Stoke & Staffordshire

Anniversary of 'Queen's head' design marked with new stamps

Sketch Image copyright Royal Mail
Image caption Mr Machin’s preliminary sketch from January 1966 is featured on one of the six stamp designs

Royal Mail is marking the 50th anniversary of the current design on its stamps with a new issue.

The stamp, featuring a profile of the Queen by Stoke-on-Trent-born sculptor Arnold Machin, has been reproduced in more than 130 colours since 1967.

He also designed the profile of the Queen that appeared on coins from 1968 to 1984.

A set of six stamps has now been issued featuring different stages of the stamp design.

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The new stamps were issued on Monday to mark the day the Machin Definitive, as the image is known, was first issued.

It has since been reprinted an estimated 220 billion times.

Image copyright Royal Mail
Image caption The new stamps feature stages in the evolution of the design. including this image from October 1966

Before 1967, an image of the Queen taken by society photographer Dorothy Wilding had been used.

Dominic Newton, Mr Machin's nephew and director and trustee of the Machin Arts Foundation, said his uncle "regarded his design and sculpture for the definitive issue stamp as his greatest achievement".

Image copyright Royal Mail
Image caption Arnold Machin also had a long association with Wedgwood potteries
Image copyright Royal Mail
Image caption Mr Machin was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1911

"He saw his task as creating a design with charm and dignity and yet without sentimentality, both a likeness of the Queen and an image of the monarchy," he said.

"The result was an iconic design that has stood the test of time."

Mr Machin, who came from a family of pottery workers, started working at the Minton China Factory aged 14.

He won scholarships to both the Derby School of Art and Royal College of Art and was appointed an OBE in 1965.

Image copyright Royal Mail
Image caption Royal Mail’s design was first issued at the 4d value on 5 June 1967

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