Tuesday, 28 October 2014

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About FDCs

If you would like to learn about FDCs from two experts, you can sign up for a free master class starting October 31 from Buckingham Covers. The course is led by Tony Buckingham, founder and executive of Benham Covers until he sold it in 1997 (to Stanley Gibbons, I believe) and now proprietor of Buckingham Covers, and Brian Austin, philatelic author and head buyer at Buckingham.

The course consists of 10 lessons, one every two weeks. It covers the whole range of British philately, and the eighth lesson focuses on definitives. Attendees will receive an email with a link to the course information on the web site.

You have the option of paying £10 for a Certificate of Completion and some other benefits, but the basic course is free.

You can get more information on the Buckingham web site, and then send an email to register. Although it starts in just a couple of days, since there's no time limit, I suspect they will take new students for at least a little while after that.


Monday, 27 October 2014

Plant a Stamp, Get a Bloom

This has nothing to do with Machins, but I just have to mention it. On May 6 this year, Jersey issued two World War I remembrance stamps that picture poppies and also have embedded poppy seeds.

From Jersey Post: "This 46p stamp contains real poppy seeds, sealed behind a thin, transparent, biodegradable plastic cover. The stamp can be planted and will gradually decompose as the seeds start to grow, producing the striking red flowers which are so strongly associated with remembrance."

There is also a similar 56p stamp with seeds, and a "seed packet" containing the two stamps for £1.50.

Gimmick stamps are very common these days, but this issue has two unusual features: first, you must destroy the stamps to take advantage of the gimmick, and second, after suitable delay, you will have something even nicer to look at than the original stamps. Poppies are perennials, so this is a gimmick that can keep on giving. Perhaps we should call it a "forever" stamp?


Monday, 20 October 2014

Keeping Track of the Myriad Machins

The new security features introduced in 2009 have spawned numerous specialized Machins, with varying source/date codes, slit varieties, etc. Since most new varieties are not announced by Royal Mail, keeping track of them all is a challenge.

Fortunately, we have many good-hearted souls who are willing to help us mere mortals do just that. The latest is Ian Billings - he of the well-known Norphil blog - who has created a checklist of Machins with the security features.

Ian includes his own numbering system, which he uses in his online store but which collectors can certainly use as well. He also cross-references the Stanley Gibbons numbers (with permission).

A snapshot provided by Ian is shown above. You can get the checklist by going to this blog post and clicking the link at the bottom.

There are two other web sites which also have information, though not as a downloadable document. They are Paul's GB Stamp Blog and Great Britain Machins (which comprehensively covers all Machins).

I'll mention two other well-known sources of information, though both require a modest investment.

The Modern British Philatelic Circle has an excellent newsletter, the Bookmark, and has a comprehensive web site. The site has some information for everyone, but most of it is restricted to members. That said, if you are willing to get all publications in pdf form by email, the yearly dues are only £6, one of the best bargains in philately.

From the web site, members can download a frequently updated list of the Machins with the new security features.

The web site has some great graphics, one of which I show above.

And, of course, there's the Deegam Handbook and the periodic free updates distributed by email. This needs no introduction for most of you, and more information is on Douglas Myall's web site.