The strips of stamps | Types of strips | ¿ Is it a pre-printed stamp or an ATM ?
Catalogue of issues: 1999-2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006
Errors and rarities

The strips of stamps on thermal paper

In 2003, in response to complaints and queries about the long term preservation of thermal type ATMs, plus a large increase in interest and orders for these types of stamps by philatelic collectors all around the world, and to simplify the handling of the set values, the Spanish Philatelic Service asked the company SIGNE, S.A., the manufacturer of the self adhesive pre-designed blank labels in 2003, what they could do to produce values of 0,26-0,51 & 0,76 EUR as a combined issue.
In response, SIGNE, S.A. used some of the existing rolls of self-adhesive labels for the ATMs in Spain and produced strips of the three required values with the values printed in offset.

These new stamps were manufactured in cards or strips (Spanish: Tarjetas or Tiras -TS-) of the 3 consecutive values that made up the basic rate for the 3 postal zones and the backing paper was perforated between each stamp.
The pre-printing of the face value is made by offset.

The first model issued in strips was also the first one manufactured by Signe, S.A.; T80 (88). Amilcar - 1927.
Museo Historia Automocion - Salamanca.

In order to try and standardize these new stamps with the ATMs sold by the Philatelic Service, (issued by franking balance Epelsa ET-RL/T, number 0761), they choose an identical printing font and resolution for the printing of the face value which we know as a 5 digits small printing variety.

Of course, this decision supposes a difficulty in telling if the piece is a pre-printed stamp or an ATM, printed with franking balance.

These stamps are NOT ATMs

A stamp or variable value stamp is called an ATM only if certains conditions of issue and use are met, and not after the characteristics of the label on which it is printed.

An ATM is a postage stamp issued by special equipment with the face value specified by the user at the time of purchase. The result can be used anytime and anyplace for postage, in the same way as a traditional stamp.

The difference with these strips, despite being printed on the identical self-adhesive labels, is that the new stamps issued in strips are manufactured and pre-printed with the 3 face values, just as with traditional stamps. Thus the user cannot choose the value(s) at the time of issue other than those in the strip.
They are created only for philatelic purposes, and are a strange mixture between current ATMs on thermal type paper and the booklets of self-adhesive stamps, although the result is without doubt a self-adhesive stamp, but not an ATM.

strips are sold only by the Spanish Philatelic Service and are sent regularly to the subscribers of etiquetas.
With no official date and its own characteristics of issue different to the ATMs of the same model, we treat the date of arrival of the
strips at the Philatelic Service as a date of issue.

For the first time in Spain, the same self-adhesive paper is used for the manufacture of pre-printed stamps and for its use in the post offices to issue ATMs from the franking balances.

It's NOT a STAMP, it's NOT an ATM

Types of strips

strips of pre-printed stamps on thermal paper until now are manufactured by 2 Spanish companies, giving 2 types of strips:

Type 1 - SIGNE, S.A. Type 2 - RCM-FNMT
SIGNE, S.A. manufactured 19 different strips, sold by the Philatelic Service between 2003 and 2004.
(See the catalogue for details)

The strips include 3 pre-printed stamps and size approx. 49 x 90 mm. (ranging 48.50-50 mm x 89-91 mm).
They are printed on phosphorescent self-adhesive thermal paper on
waxed continuous paper, with serrations between the stamps.
In 2004 the RCM-FNMT began the manufacture of strips which continues today (September 2005).
The strips also include 3 pre-printed stamps and size approx. 49 x 87 mm. (48.50-50 x 85.5-88 mm).
They are printed on phosphorescent self-adhesive thermal paper on
waxed continuous paper.
Apart from the size, the most visible difference is that the strips made by the RCM-FNMT
have not had the excess thermal paper around the ATM edges removed.

¿ Is it a PRE-PRINTED STAMP or an ATM ?

If both type of stamps comes from an identical self-adhesive label, to recognize if it's a pre-printed stamp from a
strip or an ATM printed by a franking balance can be very difficult. The only difference is the printing characteristics of the face value.

Pre-printed face value.
Manufacture: SIGNE, S.A.
Pre-printed face value.
Manufacture: RCM-FNMT
Face value printed by the franking balance Epelsa - 5DE

For the printing of the face value in pre-printed stamps they choose an identical font and resolution to that used by the franking balances printing 5 digits small.

Even so, by the printing system used (offset for stamps -upper image, much more defined printing- and thermal in the balances for the ATMs -lower image-), both types of stamps can be recognized.

But there are other signs that also can help us:

- The pre-printed stamps does not include any number of the balance at the left, because these stamps are not printed by franking balances !
It's an indication, but not a conclusive one, because a balance might not print the machine number due to a fault condition.

- Each design only exists with pre-printed stamps having 3 face values. If it's another value, it is an ATM.

ATM Web - Spain and Latin American Postal Services:
© J. Jove - M. Sans. ATEEME. Variable value stamps study group
. All rights reserved
This page was created in August 20th, 2005 and last updated
22.02.07 . English edition rewrited by S. Goodman (10.09.05)