Think Before You Pay High Prices for M001 RAF Northolt Post and Go Stamps
These M001 Post & Go stamps are only availabe from the one machine located on a military base in London that is not easily accessed by members of the public. So it is understandable that listings on eBay have proved popular with collectors and profitable for sellers able to access the machine.
I am not opposed to people making fair profits and, in my view, providing access to collectors all over the UK - or even the world - justifies a premium over and above the issue price in this instance. How much that premium should be is a matter for willing buyers to determine via the demand they create by their bids and purchases within a fair marketplace. However, I don't feel comfortable with what I've been seeing with recent listings of the blue 2nd class Machin issues.
I would urge anyone who properly understands eBay and how to research listings, users, completed sales etc. to view the current and completed listings of the BFPO M001 stamps. I suggest they note seller IDs, check the percentage of bids placed by various bidders with certain sellers, make notes of the session numbers and receipt dates (where they haven't been deliberately disguised) and look for patterns that might raise questions.
I don't accuse anyone of anything and, in fact, many listngs give me no cause for concern at all. All I can do is suggest readers do a little digging and form their own opinions as eBay is the only party that can properly investigate the reality of what is or isn't happening.
In the meantime I will point out what I see as the reality about current M001 issues. As I write, I understand machine M001 is loaded with 2nd Class (blue) machin labels and Union Flag labels for other values. Despite this, eBay listings claiming 2nd class values are extremely rare seem to be doing well and it appears people are accepting the claim that something which is still being issued by the machine is, in some way, unusually rare. Personally, I'd be unwilling to make such a claim until further production of a stamp was impossible.
So, personally, rather than pay very heavy premiums for stamps that can be issued from M001 again tomorrow, I would be more inclined to try and obtain the original 1st class machin labels (brown) which made way for the 2nd class labels. Tracking M001 session numbers since installation at Northolt reveals there are, in philatelic terms, surprisingly few examples of these original brown machin stamps in circulation and they cannot be issued again unless the Union Flag or 2nd Class labels are removed. This is still possible, so while I see far more justification to pay a bigger premium now for the original M001 1st class machins compared to the 2nd class, I still wouldn't be paying silly prices until further production is impossible.
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