The ubiquitous Machin, named after the famed sculptor, Andrew Machin, who created the original sculpture, appeared on British definitive stamps since 1971. (Figure 1). The Machins of Northern Ireland have, in addition to the Queen’s head, the symbol of Northern Ireland - a six-sided star bearing the severed red hand of Ulster. These stamps have been printed in many colors, and were sold in sheets in Northern Ireland, but were valid for postage anywhere in Great Britain. The regional stamps are denominated less than £1.00, and were introduced first in 1971 with the decimalization of British currency.
This topic is vast and thus divided into four sections. This section covers the period of 1971 to 1982. Stamps were created using photogravure and are perforated 15x14. The picture was profile head rather than the three-quarter one than had been used on the Wildings. The initial intent was to put all four regions symbols on all stamps, but the essay was not accepted. (Figure 2).
Stamps of this period were printed initially by Harrison, Ltd. for a total of 17 stamps of 15 values. The initial stamps, for second class, first class, European mail, and airmail, (Figure 3) were printed on regular paper, while late printings were on chalk-surface paper. Phosphor bands were used for automatic cancelling systems in the mid-70's. Varieties are known.
In the 1970's to mid 1980's, fractional currency rates were printed on stamps. (Figures 4 & 5). While aimed at reducing customer costs, it was considered a nuisance. Since the smallest denomination coin was now the 1 pence, the halfpenny being lost in decimalization, stamps were sold in multiples. This resulted in higher rather than lower customer expenses since the loose stamp was often lost. This coupled with frequently changing rates made mailing letters bothersome.
The large number of stamps represents the rate changes in the postal system of the 1970's.