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£3 Engraved Machin

The Virtual Machin Album

High Values

£3 Engraved Machin
Page 1
Machin High Values
1 pound engraved Machin 1969

When the Machin definitives were introduced, the British Post Office decided to use the Machin image for the high values in addition to the low values. The high values were delayed, and the recess-printed (engraved) set of four appeared in 1969, nearly two years after the first low-value Machin was issued. The denominations were 2/6 (two shillings, six pence), 5/-, 10/- and £1, the same as the castle high values they replaced. The £1 is shown above. For a brief description of the engraving process, see the summary of the related exhibit at The Stamp Show 2000.

The recess-printed high value Machins survived the conversion to decimalization with a new set of 10p, 20p and 50p values, the approximate equivalent of the first three old denominations. The £1 Machin was unaffected by the currency change, although the pound sign was redesigned in 1972.

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5 pound photogravure Machin 1977

Inflation in the 1970s resulted in ever-higher postage rates, so in 1977 the British Post Office introduced three large-sized Machins in denominations of £1, £2 and £5. In the British Philatelic Bulletin, the Post Office said the new stamps “resulted from pressure from customers, especially business users posting heavy parcels overseas.” At the same time, the 50p Machin became a low value and was issued in the normal small size, a fate that earlier had befallen the 10p and 20p Machins.

The Post Office also noted, “For the first time in the history of United Kingdom stamps, the high value issue will be printed by photogravure instead of the traditional recess-printing process.” Although the reason for this change was not given, it is well-known that photogravure stamps are less costly to produce than engraved ones.

This series was expanded with five additional values to be used on parcels. The first such value was £1.30 issued on August 3, 1983 and the last was £1.60 issued on September 15, 1987.

These Machins remained in use for a total of 11 years. Then, in a surprising return to the past, a new set of four recess-printed high values picturing castles appeared in 1988. The denominations were £1, £1.50, £2 and £5.

In 1995, £1 officially became a low value. The £1 castle was replaced by a £3 version with the same design (though a different color), and a £1 small Machin was issued.

 
5 pound small engraved Machin

The new castles also lasted 11 years, until 1999. In a return to what Royal Mail termed “a consistant image” for its range of definitive stamps, a new series of high value Machins was issued in that year. Although small in size, the new stamps came with an excellent pedigree: the engraving was done by master engraver Czeslaw Slania. These high values are shown in section C.

The Machin high values have now apparently come to the end of their useful life for most postal customers. They were withdrawn from general sale in early 2004, having been replaced by computer-printed labels. They do remain on sale in areas that do not have access to computers, such as overseas post offices serving the military.


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Copyright © 2004 by Larry Rosenblum
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