The Royal Mail The Millennium Definitive was issued on January 6th, printed in sheets of 200 by De La Rue, and also in books of 10 printed by The House of Questa and Walsall Security Print.
From the outset, collectors suspected that the stamps from the different printers would be identifiable, despite the seemingly uniform design.
Douglas Myall of the Deegam Catalogue describes the stamps thus:
"Because the millennium Machin head has no background
there is no 'frame'.
However, the amount omitted differed with each printer.
This is best seen by looking at the space between the base
of one image and the tip of the diadem on the images below.
This gap is 0.1mm on a Questa stamp, 0.2mm on a De La Rue
stamp and 0.5mm on a Walsall stamp from panes of 10. (It is
0.6mm on a Walsall stamp from the pane in the Special by
Design prestige book to be issued next month.)
While these differences are minimal, they are constant and
are just one of the features by which singles of the
different printings can be distinguished.
Thus, collectors can defeat Royal Mail's intention of having three printers create identical images by supplying them with the same digital head on a CD ROM. "
These enlarged images of parts of the stamps might help collectors to distinguish single stamps in their collections.
I hope this page is useful; if you have any other quesions, please e-mail me.
Updated 6th February 2000 - republished and reformatted 6 October