Delta Stamps Fact File No. 2

De La Rue Gravure Cylinder Blocks

Machin Definitive Counter Sheets


Click on the symbol for the associated item(s) in our Price List.

When De La Rue took over Harrisons and Sons in February 1997 the change of name was only reflected on sheet printings over an extended period of time, indeed some cylinders still carried the Harrison imprint / logo until 2002.

De La Rue (High Wycombe).

The first values to appear with the De La Rue imprint / logo included the 7p Grey, 38p Ultramarine and 44p Grey brown issued on 20 April 1999. The sheet size was still the traditional double pane of 200 stamps (20 x 10) for each pane and the stamps were printed on the Jumelle press.

Left Pane - No dot Sheet
Right Pane - dot Sheet

The key features of De La Rue (High Wycombe) cylinder blocks [Jumelle press] were :-

Note : Jubilee Lines (or Marginal Rules) were introduced in 1937 as a result of problems being experienced in printing the prevailing definitives and was down to the high compression used by the Timson press. This was causing excessive wear on the cylinders where a break occurred in engraving that formed the inter pane gutter. By engraving the Jubilee Lines in this gutter, pressure was relieved thus solving the problem. Modern presses use lower compression and so do not require this feature (further information on this subject can be found in Cross Post Volume 8 No. 4).

De la Rue (Byfleet).

After 69 years, De La Rue closed the High Wycombe facility and transferred their postage stamp printing operation to Byfleet in Surrey. This site had formally been part of The House of Questa until De La Rue purchased the division from the parent company, the MDC Corporation of Canada in September 2002. The facility provided a modern printing operation including the ATN gravure press.

The first recorded Byfleet printing date is 04/03/03 on the 20p, 33p and 41p values. From the outset of the Byfleet printings all sheets had the Ink and phosphor cylinder numbers prefixed with the letter 'D'.

Left Pane - No Spot Sheet
Right Pane - Spot Sheet

The key features of De La Rue (Byfleet) cylinder blocks [ATN press] were :-

Note 1 : Perforation Register Line :-

Horizontal Registration The continuous vertical line running down the length of the left hand side of the no dot pane is used by the automatic perforation register system.
Vertical Registration The gutter between each stamp image is used to obtain the vertical register.
Additionally, a stroboscopic scanning unit presents real-time imaging of the web on a monitor so that precise registration can be maintained via a master console.

Note 2 : Comparison of Phosphor Bands

The following diagram shows the differing layouts in phosphor bands as applied to Jumelle and ATN press printed sheets :-


As part of a group consolidation the Byfleet site was closed down in late 2004 and the ATN press was transferred to another De La Rue facility in Dunstable.

In 2006 Royal Mail introduced a new pricing structure for carrying mail under the operational name of Pricing in Proportion. Two new rates were introduced for first and second NVI's - these were 1st Large and 2nd Large respectively. These stamps were produced in a new larger format than the standard definitives and were printed in counter sheets of 100 (20x5) for each pane. The cylinder blocks carried the same detail as standard definitives ,

De La Rue (Dunstable) - removal of Company Imprint / Logo.

In 2007, counter sheet markings were changed when the Company imprint / logo was dropped - Royal Mail deemed the printers brand unnecessary and use of the 'D' prefix with cylinder number was sufficient for identification. In conjunction with this, a colour imprint was introduced on sheets in the top left corner. The first issues included 16p Pink, 48p, 54p and 78p.

Left Pane - No Spot Sheet
Right Pane - Spot Sheet

The key features of De La Rue (Dunstable) cylinder block [ATN press] were :-

Note : The Colour Imprint of stamp colour is printed adjacent to R3/1.

De La Rue (Dunstable) Self Adhesive Sheets 2009.

A complete redesign of sheet layouts occurred with the introduction of self adhesive counter sheets on 17th February 2009. The standard sized definitives are produced in counter sheets of 50; these coming from a cylinder containing six counter sheets and adopting the same identifying indicators as for the prevailing Christmas special issue sheet printings. The cylinder pane is identified by a grid box with six segmented and containing a solid spot in the appropriate position to indicate the pane position within the primary sheet. An additional feature of these sheets, was the introduction of a Barcode and Stock code.

B Pane - Spot Upper centre
E Pane - Spot Lower centre

The key features of standard sized De La Rue (Dunstable) self adhesive cylinder blocks [ATN press] are :-

Correspondingly, the large format NVI's were also produced in counter sheets of 50; but coming from a cylinder printing only four counter sheets. The two 'Recorded Signed For' NVI values issued 17th November 2009 used a similar format. They were the first of a new two colour design with a service description indicated in a yellow strip on the left.

B Pane - Spot Upper right

The key features of Large sized De La Rue (Dunstable) self adhesive cylinder blocks [ATN press] are :-

De La Rue (Dunstable) Standard Counter Sheets produced from 2009.

In 2009, new cylinders for standard definitive counter sheets were produced with revised markings. The traditional no dot (spot) and dot (spot) notations were replaced with the use of the cylinder pane identification grid box as used for the self adhesive definitive counter sheets issued on 17th February 2009 (these had been first introduced for special issue sheet printings with the Birds of Prey issue in January 2003). The cylinder number still occurred adjacent to R18/1, however, the cylinder identification grid box occurs adjacent to R20/1. Other sheet marks introduced at the same time included a stock code in the colour of the stamp adjacent to R1/1 and an untidy ink jet printed Barcode in black accompanying the printing date / sheet serial number.

Left Pane - Left Spot Sheet
Right Pane - Right Spot Sheet

The key features of De La Rue (Dunstable) cylinder blocks [ATN press] produced from 2009 :-

Note : The Stock Code in the colour of the stamp is printed adjacent to R1/1.

De La Rue (Dunstable) Self Adhesive Sheets produced from 2010.

During 2010 reprints of the counter sheets were issued which exhibited a hidden year code in the iridescent overprint - giving MA10 just in front of the Queens forehead. Interestingly, the iridescent cylinder number was still 'D1' although a new cylinder must have been engraved for this year device.

Two new NVI values for 'Special Delivery' tariff were issued on 26th October 2010 using similar designs to the 'Recorded Signed For' NVI's issued in 2009 and again, these were two colour printings. Counter sheets were of 25 coming from primary sheets of 200 resulting in cylinder pane identification grid boxes with 8 positions. Each sheet had other markings including Colour, Barcode, Stock code and Printing date.

Special Delivery upto 100g NVI

From 8th March 2011 the remaining low value tariff rates were reissued in self adhesive form - counter sheets were of 25 stamps coming from primary sheets of 300. The cylinder pane identification grid boxes have 12 positions grouped in a 4x3 matrix. These low values did NOT initially have the iridescent overprint but did have the 4 'U' shaped die cuts within the design. Interestingly, the 2p, 5p and 20p values occupy the same primary sheet resulting in some grid positions being shaded out to indicate no pane exists. The 2p occupy column 1 (left positions), the 5p occupies the central columns and the 20p occupies column 3 (right positions).

5p Cyl D1 - bottom centre position
20p Cyl D1 - bottom right position

2012-2014 Printings

The counter sheets for the new tariff rate values issued in April 2012 included the FSC Logo and code for De La Rue - C020244 (adjacent to rows 1/1 and 2/1). As a result of this, the Colour Imprint was moved one row lower (adjacent to row 3/1) resulting in it now showing up in cylinder blocks of six.

87p Cyl D1 Orange with colour imprint

Self Adhesive Counter Sheets - New Self Adhesive Paper (early 2017)

As an additional security measure, a new Self Adhesive paper substrate was introduced in early 2017 (Booklets and Business Sheets had been using a version since early 2016). This has the wavyline 'ROYAL MAIL' text printed on the carrier paper so that it appears where the paper matrix has been stripped away. Counter sheets only appear in the second form of this feature, that is alternating two rows of upright text - one large; one small and then two rows of inverted text - one large; one small. The change dates to the week commencing 27th February 2017. A handful of printings with the year code M17L occur on both old and new Self Adhesive papers. These are £1.17, £1.40, £1.57, £2.27 £2.55 and 2nd NVI.

Summary of De La Rue Cylinder Block Types

Cyl Blk
Printing Site
Issued Example(s)
Type 1
High Wycombe
7p Grey cylinder number in box
Type 2
20p with Logo Cyl D1
Type 2a
16p Pink without Logo
Type 3
50p Grey - Self Adhesive.
Type 3a
2nd Large - Self Adhesive.
Type 3b
Special Delivery - Self Adhesive.
Type 3c
1p, 10p Low Values - Self Adhesive.
Type 3d
2p, 5p, 20p Low Values - Self Adhesive.
Type 3e
with Colour Imprint e.g 87p - Self Adhesive.
Type 4
62p Red with Cyl Id Grid Box
* De La Rue relocate from Dunstable to Gateshead in early 2013


© Delta Stamps 2009