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The 2p Machin welcomes you to the third Machin editorial

Machin Editorial 4
“The Millennium Bug” by Albert Farrugia

Reproduced from Machinations, Volume 2 Issue 4 (September-December 1999) with kind permission of the author.

Well, by the time you read this, we’ll only be a few days away from finding out if we’ve created Armageddon, wasted billions of dollars, pounds and other assorted currency or, as is most likely, will require some alterations to our computer systems which will keep the gurus in a job for a few more months. I refer, of course, to the Y2K problem, or the Millennium Bug to you computer illiterate masses. While the same gurus attempt to sort out the problems, or lack of them, resulting from the inability of programmers some few decades ago to realise that we were approaching the year 2000 (it’s a great comfort to people like me, who can never figure out how computers actually work, that the people who do know can’t apparently read a calendar) the Machin collector is more worried about what else the Millennium may bring.

The Millennium Definitive In this regard, we note the British Philatelic Bureau’s Stamp Preview No. 47, which is devoted to what is boldly described on the front page as “The Definitive face of the future.” The leaflet announces the issue of the so-called Millennium Definitive, a first-class NVI stamp which will have the Machin head on a white (!!) background. The blurb states that the Queen’s head will also be slightly enlarged, and, if the image provided is anything to go by, the base of the portrait will be considerably trimmed. We would hope that the final product is not necessarily identical to the Review’s image - such discrepancies between previewed and final stamps have been a common feature of the Philatelic Bureau’s eccentric publicity policy - but the statement that the stamp will be of the standard size indicates that something will have to be trimmed if the portrait is to be enlarged.

Well, there you have it. The Review describes this issue as “stunning” and “exciting.” Clearly, the enormous influence of the editorial policy of “Machinations” has not reached the British Philatelic Bureau. Our views on Machin gimmicks were expressed in the editorial to issue 2 of this year, and we will not bore readers with them again. Perhaps we can be more constructive by making a few suggestions, with the full confidence that they will be ignored.

If the stamp issuing authorities are feeling the need to fiddle about with the Machin portrait to the extent of producing this mutant, not to mention the horrors of this year’s first Prestige Booklet, why don’t they bite the bullet and consider a new definitive series based on a new portrait? Dare we, as humble colonials who have just voted her a continued tenure as our Head of State, suggest that the Monarch is not as young as she was? A new portrait, possibly based on the Rank-Broadley sculpture used for the new coinage, would surely be more apt. A possible basis for such a design was suggested by Douglas Myall early this year.

The argument might be put that the Machin portrait is based on the Penny Black, the portrait on which formed the basis for the design of all the stamps of Queen Victoria’s reign. However, this was certainly not the case throughout the then Empire, with countries such as Canada providing the validity for alternative designs. Surely this would be better than making the Machin portrait jump through increasingly convoluted and bizarre hoops?

Of course, it would also have the benefit of allowing us Machinites to draw a line and organise our collection, instead of having to feverishly continue to accumulate new issues. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Post Office wants to hang on to the Machin design, knowing that it is probably the most widely collected definitive series in the world. If so, it is surely short sighted. A new design, if of the same quality as Arnold Machin’s work, is bound to prove equally popular. And it would probably induce a new series of collectors into the GB area.

We can only hope. In the meantime, this new Millenium Definitive makes us blanch, if you’ll pardon the pun.


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