Saturday, 30 August 2008
The Machin defino-memoratives
In the October issue of Scott Stamp Monthly, editor Donna Houseman discusses the problems of deciding whether certain stamps are definitives or commemoratives (special stamps to those of you in the U.K.). Specifically, she is struggling with the recent U.S. Flags of Our Nation coil stamps.
I figure that it's a terminology problem. It's as if we didn't have a name for the color purple, and we were trying to decide if it is a shade of red or a shade of blue.
So we need a new name for these difficult-to-classify stamps, and I suggest defino-memoratives.
We Machin collectors have our own defino-memoratives. They are the five Machins issued in 1990 that show both the standard Machin portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the classic portrait of Queen Victoria.
The five values issued were 15p (second-class letters), 20p (first-class letters), 29p (airmail postcards), 34p (airmail letters to zone B), and 37p (airmail letters to zone C). The sheet stamps were issued on January 10, 1990. Booklets of 4 x 15p, 4 x 20p, 10 x 15p and 10 x 20p appeared on January 30. There are several varieties of these booklets (different printers, different printing methods, etc.). All of the stamps became obsolete on September 17, 1990 when rates increased, and they were replaced by the return of the standard Machin design.
Like commemoratives, these double-headers* were issued to celebrate a specific event, the 150th anniversary of the first postage stamp, the Penny Black. And like commemoratives, they had a limited life, going off sale later in the year.
However, they were issued in sheet and booklet format, and they replaced the regular Machin design while they were in use. As such, they were the definitives available for those five postal rates.
These are defino-memoratives for sure.
This is not a serious problem for us, because regardless of how we classify them, they are still Machins and they fit comfortably in our collections.
Incidentally, the black double-header made a brief re-appearance as a first-class non-denominated (NVI) stamp in a booklet pane in the Special by Design prestige booklet issued on February 15, 2000. (Pictured below)
So next time someone comes over to visit, you can say, "Hey, would you like to see my defino-memoratives?"
If you'd like to see all of these stamps, they are illustrated on Roy's web site and my web site.
*In the United States, the term double-header refers to two baseball games played by the same teams on the same day. The use of the term to refer to a stamp with two heads pictured on it, as it is commonly done for these stamps, at least in the U.S., is a nice play on words.