Interview: Ian Brigham, President of Cartor Security Printing


07 December 2018
We recently spoke to Ian Brigham, the President at Cartor Security Printing, about stamp production and the many unusual and intriguing stamps the company have produced using all kinds of materials and printing techniques

How did you become involved in Cartor and stamp production?

I became involved in stamp production in the mid 90’s when i joined Walsall Security Printers. Cartor was known to us from the late '90s onwards as they competed with Walsall Security Printers in several markets. I used to come across them frequently in Asia and some European countries. In 2004 WSP acquired Cartor, then in 2008 Paul White and I negotiated a management buyout of the group and took over from the Aspinall family.
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How has stamp printing changed over the years?

Definitive stamps used to be primarily gummed and now are mostly self adhesive. This has made the product more customer friendly. Where commemorative stamps are concerned, most administrations have sought to bolster their sales by introducing more innovative stamps into the yearly programmes using special techniques or images based on popular contemporary themes.

What aspect of stamp production is most challenging?

One of the most challenging aspects of stamp production is the reduced lead times to bring a project to completion. Where some years ago we might have had six months in which to deliver a sizeable stamp order, similar orders are now required in as little as six weeks. Some very small administrations have requested turnarounds of one week. We of course do try and be as accommodating as possible!

What are the most exciting innovations in stamp printing?

The most exciting innovations in stamp printing occur when we are asked to match unusual materials to a theme and create a product which still works as a stamp on an envelope. This usually involves a lot of testing prior to manufacture and once issued we will normally arrange to have an envelope with the aid stamp travel through the postal system. Sometimes some of our more exotic or expensive creations don’t quite make it back to us in one piece as the stamp has been removed prior to delivery of the envelope!

Which stamp printed by Cartor are you most proud of?

I don’t really have a favourite stamp, but the cod skin stamp that Cartor produced for the Faroe islands was challenging and certainly created immense interest when it was issued.

What does the future hold for stamp printing and stamp collecting?

We have expected the demise of stamp printing and collecting for many years, and yet here we are, still producing beautiful and interesting products. We have witnessed a shift from regular collecting to impulse purchases to keep as souvenirs, and for some administrations that has meant an increase rather than a decline in sales in recent years. As far as the operational aspect of a stamp as a receipt for a pre-paid logistics service, we are seeing an increase in the use of these due to the strong performance of internet order fulfilment. Where postal administrations choose to raise brand awareness through the use of images on these receipts rather than using white labels with tracking information, we see a positive future for stamps.
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