Saturday, 16 May 2009

Regional Machin Symbols - Part 3


For those of you who have been holding your breath since the last part was published, you can breathe now. Here are links to part 1, part 2 and part 2a.

Northern Ireland

The Harrison photogravure regional Machins for Northern Ireland issued from 1971 to 1980 are represented by the 3p shown above. Its primary identifying characteristic is the seven pearls (small round dots) on each side of the crown. Since there were no variations to the symbol on the photogravure issues from 1971 through 1980, there is no type number.



The first lithographed Northern Ireland regionals appeared in 1981, printed by Questa. These had the first type of symbol on the lithographed stamps, the one copied from the presentation pack artwork. The 26p of this type, issued in 1982, is shown with the enlarged symbol. The most notable change is that this version has nine pearls on each side of the crown. This symbol is called Type I by the three specialized catalogs (Deegam, Connoisseur, and Machin Collectors Club).




Three years later, the revised Matthews version started appearing. The 22p with this symbol is shown, with an enlargement. This revised symbol has much stronger lines; look at the top line of the crown as an example. It has a white line that extends diagonally from the thumb to the lower left part of the hand. Like the previous lithographed version, it has nine pearls on each side of the crown. This is the first version of this new symbol, and the specialized catalogs call it Type IIa.



Some time after that, the printer introduced some flaws into the Matthews symbol. The most visible change is that the three outermost pearls on the left are joined together. This third version is shown above. The specialized catalogs call it Type IIb.

Here’s where it gets confusing. Scott and Gibbons don’t differentiate between the first lithographed version and the earlier photogravure version. Both versions that have separate pearls on the left side are called Type I. The third version, with the joined pearls, is called Type II.

The list below includes both classifications, the one used by the specialized catalogs and the one used by Scott and Gibbons.

Using the specialized classification, two stamps with the same value and color appeared with both the Type I (first version) and Type IIb (third version) symbols. These are the 26p red and the 28p violet. These can easily be identified by the fact that the Type I stamps are perf 13 1/ 2 x 14 and the Type IIb stamps are perf 15 x 14.

Three stamps with the same value and color appears with both the Type IIa (second version) and Type IIb (third version) symbols, and these are the ones that can be challenging to identify. As shown in the list below, the 13p chestnum, 17p grey-blue and 31p lilac are the three affected.




The two symbols on the 17p are shown above side-by-side. There is another way to identify these varieties as well – the background on the earlier version of the 17p (on the left) shows a crosshatch pattern known as a screen, whereas the later version (on the right) has a solid background. The two backgrounds are visible above. The two 13p’s have the same distinction; the earlier one is screened and the later one solid. However, both 31p’s have a screened background.

They key value of this group is the 17p with the second symbol, Type IIb in the specialized catalogs and Type II in Scott/Gibbons. This is generally the most expensive of the four scarce regionals discussed in this article.




All the varieties of the other two values are easy to find. The two 31p values can also be identified by the location of the change from dark to light background. Above is an overlapped image of the two varieties; type IIa is on the top and IIb on the bottom.



After 1986, all Northern Ireland regionals printed by Questa have the Type IIb symbol and are perforated 15 x 14. Walsall printed Northern Ireland regionals from 1997 to 2001 (37p shown), when Northern Ireland Machin regionals were discontinued. All Walsall issues have the Type IIb symbol.

Below is the list of Northern Ireland 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.

All regionals listed were printed by The House of Questa.

13p Chestnut

Issue: 10/23/84
Spec Catalog Type: IIa
Scott/SG Type: I
Perf: 15 x 14
Background: Screened

Issue: 11/4/86
Spec Catalog Type: IIb
Scott/SG Type: II
Perf: 15 x 14
Background: Solid

17p Grey-blue

Issue: 10/23/84
Spec Catalog Type: IIa
Scott/SG Type: I
Perf: 15 x 14
Background: Screened

Issue: 9/10/86
Spec Catalog Type: IIb
Scott/SG Type: II
Perf: 15 x 14
Background: Solid

26p Red

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

Issue: 1/27/87
Spec Catalog Type: IIb
Scott/SG Type: II
Perf: 15 x 14
Background: Solid

28p Violet

Issue: 4/27/83
Spec Catalog Type: I
Scott/SG Type: I
Perf: 13.5 x 14
Background: Screened, Gradated

Issue: 1/27/87
Spec Catalog Type: IIb
Scott/SG Type: II
Perf: 15 x 14
Background: Screened, Gradated

31p Lilac

Issue: 10/23/84
Spec Catalog Type: IIa
Scott/SG Type: I
Perf: 15 x 14
Background: Screened, Gradated

Issue: 4/14/87
Spec Catalog Type: IIb
Scott/SG Type: II
Perf: 15 x 14
Background: Screened, Gradated

--Larry

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