Delta Stamps Fact File No. 16
     

Printing Press Details for Decimal Special Issues 1971-1974


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With the introduction of the decimal currency in 1971, the size of the basic special issue (commemorative) counter sheet changed from 120 (20x6) to 100 (10x10) stamps. Another major change occurred in 1972 when Harrison commissioned the purpose built Jumelle press designed specifically for the simultaneous printing and perforating of postage stamps. This press would predominate Harrison's stamp production for the next 30 years.

The Equipment Used


The Rembrandt Press circa 1964

Press : Rembrandt MTIII
Manufacturer : Koenig & Bauer AG in Wrzburg
  This was a rotary Sheet fed press with five gravure print units. Instead of cylinders it used curved plates. In general, the press produced single pane sheets of 100 (10x10) special issue stamps. 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 (e.g 7p Anniversaries - City of York 1971; five colours and then four colours plus phosphor). Interestingly, it produced the many of the 1971/72 special issues stamps. This press was originally installed during 1964.
Sheets printed on this press will 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.

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 : Woods Engineers (Ramsbottom) Ltd
  This was a Reel fed press with ten gravure printing units and an automatic reel splicing fed unit. A common feature of printings from this press were that double panes were engraved one above the other. The primary print unit would have punched out appropriate perforation guide holes for subsequent registration control on the perforator. The press had seen many years of service (its unclear when it was installed) 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 it was used increasingly in stamp production until the arrival of the Jumelle press. The Christmas issue of 1973 appears to have been its last usage.

The Jumelle Press circa 1972

Press : Jumelle (originally known as the Gemini)  
 

This was the first of Harrisons modern era presses specifically built for printing postage stamps and became operational in 1972. It was Reel fed with seven low pressure gravure print units (manufactured by Andreotti); upgraded to 10 units in the 1990s, one intaglio print unit (manufactured by Giori) with three colour capability and two integral perforators (manufactured by Kampf). Each gravure unit had electrostatic assist to aid ink transfer and reduce 'speckle', a common fault with low pressure gravure units. The machine drive could be split at any point along the line of gravure units and so it could run 2 colours (1 colour definitive plus phosphor) at one end and at the same time, up to 4 colours plus phosphor plus 3 colours of intaglio at the other end; both ends producing fully perforated and sheeted output.

In the case of special issues, double pane printings were engraved one above the other, giving counter sheets of 100 (2 panels of 5x10). The Kampf rotary pin perforator required a circumference of sufficient size for the pin cylinder to mate with the die cylinder. In turn, the circumference of the ink cylinders had to have a direct relationship to the Kampf perforator. In the case of special issues this required the inclusion of a gutter and hence the counter sheet format of two panels of 5x10 (the only exception is the 1973 County Cricket issue).



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.


Perforator : Swedish Lawnmower
Manufacturer : Harrison
 

This was a stand-alone Reel fed perforator for reel to reel perforating (coils) or reel to sheeter. This was the first rotary perforator developed by a Swedish Engineer for Harrison. It was originally used to perforate trading stamps which didn't require perforation to the exacting standard that was needed for postage stamps. It wasn't until the later 1960's that it had been developed sufficiently for usage on postage stamps.

The perforator used a pin cylinder (these were not pins in the traditional sense but short stud type protrusions) and a full width 'burr' cutter mechanism (this consisted of some seven pairs of burr cutter rotors arranged in a herringbone configuration). The web passed between the pin cylinder which raised the paper against the pins while the 'burr' cutter shaved off paper at the contact points. It was found that paper gummed with Gum Arabic (generally the gum gave a thicker coating making the paper more rigid) proved to provide better performance and a cleaner perforation hole.

It was used to perforate part of the 3p Christmas 1973 issue - these were Gum Arabic gummed (it was also rumoured that it may have been used for some Christmas 1971 issue).


Perforator : Kampf
Manufacturer : Kampf
 

This perforator was specifically designed to be an integral part of the Jumelle printing press, allowing stamps to be printed, perforated and sheeted in one continuous operation. The Kampf used pin and corresponding die cylinders to punch out perforation holes. For the mechanics of this mechanism to work these two cylinders had to be of sufficient circumference for successful matting to occur. One result of this was that it proved necessary to introduce a gutter in respect of Special Issue counter sheets. Another by-product of the Kampf was the standardisation of the size of Special Issue stamps. This was an economic / engineering issue - each set of cylinders required a high level of precision engineering - some 40,000 plus drilled out holes being required for each cylinder and then one of these cylinders being pinned with a corresponding number of pins. When Harrison introduced the Jumelle press they experienced various technical problems with the Kampf and so the first Special Issue perforated by this system was the Royal Wedding late 1973 (the base paper was increased from 63gsm to 70gsm and the gum was changed to Dextrin which further increased the weight of paper in order to improve performance of the Kampf).

Note : The Jumelle press ran two of these Kampf perforators allowing two jobs to be printed and perforated simultaneously.




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.

1971 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
Ulster 71 Paintings
16th June 1971
xx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxx14 xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx4 xxxxxxxx10 xxxxx6 xxxxxxxxx11
  3p   7
P14 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  7p   7
P18 L & M No.4
SF Comb
  9p   9

P18 L & M No.4
SF Comb
Literary Anniversaries
28th July 1971
  3p   5 P13 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  5p   5 P13 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  7p   5 P13 Rembrandt
SF Comb
British Anniversaries
25th Aug 1971
  3p British Legion 9
P21 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  7p City of York 10

P20 L & M No.4
SF Comb
  9p Rugby Football 8

P20 L & M No.4
SF Comb
  This issue was not part of the original programme for 1971. Presumably, this is why the allocation of phosphor numbering appears out of sequence.
British Architecture - Universities
22nd Sept 1971
  3p   6 P12 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  5p   5 P12 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  7p   4 P12 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9p   5 P12 Rembrandt
SF Comb
Christmas 1971
13th Oct 1971
  2p   10 P23 Woods 10
SF Comb
  3p   10 P19 Woods 10
SF Comb
  3p   10
P15 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  7p   10

P16 L & M No.4
SF Comb
  It was reported at the time that some of the reel fed sheets were found to have been perforated using a rotary perforator - the top and bottom margins of the sheets being perforated through. Its unclear which cylinder combination was used, indeed, which value was involved.

1972 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
British Polar Explorers
16th Feb 1972
xx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxx14 xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx4 xxxxxxxx10 xxxxx6 xxxxxxxxx11
  3p   10
P24 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  5p   8
P24 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  7p   9
P24 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9p   9
P24 Rembrandt
SF Comb
General Anniversaries
26th Apr 1972
  3p Tutankhamun 8 P27 Woods 10
SF Comb
  7p Coastguard 8
P26 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9p V. Williams 9
P26 Rembrandt
SF Comb
British Architecture - Village Churches
21st Jun 1972
  3p   8
25 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  4p   8
25 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  5p   8
25 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  7p   8
25 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9p   8
25 Rembrandt
SF Comb
Broadcasting Anniversaries
13th Sep 1972
  3p   6 P31 Woods 10
SF Comb
  5p   7
P30 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  7p   6 P30 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9p   7
P30 Rembrandt
SF Comb
Christmas 1972
18th Oct 1972
  2p   10 P32 Woods 10
SF Comb
  3p   10
P35 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  7p   9
P35 Rembrandt
SF Comb
Royal Silver Wedding 1972
20th Nov 1972
  3p   4 P33 Jumelle
SF Comb
  3p   4 P36 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  20p   4 n/a Rembrandt
SF Comb
  The 3p Jumelle printing, despite the sheet format being configured with the 'Kampf' gutter feature, was Comb perforated as the integral Kampf perforator was not giving satisfactory results at the time.
The 3p value is said to have been printed for two days on the Halley* press. Jumelle cylinders were not directly interchangeable and so another set would have been required - at present, this printing has yet to be confirmed as being issued.
*Post Office records show a 3p printing using cylinder combination 2A 2B 4C phos P34 that produced some 53,000 sheets. This is recorded against a reference to Andreotti (Andreotti were the makers of the printing units for the Jumelle press). Its unclear why such a large print run was not issued.

The stamps were being printed when the Queen visited Harrison on 30th May 1972.

1973 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
European Communities
3rd Jan 1973
xx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxx14 xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx4 xxxxxxxx10 xxxxx6 xxxxxxxxx11
  3p   6 P40 Woods 10
SF Comb
  2x5p   7 P40 Woods 10
SF Comb
Tree Planting Year
28th Feb 1973
  9p   7
P41 Rembrandt
SF Comb
British Explorers
18th Apr 1973
  2x3p   8
P36, P46 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  5p   10
P36 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  7p   9
P36 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9p   10
P36 Rembrandt
SF Comb
County Cricket
16th May 1973
  3p   5 P48 Jumelle
SF Comb
  7p   5 P48 Jumelle
SF Comb
  9p   5 P48 Jumelle
SF Comb
  The phosphor cylinder P48 was "All-over". Originally, a two band phosphor cylinder P43 was prepared and a few of these surfaced on the market a number of years ago.
British Painters
4th Jul 1973
  3p   10 P49 Woods 10
SF Comb
  5p   9
P46 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  7p   8
P46 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  9p   9
P46 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  SG QE II Decimal Special Issues Specialised Stamp Catalogue incorrectly records the 3p value as having been printed on the Jumelle press.
Inigo Jones
15th Aug 1973
  2x3p   5   ?
 
SF Comb
  2x5p   5   ?
 
SF Comb
  The Inigo Jones stamp set was produced by Bradbury Wilkinson using a combination of lithography and letterpress (the head and phosphor). The printing details are unclear, at the time Bradbury were experiencing industrial action and it was originally planned to be a recess printing. In the event it was reported they were printed in web offset lithography and they may well have been printed by a subcontractor.
Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference
12th Sept 1973
  8p   4   ?
SF Comb
  10p   3   ?
SF Comb
  The Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference stamp set was produced by Bradbury Wilkinson using a combination of recess (the building) and letterpress (the background and phosphor) - no details of the printing presses appear to have been published.
Royal Wedding
14th Nov 1973
  3p   4 P5? Jumelle
RF Kampf
  20p   4 P5? Jumelle
RF Kampf
  This was the first special issue where the web was printed and perforated on the printing press in the same operation. The perforator was the integral Kampf rotary consisting of pin and die cylinders of equal circumference - a by product of this was the introduction of central gutters for special issue sheets. Also, the use of this perforator necessitated the paper to be heavier / more rigid and this why PVA dextrine gum (this gum tends to have a thicker coating) was used for this and subsequently issues.
The phosphor cylinder number was probably P56 not P5(0) as listed in SG (P50 was used for the 1973 Christmas 3p issue printed on the Woods press).
Christmas 1973
28th Nov 1973
  5x3p   10 P50 Woods 10
SF Comb
  5x3p   10 P50 Woods 10
RF Swedish
  3p   10 P51 Woods 10
SF Comb
  3p   10
P52 Rembrandt
SF Comb
  Part of the 3p printing was perforated using the Swedish Rotary 'Lawnmower' (this was the Mark I APS developed during the 1960's in order to address perforating vast quantity of trading stamps; the first use of this perforating method on GB stamps was the 1/- multi value Machin coil strip issued 27 Aug 1969). The solid blue oblongs located below each stamp in the stamp margins were for use by the perforator (block under Sheet Markings - Sheet Serial Numbers). The use of this perforator necessitated the paper to be heavier / more rigid and this was achieved by reverting to Gum Arabic.

1974 Issues

  Value Design U* Cyls Phos Press
Type
Perf.
British Trees
27th Feb 1974
xx xxxx5 xxxxxxxxxxxx14 xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx4 xxxxxxxx10 xxxxx6 xxxxxxxxx11
  10p   7 P5? Jumelle
RF Kampf
  The phosphor cylinder number was probably P56 not P5(0) as listed in SG (P50 was used for the 1973 Christmas 3p issue printed on the Woods press).
Fire Engines
24th Apr 1974
  3p   7 P57 Jumelle
RF Kampf
  5p   7 P57 Jumelle
RF Kampf
  8p   7 P57 Jumelle
RF Kampf
  10p   6 P57 Jumelle
RF Kampf
UPU Centenary
12th Jun 1974
  3p   6 P57 Jumelle
RF Kampf
  5p   6 P57 Jumelle
RF Kampf
  8p   6 P57 Jumelle
RF Kampf
  10p   6 P57 Jumelle
RF Kampf
Great Britons - Medieval Warriors
10th Jul 1974
  4p   8 * Jumelle
RF Kampf
  5p   8 * Jumelle
RF Kampf
  8p   8 * Jumelle
RF Kampf
  10p   8 * Jumelle
RF Kampf
  All four values used 7 ink cylinders (the maximum for the Jumelle press) and so the phosphor must have been printed as a second run.
Churchill Centenary
9th Oct 1974
  4p   4 P57 Jumelle
RF Kampf
  5p   4 P57 Jumelle
RF Kampf
  8p   4 P57 Jumelle
RF Kampf
  10p   4 P57 Jumelle
RF Kampf
Christmas 1974
27th Nov 1974
  3p   7 P59 Jumelle
RF Kampf
  3p   7 P59* Jumelle
RF Kampf
  4p   7 P58 Jumelle
RF Kampf
  8p   8 ** Jumelle
RF Kampf
  10p   8 ** Jumelle
RF Kampf
  The 3p used two phosphor cylinders; P58 used a clear gravure ink as an underprint to improve appearance of the gold. Phosphor cylinder P59 produced a centre band for the initial part of the printing, but this did not produce a sufficient phosphor response and so it was inverted which resulted in the band being printed on the right (P59*) and so improving the phosphor response.
The 8p and 10p values used 7 ink cylinders (the maximum for the Jumelle press) and so the phosphor must have been printed as a second run.


KEY :-
  Abbreviations :-
    LM - Left Margin    
    RM - Right Margin    
    SSN - Sheet Serial Number    
  Background colours
    dark blue - gravure   maroon - litho
    dark green - recess    
  U*
    The number of print units required - includes ink cylinders, embossing and phosphor.
  Cyls / Plates
 
Gravure Ink cylinders / plates; in the case of the Rembrandt these will appear 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
 
Recess Ink plates
Letterpress Ink plates
  Phos(phor)
   

For the Harrison printings - the phosphor cylinder number is given

  Types
 
Single Pane Reel-fed
Double Pane Reel-fed
         
 
Single Pane Sheet-fed
Double Pane Sheet-fed
  Perf (orator)
    SF Comb - Sheet Fed Comb using Grover type perforators
    RF Swedish - Reel Fed 'Swedish Lawnmower' burr cutter
    RF Kampf - Reel Fed pin rotary; the Kampf was an integral part of the press - allowing printing and perforating in one operation.

Information Sources
o
E.C Ehrmann (Continental Press Service) writing in Stamp
Collecting Weekly and Philatelic Magazine
o
Philatelic Bulletins
o
Post Office Archive records
o
SG Specialised Catalogue Volume 3 and
SG Specialised Catalogue Volume 5
o
Woodstock Catalogue of Decimals Part II - Special Issues


 
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