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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 29, July 22, 2007, Article 16

ARNOLD MACHIN'S QUEEN ELIZABETH II COIN AND STAMP ARTWORK EXHIBIT

Dick Johnson forwarded this article about a London exhibit featuring
artwork used as the basis of stamp and coin designs picturing Britain's
Queen Elizabeth II.  In 1964 sculptor Arnold Machin was chosen to
design a new effigy of the Queen for the decimal coinage; this effigy
was used for all British coins until 1984.  In 1967 Machin designed
a similar portrait for British stamps.

"A classic image of the Queen which has featured on some 200 billion
stamps is being celebrated in an exhibition. The British Postal Museum
and Archive (BPMA) show opens at the Royal College of Art in London
on Thursday.

"Arnold Machin's headshot of Queen Elizabeth II marks its 40th
anniversary this year and is thought to be the most produced stamp
portrait of all time.

"The Timeless & Classic: Elizabeth, Queen & Icon exhibition, which
runs until 15 August, includes original portrait photography and
plaster casts.

Douglas Muir, curator at the BPMA, said: "This is a marvellous and
unique opportunity to see the Machin design process in its entirety
from the development of the coin effigy through the many stages
of different designs to the final, timeless icon."

"Mr Machin's image was chosen from five artists asked to submit
renderings of the Queen's head for a new stamp design. It first
appeared on a 4d value stamp issued in June 1967."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[I visited the exhibit on opening day, 19 July 2007.  I only had
a limited time, but took some notes on the numismatic elements of
the exhibit.  These are summarized below, along with some
additional information gleaned from the handouts I picked up.
-Editor]

1952 - Artifact: Plaster model by Mary Gillick for the first
coinage of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II

January 1963 - Artifact: Machin's original wax model relief
for the new Queen Elizabeth II head.

June 1963 - Artifact: Drawing from Life by Arnold Machin
showing the Queeen in a three-quarter back profile

October 1963 - Artifact: original reduction punch (die) for
coin obverse, and a 5 pence coin obverse reduction punch and
working punch

October 1964 - Postmaster Tony Benn encouraged stamp designs
without the Queen's head, but this introduced a new problem -
without the Queen's head to identify the country of origin, an
alternative was needed.  "Great Britain" and "U.K. Postage"
were tried, but at the time the correct name of the nation was
actually "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
(and the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands).  That doesn’t
fit well on a postage stamp!

Initial work for Machin's stamp design was based on his
"Coinage Head" design

March 1966 - Artifact: plaster cast of Machin's "Coinage Head".
The plaster is very large, about 20" in diameter.  Related
artifacts include the final plaster model for Machin's coin
effigy and a metal electrotype.

[While viewing the exhibit I couldn't help but think, 'Wow,
somebody ought to put all this great information together in
a book."  Well, somebody did.  Among the handouts I picked up
at the exhibit were the May and June 2007 issue of the British
Philatelic Bulletin which included the 2nd and 3rd installments
of a three-part article by Douglas Muir, "an abridged chapter
from his book, 'A Timeless Classic: The Evolution of Machin's
Icon', published this month."

The book is available at the Royal Mail web site (www.royalmail.com).
The description reads "This 248 page, fully illustrated book is
written by Douglas Muir, curator of the British Postal Museum
and Archive and an expert on the development of the Machin image."
The cost is 19.95 GBP.  Because of the close connection to British
coins and the good amount of numismatic information within, this
could be a useful book for coin collectors. -Editor]

To order the Douglas Muir book "A Timeless Classic" see:
Order Info

To read an interview with Muir about his work and the Machin exhibit, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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