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Royal Mail honors Queen Mother

65p Queen Mother Royal Mail issued a set of four stamps on April 25 to honor Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who passed away at Windsor on March 30 at the age of 101. The stamps are modified versions of a set issued in 1990 to commemorate her 90th birthday. The 65p stamp is shown at left.

The modification includes the black border with the text “HM QUEEN ELIZABETH THE QUEEN MOTHER 1900-2002.” The cameo of Queen Elizabeth is also printed in black. The set of stamps shows portraits of The Queen Mother at four stages of her life. (Posted May 17, 2002.) top

Machins go gold...again

Gold first class Machin In honor of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the color of the first class non-denominated (NVI) Machin will be changed from flame to gold. This will include stamps in sheets, booklets and coils. The color will be the same metallic gold used in 1997 to mark the Queen’s golden wedding anniversary.

Self-adhesive booklets of six (printed by Questa and Walsall) and twelve (Walsall) will be issued on June 5 and will be available at local post offices as supplies of the older booklets are used up. The notice in the British Philatelic Bulletin says that the margin around the stamps will be removed. Previous booklets have had a margin around the edges and between each stamp, as shown here. In the new booklets, this marginal paper will be removed to make the stamps easier to release from the backing. The position of the stamps on the pane will not change. More information about the new booklets is given in a subsequent news story.

Other stamps will come later, including gummed sheets of 200 (De La Rue), self-adhesive sheets of 100 (Enschedé), and coils (Enschedé). (Posted May 7, 2002. Image added Dec. 7, 2002.) top

Watermarked paper given to collectors

Collectors who subscribe to the British Philatelic Bulletin received an unexpected surprise with the February issue. Included with the magazine was a sheet of gummed paper with the special “50” watermark used for the reissued Wildings in the Golden Jubilee prestige booklet. The sheet (or other sample of the paper) will be available at Spring Stampex.

Obviously, Royal Mail is not worried about the possibility of anyone using this paper to make counterfeit copies of the reissued Wildings. Has the British Post Office’s historic preoccupation with security come to an end in the new millennium? (Posted February 12, 2002.) top

Alternatives to the Machin design on display

A display at Spring Stampex, one of Britain’s national stamp shows, will feature alternatives to the Machin portrait of the Queen and symbols that might have replaced the Queen’s image altogether. This exhibit was put together to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, according to an article in the British Philatelic Bulletin by Douglas N Muir, Curator, Philately, Consignia Heritage Services.

Horizontal Machin coil In the mid-1960s, David Gentleman created some designs with the royal coat of arms or the country name in place of the Queen’s portrait. These were not adopted, but his alternate suggestion of a small cameo head was, indeed, accepted and is still in use today.

37p 1840 Anniversary Machin Displayed for the first time in public are designs developed in the 1980s to replace the Machin portrait. Photographs of the Queen were taken in 1982 by Lord Snowdon, including full face views. These were eventually worked into essays under the guidance of Jeffery Matthews. Later efforts concentrated on revisions to the Machin head, including two-color versions and a landscape portrait. New designs for the regional definitives were also developed.

Although these were never used, two later designs were developed from this work. First were the 1840 Anniversary Machins with the portraits of both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, issued in 1990. Later were the horizontally-oriented self-adhesive coils issued in 1993; the unique design was used to track the sale and use of the coils. Both of these are shown above. Spring Stampex is held February 27 to March 3, 2002. (Posted February 12, 2002.) top

USPS hires Consignia to deliver European mail

A report in Linn’s Stamp news notes that on January 9, the USPS signed an agreement with Consignia (formerly the British Post Office) for the delivery of Global Express Mail and Global Air Parcel Post in Europe. The USPS now has to deal with only one organization rather than 23 separate postal administrations, and discounted prices for the new service are expected. (Posted February 12, 2002.) top

Quiet trial of instant personalized stamps

Chad Neighbor reports in Stamp Collector that in January Royal Mail conducted a quiet trial of instant personalized stamps. Personalized stamps, actually normal stamps with photos placed on small adjacent labels, were introduced at Stamp Show 2000 and offered periodically by mail since then. In this trial, photo booths were placed in six post offices. Customers could have their pictures taken and the stamps delivered almost immediately.

The customer sits in the booth, inserts money, and has the choice of four different photos taken by the machine. The customer chooses one of the four photos and also whether to have Father Christmas or Smilers stamps. Once the choices are made, the machine issues a receipt which is taken to the counter and exchanged for the stamps with photos.

The personalized stamps sold for £7.50, compared to the face value of £2.70 of the ten first class stamps. The booth had no sign indicating that personalized stamps were available. It also vended regular photos if the customer so desired. (Posted February 12, 2002.) top

New Wildings and more for Golden Jubilee

Royal Mail begins its philatelic celebration of the 50th anniversary of the accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on February 6, 2002. A set of five commemoratives will be issued, each showing a photographic close-up of the Queen, one from each decade of her reign. The photographers were (in chronological order): Dorothy Wilding, Cecil Beaton, Lord Snowdon, Yousef Karsh and Tim Graham

The black-and-white stamps were designed by Kate Stephens. The images have been arranged so that the Queen's eye-line appears at the same height on each stamp, giving the set balance when the stamps are placed side-by-side.

6d Wilding definitive In a throwback to the 1950’s, the paper will be sideways watermarked with the numeral “50.”

On the same day, a new prestige booklet will be issued. Titled “A Gracious Accession,” the booklet recalls the history of Her Majesty from her father’s death to her first Christmas broadcast after accession. A second booklet will be issued in June, 2003, presumably concentrating on the coronation.

20p and 37p decimal Wildings The current booklet will be most noted for the return of the Wildings, although this time in non-denominated format.

The first low value definitives picturing Queen Elizabeth II are called Wildings because the portrait was taken by the firm of Dorothy Wilding, Ltd. The Wilding portrait was featured in five different designs, each used for several values. The 6d Wilding is shown at left. Some comments about the Wildings can be found on the Musings page in the commentary about Arnold Machin.

1d Wilding Royal Mail first reissued Wildings in “The Definitive Portrait” prestige booklet issued in 1998. The new versions had the design of the 6d and had denominations of 20p, 26p and 37p. Those denominations paid the second class, first class and overseas postcard rates at that time. The 20p and 37p values are shown on the right.

In the new booklet, the fourth pane will contain eight reissued Wildings. Four will be first class non-denominated stamps with the design of the 1d Wilding, shown at left. Four will be second class non-denominated stamps with the design of the 2 1/2d Wilding. These will be in an alternating arrangement in a block of nine, with a blank label in the center. (I wonder why a blank label was used; couldn’t anyone think of a design? How about just the Wilding portrait by itself?)

2nd non-denominated Wilding at an angle An interesting feature of the pane is that in the large selvage to the left of the block, there is an image of two Wilding stamps on what appears to be the torn-off corner of an envelope. On the left is the original 1 1/2d Wilding cancelled on its date of issue, December 5, 1952. On the right is one of the new second class Wildings, and this is an actual stamp with perforations around it. The selvage is shown to the left.

The Wilding pane is printed on paper watermarked with “50.” The single second class Wilding in the selvage is printed at an angle, and therefore the watermark is slanted when the stamp is viewed in the normal upright fashion. This is likely to be given a separate listing in the specialized catalogs. (I’m not sure about Scott, which lists sideways watermarks but not inverted ones.) Even if you collect only single stamps, you should be sure to get this one. (Thanks to Douglas Myall for the tip.) See the images below.

The paper of the Wilding pane is uncoated, as was the paper used for the originals. This was done to make the new stamps look more like the originals. The 1998 reissues were considered to look “too good,” according to Myall. However, these new stamps do have elliptical perforations, unlike the originals.

The first pane contains eight Machin definitives, four non-denominated ones for second class mail and four non-denominated ones with an “E” indicating the rate for letters to Europe. In the center of the alternating Machins is a label featuring the head of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth’s father. Fortunately, this pane is on unwatermarked paper, saving collectors from yet another new Machin variety.

The other two panes each contain four of the Golden Jubilee commemoratives. These panes are also printed on paper watermarked with “50.”

Back view of 2nd Wilding at an angle   Back view of 2nd Wilding at an angle
This is a view from the back of the selvage containing the second class Wilding. It shows the “50” watermark.   This image shows that when the stamp is viewed in the normal upright position, the watermark is slanted.

The booklet sells for £7.29, the face value of the stamps. All of the stamps are printed in gravure by Enschedé. (Posted January 25, 2002. Updated February 2, 2002. Images of the selvage and slanted watermark added December 6, 2002.) top

Keeping snails from the mails

Linn’s Stamp News reports on an item from Great Britain’s Stamp Magazine regarding the problem of snails eating the mail in rural mailboxes. Snails are attracted by the combination of gum and saliva on the envelopes, and up to 30 snails have been found in a single mailbox.

Cornish postman Tony Gilbert of Truro has found a solution. He puts weather stripping (called “draft excluders” in Britain; maybe it should be called “snail excluders?”) on the mailboxes, and the snails do not cross the stiff bristles of the stripping. (Posted January 25, 2002.) top

Last update: December 7, 2002   Macintosh!
Copyright © 2002 by Larry Rosenblum