Tuesday, 5 December 2006

A Profile of The Millennium Machin


Information on this topic has been somewhat ignored to date. It has also been established that certain specialized catalogues have listed some wrong information. The information that is available to the collector elsewhere at this time is also spread across so many pages from different sources.

As there are many different formats of the design this makes it a very difficult subject to research. With no cross referencing and (or) the wrong listings for certain issues of this definitive, this can also be very confusing. Hopefully, with the information that has been compiled and put together in this document, it will make life a little easier for most in the future.

What is a Millennium?

Millennium is a period of time, equal to one thousand years. It originates from the Latin mille, ( thousand ), and annum, ( year ). The term may implicitly refer to calendar millennia; periods tied numerically to a particular dating system , specifically ones that begin at the starting (initial reference) point of the calendar in question, typically the year 0 or the year 1.

What is a Millennium Machin?

Millennium Machin Definitives were first introduced to the public, collectors (and with great anticipation) to the philatelic community by the Royal Mail on 06th January 2000 to celebrate the Millennium Year 2000 AD.

The newly adapted Millennium Machin ( right) was designed to resemble as closely as possible the original Arnold Machin plaster bias - relief portrait of her Majesty the Queen. The gravure ( EME ) print process used, shows the adaptation of the bust in the original clay colour on a white background in very fine fine detail.

The work of adapting the new stamp design was contracted out to the Chase Design Group, notably the actual designer of the new layout was Richard Scholey, who did a magnificent job in the transformation. So much so, eight out of ten Machinites have voted it their favorite stamp from the long running Machin series.

They were first issued in booklets of 10 and counter sheets on 06/01/2000 from post offices and certain retail stores across The UK. The stamps were released as a temporary replacement for the 1st class non value indicated ( NVI ) flame red definitive stamps, which at the time of issue cost 26p, this was the rate for First Class items up to 60g within the UK. The rate increased to 28p on 27.04.2000.

Only De La Rue security printers, printed the counter sheets. Two other printing companies were employed to print stamp booklets and commemorative panes. Due to this fact, the portrait images, ellipses (left), perforations, phosphor fluor , direction of print and formats do vary from one printer to another.

Although at first glance, all stamps seem to be identical, the stamps when studied closely can be distinguished by minor subtle differences in the design. These differences are be divided into three main sub types, breaking down to many different varieties from the three printing companies employed by Royal Mail.

The stamps were on sale in various formats throughout the Millennium Year 2000 AD. Some of the issues corresponding with the Stamp show 2000 held at Earls Court London. They were taken off sale one year later (after the corresponding issue dates ) in 2001. Philatelic counters retained stock and sold them for a further year after the withdrawal (subject to stock unsold or to exhaustion ).

The three printing companies, Walsall Security Printers,The House of Questa & Thomas De La Rue Ltd were employed by the Royal Mail throughout the year 2000 to print the Millennium definitive.

All formats of the stamps were printed in gravure, Computer Engraved ( CE ) or using the correct term, Electronically Mechanically Engraved (EME). The new head design was to become known to Machin specialists as “The Millennium Head”. The majority of most Machin catalogues sub list it as “ Head Type B5”

Walsall Printings

No Post Office counter sheets were printed by Walsall. Millennium Machins definitives from this printer were only released in a series of Retail Booklets, Commemorative Booklets and unfolded panes or Prestige Booklet Panes.

The first to be issued was in the form of retail Booklets containing 10 stamps: The Date of issue was 06/01/2000. The booklet was reissued on 14th March 2000 with a revised contact telephone number in the back of inner cover.

A new Retail Booklet ( and unfolded panes ) were issued on 21. 03. 2000 to publicize, promote and commemorate the Stamp Show 2000 held at Earls Court, London. Some say this was “The worlds foremost stamp exhibition and the major philatelic event of the century”. It ran from 22nd -28th

The booklets and panes contained 4 x millennium Machins and had a promotional Postman Pat label attached to the right of the stamps.

A second booklet and unfolded label pane was issued on 04. 04. 2000 to commemorate the opening of the Botanical Gardens of Wales, the label on this issue depicted an orchid. The format of the panes as above x 4 + label depicting an Orchid.

Two different Millennium special issue stamps (a separate pane of 2 x special issues) and panes of Machins were also issued in mixed content booklets, these were issued on 26th May 2000.

The special issue stamps are not Machins and will not been described in detail in this work.

Two spectacular panes printed by Walsall were also issued in two Prestige Booklets. Special by Design, date of issue 15. 02. 2000 and A Treasury of Trees, date of issue 18. 09. 2000.

A third prestige pane A Life of a Century described in certain quarters as “A Walsall printing” was actually printed by Questa. This pane is listed on these pages correctly and will be described under the appropriate Questa headings.

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