RCA celebrates iconic stamp

The evolution of the most reproduced stamp portrait of all time, the Machin design, will be explored at an exhibition at the Royal College of Art in London.

Staged by The British Postal Museum & Archive, the Timeless & Classic: Elizabeth Queen & Icon exhibition explores the development of sculptor Arnold Machin’s portrait of the Queen.

The evolution of the design will be shown, through original portrait photography and plaster casts, including works by Dorothy Wilding, Lord Snowdon, John Hedgecoe and David Gentleman.

The exhibition will also feature the radical stamp designs of 1965 to 1966 – instigated by the then-Postmaster General Tony Benn – which avoided the use of portraits.

As part of the show, visitors will be invited to design their own stamps, make their own stamp portrait and learn more about the portrait of the Queen used on stamps today.

The Machin design has been used on more than 200 billion stamps, and the exhibition traces its development, from its original inspiration in the Victorian Penny Black to the final portrait that still exists today.

The exhibition, which begins on Thursday 19 July and runs until 15 August, is a follow-up to the 2006 show, Elizabeth: Queen & Icon, created to celebrate the Queen’s 80th birthday.

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