Saturday, 29 November 2008

Regional Machin Symbols - Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

There is good news and bad news for collectors with regards to the varieties of lithographed regional Machins of the mid-1980s.

The good news is that most denomination/color combinations have only one type of symbol, either the old one or the new one. For example, the 14p regionals with the old symbol are steel blue, and the 14p’s with the new symbol are deep blue. There’s no need to identify the symbols; the colors are sufficient.

Other denominations have only one type of symbol. The 11 1/2p regionals have only the old symbol; the 12p regionals have only the new one.

The bad news is that there are a handful of denominations where the stamps of the same color were produced with both symbols. In some cases, there are more than two varieties to consider. All of these are listed in these blog entries.

The challenge for collectors, beyond acquiring them, is recognizing them. It is still possible to find these varieties in mixtures of used stamps, but obviously you must know how to identify them in order to find them. You can, of course, buy them from dealers, but it is certainly wise to be able to confirm the variety, especially for the expensive ones.

Compounding the problem of identifying these varieties is that the various catalogs have taken different approaches to listing these varieties and therefore use different, and conflicting, nomenclature.

Most of the specialized catalogs – the Complete Deegam Machin Handbook, the Connoisseur Catalogue of Machin Stamps and the Queen Elizabeth II Specialised Definitives Stamp Catalogue produced by the Machin Collectors Club – assign Type I to the original lithographed symbols and Type II to the redesigned symbols. In some cases, there are subtypes that are indicated by a suffix, for example, Type IIa and IIb. These catalogs identify the symbol type for all of the lithographed regionals, at least up to the introduction of elliptical perforations in 1993, by which time the symbols were standardized.

The Scott Catalogue and the Stanley Gibbons catalogs – the Concise and the Specialised – only provide differentiation when there are two symbol types for the same denomination/color combination. The first variety, whatever it happens to be, is assigned Type I and the second is Type II.

For Scotland and Wales, these two methods happen to work out the same. For Northern Ireland, they don’t.

Each of the three regions will be discussed in turn. All of the regional Machins that have more than one symbol type on the same color/denomination are described and listed. These stamps also have paper, phosphor and gum variations, but those are beyond the scope of this article.

Scotland

Scotland is the easiest region to work with, although it has two of the four scarce varieties.

The Scottish regionals printed by Harrison and Son, issued from 1971 through 1980, do not present any identification challenges. The 4 1/2p Scotland is shown in the first blog entry. The Harrison stamps have the earliest symbol, and since the symbol did not change during this period, no type is assigned.

The first lithographed regionals for Scotland were printed by Waddington and were issued on April 8, 1981. The symbol , the one copied from the presentation pack artwork, is assigned Type I by all of the catalogs. The 31p of this type, issued in 1984, is shown here with an enlargement of the symbol. The 13p, 17p grey-blue and 22p yellow-green were also issued on that date.





There are a number of differences between the photogravure symbol (as on the 4 1/2p) and the lithographed one. Most notably, the eye on the photogravure stamp is solid and connected to the background. The eye on the lithographed stamp is completely enclosed by the lion's face and has a white dot in the center.

By this time, the error in the symbol had been noticed, and the revised versions had been developed by Jeffery Matthews and distributed to the printers. Waddington gradually reissued the stamps with the new symbols, but these changes were not announced and were not immediately noticed by collectors.

The revised 31p is shown here with the symbol. This symbol is called Type II in all the catalogs. The eye has returned to its original shape, open to the background.




All four of the 1984 values were reprinted. The 13p and 17p are fairly common and command only a small premium over the Type I versions. However, the 22p and especially the 31p are scarce and expensive.

All stamps printed by Waddington are perforated 13 1/2 by 14. This is important to remember because in 1985, Waddington bought the House of Questa and combined the two firms under the Questa name. The next year, the four Scottish regionals were reprinted again by the new Questa. These new versions have the Type II symbol but are perforated 15 x 14. The Questa versions are common.

So if you are hunting for the scarce 22p and 31p (and the common 13p and 17p), you need to identify both the symbol and the perforation. (If you don't happen to have a perforation gauge handy, you can count the teeth along the top of the stamp. The Waddington printings have 14 teeth and the Questas have 15.) The 31p printed by Questa, with perforation 15 x 14, is shown here.



Two other Scottish regionals have varieties worth noting. The 26p red was issued in 1982 printed by Walsall with Type I symbol and perf 13 1/2 x 14. The 28p violet was issued in 1983 printed by Walsall with Type II symbol and perf 13 1/2 x 14. Both of these were later reprinted by Questa in 1987 with Type II symbol and perf 15 x 14.

Questa continued to print Scottish regionals through 1996, with the introduction of elliptical perforations towards the end of 1993. All Questa printings have the Type 2 symbol and are perf 15 x 14.

At that time, Royal Mail requested that all Machins, with a few exceptions, be printed by photogravure. Printing of Scottish regionals was transferred to Walsall from 1997 to 1999, at which time the Machin regionals were discontinued for Scotland. All Walsall sheet stamps are perf 15 x 14 and have the Type 2 symbol, though the catalogs do not assign a type number to them. (Some Walsall regionals also appeared in prestige booklets, and these were perf 13 1/2 by 14.)

Below is the list of Scottish Regional Machins that have more than one type of symbol on the same denomination/color combination. Paper, gum and phosphor varieties are not included.

"Spec Catalog Type" is the type used by Deegam, Connoisseur and MCC. "Scott/SG Type" is the type used by Scott and Stanley Gibbons.

13p Chestnut

Issue: 10/23/84
Printer: Waddington
Spec Catalog Type: I
Scott/SG Type: I
Perf: 13.5 x 14

Issue: 4/-/85
Printer: Waddington
Spec Catalog Type: II
Scott/SG Type: II
Perf: 13.5 x 14

Issue: 11/4/86
Printer: Questa
Spec Catalog Type: II
Scott/SG Type: -
Perf: 15 x 14

17p Grey-blue

Issue: 10/23/84
Printer: Waddington
Spec Catalog Type: I
Scott/SG Type: I
Perf: 13.5 x 14

Issue: 4/-/85
Printer: Waddington
Spec Catalog Type: II
Scott/SG Type: II
Perf: 13.5 x 14

Issue: 4/29/86
Printer: Questa
Spec Catalog Type: II
Scott/SG Type: -
Perf: 15 x 14

22p Yellow-green

Issue: 10/23/84
Printer: Waddington
Spec Catalog Type: I
Scott/SG Type: I
Perf: 13.5 x 14

Issue: 1/-/86
Printer: Waddington
Spec Catalog Type: II
Scott/SG Type: II
Perf: 13.5 x 14

Issue: 1/27/87
Printer: Questa
Spec Catalog Type: II
Scott/SG Type: -
Perf: 15 x 14

26p Red

Issue: 2/24/82
Printer: Waddington
Spec Catalog Type: I
Scott/SG Type: I
Perf: 13.5 x 14

Issue: 1/27/87
Printer: Questa
Spec Catalog Type: II
Scott/SG Type: II
Perf: 15 x 14

28p Violet

Issue: 4/27/83
Printer: Waddington
Spec Catalog Type: II
Scott/SG Type: II
Perf: 13.5 x 14

Issue: 1/27/87
Printer: Questa
Spec Catalog Type: II
Scott/SG Type: II
Perf: 15 x 14

31p Lilac

Issue: 10/23/84
Printer: Waddington
Spec Catalog Type: I
Scott/SG Type: I
Perf: 13.5 x 14

Issue: 11/-/85
Printer: Waddington
Spec Catalog Type: II
Scott/SG Type: II
Perf: 13.5 x 14

Issue: 4/29/86
Printer: Questa
Spec Catalog Type: II
Scott/SG Type: -
Perf: 15 x 14

--Larry

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