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Royal Mail celebrates 50 years of regionals

50 years of regionals

For the last ten years, Royal Mail has been celebrating the anniversaries of its own stamps by reissuing them with updated denominations or as non-denominated stamps. These issues are aimed squarely at stamp collectors (like me!), but they have been carefully produced and they do make nice additions to a British stamp collection.

The regional stamps were issued in response to requests for stamps for use in the various regions of the United Kingdom. The idea was first discussed in the 1930s and then raised again after World War II. However, it wasn’t until 1958 that regional stamps were finally issued.

4d Isle of Man regional Three of the regions that had stamps are Crown Dependencies, possessions of the British Crown (monarch) and not part of the United Kingdom. Two of the Dependencies are the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guersey, which are actually closer to France than the United Kingdom. The third Dependency is the Isle of Man, located in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. One of the early regionals for the Isle of Man is shown at left.

The Dependencies subsequently developed their own postal services, the Channel Islands in 1969 and the Isle of Man in 1973, so no further British stamps were issued for those regions after those dates (and, in fact, British stamps were no longer valid for use in the Dependencies).

The other three regions that had stamps are countries that make up the United Kingdom: Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. (The fourth country, England, did not get its own regional stamps until 1999.) The first stamps for these three regions are reproduced in the miniature sheet pictured above, with the denominations changed to “1st” so that the stamps can be used today.

After the Dependencies began their own postal services, Royal Mail began referring to these stamps as “country” stamps, as on the miniature sheet above. However, most collectors still use the term “regionals.”

32p Scottish regional machin The first regionals included the Dorothy Wilding portrait of the Queen that was in use on definitive stamps at that time. These were used until 1971. At that time, the regionals were changed to a variation of the Machin design — a smaller portrait and a single symbol at the upper left. A Scottish regional is shown on the left.

In 1999, Royal Mail began replacing the Machin regionals with pictorial designs that are still in use today.

The 50th anniversary celebration included the miniature sheet shown above and a prestige booklet containing the same nine stamps as the miniature sheet and some of the current pictorial regionals. The original stamps for the Dependencies were not reproduced (though some were pictured on the interleaves of the prestige booklet). The Machin regionals were totally ignored — maybe they will get their own fortieth anniversary celebration in 2011. (Posted Janaury 23, 2009.) top

Deegam on the web

Deegam logo Douglas Myall, author and publisher of the Deegam publications for Machin collectors, has established a web site at http://www.deegam.com.

Myall has been providing information for Machin collectors for over 40 years, and in the 1980s he started publishing under the Deegam name. His pièce de résistance is The Complete Deegam Machin Handbook, the best reference guide to the Machin definitives. His other publications include the Deegam Reports, periodic updates to the Handbook, and Deegam Profiles, an aid to writing up a Machin collection.

The Deegam web site provides information about all of the publications, including how to get them. It also serves as a distribution point for the Deegam Reports, which are free to owners of the Handbook.

I have always recommended Myall’s publications as the best ones for serious Machin collectors. It’s wonderful to have a web site that supports them. (Posted April 6, 2008.) top

New Machins and Regionals for rate increase

The April 7 rate increase requires several new definitive stamps, though fewer than in the past few years. The new stamps will be issued April 1 and are described below.

Description Color Phosphor Printer Service
9p Machin Orange 2 bands De La Rue Make-up rate between second-class and first-class letters
Returned to circulation, new cylinder but not a new issue
15p Machin Shocking Pink 2 bands De La Rue Make-up rate between second-class letters and large letters
56p Machin Lime green 2 bands De La Rue Worldwide airmail to 10g (first step)
81p Machin Sea green 2 bands De La Rue Worldwide airmail 10g to 20g (second step)
50p Pictorial Regionals Multicolor 2 bands De La Rue Europe airmail postcards and letters to 20g (first step)
81p Pictorial Regionals Multicolor 2 bands De La Rue Worldwide airmail 20g to 40g (second step)

15p Machin I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to keep track of the make-up rate stamps. These are stamps that pay the difference between two common rates, so they can be used by customers who may need to pay different rates from time to time. For example, if you occasionally mail large letters, you can keep a supply of 16p stamps to add to the 36p stamps that pay for regular letters. Keeping a supply of 16p stamps is more economical than keeping a supply of 52p stamps that you might never use.

This wouldn’t seem to be a very big need, but Royal Mail always has these make-up rate stamps available, so there must be a demand. Since Pricing in Proportion has divided mail into two groups, letters and large letters, there is a need for several make-up rate stamps, as shown in this table.

Rate Pair Make-up Rate Stamp Date Issued
Second-class letters (27p) to first-class letters (36p) 9p Orange Original April 5, 2005
Reprint April 1, 2008
First-class letters (36p) to first-class large letters (52p) 16p Pink March 27, 2007
Second-class letters (27p) to second-class large letters (42p) 15p Shocking Pink April 1, 2008

Update: Previously, the table above included a listing for the 10p stamp as a make-up between second-class large letters and first-class large letters. This was an error. Royal Mail does not generally issue a Machin for this pair of rates. It just so happened that the difference for these rates is 10p and there is a 10p permanent Machin. I apologize for the error.

Update: The new printing of the 9p retains the cylinder number D1. The new version can be differentiated by the location and shape of the numeral 9 — on the new printing, the 9 is set slightly lower and is somewhat rounder than on the original orange printing.

While we’re on the subject of Machins, I should mention that Royal Mail has certain denominations that are always available to pay any postage rate. These are 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p and £1. At any given time, there are three groups of Machins available: Machins that pay a specific postal rate, Machins that make-up the difference between two rates, and permanent denominations that are always available. (Remember that the high values are no longer generally available.) (Posted February 20, 2008. Updated May 6, 2009.) top

Up Again! Postal rates to increase on April 7

Royal Mail’s annual increase is scheduled for April 7. The old and new rates are shown in the tables below.

Service First Class Second Class
  Old Rate New Rate Old Rate New Rate
Letters, to 100g 34p 36p 24p 27p
Large Letters, to 100g 48p 52p 40p 42p
Large Letters, to 250g 70p 78p 60p 66p
Packets, to 100g £1.09 £1.14 92p 95p
Packets, to 250g £1.38 £1.45 £1.20 £1.24

Service Old Rate New Rate
Europe airmail, first step up to 20g and postcards 48p 50p
Europe airmail, second step up to 40g 69p 72p
Worldwide airmail, first step up to 10g and postcards 54p 56p
Worldwide airmail, second step up to 20g 78p 81p
Worldwide airmail, third step up to 40g (See Note) £1.22
Worldwide surface mail first step up to 20g and postcards 46p 48p
Worldwide surface mail second step up to 60g 78p 82p
Recorded delivery (surcharge in addition to postage) 70p 72p
Special delivery (minimum) £4.30 £4.60

Note: The zone 1 rate for 40g letters was £1.12 and the zone 2 rate was £1.24.

The domestic rate increases are uneven. The basic first-class rate for standard letters increases 2p to 34p, an increase of 5.8%. However, the basic second-class rate jumps higher, 3p to 27p, an increase of 12.5%. The reverse is true for large letters. First-class rates increase 9.2% for the first weight step and 11.4% for the second step. Conversely, second-class rates rise 5.0% for the first step and 10.0% for the second step.

International rate increases are not as steep as last year. For example, the airmail rate for worldwide letters weighing between 10 and 20 grams increases 3.9% this year compared to 8.3% last year.

This year, Royal Mail makes a change in the structure of international rates for destinations outside Europe. In recent years, there have been two different air mail zones for letters above 20g. Starting April 7, there will be only one rate for worldwide letters. In fact, the new rates are a slight decrease from the old zone 2 rates, as noted above. Rates to the two zones since 2000 are shown in the chart on the GBCC site.

The structure of international rates has undergone many changes over the years. The following brief summary is taken from Great Britain: Domestic and International Postal Rates and Fees, 1871-1999 by Anthony S. Wawrukiewicz (available here.)

(Posted January 30, 2008.) top

Last update: May 6, 2009   Macintosh!
Copyright © 2008 by Larry Rosenblum
All stamps and philatelic items Copyright © Royal Mail