Illustrated Machin Decimal Stamp Booklets, postal history.


Pictorial Booklets of Great Britain. Part 3.

with Walter Owen

Booklet number 11 of the Postal History series was issued on September 3rd 1984, in line with the new tariff changes.

The cover illustrations were of "Postage Due" and "To Pay" labels. . (Fig 1)


The booklet cost £1.54 and contained a mixed value pane of 10 Machin definitive stamps, 6 at 17p, two band phosphor (first class) and 4 at 13p, one phosphor band at left on two stamps and at right on two (second class). (Fig 2)


Inside the front cover is a brief history of the labels and inside the back cover is postal rate information effective from September 1984. Printed under the "rates" is :-

"Designed by John Gibbs Printed by Harrison & Sons Limited, July 1984."

The booklet was issued with the binding selvedge to the right and to the left, this copy has the selvedge at the left.

The first Postage Due Labels issued in Britain were designed by G W Eve and released on April 20th 1914. The initial four values, ½d, 1d, 2d and 5d were soon followed by others and the 1914-23 series was eight values. (Fig 3 shows some low values)

Printed by Somerset House and Harrison & Sons they had the sideways Royal Cypher watermark. The 1d value was printed on chalky paper by Waterlow & Sons in 1924.

In 1924 the watermark was changed to Block Cypher and the 1924 series was printed by Waterlow & Sons, and, from 1934, Harrison & Sons. Harrison & Sons were the printers from then on till the end of the Eve design, the last values being printed between 1968 and 1970. During that time the other watermarks used were E8R, GviR, Tudor Crown, St. Edward's Crown and Multiple Crowns. They were always sideways, normally with the Crown pointing to the left, viewed from the front. However, many of the values are known with the Crown pointing to the right and sometimes reversed.

The 1968 — 1970 values were printed on unwatermarked paper.

In the sterling issues, values up to 1/- were inscribed "Postage Due" and values 2/6d upwards were inscribed "To Pay"

The second design, by Jeffery Matthews, was issued in 1970-71 in decimal currency, again printed by Harrison & Sons on unwatermarked paper. They were issued in three variations of paper and gum :-

1) OCP (original coated paper) with PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) gum,

2) FCP (fluorescent coated paper) with PVA gum and

3) FCP with PVAD (polyvinyl alcohol/dextrin) gum.

(Fig 4) shows a block of four of the 1p value of this design.

Two new designs have since been introduced, but they are not shown on stamp booklet covers as yet..

.In 1982 a series designed by Sedley Place Design Limited was released, printed in photo by Harrison & Sons.

The latest series of 9 values, were issued on February 15th 1994. They were also designed by Sedley Place Design Limited but printed by Questa in Litho

A collection of items bearing Postage Due or To Pay labels can be very interesting and lead to a surprising depth of research into Post Office Regulations and Postage Rates to ascertain the reason for the "tax" Just a one country collection such as Great Britain would be very complex but it could be expanded into a World Wide selection. An article such as this, of course, can only scratch the surface of the field but may perhaps awaken an interest in someone.

When Ian Smith made the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in November 1965, Britain and many other countries applied economic sanctions. One of the "offshoots" of this was that Britain did not recognise the Rhodesian UDI stamps as postally valid and any British addressee receiving mail had to pay double the initial postage to get it. Postage due labels affixed to the mail accounted for the revenue collected by the postman.

One of the more common reasons for the use of the labels was the sender forgetting to affix a stamp at all

The following illustrations show other examples:-

Fig 5 — An underpaid postcard bearing a ½d green stamp has a handstamp applied reading

½d "To Pay 162" with a 1d Postage Due stamp cancelled in Cardiff.

Fig 6 — The sender of a postcard from France made the mistake of affixing the stamp to the illustrated side of the card. This was "against regulations" and so received the handstamp "1½d I. S. D." and a 1½d Postage Due label.

Fig 7 — A more modern usage is shown here.

The envelope was posted with Machin decimal stamps to the value of 3½p and the sender used a 5d sterling Machin stamp to make up the postage. However, the sterling stamps were no longer valid for postage so the envelope bears a rubber stamped box in red which reads at the left "To Pay" with a space for the amount payable to be inserted (in this case 6p) and on the right some reasons for the tax. "Liable to second class rate" "Posted Unpaid" "Over ......Ozs." "Non Pop" "Insufficiently Prepaid" The 1p and 5p Matthews design To Pay labels are cancelled with "Melksham Wilts" postmark.

The range of interests within the philatelic framework are huge and looking at my booklets from a different perspective for these "Mix and Match" articles is making me look through the odds and ends accumulated over the years to find the "Match" It also means that instead of looking at only the stamp content of the booklets for writing up, I am also looking much more closely at the covers and the stories behind them.

Whatever next I wonder? Well, that's another cover story.


Stoneham catalogue of British Stamps.

First published in Stamp News September, 2000.
Copyright Ears Leisurewrite.

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next article in this series Mix and Match part 4.