British Stamps News & Articles

Royal Mail Post and Go Tribute to Arnold Machin

While there have now been four pictorial Post & Go stamp issues featuring British Birds these Machin Centenary Post & Go stamps are the first issued that genuinely act as a commemorative issue among the fast developing world of automatically vended British postage stamps.


Machin Centenary Post and Go 1st Class Stamp

We understand that two Hytech Post & Go machines (numbered 91 & 92) were used during Stampex for self-service customers while over the counter sales were serviced by two other machines behind the Royal Mail's counter (numbered 93 & 94). These machines dispensed the usual six denominations for Post & Go Stamps namely:

  • 1st Class
  • 1st Large
  • Europe to 20g
  • Worldwide to 10g
  • Worldwide to 20g
  • Worldwide to 40g


Machin Centenary Post and Go Stamps

Reports say the self-service machines were relatively quiet during Stampex and this supports the opinion of many people that these stamps will prove scarce in future and thus worthy of investor interest in addition to collectors. As the issue was announced just one week before Stampex and they were produced for only four days at one location (Stampex), I tend to agree.

About Arnold Machin

Arnold Machin OBE RA (30th September 1911 – 9th March 1999) was a celebrated British artist, sculptor, coin and stamp designer widely known for the effigy of the Queens head used on British coins and postage stamps.

Arnold Machin was born in Stoke-on-Trent in September 1911. He began working at age 14 as an china painting apprentice at the Minton Pottery. During the Great Depression he attended Stoke-on-Trent Art School to study sculpting. In 1934 he relocated to Derby where he would meet his wife-to-be Patricia.

During the Second World War Machin was imprisoned because he was a conscientious objector. During this period he worked on sculptures and modelling and many of his ceramics are now prized items among collectors. Shortly after the war ended, Machin was elected to be an associate member of the Royal Academy and he was eventually appointed a Master of Sculpture in 1959 to 1966. He was elected both as an Academician in 1956 and then a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. He taught at the Royal College of Art from 1951 where he made the contacts that would eventually earn him his most celebrated commissions.

The Arnold Machin Stamp and coin designs

Arnold Machin was chosen to design the new effigy of the Queen's Head for the planned decimal coinage due to be introduced in the UK from 1968. His effigy was used on all new British coinage until 1984. Machin's effigy of the Queen was still featured on the coinage of New Zealand up to 1985, Australia until 1986 and Canada's coins continued using his design up until 1989.

It was in 1966 that the Queen officially approved Machin's design for use on what are now known as the Machin series of British definitive postage stamps. Machin's design was used first on the 4d (four pre-decimal pennies) value issued by the Post office in June 1967. The design has since been used on all British definitive stamps (except some recent regional and olympic issues) to date.

 Arnold Machin lived near Eccleshall with his wife Patricia and his son, Francis (1949-2007) who was also an artist and an architect. After Francis died in 2007 the remaining possessions of Arnold Machin in his Staffordshire house were auctioned by Cuttlestones. These possessions included the fourth and last of the plasters known used to create the Machin stamp series (the other three are held in the Royal Mail archives).

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Royal Mail Post and Go Tribute to Arnold Machin

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