Delta Stamps Fact File No. 14
     

Printing Press Details for £.S.D Special Issues 1960-1966


Click on the symbol for the associated item(s) in our Price List. This web page can be translated using the following feature :-


Harrison held the contract for printing the bulk of GB postage stamps during the 1960's. Their printing works at High Wycombe ran a host of printings presses many of which were described as vintage but reliable machines. This period saw the G.P.O increasing develop the 'special issue' as part of their business, while on the printing side, the multicolour stamp became the norm with the use of increasing colour complexity.

Considerations that influenced / determined Harrison's use of a press

Some of the features to look for when differentiating Harrison sheet / reel fed printings

Feature
Sheet fed press
Reel fed press
Sheet Serial Numbering (SSN)
None
Crash stamped
 
 
Automatic Colour registration (Autotron)
None
Yes; Colour bars (one for each colour cylinder)
 
 
Perforation Guide Holes
None
Yes; configuration depends on comb to be used

Phosphor Lines

Phosphor lines/bands were first introduced on Special Issue stamps in 1962 (for the National Productivity Year set). From that issue up until 1967 (Wild Flowers) Special Issue printings were produced in two states :-

Starting this period, relatively low print quantities were produced with the phosphor overprint, although this increased as time passed. During this time the application of the phosphor was not necessarily part of the main print run but as a subsidiary or finishing run. Additionally, the design format contributed to how phosphor was applied - 3d Post of Tower, 4d World Cup and 3d Christmas 1966 were sideways printing and these had phosphor printed sheet fed. The standard was for three lines/bands per stamp (second class one line/band) until 1967 (Paintings) when two bands became the norm.

Various printing methods were employed to print the phosphor lines namely photogravure, flexography and letterpress (typography) were used. The information recorded in this regard in both the SG and Woodstock catalogues does not seem to be consistent in all cases. There were only a few occasions where we had Harrison confirming the method used (e.g NPY were printed flexography).


The Equipment Used

Press : Timson [Small Stamp Rotary (SSR)]
Manufacturer : Timson Ltd, Kettering
  This was a Reel fed press with two gravure print units. It could only take a narrow width cylinder (half cylinder) and so could only produce single pane sheets of 120 special issue stamps. The primary print unit would have been used to punch out appropriate perforation guide holes depending upon the type of perforator to be used. The press would produce sheeted output in the case of sheet fed perforation or still in reel form for reel fed perforation. The press tended to be used for printings requiring smaller quantities such higher values, booklets, horizontal (sideways) coils, etc. This press was installed circa 1934 (with the Timson LSR) in Harrison's then new High Wycombe printing works as a result of them gaining the Post Office contract to print low value stamps in photogravure.


The Timson Large Stamp Rotary Press
Press : Timson [Large Stamp Rotary (LSR)]
Manufacturer : Timson Ltd, Kettering
  This was a larger version Reel fed press, again with two gravure print units plus a flexography attachment used for applying phosphors bands. It could take full width cylinders and so produce double pane printings of 2x120 special issue stamps. The norm was for these to be engraved side by side. The primary print unit would have produced the punched out perforation guide holes. In the case of special issues, the press produced sheeted output. This type of press was the main stay for printing definitives from being installed circa 1934 to 1971.

The Halley 3 Press circa 1965
Press : Halley
Manufacturer : James Halley & Sons Ltd
 

This was a Reel fed gravure press of pre war vintage. Originally, it had five print units, however, during the mid 60's (sometime in 1964) it was rebuilt as two separate presses - one with two prints units and the other with three printing units. It could take full width cylinders and so produce double pane printings of 2x120 special issue stamps. In the case of double pane printings they would have been engraved side by side. The primary print unit would have produced the punched out perforation guide holes. In the case of special issues, the press produced sheeted output. Usage examples :-

Single Pane
Double Pane
6d British Technology 1966
4d Joseph Lister 1965

The Thrissell Press during 1950's
Press : Thrissell
Manufacturer : The Thrissell Engineering Co. Ltd
 

This was a Reel fed press with five gravure print units plus a flexography attachment used for applying phosphors bands (if the five gravure units were used for the colours). It could take full width cylinders and so produce double pane printings of 2x120 special issue stamps. In the case of double pane printings, these would typically engraved side by side. The primary print unit would have been used to punch out appropriate perforation guide holes depending upon the type of perforator to be used. The press would produce sheeted output in the case of sheet fed perforation or still in reel form for reel fed perforation. Usage examples :-

Single Pane
Double Pane
1/3 NPY 1962
4½d Nature Week 1963
3d Shakespeare 1964
4d Battle of Britain 1965

SG Specialised inform us it was a 'new' press in the 1962 NPY notes section, however, it had probably been around for many years.


Press : L & M Intaglio No 4
Linotype and Machinery
  Details of this gravure press are rather sketchy - the No 4 refers to the model number. Its believed this press was of Harrison's manufacture, daisy chaining what were three stand-alone machines. Harrison may well have had more than one of these hybrids. Sheets printed on this press did not feature Sheet Serial Numbers or Perforation Guide Holes. SG states it was a sheet fed rotary press (under Churchill issue), while Woodstock and Ehrmann state it was a sheet fed flat plate press. In a number of instances it was used as a finishing press to add phosphor lines.

Harrison also had a Linotype and Machinery No 7 press which was a hand fed single print unit gravure proofing press.

The Rembrandt Press circa 1964
Press : Rembrandt MTIII
Manufacturer : Koenig & Bauer AG in Würzburg
  This was a rotary Sheet fed press with five gravure print units. Instead of cylinders it used curved plates. The press could produce double pane printings of 2x120 special issue stamps (e.g 4d Churchill), however, sheets of 120 special issue stamps seemed to have been the norm even for large print runs such as the Birds or 4d Flowers issues. If the printing in question required more than five colours then a second run through the press would have be needed to produce the final design colours (e.g Birds 1966; five colours and then three colours). This was a new press when installed during 1964. Sheets printed by this press do not feature Sheet Serial Numbers or Perforation Guide Holes.

Press : Steel Plate Press
Manufacturer : Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co. Ltd
  This was a Recess (intaglio) Sheet fed rotary press of Bradbury's own build. It was capable of taking two double pane curved plates which were attached on opposite sides of a rotary print cylinder. However, in the case of the Shakespeare and Westminster Abbey printings, the plates were side by side and so only used one position on the cylinder. Waxed paper was used to interleave sheets as they left the press otherwise the wet ink would be 'set-off' on the gum side of the following sheet. As with Harrison reel fed printings the print unit punched out perforation registration guide holes which were subsequently used as 'pinning points' for the sheets when they were positioned on the perforators feed table.

Perforator : Grover Sheet Fed
Manufacturer : Grover & Co. Ltd
 

This was a manually Sheet fed perforator typically perforating some five sheets at a time. It could be configured to take various comb blocks (consisting of the comb block, a stripping plate and the die block). The simplest being a single row - single pane width comb (e.g 120 special issue stamps) to the two row - double pane width comb (e.g 240 special issue stamps). Two feed methods were available :-

  • Output from Reel fed printings
  • Sheets were placed onto the feed table engaging the pinning points via the set of large perforation guide holes in the sheet side margins. The feed table was then manually advanced to the perforating unit where delivery grippers took over and so releasing the feed table for the next batch of sheets. The batch of sheets was then automatically stepped through the perforating comb.


  • Output from Sheet fed printings
  • Sheets were placed onto the feed table with the sidelay edge of the sheet abutting the feed edge. The feed table was then manually advanced to the perforating unit where delivery grippers held the batch of sheets while they were automatically stepped through the perforating comb.

This type of perforator was the main stay for perforation during the 1960's - Harrison operated many of these - a room full. While providing a good quality of perforation they were slow and labour intensive - contemporary photos show each machine was operated by two (sometimes three) people.


Perforator : Grover Reel Fed
Manufacturer : Grover & Co. Ltd
 

This was a stand-alone Reel fed perforator for reel to reel perforating (coils) or reel to sheeter. This would typically use a three row comb for single or double pane width reels (as this was reel fed the pin comb block had only to punch through a single thickness of paper). The three sets of large perforation guide holes in the side margins were used as pinning points that enabled the drive mechanism to move the reel through the perforating comb. It was only used on a few occasions during the early 1960's in respect of special issues (e.g 1960 CEPT).




Sheet Markings - Help point

Show Basic Design Types


All special issues were Harrison printed in photogravure unless stated otherwise. A key is provided at the bottom of document explaining the column information and abbreviations used in the following tables.

1960 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
General Letter Office
7th Jul 1960
xxx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx16 xxx xxxxxxxx10
xxxx5
xxxxxxxxx11
xxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxx15
  3d   1
 
Timson LSR
Sheet fed Comb
  1/3   1   Timson SSR
Reel fed Comb
   
CEPT - Europa
19th Sep 1960
  6d   2
 
Timson SSR
Reel fed Comb
  1/6   2
 
Timson SSR
Reel fed Comb
  These were the first British special issue stamps to be printed in two colours.
They were the last special issue to be printed with a 200 line screen - the head and text within the ribbon used a common cylinder. The background on the 1/6 used the new 250 line screen.
From this issue, coated / surface paper became the norm.

1961 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
Post Office Savings Bank Centenary
28th Aug 1961
xxx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx16 xxx xxxxxxxx10
xxxx5
xxxxxxxxx11
xxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxx15
  2½d   2
 
Timson SSR
Reel fed Comb
  2½d   2   Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  3d   2   Timson SSR
Reel fed Comb,
Sheet fed Comb
  3d   2   Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  1/6   2
 
Timson SSR
Reel fed Comb
  This was one of the few occasions when the printers confirmed details of the printing presses used.
European Postal and Telecommunications Conference
18th Sep 1961
  2d   3
 
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  4d   3   Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  10d   3
 
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  These were the first British special issue stamps to be printed in three colours.
Seventh Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference
25th Sep 1961
  6d   2
 
Timson SSR
Reel fed Comb
  1/3   2
 
Timson SSR
Reel fed Comb
   

1962 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
National Productivity Year
14th Nov 1962
xxx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx16 xxx xxxxxxxx10
xxxx5
xxxxxxxxx11
xxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxx15
  2½d   3
LB
Timson LSR
Sheet fed Comb
  3d   3
3B
Timson LSR
Sheet fed Comb
  1/3   4
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb,
Reel fed Comb
  This was the first special issue to have phosphor bands. The phosphor printing only represented a small proportion of the total print run and this was the case for subsequent printing up to 1967 (although the proportion of the phosphor rose steadily). The phosphor for this issue was applied by flexography - produced by having a special attachment on the press. Thus although the Timson only had two gravure print units it was possible to produce the additional phosphor lined overprint in a single run.

1963 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
Freedom from Hunger
21st Mar 1963
xxx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx16 xxx xxxxxxxx10
xxxx5
xxxxxxxxx11
xxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxx15
  2½d   3
LB
Timson LSR
Sheet fed Comb
  1/3   3
3B
Timson LSR
Sheet fed Comb
Paris Postal Conference
7th May 1963
  6d   3
3B
Timson LSR
Sheet fed Comb
  Harrisons method of numbering cylinders. Hitherto, Harrison numbered cylinders by value e.g if three value were involved, value one would be allocated a 1 prefix , value two a 2 prefix and value three a 3 prefix. Within each value an ascending letter would be allocated for each cylinder (for breaks in the sequence it means that the particular cylinder was deemed unsatisfactory).
From the Paris issue, Harrison adopted a new methodology. For a given value each colour was allocate a number and letter, the number would be changed for each cylinder produce for that colour / value. Thus if all cylinders show as 1 then Harrison had produced a 'good' set of cylinders first time round, however, if one colour cylinder starts at say 3 then it implies two cylinders had been discarded.
National Nature Week
16th May 1963
  3d   5
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  4½d   6
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  The 4½d value was the first British special issue stamp to be printed in five colours.
Both values were printed on the Thrissell five print unit press, in the case of the 3d, four colours were used and so the fifth gravure unit was available to print the phosphor bands and hence they are gravure. However, in the case of the 4½p, all five gravure units were used for the five ink colours and so the phosphor bands had to be printed using the Flexography attachment.
Lifeboat
31st May 1963
  2½d   4
LB
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  4d   6
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  1/6   4
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
   
Red Cross
15th Aug 1963
  3d   3
3B
Timson LSR
Sheet fed Comb
  1/3   4
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  1/6   4
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
   
Compac
3rd Dec 1963
  1/6   3
3B
Timson SSR
Sheet fed Comb

1964 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
Shakespeare
23rd Apr 1964
xxx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx16 xxx xxxxxxxx10
xxxx5
xxxxxxxxx11
xxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxx15
  3d   4
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  6d   5
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  1/3   5
3B
L & M 4 *
Sheet fed Comb
  1/6   5
3B
L & M 4 *
Sheet fed Comb
  2/6   1
none
Steel Plate
Sheet fed Comb
  * The 1/3 and 1/6 were the first special issues to be printed by a sheet fed press. S.G states the 1/3 and 1/6 were printed on the L & M No 4 press. E.C Ehrmann is vague using the term flatbed printed at the time. Subsequently, he states they were Rembrandt printings (Philatelic Magazine 30 Aug 68) but its believed the Rembrandt press was not installed until the end of 1964.
The 2/6 was produced by Bradbury, Wilkinson and printed in recess.
Geographical Congress
1st Jul 1964
  2½d   5
LB
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  4d   6
3B
L & M 4 *
Sheet fed Comb
  8d   5
3B
L & M 4 *
Sheet fed Comb
  1/6   5
3B
L & M 4 *
Sheet fed Comb
  * No specific reference can be found as to the press used. Post Office records indicate 'printing plates'.
Botanical Congress
5th Aug 1964
  3d   4
 
-
3B
Thrissell
?

Sheet fed Comb
  6d   5
 
-
3B
Thrissell
?

Sheet fed Comb
  9d   5
3B

L & M 4 *

Sheet fed Comb
  1/3   5
3B
L & M 4 *
Sheet fed Comb
  * No specific reference can be found as to the press used. Post Office records indicate 'printing plates'. The phosphor bands on the 3d and 6d values were applied on a sheet fed press
Forth Road Bridge
4th Sep 1964
  3d   4
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  6d   4
3B
L & M 4 *
Sheet fed Comb
  * No specific reference can be found as to the press used. Post Office records indicate 'printing plates'.

1965 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
Churchill
8th Jul 1965
xxx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx16 xxx xxxxxxxx10
xxxx5
xxxxxxxxx11
xxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxx15
  4d   3
-
3B
Rembrandt
L & M 4

Sheet fed Comb
  4d   2
none
Timson SSR
Sheet fed Comb
  1/3   3
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  The 4d was printed on two different presses. About one third of the printing was produced on the Timson Small Stamp Rotary, however, the bulk was printed on the Rembrandt. The phosphor lines for the 4d value were printed on the L & M No 4.
The Churchill issue was originally scheduled for 24th May 1965, however, due to industrial action at Post Office supplies depots this was deferred until July.
700th Anniv. of Parliament
19th Jul 1965
  6d   2
3B
Timson LSR
Sheet fed Comb
  2/6   3
none
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
 

Stamp Collecting Weekly (16/7/65) makes reference to the G.P.O Philatelic Bulletin giving an unclear explanation that plates were used to print the 2/6 and this was why no cylinders numbers were present. Post Office records give the plate numbers 1A, 1B and 1C for the 2/6 value.

Salvation Army
9th Aug 1965
  3d   6
 
-
CB
Thrissell
?

Sheet fed Comb
  1/6   5
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  The phosphor bands on the 3d value were applied on a sheet fed press.
Joseph Lister
1st Sep 1965
  4d   4
 
-
3B
Halley 3
?

Sheet fed Comb
  1s   4
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  The phosphor bands on the 3d value were applied on a sheet fed press.
The phosphor bands used 'Violet' phosphor for this and subsequent issues.
Commonwealth Arts Festival
1st Sep 1965
  6d   3
3B
Timson SSR
Sheet fed Comb
  1/6   3
3B
Timson SSR
Sheet fed Comb
Battle of Britain
13th Sep 1965
  6x4d   6
 
-
3B
Thrissell
?

Sheet fed Comb
  9d   4
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  1/3   6
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  The phosphor bands on the 4d value were applied on a sheet fed press.
Post Office Tower
8th Oct 1965
  3d   4
 
-
LB
Halley 3
?

Sheet fed Comb
         
RB
?    
  1/3   4
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  The 3d value was printed sideways and it was necessary to print the phosphor bands in sheet fed gravure. They were printed on alternate rows producing stamps with either a left or right hand bands.
The presentation pack states the 3d value was printed by a three colour reel fed cylinder rotary machine, while the 1/3 value was printed in three colours by sheet fed multiunit plate machine.
United Nations
25th Oct 1965
  3d   4
 
-
CB
Halley 3
?

Sheet fed Comb
  1/6   4
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  The phosphor bands on the 3d value were applied on a sheet fed press.
I.T.U Centenary
15th Nov 1965
  9d   6
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  1/6   6
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  The I.T.U issue was originally scheduled for 17th May 1965, however, due to industrial action at Post Office supplies depots and the programme of other issues during the year, this was deferred until November. These stamps had been printed in time for the original May date (some had in fact been issued in May) and so they have 'Blue' phosphor bands (from the Joseph Lister issue bands were 'Violet' phosphor).

1966 Issues

Sheet fed phosphor printings - in many cases, these may well have been printed as discrete separate runs and on a different press from the original.

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
Robert Burns
25th Jan 1966
xxx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx16 xxx xxxxxxxx10
xxxx5
xxxxxxxxx11
xxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxx15
  4d   4
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  1/3   4
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  The presentation pack states the 1/3 value was sheet fed gravure.
Westminster Abbey
28th Feb 1966
  3d   4
CB
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  2/6   1
none
Steel Plate
Sheet fed Comb
  SG states (incorrectly) the 3d was sheet fed.
The 2/6 was produced by Bradbury , Wilkinson and printed in recess.
Landscapes
2nd May 1966
  4d Sussex 4
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  6d Antrim 4
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  1/3 Wales 4
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  1/6 Cairngorm 4
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
World Cup Football
1st Jun 1966
  4d   6
-
2B
Thrissell
?

Sheet fed Comb
  6d   6
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  1/3   6
3B
L & M 4
Sheet fed Comb
  The 4d value was printed sideways and it was necessary to print the phosphor bands in sheet fed gravure.
Birds
8th Aug 1966
  4x4d   9
3B
Rembrandt
Sheet fed Comb
  These were the first British stamps to be printed in eight colours and required two passes through the press - the first run printed grey, yellow, red and green.
England Winners
18th Aug 1966
  4d   5
none
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  The printing detail for the 'England Winners' issue is unclear. The '1A' cylinder was the black colour - presumably a new black cylinder would have had to be engraved including the text 'England Winners' although the cylinder number is still '1A' instead of '2A'.
British Technology
19th Sep 1966
  4d Jodrell Bank 3
3B
Halley 3
Sheet fed Comb
  6d E Type Jaguar 4
3B
Halley 3
Sheet fed Comb
  1/3 Hovercraft 5
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
  1/6 Nuclear Power 6
3B
Thrissell
Sheet fed Comb
Battle of Hastings
14th Oct 1966
  6x4d   10
3B
Rembrandt
Sheet fed Comb
  6d   7

3B
L & M 4
Heidelberg
Sheet fed Comb
  1/3   7

4B
L & M 4
Heidelberg
Sheet fed Comb
  The 4d were the first British stamps to be printed in nine colours.
The 6d and 1/3 were sheet fed using plates - SG and Woodstock incorrectly state these were reel fed printings. The 6d and 1/3 were additionally die stamped on a Heidelberg Foil Stamping Platen press producing the gold head and necessitated the smaller sheet size of 60.
Christmas 1966
1st Dec 1966
  3d   7
 
-
LB
 
Thrissell?
?
Heidelberg


Sheet fed Comb
  3d      
RB
     
  1/6   6

2B
L & M 4
Heidelberg

Sheet fed Comb
  The 3d value was printed sideways and it was necessary to print the phosphor bands in sheet fed gravure. The bands were printed on alternate rows giving stamps with either a left or right band.
Like the 6d and 1/3 Hastings issues these stamps were die stamped to produce the Queens head and it was the last time this method was used to print the gold head (the process was slow and expensive).
This was the first of the annual Christmas sets.

KEY :-
  Background colours
    dark blue - gravure   maroon - litho
  U*
    The number of print units required - includes ink cylinders, embossing and phosphor.
  Cylinder/Plates, etc
 
Gravure Ink cylinders; in the case of the Rembrandt press, these are shown on two lines when two passes through the press were required.
 
Gravure Ink plates; information for these entries has been taken from Post Office records held at the BPMA.
 
Recess Ink plates
Die stamped
  Phos(phor)
    The number of bands for the stamp. Up to the Wild Flowers issue of April 1967 phosphor was only applied to part of a print run (background colour = dark green). From the Painting issue of July 1967 the complete print runs were phosphor lined (background colour = grey).
  Types
 
Single Pane Reel-fed
Double Pane Reel-fed
         
 
Single Pane Sheet-fed
Double Pane Sheet-fed
         

Information Sources
o
E.C Ehrmann (Continental Press Service) writing in Stamp
Collecting Weekly and Philatelic Magazine
o
Philatelic Bulletins
o
Post Office records held at the BPMA
o
SG Specialised Catalogue Volume 3
o
Woodstock Catalogue 1970-1971


 
© Delta Stamps 2012