Friday, 25 September 2009

Reader's Digest Coils


Apparently we've never discussed Reader's Digest coils here on the blog.
I was reminded of them the other day, so I thought I'd mention them here.

Reader's Digest coils are multivalue coils created by Royal Mail for
use by several large customers, most notably Reader's Digest. The coils
were groups of four stamps that paid the then-current second-class rate.
For example, a ½p Machin and three 4p Machins paid the 12½p rate.

They were issued from 1981 to 1995.

Reader's Digest used them on contest cards. They were attached to the
cards with a strip of soft adhesive. Readers could remove the stamps
and use them to return the cards in the mail. One such card is
pictured above.

Roy has more information on these coils on his web site here
and here, so I won't go into more details.

What got me thinking about the coils was an eBay lot of a forerunner
item. Apparently, before Reader's Digest had their own coils made,
they used a strip of ten 1p stamps. This card was recently sold on
eBay for £58!

I snatched the image from eBay to display here.

Does anyone know of other stamp combinations used by Reader's Digest?
Perhaps eight 1p stamps when the second-class rate was 8p?

And while we're on the subject, there's another coil related to
Reader's Digest. After the end of the multivalue coils, Reader's Digest
had Royal Mail create a special horizontal coil of the salmon pink
25p Machin. This paid the current first-class rate.

It probably wasn't used on contest entry cards, but I don't know what
it was used for. Can anyone tell me?

These stamps are notable because they are the only version of the 25p
salmon pink that does not have elliptical perforations. Apparently,
the elliptical perfs weakened the stamps so much that Royal Mail felt
the web would break while the stamps were slit and reeled.

(In this context, the "web" is the continuous roll of paper that is
put through the printing press, not a vast worldwide network and not
something used by Spiderman.)

I can't locate my copy of this 25p variety to illustrate, but you
can see it on Robin Harris' site here (scroll down the page).

--Larry

1 comment:

S├ębastien said...

Not Machins, but French monthly 'Timbres magazine' in October 2009 issue (page 85) talks about the South African Reader's Digest coils.

An uncut sheet is reproduced: only vertical perforation and a Reader's Digest label on the laft end of the coil.