Displaying items by tag: Queen Elizabeth II

A recent scene in the Netflix series “The Crown” really caught our attention. Those who collect Great Britain stamps will know why we were so excited by the opening for season three of this show! It’s not every day you see something so historic related to stamps on television.

This season opens in 1964 with Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) inspecting the new stamps by Royal Mail bearing her likeness, one of a younger version of herself (played by actress Claire Foy) and one of her at her current age. Despite flattering remarks by her staff, the Queen is nonplussed at the changes of aging.

It’s a short scene, right at the beginning of the first episode of the season. But just what were those stamps? For those who collect Great Britain stamps, they probably looked very familiar.

The Machin Series
The stamps shown were "The Crown's" versions of the Machin series of stamps. First issued on June 5th, 1967, Machins are the main definitive stamp series used in the United Kingdom. Considering the time period of the episode, this scene occurs when Queen Elizabeth was still evaluating designs for the release, which was done via a contest.

The final image chosen was designed by Arnold Machin and depicts his sculpted profile of the Queen along with the denomination of the stamp. Machins have been continuously produced since 1967, which means that the history of this series' production quite literally reflects the recent evolutions of United Kingdom stamp production. These stamps are still used today.

Machin and Penny Black
Those familiar with the history of Great Britain stamps may recognize its similarity to another stamp, the Penny Black (above right). The Penny Black was the first adhesive postage stamp in the world and bears an image of Queen Victoria from the side, the same type of profile used in the Machin series. This stamp was first issued on May 1st, 1840 and, despite only one year of use, is still an important part of British history and culture.

For such a simple-looking stamp, you would think Machins would be a bit of a bore for your collection. However, there are over five thousand varieties of this basic stamp when you take into account changes in color, value, and production techniques.

One basic thing you can look for is whether or not the stamp was printed during the pre-decimalization era, which ended in 1971. Values for everything in both the UK and Ireland changed from the old system of 12 pence to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound to a system of 100 pence to the pound.

The reason there are so many color varieties is that the basic design of the stamps hasn’t changed. Only the colors and denomination have changed in the image since the series started, though different inks, production processes and security features create subtle differences.

Machin varieties
The Machins depicted in this example were issued on March 5, 1969, in the pre-decimalization era. All are available for purchase on StampStore.

There were 14 colors in the initial printing and the number has gone up since then. Many older stamps are still used to send mail, so postal workers have to carefully pay attention to color, as do collectors! In fact, these days automated mail scanners use the color and the regularity of Machin series stamps to efficiently sort the mail.

The Queen Likes It
The government has tried to change the image on at least three separate occasions. However, despite her supposed disdain for the design in "The Crown," the actual Queen Elizabeth has turned down the design change each time. The first suggested change happened in 1981 when another effigy was used for new coinage. The Royal Mail wanted to update the stamps by 1983 for the 30th anniversary of her coronation. The Queen refused, saying she was content with the image.

In 1985, alternative images were finalized but, in accordance with the law, Machin had to approve of the modifications. He was peeved that he wasn’t involved in the process and refused to allow the changes.

Finally, in 1990, another design was proposed to mark the 150th anniversary of the Penny Black stamp. However, the Queen quashed those changes. Since then, the design has stayed.

Did You Attend Our Summer Seminar?
Those of you who are members of the APS and were lucky enough to join the course may remember that our 2019 Summer Seminar on Philately included a popular course about this series of stamps. The two-day course was presented by Steve McGill, an accredited APS philatelic judge.

If you’re a collector with a love of things from the United Kingdom, you could have an excellent time hunting down different varieties of the Machin series stamps. Plus, there are many commemorative stamps issued by Royal Mail that you can order, including a quite lovely series of sketches by Leonardo da Vinci.

If you want to begin collecting Machin stamps, you can see what collectors have to offer by visiting the APS StampStore and choosing "Machins" in the Stamp Type field. Collect some Machin stamps to start your UK stamp collecting journey today!

Source: stamps.org

Published in News
Friday, 24 August 2018 00:00

Queen Elizabeth II rarities

In Jamaica a King George VI £1 definitive – in a design of ‘Tobacco Growing & Cigar Making’ – had been put on sale on August 15, 1949. Then in 1954 the basic design was repeated for a new £1, but incorporating the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Once printed these stamps were placed in storage, and Jamaica continued using the KGVI version. Soon it was decided to issue a completely new QEII definitive, complete with £1 value showing the Arms of Jamaica (issued in August 1956). As collectors might object to two different £1 definitives being issued in quick succession, the QEII Tobacco Growing stamps were incinerated.

A startling invert occurred with the Canada stamp of 1959 to mark the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The central part of the design, featuring the Maple Leaf and American Eagle, was found inverted – worth recording even though this stamp does not include the Royal portrait.

But the best error is the Falkland Islands 1964 Battle of the Falkland Islands 6d value which should feature HMS Kent, but a sheet in error was printed with the design of the 2 1/2d value, HMS Glasgow. The sheet was sent to a new issue dealer in the USA, who didn’t notice the error and distributed the stamps as normals.

In 1976 Royal Mail issued four stamps for the centenary of the Royal National Rose Society. On one position on the cylinder of the highest value, the denomination of 13p was omitted. This was noticed, and corrected, with the intention that all examples of the error had been removed, but clearly not all were.

Volcano relief issue
In 1961 a volcano erupted on Tristan da Cunha, and the inhabitants had to flee. The Governor of St. Helena, on which stocks of Tristan stamps were held, decided to overprint and surcharge four values, to go towards a Tristan Relief Fund. With endearing naivety, the Governor sent a postcard to Reginald Maudling, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, on which he affixed three of the stamps (not the 3d + 21/2 cents), posted on the day of issue, October 12, 1961.

The overprinting was inspired by the fact that a ship had called at St. Helena, and the ‘relief’ stamps could be sold to the passengers. However, the Colonial Office was not happy that prior permission had not been sought to produce the stamps, and instructed the Governor to withdraw and destroy them. The Colonial Office later relented, but the remaining stocks had been destroyed, with just 434 complete sets sold.

Local objections
A set of three was required by Jamaica in 1968 to mark Human Rights Year, and designs were prepared by Jennifer Toombs. The designs went through the usual approval procedures, which included the Jamaican postal administration, but it was not until the printed stamps reached the island that objections were raised locally about the stark nature of the black and white hands on designs. After several weeks’ debate, it was decided not to release the Toombs’ designs, but for new designs to be prepared locally withy brown hands. Samples of the original designs had already been distributed to philatelic journalists, and weren’t recalled, so the unissued stamps can be found.

Also in 1968 Ceylon was to release two stamps for the Golden Jubilee of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress. There were objections to the proposed 50c stamp showing a footprint, so, the day before intended release, it was withdrawn. Some examples of the stamp were, however, sold by rural post offices.

In 1956 Swaziland issued a new pictorial definitive, with the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, in values for postage/revenue up to £1. However, the set also included a £5 revenue stamp in the design that had been used for the King George V and King George VI definitives. The Crown Agents Archives reveal that 12,000 of the stamps were printed: remaining stocks were surcharged on the introduction of decimal currency in 1961. But no examples have been seen, except for one stamp perforated Specimen from the Bradbury Wilkinson archives, and one mint example, now in the British Library in London.

Source: My Stamp World

Published in Rarest stamps
Saturday, 18 August 2018 00:00

Fastest stamp design

The 75th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2001 provided Gibraltar with the idea of producing the world’s fastest stamp design. In fact, from design to delivery, the celebratory miniature sheet for the monarch’s landmark birthday took just 10 hours and 24 minutes.

At 8am on April 23, 2001 Nigel Fordham, Head of the famous Crown Agents Stamp Bureau, collected artwork from Buckingham Palace for a £2 stamp from Gibraltar to mark the 75th birthday. The portrait was The Queen’s own choice – a personal favourite taken at Buckingham Palace by the Press Association Royal photographer Fiona Hanson.

The artwork was rushed by Fordham to the PA News Centre in central London, and by 8.15am was being transmitted to the House of Questa stamp printers, in Surrey. By noon that day the stamps were ready for despatch, and the first 5,000 were taken by motorbike to Gatwick Airport, for the 2.25pm flight to Gibraltar.

On board was Nigel Fordham, but also the TV and Monty Python personality Michael Palin, who commented: ‘She chose quite a smiley one rather than an austere, severe picture – I think that speaks volumes’.

The flight touched down on Gibraltar at 6.24pm so the record was broken in just 10 hours and 24 minutes. Nigel Fordham explained: ‘We were not monkeying around. This was a serious world record which turned out to be a lot of fun’. The stamps went on sale at one minute past midnight local time, with huge queues formed to buy the record-breaking stamps.

Published in Records