Saturday, 13 March 2010

The End of Make-Up Rate Machins

In recent years, Royal Mail has issued Machins to make-up the rates from one class of mail to another. For example, the current rates (from April 2009) are 30p for second class letters and 47p for second class large letters. Royal Mail issued a 17p Machin to make up the difference between these two rates.

In general, there were Machins to make up the difference between first class and second class letters, first class letters and large letters, and second class letters and large letters.

No longer. Starting with the 2010 rate increase, Royal Mail will apparently not issue stamps for those make-up rates, which would be 15p, 25p and 19p respectively.

In his announcement of the new rates and new Machins, Ian Billings notes that each of these make-up rates can be satisfied by two current Machins. The 15p is 5p + 10p, the 25p is 5p + 20p, and 19p is 9p + 10p.

The 5p, 10p, and 20p are permanent Machin values, so they will remain on sale. However, Royal Mail will not reprint the 9p after stocks are exhausted (see the March British Philatelic Bulletin, page 202). After the 9p is gone, the 19p make-up rate will require four permanent stamps, 10p + 5p + 2p + 2p.

I suspect this was done for cost reasons. For us collectors, it will mean fewer new Machins each year.

However, the introduction of a denominated Machin for the 40g worldwide airmail rate (to be £1.46 starting 6 April 2010) - and the expectation of a new stamp every year for that rate - will wind up costing collectors more in the long run.

While I'm always willing to point out that Royal Mail issues too many Machins aimed only at collectors (the upcoming souvenir sheet, for example), I'm willing to give Royal Mail the benefit of the doubt and assume that the decisions about the make-up rate stamps and, more importantly, the worldwide airmail stamp, were governed by operational requirements and not the opportunity to raid our wallets.



Ian - Norvic said...

There's a downside to everything Roy. This should mean that prestige book Machin panes will no longer contain the make-up values. While they could use the 5p, 10p, 15p I suspect there will be more use of NVIs and higher-rate stamps.

Robert said...

Have I missed something because I can't see the need for a potentiel 15p value anyway. If the example of other years had been followed, there would have been 19p & 25p to make up the rates from standard to large letters of each class, but there haven't been any make-up stamps between 2nd large and 1st large (which I presume is the explanation of your 15p?). As you say the 9p remains valid as the gap between standard 1st & 2nd is still 9p after the April increase.

Anonymous said...

Did (do) we not have 17p and 22p?

Robert said...

Another consequence of the absence of inland make-up values is that the 15 new definitives to be issued on 30 March are all for new overseas rates. Of these 15 stamps, no less than SIX cover the Europe 20g rate and a further SIX the Worldwide airmail 20g rate. This is not to mention a further definitive size stamp for each of these released in the February Smilers sheet. Do we really need SEVEN different definitives to pay each of these two rates????

Ian - Norvic said...

Robert - the April situation regarding international rates is only continuing the present situation. We have, for many years, had multiple stamps for 1st & 2nd class inland, for Europe and the rest of the world.

It would be political suicide to withdraw the Country stamps. 'We' collectors may have 6 different stamps to choose from for each rate - some will say we are forced to buy them, though we are not - but in each of the countries of the United Kingdom no more than two stamps and often only one are on sale for each value. The Scotland stamps are not on sale in Wales; the England stamps are not on sale in Northern Ireland.

Adding in the 7th pair of stamps is a red herring. These are only available in the personalised and business Smilers service.

These and the others were only released in the miniature sheet because the trade told Royal Mail that it would be unfair on ordinary collectors for the new stamps to be only available in sheets of 10/20 at a premium price, and that if RM didn't want a lot of flack they should find some way of issuing them at face value. I would have preferred that they were issued in booklets, but realise that such a move is clearly not cost-effective, as the airmail greetings stamps would not suit all situations which required a 20gr airmail stamp.

GBStamps said...


We do currently have 17p and 22p stamps. They are being withdrawn from general sale when the rates go up because they no longer serve their purpose.

The make-up amount for first class letters to large letters becomes 25p instead of 22p, and for second class letters to large letters becomes 19p instead of 17p.

You are right, there are not generally make-up stamps between second class large and first class large. Ian mentioned it on his blog, so I included it.