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Collect British Machin Definitive Stamps

Arnold Machin designed GB definitive postage stamps The current GB definitive postage stamps featuring the sculpted profile of Queen Elizabeth II were designed by Arnold Machin. The Machin definitive stamps have been in use since the first issue of June 5th 1967 when the UK was still using pre-decimal currency.

Like the Wilding issues used during the earlier part of the Queens reign, the Machin series of stamps maintained the tradition of using the reigning monarch portrait instead of naming the country. The United Kingdom, having been the first nation to officially issue postage stamps, is exempt by the Universal Postal Union from having to print the country name on postage stamps and an effigy of the reigning monarch is considered the sole national mark.

After more than four decades of use, the Machin stamp series has seen many changes in British postage stamp printing methods. The machin issues are now so diverse and complex in terms of design, values, printers, booklet combinations, perforations, gum, phosphor coatings and size formats that many philatelists and stamp collectors now solely focus on the Machin stamps as their specialisation.
In 1989, as fast-changing postage rates became an increasing problem, the use of "non-value indicator" (NVI) Machin stamps began where the postage class was specified using "1st" or "2nd" rather than the currency value.

It was not until 1990 that the first commemorative adaptation of the Machin design was used alongside the classic profile of Queen Victoria to mark the 150th anniversary of British postage stamps.

It has been proposed on more than one occasion that the Machin design be replaced. Perhaps the strongest case was made in the early 1980s following the adoption of the Raphael Maklouf effigy design to appear on new UK coinage. It was reported that a proposal was put forward to replace the Machin design as a way of marking the 30th anniversary of the Coronation in 1983. The Queen reportedly agreed to the idea although a letter sent on her behalf at the time suggests she was in fact very reluctant to see a new design adopted. The letter apparently said; "Her Majesty is very content with the Machin effigy and thinks that a work of real quality is required if this is to be replaced."

So it would seem that, in more than a quarter of a century since that letter was written, the Queen has yet to see a work of real quality worthy of replacing the Arnold Machin iconic design. No doubt many British philatelists and stamp collectors agree.

New GB postage stamps still influenced by Arnold Machin

Arnold Machin Centenary Stamps

Years after his passing in 1999, Arnold Machin is still making a huge impact on British stamp design. Perhaps the most interesting use of his iconic Queen's head design is on the latest Post and Go stamps which many collectors believe will prove to be the start of a new generation of postage stamps where services and values are overprinted at the point of sale on pre-printed stamp designs.

It therefore seems fitting that the centenary of Arnold Machin's birth was the subject of Britain's first ever commemorative Post & Go stamps.

Printing The London 2012 Olympics Definitive Stamps

Squared Circle Postmarks

Did You Know?

Did you know:  The branch of philately called "postal history" focuses on the actual use made of postage stamps on mail. Postal History includes the study of postmarks, actual post offices, the postal authorities, various postage rates and regulations and the physical processes used to transport mail to recipients. Many postal historians will specialise in areas such as maritime mail and paquebot covers, wartime mail, railway mail or even the postal markings associated with a particular town.

Recent British Stamps & Philately Articles

Postmark Tribute to Rosie Hargreaves for Winning Stamp Design
Following on from the 24 slogan postmarks used for a day in the last month or so to congratulate the finalists in the Christmas Stamp Design Competition and last week's tribute postmark to Horsham's winner, Molly Robson , this week Devon's Rosie Hargreaves has her win recognised by another short duration slogan postmark courtesy of Royal Mail. [...]

London 2015 Europhilex
During the 175th anniversary year of the first postage stamp London will be hosting this international stamp exhibition at the Business Design Centre in Islington from 13th to 16th May 2015. [...]

The Fascinating Local Stamps of Herm in The Channel Islands
The island of Herm in the Channel Islands has a postal history stretching back to May 1st 1925 when the GPO established a sub post office on the island. Although the sub post office only opened for thirty minutes a day it was eventually considered unsustainable on cost grounds and the decision was taken to close it permanently on November 30th 1938. Examples of the datestamp used at the Herm Sub-Post Office are now a postmark rarity and worth looking out for. But this was just the start of the story for the philately of Herm... [...]

GB Inland Postage Rates 1840 to 1952
When viewing old covers it isn't always obvious why a combination of stamps was used until you see the postage rates and weight bands applicable at the time of use. Here's a simplified check list of Great Britain's inland postage rates from the introduction of the postage stamp in 1840 to the accession of Queen Elizabeth II. [...]

Measuring British Stamp Perforations
The introduction of perforations to assist the seperation of stamps printed in sheets dates back to the line engraved period where, following the Archer experiments begun in 1848, a penny red-brown perf 16 was issued as an official Goverment trial in 1853. [...]

The Post Office in Pictures Exhibition
The Post Office in Pictures is an exhibition of photographic images taken from The Royal Mail Archive which will run until 5th November 2011. Venue for the free to enter exhibition is The Post Modern in Swindon. [...]

Is Royal Mail Producing Too Many Stamps?
The recent news that a special Royal Mail commemorative stamp will be issued for every British Gold Medal winner at the 2012 Olympic Games in London has fueled the flames of an old chestnut among GB stamp collectors: Are there simply too many stamps being issued for collectors to cope with or afford? [...]

Travelling Post Offices TPO Online Exhibition
The British Postal Museum and Archive has launched a new online exhibition about Travelling Post Offices (TPO) which were railway carriages adapted for postal workers to sort mail while moving. [...]

Isle of Man Post Office Scoops Best Stamp Award in China
The Beijing Olympics miniature stamp sheet issued by the Isle of Man has bagged a top award from the Best Foreign Stamp poll in China. [...]

Philatelic Publications: Railways of West Wales by Chris Whitehead
A well illustrated philatelic history covering the period of 1854 to 1958 and includes postmarks, photos and the railway letter stamps with particular reference to the Llandyssil railway post office. [...]

Specialisation Categories of British Stamps
GB Stamps can be initially categorised in two main groupings. The first is collectively called 'Commemorative Issues' and the second 'Definitive Issues' but then there are several specialisation sub-categories to consider. [...]

Edward VII GB Stamps 1902-1913

The stamps from the reign of Edward VII are an ever popular period for British stamp collectors and philatelists. Although only 19 basic stamps were issued during this period, the employment of three different printers means a huge array of variations exist relating to the paper, perforations and shades of printing ink. This explains why the Edward VII era is the subject of many specialised GB stamp collections.

Take a look at the live online Edward VII stamp auctions ending soon.

British Stamp & Philately Sites From Our Directory

Global Philately
Philatelic blog for all things philatelic, with a focus on the classics of the British Empire and Commonwealth

British Post & Go Stamps
Trace where any GB Post and Go stamp was issued from.

UK Aerophilately website for airmails, first flights, Concorde covers and many other flown covers etc.

Index of GB Machin Definitive Issues at Wikipedia
A simplified listing of the iconic Arnold Machin designed definitive issues in use in Britain since 1967.

Machin Forum
The place to discuss the definitive stamp. Internet forum focused on the iconic QEII Definitive stamps featuring Arnold Machin's portrait of the Queen.

Footyphila Plus
Sports philately with an emphasis on football (soccer).

Stampex Website
The Competitions at Stampex are held under the auspices of the Association of British Philatelic Societies.

AK Philately
Adrian runs this interesting blog on all things philatelic from around the world.

The Whitehaven to Huddersfield TPO
Derwent Railway Society web page about West Cumberland's last Travelling Post Office (TPO)

GB First Day Covers
Search among thousands of British First Day Covers at

Centenary of the First UK Aerial Post

First UK Aerial Post Centenary

We wrote some time ago about the first UK Aerial Post in 1911 and how the centenary of the event was approaching. As expected the Royal Mail marked the centenary on 9th September 2011 with a special stamp issue featuring photos of the event and a miniature sheet shown above which is styled on the publicity posters which were used to advertise the original event.

Nottingham philatelic postmark The featured GB philatelic postmark for Thursday Jul 19 2018 is from Nottingham.

Collectors can get this special postmark applied by sending the stamped (minimum 1st Class rate) addressed envelope(s) to:

Midland Special Handstamp Centre
Royal Mail
Birmingham Mail centre
St Stephens Street

You can ask for any date (including public holidays) to be applied to your covers provided you send them to arrive on or before that date. It is advised you send a suitable return envelope also if you want the covers sent back protected rather than individually through the regular mail service.
We feature a different UK philatelic postmark every day so check back again

GB Stamp Set Creates an A-Z of the UK

The Royal Mail has now finished what they announced as "a dramatic 26-stamp, alphabetical odyssey around the UK" featuring stamps showing iconic landmarks from across all four countries that make up the UK.

In 2012 Royal Mail completed the series with 14 stamps featuring places like "Station X" at Bletchley Park and the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle. The journey had actually begun when the UK A-Z Part One was issued back in October 2011. This comprised of twelve 1st Class stamps showing landmarks from A to L. The stamps took a fresh look at some of the UK’s most famous sights, ancient to modern and from spiritual to spectacular. Learn more about these stamps

GB Stamp Collecting & British Philatelic Publication News

The British Postmark Bulletin is published usually every two weeks or so by the Royal Mail. The Postmark Bulletin contains interesting articles related to postmarks together with details of current and future postmarks and how collectors can obtain them. Available by subscription from the Royal Mail Website at a current cost of £12.25 in the UK and Europe or £24.95 for subscribers outside Europe.

Discover Philately

Royal Mail Copyright & Intellectual Property: Please note that most Royal Mail stamp designs and postmarks are the intellectual property of the Royal Mail. has permission to display images of Royal Mail stamps and postmarks on this website. We cannot give permission to other parties to use Roayal Mail's IP and any such enquiries should be made via Royal Mail Intellectual Property.