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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.
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 1990’s, 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).
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 :-
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.
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
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
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
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).
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.
Autotron scanning marks were used by all the reel fed presses in use
by Harrison. Each print unit had a Autotron scanning head that controlled
the colour to colour registration with adjoining print units. If loss
of registration was detected the print unit would temporally disengage
, typically this would occur for two to three rows/columns and is one
reason for missing colours. The Autotron Scanners were on movable bars
allowing them to be positioned to meet the requirement of any configuration.
They appear as thick solid bars (thin bars on some of the Woods issues)
- one for each colour and appear in the horizontal margins (top or bottom)
side by side or in the vertical margins (left, middle or right) one
below the other.
N.B For The purpose of this review the term Autotron is used to in conjuction with
automatic colour registration. However, the Autotron scanning systems were manufactured
by Crosfield Electronics. On the Jumelle press the system used was manufactured
by Thorn Automation.
Colour Registration Marks occur for both sheet and reel fed printings.
They tend to be located in the four corners of the sheet - typically
in the left and right margins for Rembrandt sheet fed printings. In
the case of Jumelle printings just one set of the crossed lines appear
in the left and right margins per pane.
Various formats were used over the years, two of which are described
Consisting of crossed hairlines (one axis being elongated, usually
the key colour, with an appropriate number of crosses) superimposed
along the axis, one for each colour. The following diagram demonstrates
this for five colours with the none orange colours shown slightly
out for register :-
This type of colour register mark tended to be used for Jumelle printings.
A set will normally appear per counter sheet - typically in the left
and right margins (when viewing stamps in landscape orientation).
These are subtly different from the Colour Crosses (see below) in
that, generally, the full cross will be set in from the margins edge
and the crosses are tied together by the key axis colour.
With the change to the decimal currency, the crossed circle was introduced
consisting of a fine lined circle intersected by a crossed hairline
- each colour being superimposed over one another. This type was mainly
associated with the sheet fed Rembrandt press printings. They tend
to be located in the four corners of the sheet - typically in the
left and right margins (when viewing stamps in landscape orientation).
In the cases where two passes through the press were required, these
will probably occur in two groups.
Coloured Crosses are a feature that are found on sheet fed printing,
each colour is represented by a separate side by side colour cross.
They appear on the margin edge and so part of the cross will be trimmed
off. One group will appear at the top of the sheet and one at the bottom
(or the left and right side margins). In the 7½p Christmas 71
blocks below the colour crosses occur in the left and right margins
(adjacent to rows 6 and 7) .
Harrison had a room full of perforators - mainly manufactured by Grover
, in order to handle the volume of the postage stamps being printing.
The 1960's saw the advent of the trading stamp and a boom in there usage.
To address this volume requirement the 'Lawnmower' was developed which
was fine for the trading stamp but was not giving the quality needed
for security stamp products. It wasn't until the late 1960's that the
'Lawnmower' had been sufficiently refined to be used for postage stamps.
Two feed types of perforator were employed :-
Some five sheets at a time were manually placed onto the perforators
lay table engaging pinning points by way of the perforation guide
holes. The lay table was then advanced to the perforating unit
where delivery grippers took over and so released the feed table
for the next batch of sheets. Note - this is why its possible
to find extraneous perf holes the fed margin which should normally
clean - imperf margin. The majority of these types of perforators
at Harrison were manufactured by Grover.
Some five sheets were manually placed up against a lay edge on
the perforators feed table. The table was then pushed forward for
grippers to hold the paper while being stepped though the perforating
comb head. Again, these were Grover perforators.
This perforator was reel fed using a burr cutter mechanism - a
pin cylinder and full width burr cutter cylinder. The pins were
not true pins but just raised stud type / protrusions used to force
the paper up so that the burr cutter could shave the paper and so
create the holes. In its first incarnation the perforator was not
an integral part of a printing press but ran as a stand-alone system.
Developed at Harrison by a Swedish Engineer it is often referred
to as the Swedish 'Lawnmower'. This would later be developed further
and become the APS.
This perforator was reel fed using a pin cylinder and a die cylinder.
In order for the pins to mate with the die cylinder the circumferences
had to be of sufficient size to facility this (two and half times
the size of the counter sheet), additionally, there was only a narrow
range where this mating was feasible (almost meaning a fixed circumference).
As a result, the sheet size for the special issues needed a 'gutter'
to be included in the counter sheet so that the print cylinder relationship
to the perforator cylinder was achieved. This type of perforator
was manufactured by Kampf in Germany. Two of these Kampf perforators
were integral parts of the Jumelle press allowing for the print
and perforating in one operation at both ends of the press.
The Woods press did not have an integral perforator and so the press
would have used a sheeter attachment after printing to produce imperforated
sheets of 100. In order to achieve perforation register one of the print
units on the printing press (the key colour cylinder) would have produced
a set of punched out perforation guide holes for each pane (the cylinders
were double pane - engraved one above the other).
The 1973 County Cricket issue was one of the few Jumelle printings
not to be perforated using the integral Kampf perforator and so its
sheet layout did not have the central gutter and these were produced
with perforation guide holes.
As a separate manual operation (and labour intensive), some five sheets
at a time were placed onto the perforators lay table engaging pinning
points by way of the perforation guide holes.
Cut sheet panes using single row horizontal comb top fed - the perforation
guide holes are in both the left and right side margins (typical adjacent
to rows 5) examples : 1971 Christmas 2½p
With the introduction of the Kampf rotary perforation system a new
control mark appeared in the margins for perforator register (first
appeared on the Royal Wedding 1973 issue). This consisted of a single
thick solid bar printed in a dark colour (similar to the Autotron mark)
and tends to be in the right margin (opposite margin to the Autotron
marks) on just one of the panes (normally on the opposite pane to the
The 3p Silver Wedding 1972 (Jumelle printing) and 3d Christmas 1973
used solid oblongs adjacent to each stamp running down one side margin
(see 1973 3p Christmas in Sheet Serial Number section below). In the
case of the Christmas printing these were used by the Swedish 'Lawnmower'
perforator. In the case of the Silver Wedding printing these had been
included but, in the event, the Kampf was not performing satisfactorily
and so the sheets were comb perforated.
With the introduction of the Kampf rotary perforation system it was
necessary for the size of the print cylinders to have a specific relationship
to the Kampf pin/die cylinders. In the case of special issue stamps
a standard size was adopted - this size meant that counter sheets of
100 stamps necessitated the introduction of a gutter in order for the
print cylinder / perforator cylinder relationship to be achieved (seven
panels of 50 or three and one half primary sheets were perforated by
one revolution of the Kampf).
All the Harrison reel fed printing presses had sheet numbering security
units. They were crashed stamped in black as the web passed through
the press and were a function of that press with characteristics that
can used to identify the press. They do not appear in a set position
in the side margins, although having said this, they will generally
appear in a consistent position for a given print run. The following
show the different Serial Number typefaces used on the Woods and Jumelle
This press used full size double height cylinders - double pane sheets
were arranged one above another - various sizes were used ; generally
2x100 special issue stamps. Typically, the sheet serial numbers appear
in both the left and the right hand margins of the each sheet. e.g
1973 3p Christmas below. Note - the left hand margin number 'reads
up' while the right hand margin number 'reads down'.
This press used full size cylinders - double pane one above another
sheets - size 2x(2x50) of special issue stamps. Typically the sheet
serial numbers will appear in the left margin and the right hand margins
of the each sheet. The typeface for the digits is different from that
used for others presses e.g 1979 11p Spring Wild Flowers below. Note
- the left hand margin number 'reads up' while the right hand margin
number 'reads down'.
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.
For the Harrison printings - the phosphor cylinder number is given