Norvic Philatelics

Royal Mail Horizon Postage Labels - The Machin Label Era

June 2009: Is it a stamp? Is it a label? You can't get mint copies and used ones shouldn't be postmarked!

Gold Machin Horizon label first used 8 June 2009.An unannounced new Horizon Label, bearing the Machin Head and with die-cut 'perforations', was trialled only at the Branch Post Office at Camden High Street, in London, on Monday 8th June. The new labels were available only for the inland Special Delivery service.

These 59 x 65mm labels were printed by De La Rue in lithography, in sheets of 2 tete-beche, as all the Horizon label sheets are fed into the Epson printers on the short side.  

Unlike traditional Horizon labels these are not straight-edged, and have clearly been designed to look like a stamp - albeit a very large one!  The basic label is very similar to the 1st class gold postage stamp, and also has a security overprint (the words ROYAL MAIL repeated in wavy lines across the design, using a different format on the portrait).   Whereas the white Horizon labels have four 2cm cuts at right angles to each edge, these have security slits similar to those found on the self-adhesive stamps issued on 17 February 2009, but in a much more elaborate pattern.

As with ordinary Horizon labels the serviced indicator, date, price, location and serial numbers are printed at the counter at the time the label is applied to the item to be posted.  A picture of an unoverprinted label* can be seen here, and a line-drawing of the security slits can be seen here.  
*Of course, being a Horizon label they cannot be obtained in this form.  In fact they exist in only three states:

- as printed and supplied to Post Office Ltd by De La Rue;
- printed at the PO counter prior to be applied to the item to be mailed;
- attached to the letter or packet;
- removed from the letter or packet if this is possible!

First Day of Use

A small number of first day covers was produced on 8 June, the information we have suggests not more than 100.  Most of these seem to be on Royal Mail Definitive FDCs, although some are on Cotswold (Machin Head) FDCs, others on privately designed covers, and some were done on plain envelopes.   Although it is not normal for the Horizon labels to be postmarked - and some of the FDCs have no postmarks, the date on the label being sufficient to identify the item as first day of use - the Camden High Street counter date stamp was applied to some labels on cover, and some covers also have an office date stamp applied adjacent to the Special Delivery barcode label.

Shown below are the First Day of Use cover that we obtained and, below that, a cover used later in the trial period.  Note that the business-use cover was 'signed for' on a portable scanner, which is why all the bar-codes are intact.  The FDC was signed for manually and the bar-code attached to the signature form.

All these items have passed through the post as Special Delivery items, and thus they all have minor corner knocks and scuffs.  Nonetheless the number of FDCs - and even the number of 'commercially-used' labels - will be very small in relation to the number of Machin collectors worldwide.  At the time of writing the highest price seen on eBay for a first day cover is £94.54, and no non-first day items have been listed.  Updated: the highest price for a FDC is £102.50.  Non-FDC items have reached £55, although prices areound £30 are more usual.

Golden Machin Horizon label first day of use cover.

Golden Machin Horizon label ordinary use.

Non-first day envelope of Machin gold horizon label with additional adhesives.

All our First Day of Use covers have been allocated to existing customers.  We have some more later-use covers - Contact us if you wish to buy.

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This page updated 15 August 2009.

Copyright © 2009 Norvic Philatelics