Great Britain today, June 5, marked the 50th anniversary of one of its most iconic stamps — the Machin Definitive (often called Machin Head by collectors) — with a series of new stamps.
The stamps show a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and were created in 1967 by artist Arnold Machin (1911–1999), who first sculpted a bust of the queen that was adapted to the stamp design. Born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1911, Machin was a renowned sculptor and had a long association with Wedgewood potteries.
The new stamps present a snapshot into the history of the design that has been reprinted an estimated 220 billion times and is considered one of the most reproduced images in the world, according to Royal Mail.
The Machin Head has been reproduced in more than 130 colors and more than 800 major varieties.
Royal Mail lists 20 different products in connection with the new stamps, including a Prestige Booklet, Presentation Pack, postcards, first-day covers, and a set of six Post & Go (vending machine) labels.
A new miniature sheet of the new stamps show various steps in the Machin’s design process in 1966, including an image of the Queen Victoria Penny Black stamp, a model for the 1967 Queen Elizabeth II definitives; a photograph of the sculptor’s coin mold; essays; and a photograph of the queen by John Hedgecoe.
A new Golden Anniversary Celebration miniature sheet features eight stamps in various denominations, colors and shapes, including a £1 stamp, based on the high-denomination range of 1969 and is printed using gold foil.