Monday, 23 April 2007

Professor John Hedgecoe & The Machin Design

Every one knows Arnold Machin created the bust that the famous stamps came from. What is not generally known is the involvement of top photographer Professor John Hedgecoe. Professor Hedgecoe worked closely with Arnold Machin and his photographs of the Queen in 1965 were fundamental to the design.

The iconic image created by the two men has been reproduced over 175 billion times since its creation! But history has tended to gloss over Professor Hedgecoe's role, giving all the credit to the equally deserving Arnold Machin. The definitives are even referred to as "Machins".
It’s only in the last few years that Hedgecoe’s part in the stamps has been universally recognised.

The first day cover from Buckingham Covers for the Machin’s 40th Anniversary seeks to redress the balance and celebrates Professor Hedgecoe, without whom the definitive stamps would not exist as we know them.

Click on the the link ( above) , When it opens you will be directed to a link where you can see and purchase covers from this great selection that are available from just £9.95.

These covers are based on Professor Hedgecoe's photographic work while working with Arnold Machin. They also has a special London postmark.


larry said...

Very interesting topic.

Buckingham has another page about the subject at
which implies that Hedgecoe took the photographs of Machin's sculpture and those photographs were in turn used to produce the stamps. That's false. Machin took those photographs. This became a news story in its own right a few years back when someone asked Machin about that. Machin noted that he struggled to get the right lighting, and finally found it by taking the picture outside on a foggy London day.

The camera that Machin used for that purpose has been preserved and was on display at The Stamp Show 2000 in London.

Apparently, what did happen is that Hedgecoe took some photographs of The Queen, and Machin may have used these to help create his sculpture.

Hedgecoe had to sue Royal Mail in 2000 in order to get recognition for his part in the process, and he won. As a result, Hedgecoe is mentioned by Royal Mail whenever the origin of the Machin stamp design is discussed.

There's some information about it on my web site at

Interestingly, Hedgecoe is not mentioned in Machin's posthumously published memoirs, Machin, Artist of an Icon.

Also, Machin was very familiar with The Queen because she sat for him several times when he was developing his sculpture that was used on coins (this was a few years before the stamp was designed). Still, he may have found Hedgecoe's photographs helpful.

Perhaps the whole story will be told in Douglas Muir's upcoming book. I hope so.

Machin Man said...

Thanks Larry, for setting the story right. Perhaps we should now call this site Hedgecoe Hysteria? :-)


Anonymous said...

Buckingham Covers thinks it's a real shame people are still not acknowledging Hedgecoe with the credit he deserves. Machin was a brilliant man and remains a giant in the world of postal history. Tony Buckingham was proud to consider Arnold Machin a personal friend and we have nothing but the highest regard for him. But we also feel that it is only fair to give John Hedgecoe credit too for the part he played in creating the famous image.

The following link goes to a letter Hedgecoe wrote to Buckingham Covers. which may be of interest.

Hedgecoe has already won a law suit against Royal Mail, so people should be careful denying Hedgecoe's involvement, as there is considerable evidence to prove otherwise. Royal Mail would not have back tracked and given him credit for no reason! He's also a lovely man who, we suspect, it a little bewildered and hurt by the way he has been treated over this issue.

Surely it is acceptable to admire both men? They are both extremely talented and while, no-one would deny that Machin was the main creator of the image, Hedgecoe played an important role.

Machin Man said...

"we suspect, it a little bewildered and hurt by the way he has been treated over this issue."

I agree, I would be a little hurt also. I would like to thank Buckingham Covers for addressing the issue.

With his phographs,Hedgecoe captured the original profile and played an VERY important role, without them there would be no Machin as we know it.

Bravo Professor !