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Collecting GB Machin 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:  Thematic philately, also referred to as topical philately, is the study of the pictures and subjects depicted on postage stamps. There are numerous very popular subjects including birds, football, insects, flowers etc. As with other forms of philately stamps displaying design errors are much in demand. While thematic stamp collecting has been more popular in the US and Europe, it is now gathering pace in the UK and GB stamps already cover many of the most popular topics.

Recent British Stamps & Philately Articles

Collectables as Tangible Investments
People invest in tangible assets - or hard assets if you prefer - because they expect them to prove relatively stable in value compared to, say, commonly traded currencies and securities. Whenever the world economy gets the jitters, many shrewd investors get in to tangibles to use as a safe haven during an economic storm. [...]

Royal Mail Rethink GB Stamp Issue Programme
The number of new issues and increasing range of stamp formats has long been a cause for complaint among GB stamp collectors and dealers so Royal Mail, acknowledging feedback from customers, have announced a delay to one new issue planned for 2012 and made a commitment to reduce the number of new issues going forward. [...]

BPMA Announce New Home Plans for The British Postal Museum & Archive
Plans for a new home for The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) were announced today by the BPMA, Royal Mail Group and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. [...]

Limited Edition Postcard Commemorating Centenary of First UK Aerial Post
To commemorate the centenary of the United Kingdom's first Aerial Post on the September 9th 2011, the British Postal Museum and Archive (BPMA) have published a large, A5 size, postcard depicting the original 1911 Aerial Post poster. [...]

British Postal Museum and Archive Look Set For Move
In a recent press release the British Postal Museum and Archive (BPMA) confirmed that it is in the running for more than £2.5 Million funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to establish a new, accessible and permanent home for the extensive collection of the former National Postal Museum which, sadly, is currently in storage on not generally viewable. [...]

Philatelist UK Domain Name Available
A readers email late last night alerted us to a fantastic single word internet domain name that is available to register at a very affordable price. [...]

Great Britain Classic Locomotives Stamp Issue of 2004
Railway trains are an ever popular thematic stamp subject worldwide and this superb Royal Mail issue of six postage stamps featured some of the UK's finest preserved steam locomotive trains based on photographs by John Wildgoose has proved no exception. [...]

UK Postage Stamp Prices To Increase in April
The cost of first and second class Royal Mail postage stamps will go up by 2p for each service to 41p and 32p respectively with effect from 6th April 2010. [...]

British Parliamentary Post Office Postal History & First Day Covers
Many British FDCs and commercial covers bearing the postmarks of the House of Commons or House of Lords can command premium valuations from philatelic dealers and collectors alike. [...]

Prussian Blue Sells for £7,750 on eBay
A rare 1935 King George V Silver Jubilee printed in error using Prussian Blue ink has sold for £7,750 on eBay's UK Website. The stamp was sold with a BPA Certificate. [...]

Identification Checklist For GB King George V Seahorse Stamps
The four printings of the King George 5th 'Seahorse' High Value stamps can prove difficult for collectors to properly identify so here we provide a handy checklist of the characteristics for each printing and stamp value. [...]

An Amazing Philately Era: The GB Stamps of King George V
It was more than a year after King Edward VII died that the first stamps bearing a portrait of King George V were released on the same day as his Coronation. There has to be something of interest to virtually any philatelist from the era of George V. Shades, varieties, watermarks, perforations, diverse printers and errors all combine to make this one of the most fascinating periods ever for British postage stamps. [...]

GB Official Postage Stamps 1882 - 1904
During the reign of Queen Victoria, and the early part of the Edward VII era, GB postage stamps were overprinted for use by  Government Departments and bodies like the Royal Household. These have become collectively known as Official Stamps although the first "official" was produced but not issued as early as 1840. [...]

A Brief Guide to the GB Edward VII Stamp Issues
Despite the relatively short reign of King Edward VII - stamps bearing his portrait were only issued between 1902 and 1913 - his stamps continue to be a very popular era for British stamp collectors and investors. [...]

Will UK Stamp Dealers Ever Compete With eBay?
As eBay celebrate their 10 years in the UK it seems few stamp dealers have managed to seriously compete with the auction giant to attract collectors and generate volume sales online. So why isn't there a better online sales platform for stamp dealers? [...]

Post Boxes Miniature Sheet Issue Date 18 August 2009
Post Boxes have been in use in Great Britain for over 200 years and, according to this forthcoming Royal Mail miniature sheet, the earliest known posting 'slot' was installed in Wakefield in 1809. [...]

Queen Victoria Line Engraved GB Stamps 1840-1879

The earliest postage stamps issued in Great Britain used the Line Engraved printing process. Large print plates were engraved by skilled engravers. The printing process meant ink was applied on the plate with the excess wiped off before a paper sheet was pressed on to it so that impressions of the recessed, inked parts of the plate were transferred on to the paper.

For the line engraved stamps without plate numbers incorporated in to their designs it is only possible to distinguish between print plates used by studying the detailed variations of engraving, designs, repairs made and the alphabets used for corner lettering etc. This skilled aspect of philately has been made much easier for us today becuase of the many fine specialist reference books and catalogues published since victorian times.

Good quality Line Engraved stamps are always in demand. Take a look at the live online auctions for Line Engraved stamps ending shortly.

British Stamp & Philately Sites From Our Directory

Elite Stamps
US based online stamp auctions website that aims to highlight the cream of rare stamps and philatelic auctions from around the world.

Tractors on Stamps and Philatelic Covers
A page dedicated to collectors of farm tractors on stamps and covers.

Royal Mail Stamps Featuring Living People
Interesting article PDF file by Peter Jennings highlighting the current shambles of this once rigid Royal Mail policy.

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.

Positively Postal
I am so passionate about the postal system that I set up the website Positively Postal...

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.

Collect Indian Stamps
Every Indian Stamp has a story to narrate.The rich cultural heritage of India is brought alive through stamps.Stamp collect is no more just a hobby it's an educational avocation.This dedicated site on indian philately will keep you up to date with latest

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.

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.

Cardiff philatelic postmark The featured GB philatelic postmark for Sunday May 28 2017 is from Cardiff.

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

Wales & The West Special Handstamp Centre
Royal Mail
220-228 Penarth Road

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

Recent GB Commemorative Stamp Issue

Royal Navy Uniforms GB Stamp Set issued 17th September 2009

This set of stamps depicts the traditions and development of Royal Navy Uniforms over more than two centuries. Issue date: 17th September 2009. Find out more at the Royal Mail website.

January 2010: British Design Classics: Classic Album Covers....

GB Stamp Collecting & British Philatelic Publication News

The Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise Catalogue offers comprehensive details and prices for every British stamp issued since 1840. The stamp designs are illustrated in colour and catalogue listings include detailed watermark information, perforation details, colour shades, paper types (including phosphor bands) etc.

The catalogue also lists and prices First Day Covers (FDC), PHQ Postcards, official presentation packs, stamp booklets, postage due stamps, regional stamp issues, official stamps, postally valid fiscal stamps and the Royal Mail labels (Smilers). Order from Stanley Gibbons or see if one is available cheaper by online auction.

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.