Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Not Even Close

You are probably wondering why there are two Norwegian stamps at the top of this post. (If you aren't wondering, you are probably reading the wrong blog!)

They are here to set the record straight.

Not my record. That's always straight.

It's the record of some lazy philatelic writers who look at the Machins' 40+ years of existence and assume that they are the longest-running series of stamps.

Not even close.

As Linn's Stamp News pointed out recently, Norway's post horn stamps hold that record. The first post horn stamp was issued in January, 1872, and the series is still going strong. It was modernized in 2001, but the basic design remains the same.

The left stamp above is from 1886, and the right stamp is one of the newest stamps, issued on November 15, 2010.

Now, there is one aspect where the Machins may have the advantage. One of the sites I read said that there were 135 major varieties of the post horns as of 2002. At that time, the Machins had about 350. This results from the fact that the post horns are not the only design used for Norway definitives, whereas the Machins are used for all regular values (low values since they were introduced and high values for part of that time).

Notwithstanding the uncertain future of postage stamps, the Queen would have to live a very long time for the Machins to catch up with the post horns' longevity, assuming Norway stops issuing them. Neither event is likely.

The Machins have rightfully earned many distinctions, but longest-running series of stamps is not one of them.


(Back to Machins next time.)


Douglas said...


I hope I am not included in your description of philatelic writers! For my thought on the longevity of the Machin design, see the last page of Timeline.pdf on your CD, reprinted from the "40 years of Machins" booklet which I wrote for Royal Mail in 2007.

Ian - Norvic said...

I don't think the Machins even come a close second. The Scandinavians are frugal and if it ain't broke they don't mend it, hence the Danish wavy-line definitive which is also still going strong 106 years on.

Douglas said...

Larry, I didn't realise that my message was an open one so here is a better response.

On 8 January 2008, The Machin became this country’s longest-running continuous stamp design, overtaking the penny black / twopence blue which lasted until 8 December 1880 when the twopence rose was issued.