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A face that travels - Machin's Elizabeth II


Arnold Machin with his cast of HM Queen Elizabeth II
Image: Royal College of Art

Arnold Machin began his career at 14, working for a pottery, and later became a teacher at the Royal College of Art. Forty years ago he created an image of Elizabeth II to be used on British stamps. The memorable profile, filling the stamp and silhouetted, became iconic. It has been used more that 200 billion times.

Whenever I travelled to Canada or Australia it was a reassuring comfort to see my Sovereign’s head on the coinage and bank notes, and to feel my connection with these countries in a tangible way. British people founded them, and Britain governed them for many years. In willingly giving them their independence Britain did something no other empire has ever done.