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News Items for Session 2019 - 2020
  • Meeting Presenters
Robert Murray - 'Philatelic Vexillology'

10 October 2019

Annual Competition Winners

Tonight's meeting was an excellently presented and explained display of philatelic vexillology (Flags on Stamps) from Robert Murray of the Robert Murray Stamp Shop in Edinburgh. Robert began his display by posing a question to his audience asking what other uses flags can be used for. Some suggestions were as Warning/Signal flags, Communication, Celebration, Mourning, Protests, Changes of national Status to name a few. he also explained that there are three types of Territorial Flags, National, Supra National and Territory.

As part of his display Robert showed some of the uses flags were put to and followed this up with flags from USA, African, Latin American and European Countries. During this display Robert imparted two facts to the members. He explained that the Brazilian Flag depicts the star positions in the sky at the time the nation of Brazil was born. He then informed everyone that the Venezuala was named from early Spanish/Italian navigators who found villages on stilts over water and named it Little Venice.

In the second part of the display Robert displayed more flags on stamps from Asian and European countries and others from the Scandinavian countries. Robert explained that the scandinavian country flags have the style of a christian cross on its side.

Also on show were stamps from U.S.S.R., Taiwan and the Provinces and Territories of Canada.

In finishing his display Robert highlighted the fact that there are no flags shown on old stamps, and this is simply due to the fact that old stamps were in single colour and it was only when multi-colour printing came along that flags started to appear.

President's Night

26 September 2019

Annual Competition Winners

The President's Display = Part I - 1967-91

David Millar presented his 3rd Presidential Display. This was a comprehensive collection of GB Machins from 1967 to 2019 – a very long run. He stated that the commercial aim of the Post Office was to market stamps and make money. Hence every stamp that was not used postally was a source of profit.

The Machin design was from a plaster cast by Arnold Machin. The £.s.d. stamps included the 4d sepia, liked by the Queen because it resembled the penny black but unfortunately postmarks did not show up well and the colour was soon changed to red.

David showed examples of Machin issues in their various guises, including First Day Covers, Presentation Packs, stamp booklets both machine issued and sold over the counter. These latter had various series of pictures, often changed when the stamps in panes inside changed. To make up the cost of the booklets the panes inside were invariably made up with different se tenant values with an almost infinite number of variations.

Prestige Booklets, first issued in 1972, initially annually, contained several booklet panes, one of which se tenant, initially included one value with a unique phosphor band pattern not used elsewhere in sheet stamps. Initially priced £1, the most recent issues attracted VAT due to EU regulations.

Annual increases in postal rates meant new Machins being issued, usually in March or April with up to seven new values in different colours. David said that between 1980 and 1990 postal rates were increased eight times. Other Machin oddities illustrated by David included High Values in large vertical format including the parcel rates - £1.30, £1.33, £1.41, £1.50, £1.60, Europe and Worldwide rates, Recorded signed for, Special Delivery.

Most of the stamps are rarely seen used apart from on First Day Covers!

In 1971 came decimalisation. Unfortunately the Post Office was on strike on February 15th the date of issue, and the stamps were delayed. The initial decimal high values had previously been issued in June 1970.

The President's Display = Part II - 1992-2019

No value Indicated (N.V.I.) stamps were first issued in 1989 (1st and 2nd class) and self adhesive stamps date from 1993 (horizontal format). There were various colour changes over the years. A new 1st class stamp design was issued for 2000.

Other changes included elliptical perforations to discourage forgers (1993), four die-cut U shaped slits and an overall iridescent ROYAL MAIL overprint (2009) to discourage reuse of uncancelled stamps. Seriously, for self adhesives there was no longer a water-soluble layer of gum between paper and self adhesive so used stamps could no longer be soaked off envelopes!

The final items of David’s magnificent display were examples of the counter-printed self adhesive labels which are now the most convenient way of posting parcels at a post office especially as many don’t seem to stock higher Machin values anyway.

Will the only Machins readily available in the future be the 1st and 2nd class self adhesives from booklets widely obtainable from supermarkets, card shops, W.H.Smith and other newsagents?

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