Collect British Stamps

British Machin Stamp Anniversary of the Penny Black Machin 1st class large British Stamp GB Worldwide up to 40g Machin Stamp

Special offers on new & used copies of: Collecting British Squared Circle Postmarks

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

September Stamp Fairs Around Britain
The start of September sees a host of stamp fairs taking place around Britain to tempt collectors away from their sun loungers. Here's the details of some of them that we've been advised about. [...]

The Popularity of Signed Philatelic Covers
During recent years it appears many collectors have lost interest in the traditional First Day Cover like those issued by Royal Mail and switched their attention to the more limited productions of special event and anniversary covers - especially celebrity signed covers. I first noticed this change during the rush for Concorde memorabilia when the iconic aircraft retired back in 2003. The demand for Concorde covers signed by pilots at that time was astounding - particularly covers signed by the main test pilots. Since then I have seen many celebrity signed, limited edition covers covering a wide range of events sell out quickly while sales of the more traditional - some may say run of the mill - first day covers often seem to struggle. [...]

Guernsey Post Issue Prince William 30th Birthday Stamps
Prince William celebrates his 30th Birthday on June 21st this year and, on 8th May, Guernsey Post issued a set of six stamps to mark the milestone. [...]

Royal Mail Remembrance Poppy Stamps Flower Again
Royal Mail will again be selling the rememberance poppy stamps - produced in a se-tenant strip of three - from Post Offices from 31st October this year. [...]

What is a Cinderella Stamp?
In the philatelic world a cinderella stamp is usually defined as something which resembles a normal postage stamp that was not issued for official purposes by an official postal administration. As they are best defined by what they DO NOT represent, cinderella stamps can be broken up in to many specific sub-types of collectable label including poster stamps, propaganda labels, commemorative stickers, stamps issued by unrecognised nations and/or governments, court stamps, charity labels, Christmas seals, telegraph stamps, railway stamps, local stamps etc. [...]

75th Anniversary of Night Mail Film
The widely acclaimed 1936 short movie "Night Mail" - produced by the GPO Film Unit - has been featured on our home page for some time now at and, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the classic collaboration between poet W H Auden and composer Benjamin Britten, the British Postal Museum and Archive (BPMA) have annouced an event that will include a public screening. [...]

Is Postal History Philately?
A simple question on the face of it but many enthusiasts would answer this question differently. Personally I see postal historians as philatelists with a speciality interest in the actual usage of postage stamps. They focus attention on the charges levied, the rules of carriage and understanding the postal markings which can evidence the rates, services and historical changes to the mail over time. [...]

Latest GB Kings and Queens Commemorative Stamps Feature The House of Hanover
Royal Mail’s Kings and Queens commemorative stamp series charting Britain's Royal Houses reaches the twentieth century with the House of Hanover in a new set of commemorative Stamps issued 15th September 2011. [...]

Unique British IR OFFICIAL Overprint Used In Boer War to Auction
The next Stanley Gibbons bi-annual public auction will take place on Wednesday June 15th at 399 Strand, London, when a selection of world rarities will come under the hammer including a unique British IR Official used on cover. [...]

Gibbons Stamp Monthly Gets an Autumn Makeover
The best-selling and most widely-read philatelic publication, Gibbons Stamp Monthly, is sporting a new look for the September 2010 edition including a striking new cover design and new page layout. [...]

Birds on First Royal Mail Pictorial Post and Go Stamps
Popular garden birds will feature on the new Post & Go pictorial stamps to be made available on September 17th in a small number of Post Office branches and the Edinburgh Philatelic Bureau. Post & Go stamps will be the first of a Birds of Britain series of pictorial stamps planned for issue by self-service Post & Go terminals. [...]

RMS Titanic Special Postmark Available from Royal Mail
Just before midnight on April 14th 1912, just four days in to the ill fated ship's maiden voyage, Titanic hit an iceberg causing her to sink some two hours and forty minutes later during the early hours of April 15th 1912. As the centenary of the sinking approaches we can expect many stamps and covers to be issued commemorating the event. [...]

Daily Telegraph Reports GB Stamp Collecting Popularity Surge
London based broadsheet newspaper, The Daily Telepgraph, reports that stamp collecting is enjoying an unpredicted but huge surge in popularity with dealers reporting a sharp increase in sales. [...]

Rare, Specialised & Out of Print GB Stamp & Philatelic Publications
Any serious GB philatelist knows just how difficult and expensive it can be to find out of print books, catalogues and essays to help research specific GB stamps or focused areas of British postal history and postmarks. [...]

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. [...]

The Classic GPO Film Unit's Night Mail Video
The General Post Office (GPO) Film Unit was disbanded 70 years ago and, by way of a tribute, we have placed the video of Night Mail to view on our home page. [...]

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

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...

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).

Great Britain section of the Stamp Collecting Blog
Extensive philatelic blog. This directory entry leads to the GB section.

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)

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.

Guildford philatelic postmark The featured GB philatelic postmark for Thursday Oct 08 2015 is from Guildford.

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

London Special Handstamp Centre
Royal Mail
Mount Pleasant
Farringdon 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.

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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.