Machin Decimal Stamp Booklets. The 50p Issue.


Decimal stamp booklets. - The 50p stitched issues.

by Ron Shanahan


A set of 8 designs was issued showing drawings of British flowers by Rosalie Southall, each of which was issued in a single edition on a turquiose-green cover.

British Flowers. designed by Rosalie Southall.


The first in the series was issued on February 15th 1971 and the cover illustration was of "Large Bindweed" (Fig 1)

It contained four stamp panes on Original Coated Paper (OCP).with Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) gum:-



One pane of 6 x 3p (2 band phosphor)
One pane of 4 x 3p (2 band) se-tenant horizontally with 2 x 2½p (side band)
One pane of 5 x 2½p (centre band) with one printed label (Tear Off to Esso)
One pane of 5 x ½p (two band) with one printed label.(Lick battery failure.)
Number issued 1,296,960. The second illustration was of "Primrose" and the booklet was inscribed May 1971, though it was in fact issued on March 24th 1971.
Number issued 1,226,960.


The third illustration was "Honeysuckle" and was inscribed August 1971 and issued on June 28th 1971.
Number issued 1,374,480.

The fourth illustration was "Hop" and was inscribed November 1971 and was issued on September 17th 1971. From this edition the paper was changed to Fluorescent Coated Paper (FCP)
Number issued 1,923,368.


There was a change of composition starting with the fifth edition which showed "Common Violet" and was inscribed February 1972 and was issued on December 24th 1971.
Although the actual stamp content was the same as the previous issue the advertising labels were changed. Both the 2½p and ½p panes now showed "Rushstamps" advertisements.
Number issued 1,133,280.

(Illustration shows cylinder B17on the ½p pane which also has the "dark flaw in hair"
variety on stamp 1 row 1.)

Cover number six showed "Lords-and-Ladies", was inscribed May 1972 and issued on March 13th 1972.
Number issued 1,316,680.


Edition seven illustrated "Wood Anemone", was inscribed August 1972 and was issued on May 31st 1972.
Number issued 1,506,848.

The eighth and final of the flowers series showed "Deadly Nightshade", was inscribed November 1972 and was issued on September 15th 1972.
Number issued 2,758,560.


Canada Life series.

The first of this series was issued on January 19th 1973 but dated on the back February 1973. Though the cover design was changed and the '50p' moved to the bottom right of the cover instead of the top right, the stamp make up was as for the later editions of the flower series.
Number issued 497,880.

The second issue was released on February 26th 1973 and dated April 1973.
Number issued 753,080.

The third edition was issued on April 2nd 1973 and dated May 1973.
Number issued 791,307.

The fourth edition was issued on June 14th 1973 and inscribed August 1973.
Number issued 1,424,267.

Canada Life.

Change of composition.

On November 14th 1973 a booklet was issued with the Canada Life cover but with a change of colour to Moss green, the booklet value shown at top right instead of bottom right and with a completely new make-up. It consisted of two panes of 5 x 3½p stamps (2 band) with one blank label and one pane of 5 x 3p (centre band) with one blank label. The back cover was inscribed Autumn 1973 issue.
Number issued 2,935,832.


Numbers issued.

There were no suprising print runs in the 50p series. The largest was the Autumn 1973 issue and the smallest February 1973. What strikes me as strange is that the prices for the lower printings are less than those of the higher. For instance, the February 1973 issue with a print of only 497,880 is catalogued at £7 and the August 1973 with a run of 1,424,267 is catalogued at £12. This has cropped up before with the earlier issues and it is not just in catalogue prices, it is the same with dealers prices.
Can anyone explain this anomaly to me? *
*See footnote at bottom of page.


The panes from the first 4 editions each have seven variations of perforation types. Average catalogue prices range from about £5 for the 'P' type to about £35 for the 'APP' type.
The changed panes in editions 5 to 8 had three types each and all average about £5 each catalogue price.


As with other panes there are the usual crop of minor varieties, retouches, missing serifs, scratches etc. but a good one to look out for is pane UB39 - 3p x 6 with one broad phosphor band. It is catalogued at £550. Best of luck!.

Variations in make-up.

Edition 2 (Primrose) is listed with 'Stick Firmly' advert instead of 'Tear Off'.
Edition 4 (Hop) is known with additional 2½p 'Tear Off' pane.
UB23 for UB24 (pre-blind pane)
3p and 3p/2½p with OCP instead of FCP
3p pane OCP instead of FCP.
There appear to be no listed variations on the editions 5 - 8.

Canada Life.

The first edition has various combinations of panes with dextrin instead of PVA.
The second edition has the first pane of 3½p with PVA instead of PVAD.
Both 3½p panes with PVA instead of PVAD.

This is the last of the articles dealing with the 10p to 50p stitched decimal booklets and anyone who has been following the series will realise how varied the scope of a collection can be.
It can be a simple 'one of each' approach or it can be 'one of each plus one exploded copy with each change of content'.
It can illustrate the different make up of panes, se-tenant and different labels, cylinder numbers, perforation variations and so on.
In fact as BASIC or as SPECIALISED as you care to make it.
I hope that some readers have found interest/information from the articles and that not everyone has been 'bored to their boots'.

If anyone would like to exchange booklets, panes or information please e-mail me at
Enjoy the hobby.


The following information was received from Gordon Young,
a collector in the UK who kindly answered my query.

Basically it is the contents (panes & stamps) of this issue which raises the price above other books in the series:-
1/ DP9 was issued with a new cylinder (B12). As well as being a deeper shade of blue, it also occurred on thin paper---a collectable difference. So this pane was of interest to collectors of normal panes, cylinder panes and singles. This issue (Aug 73) was the only source of this material.
2/ DP14, whilst retaining the original cylinder, was also printed on thin paper--again the only source.
3/ DP10 was also printed on thin paper.
4/ DP13 was issued on thin paper and whilst it was also issued in the June 1973 25p book was still scarce to obtain.
5/ The situation was further complicated by the use of a contaminated phosphor called JET phosphor which occurred on all panes.
If that in itself wasn't enough, only a part of the August issue was printed with these differences---(from my own experience most books from this issue were on original paper and from existing cylinders). Because of this, you couldn't order these books from the Edinburgh Philatelic Counter and expect to find these new items. It has to be realised that Post Offices had to deplete existing stocks before they were replenished with new books, and with the forthcoming change of postal rates many offices didn't bother to keep stocks up to normal levels. The JET phosphor wasn't discovered for some time after its withdrawal date, so collectors would try to buy books from dealers in the hope of finding any of the above items. Consequently, many books in dealers hands ear-marked for "book collectors" would be bought to split up for panes and singles, leaving stocks at a low kevel, hence the increase in price.

This article is an extension to that which was first published in Vol. 3- Issue 1 of


The Machin interest group of The Philatelic Society of Canberra.

Source acknowledgments:-

British Philatelic Bulletin.

Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Volume 4.

Mike Holt Price List No. 25.

Contact us right here

OR Return to our Stamps page

Return To our Home Page