Earlier this month, my local stamp club had show-and-tell night. I was going to use my five minutes to show how the Jeffery Matthews colors improved the look of the Machins.
Unfortunately, I was the last person to speak, and it was getting late. I put the colors aside and briefly showed one other item.
Above is the page I put together to show the Machins before and after the adoption of the Matthews colors.
For those of you not familiar with Machin history, here’s the story in brief. When a new set of low-value Machins was needed for the new decimal currency in 1971, the Post Office worked hard to find a set of colors that was distinguishable. However, they didn’t pay much attention to consistency. As time went on and new denominations were needed, additional colors were introduced without much thought. I call the result of that policy “Mishmash Machins.” A selection of the Machins issued during the 1970s and early 1980s is shown in the top two rows of the page.
In 1983, designer Jeffery Matthews was asked to develop a new range of colors. The first request was for 15 colors, but soon it was obvious that wouldn’t be enough, and he developed 30. These, along with a few others, are still in use. Matthews developed three more colors in the 1990s and a final one, ruby, that was introduced in 2007. The bottom two rows of stamps show many of his colors. The full set of colors that he developed is shown here.
Even with the small illustration above, you can see the difference. Matthews eliminated the light and the gradated (fading from dark to light) backgrounds. All his colors are deep with a lighter portrait of the Queen.
Considering that Matthews also designed the typeface now used on the series, he has done much to insure the survival of Arnold Machin’s superb design.