By John M Deering
John Deering takes us to a galaxy far, far away to look over the recent Star Wars retail booklets, shows us the latest Machins to appear with the M17L date code and follows the Royal Navy Submarine Museum’s maiden voyage into the sometimes choppy waters of Post & Go inscriptions.
Hello and welcome to this December 2017 edition of ‘Machin Watch’. Whilst recently there have been some surprisingly summerlike days, in reality the summer is now becoming a faded memory: the dark evenings are upon us, the clocks have just gone back, and I am already dreaming of spring!
Although I was writing this towards the end of October, it is more than likely that you will be reading it towards the middle or end of November, by which time this year’s Christmas stamps will have been issued. It’s become tradition for me to touch upon the Christmas issue here in ‘Machin Watch’ simply because of the booklets, which, even when they don’t contain Machin stamps, are widely collected by Machin enthusiasts and followers of this column. After all, in 1978, when Christmas booklets were first introduced, they only contained Machins. I’ll be back to this year’s issue with more detail next time, but for now I’ll give you a bit of an overview, especially as things for the 2017 issue (released on 7 November) are rather different.
Essentially, there are two Christmas issues running side-by-side, and together they account for 12 (yes, 12) stamps! In 2016 the issue was secular, and owing to Royal Mail’s policy of alternating secular and religious issues it was expected that the 2017 stamps would have a religious theme, which they do. What wasn’t anticipated was that there would also be a four-stamp secular issue running alongside. The primary issue for 2017 is of eight stamps featuring depictions of the Madonna and Child (2nd, 1st, 2nd Large, 1st Large, £1.17, £1.40, £1.57 and £2.27). In addition to this are four secular stamps (2nd, 1st, 2nd Large and 1st Large) featuring the two winning designs from the 2017 children’s Christmas stamp design competition (which attracted over 200,000 entries – wow!). The two secular designs are Snow Family, depicting a snowman, snowwoman and two snow children (which is rather fun), and Santa, which shows Father Christmas in his sleigh.
What is truly unusual this year is that there are four booklets released as part of the issue. As we might expect, there are 12×2nd and 12×1st featuring the Madonna and Child stamps; however, there are also 12×2nd and 12×1st booklets that combine the religious and the secular designs together. As a taster, here are some preliminary pictures of the 12×1st booklet which contains six Madonna and Child stamps along with six Children’s stamps.
This month, I am further updating you with M17L Security Machins, of which I have several more to report. As you might expect, there is further to report on Post & Go, with Poppies making a return to the Armed Forces and Postal museums… and to post offices.
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