Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Post Office Training

Post Office Training School stamps
Part 4 – Into the Machins

A brief illustrated tie in article

from the early issues to the Machins

Overview of the types

In the first article, I provided an overview of the history of the training schools from 1920 and mentioned some of the types of overprints applied to the stamps. Before getting into the Machin series of stamps I thought it may be wise to illustrate the stamps in question so that the reader can see for themselves the various types.

As mentioned the standard overprint was two bars to the width of a low value definitive stamp. This was retained from 1920 through to 1980 and later, but there are exceptions. The early King George V material with one bar is presumed to be misplacement of the sheets when overprinting. By the time we get into the reign of King George VI, we find the use of the ‘SCHOOL SPECIMEN’ hand-stamp as well as the use of horizontal bars and by the time we get into the reign of Queen Elizabeth the use of these alternative types of overprint, although still scarce in relation to the standard bars do turn up more often.

As can be seen from the two 1935 Silver Jubilee stamps, it would appear that sometimes overprints were made using the same setting as for the low values, this giving four bars on the stamp. On other occasions it would appear that the setting was altered to give two bars, in keeping with the low values.

It is likely, (although I have not been able to confirm this), that the instructions were stated as two bars per stamp, and this in the early stages was not specified as it was only the low values that were being used.

Towards the end of the reign of King George VI we start to find the use of the ‘SCHOOL SPECIMEN’ hand-stamp and it is probable that these stamps were old stock locally overprinted for training use in the early part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The same overprint is known on the Wilding issues with all three types of watermark and again this may have been produced to supplement stocks whilst awaiting delivery from official sources, these later of which would probably have the standard two bars overprint.

There is no record of the issue of the ‘SCHOOL SPECIMEN’ hand-stamp to any offices, but I would venture to say that not only were several issued to offices around the country, but that this took place at some time around 1954, possibly a few years earlier allowing for the King George VI issues known but unlikely to be much later than this date.

By the time we get to the Machin issues of 1967, we find that although the two bar overprint was still generally being used, the bars are thinner than on the earlier stamps, however, the thicker bars do still appear, these being rarer.

Throughout the Machin period, (1967 onwards), other variations of overprint still appear, probably for the same reasons as before, to supplement existing stocks or possibly for use on special courses such as registration, special delivery etc.

This article concludes the history of the training schools and it is hoped that it provides some information on the overprint types used, their method of application and the reasons why some types are scarcer than others.

Any questions that the reader may feel needs an answer to, please post a comment to this blog and I will try and address them either directly or with a short write-up.

The next article will (I hope) deal with the first pre-decimal Machin issue and will include illustrations of this issue there - (This being the reason Machin stamps have not been illustrated so far).


Machin Man said...

As you can see Allan Oliver has been invited and has joined the list of posters on this blog.

Thanks Allan, I am sure that readers are finding this information of great value. I am looking forward to part 5 & 6 with anticipation.


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