Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks
50th Anniversary of the Machin - 5 June 2017
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the issue of new Queen Elizabeth II
definitives featuring Arnold Machin's iconic bas-relief sculpture which
replaced the Wilding definitives. Arnold Machin's 1967 portrait of Queen
Elizabeth II (sometimes referred to as the Machin head) has been
reproduced over 200 billion times
|Inspired by the Penny Black, the design was conceived
by sculptor Arnold Machin and at first based on his bas relief
sculpture for the new decimal coins. He sculpted plaster
casts, looked to incorporate text and symbols and essays were
produced. Simplification of head and text and framing devices
occurred, and ultimately the SAC preferred the Queen to wear a
diadem (crown worn by Victoria on Penny Black). Machin used a
photograph by John Hedgecoe to model the diadem and then he created
a further new sculpted plaster cast, later adding a corsage for the
final sculpture. A cast of this was photographed and used for the
artwork for the first stamp.
Machin’s image has appeared on more than 200 billion stamps, making
it one of the most reproduced images of all time. It is the subject
of avid collecting and study by philatelists.
To commemorate this important philatelic anniversary there are two
Miniature sheets, one showing how the design processed and a second
showing some of the variants in its evolution over the 50 years.
The first sheet, captioned 50 Years of
a Design Icon shows the development of the Machin design from the
1d black-inspired design through to what was almost the final
design. The Machin head which is common to each stamp is embossed,
as is the plaster cast portrait in the margin.
The stamp designs in detail:
1st Class January 1966: One of the many preliminary
sketches by Arnold Machin based on the Penny Black
1st Class February 1966: Preparatory work by Machin
using a photograph of his coin mould 1st Class April / May 1966: One of
many essays with the ‘Coinage’ head surrounded by country symbols
1st Class October 1966: Essay of the Coinage head
cropped and simplified, with only the denomination
1st Class August 1966: Photograph by John Hedgecoe with
The Queen wearing the Diadem
1st Class October 1966: Essay of the first plaster cast
of the ‘Diadem’ head, without corsage.
Background Image March 1966: Revised plaster cast of the ‘Coinage’ head,
with The Queen wearing a tiara. Total face value £3.90.
The second sheet, captioned Golden
Anniversary Celebration shows the original 4d dark brown stamp
issued in 1967, and includes many of the different design variants of
the stamps issued over the 50 years, and a new £1 stamp embossed and
printed in gold foil, in the size of the 1969 high values.
The stamp designs in detail:
5p - A range of 12 low-value stamps, including 5p, was
issued on ‘Decimalisation Day’, 15 February 1971. Few
were sold on the day of issue because of a labour dispute which closed
most post office branches. First day covers were delivered after
the strike was over, in March.
20p - The double-head 20p stamp was issued as part of a
range of five values on 10 January 1990 to celebrate the 150th
anniversary of the Penny Black.
1st Class* - On 19 October 1993, the first
self-adhesive stamp issued by Royal Mail appeared in booklets of 20. The
format was landscape. The trial
was short-lived as it soon became apparent that postmarks of the time
could be wiped from the stamps. Anyone trying to use the stamps
from the booklet now will find that the stamps are very difficult to
remove from the baking card.
1st Class* - On 6 January 2000, a new setting of the
Machin portrait on a white background was issued to mark the
millennium. Differences can be
seen between the stamps printed by the three different printers.
1st Class* - A change to the way postal charges
were calculated, known as ‘Pricing in Proportion’, led to the release of
new definitives on 1 August 2006. This
included Large Letter stamps
1st Class* - On 3 January 2013, the colour of the 1st
class Machin definitive was changed from gold to red with an iridescent
security overprint. Philatelists
soon found a whole new area of Machins to study as the text in the
iridescent printing varied according to the source (sheets, booklets
etc) and year of production. Note
that this stamp is red, not deep scarlet.
£1 - This new £1 stamp is based on the high-value range
of 1969 and is printed using gold foil.
Background Includes an image of one of the 4d one of the first values
issued on 5 June 1967 and a quote “After
months of extremely hard work by Mr Arnold Machin and the printers,
Messrs Harrison and Sons Ltd., a design was evolved which in my
opinion will be one of the classics of stamp history.” Edward
Short, Postmaster General 1967.
* These four stamps have elliptical perforations. Unlike the 20p
in the PSB pane, see below, the 20p in the MS does not have elliptical
Technical Details & Acknowledgements:
The miniature sheets were designed by Atelier Works and printed in
gravure on gummed paper by International Security Printers, with gold
foil on the £1 stamp. The sheets are 192 x 74 mm. The stamps
on the Design Icon MS are 34 x 24 mm. The stamps on the Golden
Celebration MS are 20 x 24 mm, except the 1993 stamp (25 x 20 mm) and
the £1 stamp (30 x 35 mm). Perforations are: 14½ x 14 (Design Icon
stamps), 14 x 15 (Golden Anniversary 1993 and 2017 stamps), 15 x 14
(other Golden Anniversary stamps). Phosphor bands: On the Deisgn
Icon stamps appear to be 14 mm, gradated on the left side of the stamp
only (and thus avoiding the embossed head); on the Golden Anniversary
stamps 8 mm bands on all stamps except the £1 value. The
iridescent printing on the 1st class red has year code M17L and source
Bas-relief portrait of The Queen by Arnold Machin OBE, RA, the 1971
stamp typography by Stuart Rose CBE, FSIA, the 1990, 1993 and 2013
stamps design and typography by Jeffery Matthews MBE, FCSD, FRSA, the
2000 stamp design by The Chase (including typography by Jeffery Matthews
MBE, FCSD, FRSA), the 2006 stamp design by CDT Design Limited, and the
2017 stamp design based on the original design by Arnold Machin OBE, RA
issued in 1969 © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2017;
all other images, including photograph of The Queen by John Hedgecoe ©
Royal Mail Group Ltd 2017, courtesy of The Postal Museum, except Arnold
Machin’s sketch based on the Penny Black and preparatory work by Machin
using a photograph of his coin mould © The Machin Arts Foundation.
Prestige Stamp Book
Designed by Godfrey Design, the Prestige Stamp Book features an overview of
the history of Machin Definitive in its various forms and developments. (Click
on the images to see a larger one, and use the 'back' button to get back
to this page. At the time of publication only panes 3 and 4 are of
the actual stamps, the remainder are pre-issue pictures from Royal Mail.)
The panes in detail:
Pane 1: Three x 1st class stamps from the top row of the
Design Icon ms.
Pane 2: Three x 1st class stamps from the lower row
of the Design Icon ms.
Pane 3: Current range of make-up values - 1p, 2p, 5p,
10p, 20p, 50p - plus 2nd class and £1 ruby. The 50p grey and £1 ruby
are not in the current colours, but in the colours first used in 2007.
Odd then that the £1 ruby has iridescent printing, coded M17L MPIL from the
2009 security stamps.
The central label is a detail from the 50p stamp.
Pane 4: Range of stamps approximating to those included in
the Golden Anniversary ms. From the top left: 1st class black
(1989), 20p black double-head (1990), 1st class orange (1990), 1st class
gold (2002), 1st class Millennium (2000), 1st class PIP (2006), another 20p
black double-head, 1st class red (2013 - not deep scarlet) coded M17L
MPIL. The central label is a detail from the 1970 50p stamp, but
Pane 5: Block of 4 x £1 gold foil embossed stamps as on the
Golden Anniversary ms.
The PSB is designed by Godfrey Design, printed in gravure by
International Security Printers, except for the pane 5 which is
lithography and gold foil. Non-stamp panes are printed in litho. The
stamps on panes 3 and 4 have elliptical perforations, but those on 1, 2
and 5 do not.
Retail Stamp Book
As in 2007 Royal Mail has produced a retail booklet containing 6 x 1st class
stamps. As in 2007 the stamps are unremarkable definitives (then they
were 1st class gold) and the booklet has a panel on the inside cover about
Machin and the anniversary. We understand that these are deep scarlet
(although they look like the original red in the publicity pictures).
The coding is M17L MSIL and we're told the backing paper is SBP1.
Miniature sheet x 2
- Prestige Stamp Book -
Presentation Pack with two MS - Set of 8
stamp Cards unused - Retail booklet
Miniature sheets on two Royal Mail fdcs - PSB
Panes 3 and 4 on two Royal Mail fdcs - Medal
cover with Royal Mint (limited edition of 9,000)
Press Sheets of both miniature sheets, each containing 8 miniature sheets,
each in limited editions of 1,000.
Limited Edition PSB
This Limited Edition Prestige Stamp Book comes in an exquisite
specially-created display case together with a silver Machin medallion
which was handmade in the UK and has been struck in solid sterling silver,
weighing 97grams (diameter 60mm). In addition, centrally placed in the lid
of the case is an original 4d stamp as replicated on the Golden
Anniversary Celebration Miniature Sheet.
The cover of this Prestige Stamp Book consists of duotone imagery with
silver foil lettering and this unique presentation set is complete with a
Certificate of Authenticity and hologram on the inside cover complete with
each book’s individual serial number.
Summary of new stamps (other than on
Design Icon MS)
- 1p crimson - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - PSB
- 2p deep green - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - PSB
- 5p pale violet non-elliptical perfs - gravure - ISP± - MS
- 5p red-brown - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - PSB
- 10p orange - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - PSB
- 20p green - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - PSB
- 20p black double-head non-elliptical perfs - MS
- 20p black double-head ellipitcal perfs - PSB
- 50p light grey - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - PSB
- £1 ruby M17L MPIL - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - PSB
- £1 gold -gravure from MS*
- £1 gold -litho from PSB*
- 2nd class blue - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - PSB
- 1st class black - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - PSB
- 1st class orange horizontal - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± -
- 1st class orange vertical - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - PSB
- 1st class gold - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - PSB
- 1st class Millennium - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - MS
- 1st class Millennium - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP±
- darker shade from PSB
- 1st class PIP - gummed - elliptical - gravure - ISP± - MS & PSB
- 1st class red M17L MPIL - PSB
- 1st class red M17L MMIL - MS
- 1st class red (or deep scarlet?) M17L MSIL - retail book
± - ISP, may be Walsall Security Printing or Cartor Security Printers
* Technical details are as announced by Royal Mail, but these have
not yet been examined for differences.
Postmarks available for the day of issue are shown in Royal Mail's Postmark
Bulletin which can be downloaded from their website
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This page created 16 May 2017.