10p Vending Machine Booklets.

Great Britain

10p Vending Machine Booklets.

by Ron Shanahan


The first G.B. decimal stamp books to be issued had pictorial illustrations on the front cover and the machine vended 10p book was included in the range for the first time. Background notes on the illustrations were another innovation, these being printed inside the front covers. The designs were different for each series of book and were issued in sets which took the initial programme to 1973.

10p books - A set of 6 designs (later extended to 10) by Ronald Maddox, showing British pillar Boxes.

Booklet, detail click here


With one exception, decimal stamp books so far issued were made entirely by Harrison and Sons, Ltd., of High Wycombe, who have had the contract for British photogravure definitive stamps since 1934. This exception was the £1 Wedgwood book, the covers and interleaves for which were printed by Sir Joseph Causton Ltd Eastleigh, England, the stamp printing and the collation of the books being carried out by Harrison and Sons Ltd. The stamps, phosphor lines and labels are printed by photogravure (photo).


The numbers required of any particular edition are decided by the Post Office Corporation, who instruct the printers by means of a warrant. As in all security printing, strict control is exercised, but having regard to the very large quantities involved it is inevitable that some work is defective. The majority is detected and destroyed so that the number of "good books delivered" to the Post Office may be less than the number printed. Books sent to Post Offices on requisition, remain there until sold (unless a change in rates makes them obsolete). Those sent to the Philatelic Bureau and Philatelic Counters, on the other hand, should not remain on sale more than twelve months from the end of the month of the edition date. Any unsold stocks at the date of withdrawal are sent back to the Supplies Division, where they are destroyed. Since the number of books sent for Philatelic sale is only quite a small percentage of those printed, and the number destroyed is minimal, the Post Office compiles only one set of figures, that is, good books received from the printers.

Number 1 in the series was issued on February 15th, 1971. The front cover illustration was of the Earliest London type, 1855 and the whole design was 48mm high (setting 1). Each illustration was to be used on two different issue dates and this was on the February 1971 and the April 1971 booklets. The booklet contained two panes of four stamps - 2 x 2p se-tenant vertically with 2 x ½p (fig 2) and 2 x 1p se-tenant vertically with 2 x 1½p (fig 3). All stamps had 2 phosphor bands and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) gum. They were printed on Original Coated Paper (OCP)
Number printed 2,215,250.


Fig 2     Fig 3

Interleaves showed postage rates and also advertisements for Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada. The April 1971 edition showed the same cover design and contents. However, due to printing difficulties, the height of the cover design was reduced to 44mm (setting 2).
Numbers printed 2,413,320.

British Pillar Boxes No. 1.
The cover drawing shows the earliest type of pillar box to appear on the streets of London - sometime in 1855. This one, the first in use, was sited in Fleet Street. The boxes, dark green in colour and about five feet high, were not popular among Londoners who disliked them on both practical and aesthetic grounds. They were replaced within two years by highly ornamental cylindrical boxes.

Illustrated below is a pane from the February 1971 issue showing misplaced phospor on the 2p/½p pane. A complete booklet containing the variety shows that the 1p/1½p pane has the normal phosphor placement. The same error did occur on the 1P/1½p pane as well and the wide band could be either to the left or the right. However they have not both been reported in the same book.

The cylinders used to print the stamps were - ½p B6, 2p B2, 1p B1, 1½p B2. The numbers were trimmed off before issue though.

Perforation types.

PR - Perforated with rough selvedge.         PS Perforated with smooth selvedge.

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