23 May 2015

The anatomy of slot machine booklets

Cuts and more cuts

In younger days I had a hard time to understand the different kind of perforations on pairs. Especially the se-tenant pairs from the 50s and 60s. Some of them had this peculiar vertical 2-sided perforation. One of the lower or upper corner were cut. Why did that occur? My album did not give much further information either.

Puzzling perforation.
1962, 3 September. 35 öre blue Gustaf VI Adolf type III. Vertically 2-sided perforation (corner cut).
1963, 3 September. 10 öre ultramarine-blue New Numeral type II. Vertically 2-sided perforation (corner cut).

Those corner cut stamps origin from slot machine booklets. They contained the Gustaf VI Adolf series and was issued from 1954 to 1966, and from 1957 they also contained the New Numeral Type. (After 1967 the slot machine booklets were not corner cut anymore.) During that time the value of a booklet was 1 kr but since the postal rates were  raised constantly new combinations of denominations were required in order to offer useful stamps in the booklets.

We will use the 10th slot machine booklet issued by the Swedish Post to understand the principles of how the cuts were done and what kind of varieties and combinations that became the results.The booklet contains se-tenant pair with one column (vertical row) of two 35 öre blue Gustaf VI Adolf type III and one column of three 10 öre ultramarine-blue New Numeral Type type II, and an empty slot, a blank stamp, in order to add up to 1 kr.

The way the stamps were glued on the cover and the way they were cut resulted in four different combination of the booklet. The margin could be at the Top or at the Bottom of the stamps, the stamps could also be placed in the way that the highest denomination was at the Right or at the Left, hence defining the four combinations: Top Right, Bottom Right, Top Left or Bottom Left.

Lets have a look how different se-tentant pairs forms a booklet.

Top Left

Top Left
The margin is above the stamps, on top, and the highest denomination is at the left.
The stamps at the end have their lower corners cut. [Facit: RH]

Top Right

Top Right
The margin is still above the stamps, on top, but the highest denomination is now at the right.
The stamps at the end have their lower corners cut. [Facit: RV]

Bottom Left

Bottom Left
The margin is now below the stamps and highest denomination is at the left.
But the stamps are kind of upside down compared with the Top versions when the margin is glued on to the cover.
The stamps at the other end (actually at the top) have their upper corners cut. [Facit: OH]

Bottom Right

Bottom Right
The margin is below the stamp and the highest denomination is at the right.
The stamps are in this case also kind of upside down compared with the Top version.
The stamps at the end (actually at the top) have the upper corners cut. [Facit: OV]

The principles of the combinations

This is how it works:
Overview of the parts of the booklet and the configuration of pairs.

If the stamps have the margin above them it is the Top version. The stamps at the other end have their lower outer corner cut.

When the stamps have the margin below them it is the Bottom version. The stamps at the other end have their upper outer corner cut.

When the highest denomination is at the left it is the Left version.

When the highest denomination is at the right it is the? . .           yes, the Right version.

The reason why the Top or the Bottom versions occur is because how the stamps are printed and cut. Six rows of stamps are printed with two margins in between and then they are cut into a block of six stamps with a margin.

This is why there are a Top and a Bottom version.

How about the Left and Right versions? The reason why its shifts between high denominations to the right and to the left is that the vertical cuts, because of some technical reasons, shift a stamp column. At least that is how it is described in the literature. I have not figured out how that works in detail. The sheet is 270 mm wide and a pair of stamps are 44.1 mm which makes it possible to print six columns of stamps. Six is an even figure  . . .

I think that the Swedish Post maybe also wanted to create some more interesting combinations. During the 50s the Swedish Post was criticized rather heavily by philatelist for issuing to few stamps and boring stamps. Maybe this was one way to do stamp collecting more challenging within the rather rigid issuing policy that was in effect. Just a thought.

Note about Facit abbreviations :

The Swedish well-known stamp catalogue Facit uses the term normal mounting for what I call Top. It is abbreviated R (as in "rättvänd"). If the marging is below the stamps Facit calls that inverted mount, abbreviated O (as in "omvänd"). If the lowest denomination is at the right Facit calls it right and it is abbreviated H (as in "höger"). Or if the lowest denomination is to the left Facit calls it left and it is abbreviated V (as in "vänster").

Top Left is then RH, Top Right is RV, Bottom Left is OH and Bottom Right is OV.

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