A seller on eBay recently offered three lots like the one pictured above. They were offered as the coil strip with a “free scarce 25p Machin from the Reader’s Digest coil.” There is nothing dishonest or deceptive about the listing, but I wonder whether it is really possible to offer something for free in an auction like this.
The coil is common, so let’s say it would fetch £2. The 25p single normally sells for about £5, so let’s say it would fetch £4 in the auction. The lot is therefore worth £6. Would I expect to bid £2 and really get the 25p for free? No, I don’t think so.
In an open market like eBay, bidders would consider the value of both the coil and the single when bidding. Another bidder would look at it and figure if the lot as a whole was worth £6, it was worth a bid of at least £4.
I’m not complaining. In fact, I bought two of the three lots, for more than £2 but much less than £6. I actually looked at it more as purchasing the 25p Machin, with the coil strip as an extra bonus. Even though I thought the listings didn’t make sense, I am pleased with my purchases.
Now, about that 25p. The 25p salmon pink was first issued in October, 1993. That was after Royal Mail introduced the elliptical perforations as a security measure. Since 25p was the first-class rate, the stamp was issued in sheet, booklet and vertical coil format. All of these had the standard elliptical perfs.
In early 1996, the stamp was issued as a horizontal coil at the request of Reader’s Digest. I guess they got tired of using four stamps when one would do. Anyway, for a horizontal coil, the stamps are printed sideways. According to the Deegam Handbook, Royal Mail was afraid that the elliptical perforations would have caused the web to break when under tension during the slitting and reeling process. So, no elliptical perforations.
This is the only version of the 25p salmon pink without elliptical perforations. I don’t know that I would call it scarce, as the vendor did, but it does carry a small premium, as I’ve noted above. I would guess that a commercial cover with the stamp on it would be even more valuable.