is obvious. In 1997 a new profile of the Queen was introduced. The new EME image offers better detailing of the Queen. Once you have reference copies, the differences are quite noticeable.

Quite a few values exist with the "old" and "new" image. [ click for a list ]

Head type Head A/B detail Various Head types (referring to the portrait of the Queen) have been required over the years. This is due in part to the different printing methods employed and the amount of room available on the stamp to print the image (due to regional symbols, value size, etc.).

A few stamps do exist with more than one head type. Although the differences can be subtle, the different head types are in effect a different design (technically speaking). As such, they are certainly collectible. [ click for illustrations and details ]

Symbol type Symbol type (18k)This refers to the symbol found in the upper left corner of Regional Machins.

Three of the four countries have a few stamps that exist with two different symbol types (only the Isle of Man does not have symbol types).

A magnifying glass may be required to spot the subtle differences in the symbol types. [ click for illustrations and details ]

Perforation style Perf style (16k)Various different perforating equipment has been used over the years to perforate Machins. On a selected number of stamps, two distinct perforating styles can be identified, with the aid of a magnifying glass.

The two styles are referred to as "Kampf" and "APS", after the manufacturer of the perforating equipment. (Unfortunately, the illustration to the right may not show the differences well enough).

Screened values With a magnifying glass, this can be quite apparent.

A handful of stamps exist where the "white" of the denomination is not completely white - there is a screened effect of dots throughout the value. Certainly a bit more specialized variety but still certainly collectible. In fact, if you have hundreds or thousands of the "same" stamp, finding a few of these screened values amongst the pile can be quite rewarding.

Paper I have found this to be the trickiest of all varieties to differentiate.

Is the paper OCP, FCP, ACP, PCP, etc.?

More details to follow (sorry about that).

Source With a magnifying glass and a little study, this can be quite apparent.

[ A selected number of Machins have appeared in certain booklets with one or two imperforate sides (ie. straight edge). These are easily recognized - click here for a list. ]

Machins have been issued in various formats: sheet, coil, and booklet. What is the source of the stamp you are studying? A close look at the perforations will tell you whether the stamp is self-adhesive, or, if not, whether it came from a sheet or coil or booklet.


Self-adhesive (15k)

Self-adhesive stamps are die cut around the entire stamp during the printing process. On Machin stamps, all die cutting resembles perforated stamps (die cutting can take virtually any shape imaginable, including a straight edge).

The public simply peels a self-adhesive stamp from its backing paper. There is no folding and tearing to separate one stamp from another, as is required with water-activated stamps. As a result, a close look at the perforations will indicate if the stamp was torn from an adjacent stamp leaving rough edges of paper fibres. If so, it must be a water-activated stamp (see below).

On a self-adhesive stamp, all simulated perforations on all four sides will be 100% clean looking, unless of course a used stamp has been handled roughly during the any of the following stages: removal from the backing paper, applying to the envelope, soaking from the envelope, or sorting and storing.

[click for a list of self-adhesive Machins.]


Source (15k)

Machin stamps that come from water-activated coils and certain booklets are separated (during the printing process) by cutting down the middle of the perforations (coils will have two opposite sides cut in this manner while booklets will have one, or two adjacent sides, cut).

Stamps that are separated by the public will be torn, leaving a ragged edge to the perforations (and typically small paper fibres). Thus, a stamp that is torn on all four sides must come from a sheet (with the exception of a few booklets); a stamp that is torn on two opposite sides but cut on the other two sides must be from a coil; similarly, a stamp cut on one or two adjacent sides but torn on the other sides is from a booklet.

In North America, coil stamps are (typically) imperforate on two opposite stamps - very noticeable and much sought after. However, the Machin stamps require a closer look to spot the coil and booklet stamps. If you collect Canada/USA coils (because they look so much different from stamps issued in sheet format), then you must also collect single specimens of Machins issued in these formats (the logic makes sense doesn't it?).

There you have it - TWENTY different ways to sort and separate your used Machin stamps! Shall I simply say ... happy sorting?!?!?!?

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

Adminware Corporation
© 1999-2020, 2021 Robin Harris
Adminware is a trademark of Adminware Corporation.