“Machin” Definitives – Great Britain 1967


Part of the Iconic Stamp series. Click here to see the full list of Iconic Stamps.

The Machin series was a definitive stamp series that followed the Wildings.

The Stamp Advisory Committee expressed a desire for a designer to focus on the Queen as a person, as opposed to a symbol of the Monarchy. Arnold Machin was commissioned for this work. Born in Stoke-on-Trent, he was a renowned artist, designer and sculptor, notable for his simple interpretations and designs.

He was one of five artists who were invited to submit designs of The Queen’s head in 1965; the Stamp Advisory Committee was in favour of his approach to the portrait – it was simple, elegant and more defined, and they liked the portrait on a darker background.

The Queen approved the designs in 1966 and in 1967 the first stamps were issued to the public. The design has enjoyed a lengthy life (for a stamp). It has now been in use for 50 years and is still going strong – an iconic symbol of Britain.

Arnold Machin’s design is without question the modern day equivalent of the Penny Black. It too has become an icon. Both designs originated in work for coins and medals and employed the highest craftsmanship of the day, as if they were made to remain untouched by design trends and fashion. The Machin, like the Penny Black, is timeless.

Iconic stamps

Did you know...

  • Machin stamps are one of the longest running series of stamps in the world and as a result one of the most studied by philatelists.
  • As Machins were introduced in 1967 they were originally printed in the pre-decimal currency of shillings and pence, symbolised as ‘1/-‘ or ‘1d’. The design was such a success they were the only design that continued post decimalisation.
  • In 1990 a special commemorative definitive was issued to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the uniform penny post. This had both the Machin head and the head of Queen Victoria.

What our customers say...

“A Machin – clean, crisp and not fussy.”
– Alan Stuart Hague

“My choice would be a 1st class Machin. The Machin series has been in use for so many years and epitomises the reign of Queen Elizabeth and has been in use for almost all of my active collecting life.”
– Keith Burton

“1990 – Double-Head Machin. This issue celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Penny Black issue and also epitomises the enormously outstanding contribution these two long-serving monarchs have made to modern Britain.”
– Peter Tasker

Discovering the Machin

A Timeless Classic – Machins Icon
This book marks the 40th anniversary of the first stamp issued with the now classic image of Queen Elizabeth II created by Arnold Machin. An icon of monarchy and of Britain the image has been reproduced more than 200 billion times. Here Douglas N Muir, curator of philately at the BPMA traces the evolution of the design from work on coins. Muir describes the revolution in British stamp design in the 1960s, of which the machine design was the culmination. This important study is based on a new research and a wealth of illustrations never seen before.


Artist of an Icon – Arnold Machin

The memoirs of Arnold Machin. The artist who created the sculptured image of Queen Elizabeth II that has been reproduced over 180 billion times. A fascinating book for the GB collector.

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