Sunday, 19 February 2012

Mishmash Machins

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.



Adrian said...

Mmhh, the more I think about it, the more I believe that the colour palette may not have been such a great development after all. It has been in use for so long now that all the colours become incredibly repetitive (with the odd exception such as diamond blue of course). The stamps become samey, and I for one pine for a lovely C or D head!

glyjo said...

I'm all for consistency, away from the time when dealers can describe a stamp as a bright dull shade or a light bright shade or even a shade of lightish dull bright with a font that has a tendancy to look like Trebuchet MS is good light.

GBStamps said...

To Adrian - a little more variety would be nice, but probably not practical given the cost of developing and implementing new colors. They have done some for special occasions - like ruby in 2007 - or for special purposes, like the recent special delivery stamps.

To glyjo - Sadly, the printers' color control is not as tight as we'd like it to be. There are still plenty of shades for dealers to offer, some obviously different, some less so.


Anonymous said...

What is the value on the stamp after the 35p (olive)?

It comes out unclear in my computer.

GBStamps said...

The 35p is lime green. After that is the 7p shocking pink. Color reproduction may not be accurate because I just did a quick scan of the page.