the Machin / エリザベス2世の肖像

December 13, 2011

5 June 1967, UK
Queen Elizabeth II definitive
photo gravure
design: after plaster cast by Arnold Machin

The last post was my first feature of a monarch portrait – the second stamp is her great grand-daughter, current Queen of the UK.  This is probably the most repeatedly used profile in stamp history.

According to the ‘Profile on Print’ leaflet (1999), the sculptor Arnold Machin made pencil sketches first, then sculpted a relief in clay.  Then he took a plaster mould, which he refined by hand – afterwards taking another plaster cast to bring the features back to relief.  Finally, after ‘numerous trials’ a photograph was taken ‘using north daylight with a precise amount of cloud over the sun’.  Phew!

I like this ultimate simplicity of design – of course inspired by the very first stamp, but pared down to the minimum.  Here are some process records shown, featured in Going Postal blog from New Zealand.

The six stamps below were issued following years – I have not counted yet how many stamps were issued since the first one – still going now.


たぶん世界で一番たくさん切手に印刷されてきたこの横顔が登場したのは、1967年。コミッションを受けた彫刻家は鉛筆スケッチを元にまず粘土で最初の彫刻を制作し、それを石膏で型取りしたものを彫刻刀で手直しして、もう一度石膏取りしてレリーフが完成。それを「おびただしい回数の」試行ののちに「北側の窓辺で一定の雲が日光を隠す瞬間に」撮影したものが、切手になったのでした!彫刻家の写真と最初のスケッチが Going Postal というブログに載っています。

世界初の切手「Penny Black」の横顔をひきつぐデザインなのは一目瞭然ですが、背景の模様や「postage」の文字までも取り去ってしまったこの潔さには、やはり強く惹かれます。

p.s. Someone did count the number of Machins and there are so far 440 of them.


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