Collectibles Machin Definitive 50 Years

Published on June 8th, 2017 | by Michelle Roper-Shaw

Machin Definitive 50 Years

The 50th anniversary of the Machin Definitive stamp is being marked with a new design.

The Machin Definitive stamp with its instantly recognisable image of the Queen’s head has been in use since 5th June 1967.

It is therefore very fitting that Royal Mail have decided to mark the golden anniversary of this design icon with six new stamps. They show the evolution of the Machin Definitive through the last 50 years.

Over the past 50 years, this stamp has been reproduced in over 130 colours and has been reprinted approximately 220 billion times.

In recent years, new security issues have been introduced into the design.  The effigy and background are now printed with the continuous “ROYAL MAIL” iridescent printing. Two ellipsoidal shear panels have also been added.

Arnold Machin’s Design

Arnold Machin, was renowned for this work with Wedgewood potteries. He also designed the Queen’s profile which appeared on coins during the period 1968 to 1984.

Prior to Machin’s design, the definitive series depicted a three-quarter photograph of the Queen by Dorothy Wilding. This image appeared on stamps from Her Majesty’ accession to the throne in 1952.

In creating the image for the stamp, Machin initially sculpted a bas-relief in clay and moulds. The printing essays were then completed by Harrisons & Sons using photographs of the sculpture.

Today, the final sculpture, a rectangle of plater is held in the British Postal Museum and Vault in London.

Golden Anniversary Marked in Style for a Design Icon

Machin 50th Anniversary range

According to Arnold Machin’s nephew Dominic who is also the director and trustee of the Machin Arts Foundation, his uncle saw the Machin Definitive stamp as his greatest achievement.

In the Machin 50th Anniversary range, six new stamps feature different stages of Machin’s design from 1966. All six stamps are included in the Machin Definitive 50th Anniversary Presentation Pack.

  • January 1966: Features a preliminary sketch based on the Penny Black stamp.
  • February 1966: Preparatory work by Machin using a photograph of his coin mould.
  • April 1966: On of the essays with the “Coinage” head surrounded by country symbols.
  • October 1966: Essay of the “Coinage” head cropped and simplified with only the denomination.
  • August 1966: Shows a photograph by John Hedgecoe with The Queen wearing the diadem.
  • October 1966: Shows with essay of the first plaster cast of the “Diadem” head without corsage.

A Timeless Classic

A Timeless Classic: The Evolution of Machin's Icon

Instantly recognisable as a symbol of Britain, the iconic Machin Definitive stamp image is the focus of this fascinating book – A Timeless Classic: The Evolution of Machin’s Icon. It looks at the history behind the first stamp issued with the timeless image of Queen Elizabeth II. For philatelists it provides a fascinating insight into the classic design from conception to British icon.

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