Saturday, 19 November 2011

Machin & The Coinage Head

On the Diamond Anniversary Miniature sheet you will notice that we are looking forward to (5) new definitive type stamps. Described as:

1st class based on a Wilding Definitive.

1st class based on a £1 note portrait by Robert Austin.

1st class based on £5 note portrait by Harry Eccleston

1st class based on the Pre-decimal coinage head by Mary Gillick.

1st class based on the Arnold Machin’s decimal currency head.

and lastly the 1st class new Jubilee Machin Definitive Stamp.

The one I want to bring to your attention today is the 1st class stamp based on the Arnold Machin’s decimal currency head of 1968. I thought as it is a Machin (but not as we know it) it deserved a mention on these pages.

I have picked up some information on this early head which is quite interesting.

The head was submitted by Machin as a competition entry for the new coins from photographs taken by Lord Snowdon. Eventually Machins portrait was chosen for the obverse side of the new coins. But his work had only just started.

Arnold then had to produce a true likeness of the Queen and for this he had four sittings at Buckingham Palace. As this was the first time he had worked on a coin design, he found it a difficult and challenging technique.

He first made drawings of the the Queen's head, followed by modelling in relief. From theses studies he built up the image working at his London studio, and he finally decided in the summer of 1963 that he would need one further sitting. The Royal Family were away at Balmoral on their summer break and so Arnold was invited to join them there.

On returning to London, Arnold continued to work on the effigy, producing several versions and submitted designs for several months. His final portrait, approved by the Queen in June 1964, was handed over to the Mint where it was reduced mechanically with a pantograph machine to coin size.


Arnold visited several times to supervise the final engraving. The first two coins (the 5 new pence and the 10 new pence) with the new effigy of the Queen were in circulation in 1968.


A year later a 50 new pence piece was introduced, and the remaining coins became available as legal tender on Decimalisation Day, February 15th 1971. In March 1965 Arnold was awarded the OBE.

One coin that does not get a mention is that of the full Gold Sovereign, Shown above, beautiful coin in my veiw which allows Machins design to stand out in all its glory. Sovereigns are struck in 22 carat gold, weighing 7.98 grams and measures 22.05 mm in diameter. The reverses show St. George and the Dragon.

3 comments:

Ian - Norvic said...

Thanks for reminding us that this, too is a Machin head!

And the Gillick head is surely the source for the profile head used on commemoratives since the 60s and on the regional pictorial definitives?

Anonymous said...

Yes the Mary Gillick head is used on special issues and pictorial definitives.

Another masterpiece

Douglas said...

Two cameo heads have been used on GB stamps. The first was created by David Gentleman in 1965, based on the coinage head by Mary Gillick. It was used on all special issues from 1966 to 1968 and on a few others up to 1973. The other, also with laurel wreath and ribbons, is from a bust sculpted by Arnold Machin in 1967. The Machin cameo head was used on most special issues after 1968 and, in silhouette form, on some definitives, such as the Castle stamps from 1992 and the country pictorials. Several subtypes of it are recognised in the Deegam system; see pages A12-3 and A14-3 of the Handbook.