Rare Machin GB stamp trials discovered in Switzerland after twenty years

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27 February 2017
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Machin-green-Swiss-trial-1-25656.jpeg Machin green Swiss trial
Sheets of three trials of the Machin head stamp, produced in Switzerland in 1997, have been discovered, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the introduction of Arnold Machin’s iconic stamp portrait of Queen Elizabeth II

Sheets of three trials of the Machin head, produced in Switzerland in 1997, have been discovered, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the introduction of Arnold Machin’s iconic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

The sheets were discovered in Switzerland, home of the Hélio Courvoisier S.A. printing firm, which was taken over in 2001 after seventy years of printing stamps.

Allan Grant of Rushstamps told Stamp & Coin Mart:

‘The sheets mysteriously turned up after twenty years and the owner initially took them to a New York auction house [Daniel F Kelleher Auctions]. We have asked collectors if they are interested in obtaining the rare trials and so far around 200 customers have responded.’

The Machin definitives were first printed in lithography in 1980 as Royal Mail expanded its range of suppliers.

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However, by the mid-1990s it had decided that all the standard definitives should be printed in gravure.

At the time The House of Questa, based in south London, did not have gravure capability, so authorisation was given by House of Questa for it to approach Helio Courvoisier SA of Switzerland, with the consent of the Royal Mail, probably with a view to subcontracting the gravure printing.

Rushstamps have confirmed that the new discoveries will be included in the next volume of the GB Specialised catalogue, published by Stanley Gibbons.

A set of the three sheets was donated to Douglas Muir for The Postal Museum during the recent Stampex event in London.

Read the full story in the April 2017 issue of Stamp & Coin Mart magazine.