Delta Stamps Fact File No. 15
     

Printing Press Details for £.S.D Special Issues 1967-1970


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By the late 1960's Special Issues stamps tended to be printed on the reel fed Thrissell or Woods presses, or sheet fed on the Rembrandt press. In 1969 the first Special Issues to be printed in offset litho were produced with the printing being carried out by De La Rue using their patented Delacryl process.

The Equipment Used


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 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 for the period in question. Usage examples :-

Single Pane
Double Pane
9d Wild Flowers 1967
4d Anniversaries - TUC 1968

The Rembrandt Sheet Fed Press circa 1964

Press : Rembrandt MTIII
Manufacturer : Koenig & Bauer AG
  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 that the Birds and 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 on this press did not feature Sheet Serial Numbers or Perforation Guide Holes.

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. Some printings attributed to the Rembrandt press may have been L & M 4 printings.

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

The Woods Press circa 1971

Press : Woods 10
Manufacturer : Wood’s Engineers (Ramsbottom) Ltd
  This was a Reel fed press with ten gravure printing units and an automatic reel splicing fed unit. It could take cylinders with a larger circumference range than the presses detail above. As a result, a common feature of printings from this press were that the double panes were engraved one above the other. The primary print unit produced punched out perforation guide holes - a set each for both panes. In the case of special issues, the press produced sheeted output. Again, this press had been around for many years and had been primarily used for commercial work until 1969 when it was replaced by a Wifag Super Rotomaster (manufactured by Winkler, Fallert & Co. AG). As a result of this the Woods was used increasingly in stamp production until the arrival of the Jumelle press.

De La Rue (Gateshead) Roland Rekord RVK III Sheet Fed Press

Press : Roland Rekord RVK III
Faber & Schleicher AG
 

This was a four colour Offset Litho Sheet fed press with two printing units. Each printing unit took two printing plates for different colours set-off on two blanket cylinders which, in turn, used a common impression cylinder.

The press was installed at De La Rue's Gateshead printing works circa mid/late 1960's.


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. The simplest being a single row - single pane width comb to the two row - double pane width comb. 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 fed 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.




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.

1967 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
EFTA
20th Feb 1967
xx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxx14 xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx4 xxxxxxxx10
xxxxx6
xxxxxxxxx11
  9d   9
3B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/6   10
3B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  Ehrmann states the phosphor was applied in a third run for both values.
Wild Flowers
24th Apr 1967
  4x4d   9
3B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9d   5
3B
Thrissell
SF Comb
  1/9   5
3B
Thrissell
SF Comb
  Philatelic Bulletin Vol 4 No 7 states the 4d was printed on the Rembrandt and both the 9d and 1/9 on the Thrissell. Ehrmann states the phosphor was applied in a third run in the case of the 4d value.
British Paintings 67
10th Jul 1967
  4d   7
--
2B
Rembrandt
L & M 4
SF Comb
  9d   7
--
2B
Rembrandt
L & M 4
SF Comb
  1/6   7
--
2B
Rembrandt
L & M 4
SF Comb
  Philatelic Bulletin Vol 4 No 10 states all values were Rembrandt printed and the L & M 4 press was used to print the Head (Gold for the 4d and 1/6; black for the 9d) and then the phosphor bands. Ehrmann states the phosphor was applied in a separate run.
From this issue, the complete print runs were produced with phosphor bands.
Chichester
24th Jul 1967
  1/9   5
3B
Thrissell
SF Comb
Discovery and Invention
19th Sept 1967
  4d Radar 4
3B
Thrissell
SF Comb
  1s Penicillin 5

--
2B
Rembrandt
L & M 4 ?
SF Comb
  1/6 Jet Engines 6

--
2B
Rembrandt
L & M 4
SF Comb
  1/9 Television 6

--
2B
Rembrandt
L & M 4
SF Comb
  Ehrmann states the L & M 4 press was used to print the phosphor bands.
Christmas 1967
18th Oct 1967 (4d)
27th Nov 1967
  3d   6
CB
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  4d   6
2B
Woods 10
SF Comb
  4d   6
2B
Thrissell
SF Comb
  1/6   8
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb

1968 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
Bridges
29th Apr 1968
xx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxx14 xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx4 xxxxxxxx10 xxxxx6 xxxxxxxxx11
  4d   5
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9d   7
2B
L & M 4
SF Comb
  1/6   6
2B
L & M 4
SF Comb
  1/9   6
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  The Philatelic Bulletin (Vol 5 no 8 page 4 - Apr 68) states the 4d and 1/9 were printed on a sheet fed rotary press while the 9d and 1/6 were printed on a sheet fed flatbed. This tallies with the Post Office records.
British Anniversaries 68
29th May 1968
  4d TUC 5
2B
Thrissell
SF Comb
  9d Votes - Women 4
2B
L & M 4
SF Comb
  1s RAF 6
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/9 James Cook 4
2B
L & M 4
SF Comb
  The Philatelic Bulletin (Vol 5 no 9 page 7 - May 68) states the 4d was printed reel fed rotary, the 9d and 1/9 were printed sheet fed gravure while the 1/- was printed sheet rotary. The terminology is rather cryptic, sheet fed gravure probably refers to the L & M 4 and sheet rotary to the Rembrandt. Post Office records show the 9d and 1/9 as plate printings.
British Paintings 68
12th Aug 1968
  4d   7
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/-   8
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/6   9
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/9   7
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  The Philatelic Bulletin (Vol 5 no 11 page 9 - Jul 68) states all values - Sheet fed rotary Rembrandt. This was the first time the Rembrandt press used a printing unit modified to produce embossing.
Christmas 1968
25th Nov 1968
  4d   8
CB
Thrissell /
Rembrandt

SF Comb
  4d   8
CB
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9d   10
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/6   8
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  * The 4d print was split into two; one run was printed in five colours on the Thrissell reel fed press and subsequently, finished off on the Rembrandt press. The other run was printed on the Rembrandt press completely and required two passes through the press. In both cases, the gold, embossing and phosphor were printed in the second pass.

1969 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
Ships
15th Jan 1969
xx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxx14 xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx4 xxxxxxxx10 xxxxx6 xxxxxxxxx11
  5d   5
1B*
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  3x9d   7
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  2x1/-   8
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  * The 5d had one phosphor band running horizontally across the stamp. Since the stamp didn't have a 'white' border the band ran across the ship (mainly 'white') so as to allow for a satisfactory signal to be obtained from the phosphor.
Concorde
3rd Mar 1969
  4d   6
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9d   5
2B
L & M 4
SF Comb
  1/6   4
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  Philatelic Bulletin Vol 6 No 5 states the 4d and 1/6 were Sheet fed rotary and 9d Sheet fed. This tallies with the Post Office records. Woodstock states incorrectly, these were reel fed printings.
These stamps were printed at the start of 1968 for the first flight of the Concorde during that year (planned for the end of February 1968), in the event, this didn't occur until March 1969. In the intervening period the 4d tariff rate had been increased to 5d. Thus this stamp should have had a single phosphor line (or the value changed to 5d).
General Anniversaries
2nd Apr 1969
  5d Atlantic Flight 5
2B
Thrissell
SF Comb
  9d Europa 5
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/- ILO 4
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/6 NATO 7
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/9 Australia Flight 4
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  Philatelic Bulletin Vol 6 No 7 states the 9d, 1/-, 1/6 and 1/9 values were Sheet fed rotary.
Cathedrals
28th May 1969
  4x5d   8
2B
Woods 10
SF Comb
  9d   6
2B
L & M 4
SF Comb
  1/6   6
2B
L & M 4
SF Comb
  Philatelic Bulletin Vol 6 No 9 states the 5d were Reel fed rotary and both 9d and 1/6 Sheet fed rotary. However, Post Office records show the 9d and 1/6 as plate printings.
Prince of Wales Investiture
1st Jul 1969
  3x5d   9
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9d   5
2B
L & M 4
SF Comb
  1/-   3
2B
L & M 4
SF Comb
  Philatelic Bulletin Vol 6 No 10 states the 5d were Sheet fed rotary and both 9d and 1/- Sheet fed gravure. Post Office records show the 9d and 1/- as plate printings.
It was reported at the time that the 5d was printed in five colours and then the three remaining colours with the phosphor sandwiched between. Also, it was reported at the time that the gum was a new improved formulation of PVA.
Gandhi Centenary Year
13th Aug 1969
  1/6   5
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  Philatelic Bulletin Vol 6 No 12 states the 1/6 value was Sheet fed rotary.
Post Office Technology
1st Oct 1969
  5d   5
--
2B
Roland*
?
SF Comb
  9d   4
--
2B
Roland*
?
SF Comb
  1/-   4
--
2B
Roland*
?
SF Comb
  1/6   5
--
2B
Roland*
?
SF Comb
  This special issue was produced by De La Rue in Gateshead. They were printed by lithography using De La Rue's Delacryl process - this being the first time Litho was used for British Stamps. The phosphor bands were printed by Letterpress.
* The press was a Roland Rekord Model RVK III.
Christmas 1969
26th Nov 1969
  4d   10
CB*
Woods 10
Rembrandt

SF Comb
  5d   10
2B
Rembrandt

SF Comb

  1/6   10
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  The 4d was initially printed on the Woods press and then finished on the Rembrandt press. Originally, the phosphor band was about 7 to 8 mm, however, this caused problems for the Automatic Letter Facing machines. A second phosphor cylinder was engraved with a 3.5 mm band and it was used for about a quarter of the printing.

1970 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
Rural Architecture
11th Feb 1970
xx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxx14 xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx4 xxxxxxxx10 xxxxx6 xxxxxxxxx11
  5d   9
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9d   7
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1s   5
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/6   5
2B
Rembrandt
SF Comb
General Anniversaries
1st Apr 1970
  5d Arbroath 10
P1
Woods 10
SF Comb
  9d Nightingale 10
P2
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/- Co-operative 9
P2
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/6 Mayflower 10
P2
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/9 Astronomical 7
P2
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  This was the first special issue where the phosphor cylinders were numbered. Also, this was the first time the Woods press had a printing unit modified to produce embossing.
Literary Anniversaries
3rd Jun 1970
  4x5d Dickens 9
P4
Woods 10
SF Comb
  1/6 Wordsworth 7
P3
Rembrandt
SF Comb
British Commonwealth Games
15th Jul 1970
  5d   5
--
2B
Roland*
?
SF Comb
  1/6   5
--
2B
Roland*
?
SF Comb
  1/9   5
--
2B
Roland*
?
SF Comb
  This special issue was produced by De La Rue in Gateshead. They were printed by lithography using De La Rue's Delacryl process. The phosphor bands were printed by Letterpress.
* The press was a Roland Rekord Model RVK III.
Philympia 70 Stamp Exhibition
18th Sep 1970
  5d   5
P6
Woods 10
SF Comb
  9d   6
P10
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/6   5
P5
Rembrandt
SF Comb
Christmas 1970
25th Nov 1970
  4d   10
P9
Woods 10
SF Comb
  5d   9
P7
Rembrandt
SF Comb
  1/6   10
P7
Rembrandt
SF Comb
   

KEY :-
  Abbreviations :-
    LM - Left Margin    
    RM - Right Margin    
    SF - Sheet Fed    
    SSN - Sheet Serial Number    
  Background colours
    dark blue - gravure   maroon - litho
  U*
    The number of print units required - includes ink cylinders, embossing and phosphor.
  Cyls / Plates
 
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.
 
Litho Ink plates
Embossing
  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).
    From April 1970 (Anniversaries issue) the phosphor cylinders were numbered and these numbers are shown.
  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


 
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