Saturday, 5 July 2014

Embossed Machin Coin First Day Cover

I picked up this first day cover recently on eBay for a few pounds. I did not have any of the Machin-designed coins, so I decided this was a good way to have a few.

At the upper right is the pane of four embossed stamps from the Profile on Print booklet issued on February 16, 1999 as one of the pre-Stamp Show 2000 issues. The postmark is from Stoke on Trent, where Machin was born.

The six coins are from the original decimal series. A bit of history is here on the Royal Mint site, and their biography of Arnold Machin is here.


Sunday, 29 June 2014

New Web Site for GB Booklets

A friend and neighbor of mine (here in the San Francisco Bay Area of California) has recently created a web site about GB booklets. It only covers pre-decimal booklets, but since that includes the early Machin booklets, I mention it here.

Of special interest to us is his page on the first prestige booklet, Stamps for Cooks (affectionately known as the "cookbook.") He outlines the history of the booklet and shows an early mockup produced by Stuart Rose (the first Design Director of the British Post Office), a pane from a proof booklet constructed from counter sheets, a pane of dummy stamps, and a promotional poster.

The site's home page is at (link). The introduction is here. The Machin page is here. The Stamps for Cooks page is here.


Saturday, 14 June 2014

Machin Mystery

A friend of mine gave me this item. I can’t call it a cover because it didn’t pass through the mail. It is an empty envelope with a Machin on it, and of course it piqued my interest. The Machin is tied to the cover with a hand-stamped “BP.” Other hand stamps are “18577” and “8,” which matches the number after the name.

The back of the item provides a little more information and more mystery. Handwritten on one edge is “North Sea Oil Country / Helio Copter Strike.” In a different handwriting is “Dundas Racing Pigeon Assn 18-5-77,” and above that is the stamped image of a pigeon.

That confirms that the “18577” on the front is a date, and the reference to North Sea Oil would indicate that “BP” is British Petroleum. I also searched and found that “helio copter” is apparently an old term for helicopter.

But what is the “Helio Copter Strike”? Is it a strike in the sense of finding oil, or is it a workers’ strike? What has either type of strike to do with racing pigeons? And what might have happened on 18 May 1977?

Please put any ideas in the comments.