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The Virtual Machin Album

Designer Machins

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Page 5
International One-Stop Stamps
One-stop stamp for Europe One-Stop stamp for worldwide letters One-stop stamp for worldwide postcards

The most radical change yet to the Machin design occurred in 2003 when Royal Mail issued the first of what were then called “universal stamps.” These non-denominated stamps for airmail service feature the Machin portrait of the Queen, though smaller than on regular definitives and with the portrait in a dark color on a white background, similar to the Millennium Definitive. The stamps have text at the bottom and upper left and a stripe of half-chevrons at the right. They were designed by Sedley Place.

Since Arnold Machin designed the whole stamp, not just the portrait, it is a bit of a stretch to call these stamps “Machins.” Indeed, Royal Mail does not do so (nor did it do so in the case of the Millennium Definitive, although many collectors called that stamp the “Millennium Machin”). Regardless of what we call these stamps, nearly all collectors of Machins would include these stamps as part of their collection, so I include them here in the Virtual Machin Album.

And speaking of names, I pointed out at the bottom of my news item when these stamp appeared that rather than being truly universal, these stamps are the least universal stamps that Britain has ever issued. They are designed for specific purposes and for specific destinations. Royal Mail apparently saw the light and changed the name to “International One-Stop” stamps. I discovered this in the summer of 2006, but I don’t know when the name change took place.

The two stamps shown at the left above were the first to be issued, appearing on March 27, 2003. The postcard stamp followed a year later on April 1, 2004. The wording on the stamps makes their use very clear. The stamp on the left, inscribed “up to 40 grams” and “Europe,” can be used to send letters weighing up to 40 grams to any destination in Europe by airmail. The middle stamp, inscribed “up to 40 grams” and “Worldwide,” pays for similar letters to destinations outside Europe by airmail. The stamp on the right, inscribed “postcard” and “Worldwide,” can be used to send a postcard by airmail to any destination outside the U.K.

I also noted in the news item about the first two stamps and in a later news item about the withdrawal of the ‘E’ stamps, that the way these stamps are marketed and sold subtly (or maybe not so subtly) encourages patrons to overpay the postage for some of their overseas mail. On its web site, Royal Mail promoted these stamps by saying, “Sending letters abroad is child’s play. Just stick and send.” without indicating that letters under 20g could be sent for less cost.

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Inside of booklet of one-stop stamps

The International One-Stop stamps are sold in booklets of four. (Single stamps are made available to collectors in presentation packs.) Pictured here is a booklet of the One-Stop stamps for worldwide letters.

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Last update: Saturday, August 30, 2008   Macintosh!
Copyright © 2004 by Larry Rosenblum
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