Sunday, 7 September 2014

Making My Own Machin Profiles

I have used Douglas Myall's DEEGAM system of identifying and cataloguing the Machins since it was introduced, if I recall correctly, back in the 1980s. I won't describe the system here, so if you want some basic information, visit Myall's site and read Roy's comments here and here.

One of the Myall's many innovations are profiles - stamp-sized labels that contain enough information to identify an individual stamp. One of them is pictured above. These labels can serve as the write-up to a collection, saving the collector a lot of time and providing a great degree of flexibility.

Since I prefer to mount my collection on stock pages, the profiles suit me very well. I wrote this up in a post four years ago.

Unfortunately, Myall recently stopped producing new profiles. He said that only a small percentage of people were using them and they had become too much work. He was kind enough to distribute the graphics he used, and in his recent Deegam Report (#108), he provided a detailed procedure for using them.

I'm familiar enough with the computer that I could use his graphics to create my own profiles, but I needed to think about what I wanted to do. I now had the ability to modify them to suit my own taste and requirements, so that gave me a lot of options.

Before I describe what I decided to do, I will quickly recap the information shown on Myall's profile above, for those of you who are not familiar with his notation.

Line 1 - printer - (in this case: De La Rue)
Line 2 - paper and adhesive - (Optical Brightener-Free Non-Phosphorised paper and Self-Adhesive)
Line 3 left - phosphor pattern - (2 Bars)
Line 3 right - phosphor/fluor type and width (A2 phosphor, Blue fluor, 9 millimeters wide)
Line 4 left - value type and setting (Type 1, setting B4)
Line 4 right - direction of printing (Upright)
Line 5 left - source (Self-Adhesive Product 154)
Line 5 right - colored ink cylinder (D1)
Line 6 - code(s) in the security overprint (M12L)
Line 7 - Deegam catalogue number

The blue shading in the profile shows the placement of the phosphor bars. The security slits are illustrated; there's a small gap at top and bottom indicating Type 2 slits on this stamp.

(If  some of these terms are unfamiliar to you, please leave a comment and I will reply with an explanation.)

When I first started making my own profiles, I found that I could get nine lines of text on them. That gave me a little more flexibility. I also decided not to use the graphics for the phosphor bars and security slits, so I would only have a single template to use.

Finally, I decided to have a black border around all the profiles. Myall had them on profiles for gummed stamps, as shown previously, but he differentiated self-adhesive stamps by omitting the border as on the profile above. (I added the black frame in the image above - it is not part of the profile.) I like having the border because it blends in with the black stock sheet, and I don't have to worry about creating a nice, straight line when I cut out the profile.

These are two of the profiles I created. The information is similar to what Myall shows, but I've made some changes.

Line 2 - I added the method of printing.
Line 6 - For stamps from prestige booklets, I added the name of the booklet. This is a convenience for me so that I don't have to look it up, although it is defined by the pane number that appears to the left.
Line 7 - Since I don't include illustrations of the security cuts, I include the Type or indicate that there are no cuts.

The fact that I have changed the profiles is in no way a criticism of Douglas Myall's work. I am indebted to him for inventing the profiles and for all his other efforts relating to the Machins, and of course I'm still using his nomenclature and cataloguing system.

If you would like to learn more about the Deegam system and/or purchase the Complete Deegam Machin Handbook, you can contact Douglas Myall at the address on his web site. However, please be aware that he has had to take a break from philately to deal with some family issues, so be patient for a reply.


Note: I see that four years ago, I added a comment that I liked the profiles because they came ready-made, courtesy of Douglas Myall. I guess now I know that when it comes to stamp collecting, there's no substitute for doing the work yourself.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Security Inscriptions

As I have not been blogging of late other sites have had to keep us up with news and information. May I take this opportunity to thank you all (you know who you are).

It is through your reporting that it is now wildly known that Royal Mail has issued new versions of existing retail books and business sheets with a revised telephone number and several more new stamps have now become available with the M14L code. I will not go into detail of the new stamps as the information is now widely available to all. There are also several new sheet stamps with the 2014 security code. If I get the chance I will list these for you at a later date.
Some other news:  According to an recent edition of Stamp Magazine the year 2015 will see some proposed new changes to Self-adhesive stamps. These are reported to be re printed with a security inscription on the entire backing paper. This is another attempt to deter postal forgers. 

A question has arrose regarding these, will they be new Machin stamps? 

As far as I can fathom out without any more information, the backing paper is not part of the actual single stamp yet the new year 2015 code will be of interest to collectors who accumulate singles, so yes they will be new issues, but I still unsure about what difference the backing paper will make to collecting singles or pairs. I guess I will leave this one up to the experts

The report goes on to say that the change will include special issue stamps as well as defnitives in counter sheets, booklets, business sheets and coils. So collectors of these will have acquire all of the complete new products to keep up to date. These I trust will come under visible changes and will no doubt be new issues.

Have I got that right?


Friday, 22 August 2014

Second Class Coils (MRIL code)

The appearance of a new version of the second class coil stamp from Walsall prompted me to review the issues since the introduction of the first one with the recent security features. Although this has been covered elsewhere, I thought it a good idea to review here, since there have been a number of unusual events.

The first self-adhesive second-class coil with the new security features appeared on 16 July 2009. It had source code MRIL ('R' for roll) but no year code, since year codes were not introduced until 2010. This coil was printed by De La Rue and has a yellow backing paper. A five-digit number is overprinted on the back of every tenth stamp, indicating the number of stamps left in the roll of 10,000. The De La Rue coil is pictured above.

In early 2012, collectors were surprised to find that a new issue of this coil, with year code 2010, was being used on mail by large mailers such as The Sunday Times Wine Club. Used copies rapidly appeared on eBay (and presumably other auction sites). The first copies went for as much as £100, but the price has fallen as more copies were discovered, and the going price is now around £5. Some unfranked copies are known; presumably these went through the mail but were not canceled. To this day, no mint copies have been found, and I believe Royal Mail has never officially acknowledged them.

Later in 2012, a new version of the coil printed by Enschedé appeared. It has the codes MRIL/MA12 and is on white paper. Like the first De La Rue coil, there was a number on the back of every tenth stamp.

Another surprise occurred in early 2014 when a second-class coil appeared with the codes MRIL/M12L. This one was printed by Walsall, also on white paper, but with no back-stamped numbers. This stamp is shown below, but the codes don't come out well when scanned, so you probably can't see them.

The second surprise of the year occurred on July 31 when Royal Mail made available a new printing of the Walsall MRIL/M12L coil. The main difference is that this coil has the numbers on the back, every tenth stamp as usual.

The easiest way to confirm that a coil belongs to the original Walsall printing is to have a strip of 10 with no number. These may not be easy to acquire. I asked one dealer if he had a strip of 10 available, and he said that all of his stamps were cut down to strips of five to fit in his stockbook.

The stamps from the two Walsall printings may be subtly different. One dealer reports that the second printing is a slightly darker shade than the first. I find this hard to see on my copies, so if there is a difference, it is very slight. Ian Billings points out that the iridescent ink appears to be yellower on the second printing. I can see this, but it definitely takes having both stamps together to tell the difference.

Here is the number on the back of the second Walsall printing. The number is reversed because we are looking at the back; the number would be correct for someone looking at the front of the strip after having removed the stamp.

That's the story so far. If you have any further information, please add it to the comments.