Friday, 3 September 2010

Is this a Machin stamp?

Speaking of Robin Harris, on his page with the new issues of 2010, he pictures this double-header issued earlier this year and asks "Is this a Machin issue?". I noticed he made a slight change, because previousy he asked "Is this a Machin stamp?".

I prefer to answer his earlier question, to which I say, yes, this is a Machin and yes, this is a stamp.

I consider this a Machin because the Machin portrait is a central element of the design. (When I'm feeling persnickety, I claim that the only true Machin is the original design, because that's the one stamp that Arnold Machin designed. All the variations were done by someone else using Machin's portrait. For example, the 1990 anniversary issue with Queen Victoria would be a "Matthews" instead. But I'm not persnickety today. Nor am I pernickety.)

I consider this a stamp, and that's a bit more interesting because of the recent plethora of labels featuring the Machin portrait. I'll go out on a limb and define a stamp as a prepaid postage label that has been completely printed before reaching the post office or patron. Anything that has some part of it printed at the post office remains a label.

(And what of these completely-printed versions that are sold to collectors? I would agree that they are stamps, but they are purely philatelic in nature and thus outside my own collecting interests.)

So that's my answer to Robin. But there's another consideration. Royal Mail has claimed that this stamp is a definitive, just like the everyday Machins. To this, I think we can safely say, "Nonsense!"

If nothing else, this stamp does not have the security features that now grace all first-class definitives. It doesn't even have elliptical perforations!

The last time Royal Mail issued a similar stamp, the aforementioned 1990 penny black anniversary issue, the stamps were issued in both booklet and sheet format, and the regular Machins were taken off-sale for the duration. No such effort was made for this stamp.

So I consider this stamp a commemorative (or special issue) version of a Machin, not a definitive. I wouldn't even call it a defino-memorative.



Gary said...

Just a quick note to say that the sheet version of this stamp was sold at my local Post Office until the stock was exhausted. So during that time the only 1st class stamps sold were this version.

GBStamps said...

Thanks for your comment, Gary. Did you get any impression of whether customers were satisfied with getting larger, regular-gum stamps in place of the usual smaller, self-adhesive stamps?


Charlie Jensen said...

I think that the first two attributes that must be present before a stamp is considered to be a definitive, or not, are;
First, was it readily available at most, if not all post offices to be used on regular mail, and second, was that availability for a reasonable period of time.
On the other side of the ledger would be the question as to whether the stamp commemorates some specific event or occurance.