Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Wednesday Came ... Bathed in Amethyst Purple

The announcement of Long To Reign Over Us did come on Wednesday, September 9. As usual, Ian Billings has the details on his blog. Of interest in his post are some of the comments that indicate that distribution of the new issue on announcement day was very spotty.

I like the Machin's purple color, purple being commonly associated with royalty (also magic, mystery and piety according to Wikipedia). Also, for Royal Mail this issue is somewhat restrained, much like the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. (For contrast, see Star Wars.)

It's unfortunate that the souvenir sheet is a bit pricey by having two £1.52 stamps, rather than all first-class values as with the Diamond Jubilee miniature sheet. I don't know whether Royal Mail has indications that the public wants airmail values in the souvenir sheet or whether they are covering the cost of the surprising but welcome intaglio printing of the commemoratives.

These two stamps were apparently originally going to have £1.33 values (for 20g letters worldwide), as illustrated in the September British Philatelic Bulletin. Above are the £1.33 images from page 12. On page 13, the text is correct in referring to two £1.52 values (for 100g letters to Europe), but it then references the incorrect illustration. There's a correct illustration on the top of page 13, but the cover pictures the incorrect values.

I'm not faulting the Bulletin on this. I suspect they were given information in bits and pieces, and some of it became outdated quickly. They were no doubt in a rush to produce the issue. The timing was unfortunate. If the stamps had been issued on September 1, there would have been more time to clean things up in the magazine. If the stamps had been issued on September 15, they could have waited until the October issue. As it is, they no doubt felt obligated to publish the information in the September issue, which would normally arrive in early September.

We'll see what the Bulletin says when it explains the discrepancy next month, assuming they do so. 

There is what I consider a glitch in the Machins having to do with the source code in the iridescent overprint. Royal Mail chose to replace the last letter in REIGN with the source code, so for example a stamp from the booklet of six would have REIGS. However, the location that someone chose is just to the right of the bottom of the Queen's hair under the word TO, and only the last two letters of the word appear. Unfortunately, they appear right under the security slit, making the source code very hard to see.

In the modified photo above I show the source codes 'GC' on the left and 'GS' on the right. (Click on the image for a larger version.) It's very hard to tell them apart. Since Royal Mail claimed that the source code was introduced to let them know the source of a stamp when problems occur, this location makes that very difficult. And if the real reason for the source code was to make counterfeiting a little more difficult, again, this location negates that effort. 

And finally, I'd just like to remind our readers that I coined a name for stamps such as this new Machin: defino-memoratives. That's because the Machin becomes the first-class definitive and is issued in popular formats, but it commemorates an event and is available for a stated, limited amount of time.

We now have enough defino-memoratives to form a small collection: the double-header Penny Black anniversary issue of 1990, the millennium Machin of 2000, the diamond jubilee Machin of 2012, and now the LTR Machin.

Speaking of the double-headers, I found it interesting that on the back of the presentation pack for the Long To Reign Over Us miniature sheet is the combined Victoria-Elizabeth portrait designed by Jeffery Matthews and used on the Penny Black Anniversary stamps. It is shown here along with the 29p stamp from the series, which was a darker, redder purple. 


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