Arnold Machin designed the royal portrait which featured on United Kingdom decimal coins from 1968 to 1984. The reverse of the crown issued in 1972 to mark the Silver Wedding of the Queen and Prince Philip was also his work, as were the obverse and reverse of the Silver Jubilee crown of 1977. In addition, he designed the royal portrait which has appeared on definitive British stamps since 1967.
He was a member of a large family of pottery workers and, at the age of 14, became an apprentice figure painter at Minton china works. At the same time he also began studying part-time at Stoke School of Art. Five years later he joined the Derby china works before winning scholarships to Derby School of Art and then the Royal College of Art, where he won a travelling scholarship and the College medal.
After completing his education he returned to the Potteries where he began his long association with Wedgwood. This was soon interrupted when he was imprisoned as a conscientious objector, but after the Second World War his many commissions for the pottery company included Taurus the Zodiac Bull, a specimen of which Hugh Gaitskell presented to Nikita Khrushchev during a visit to Moscow in 1956, as well as relief portraits and busts of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt.
For many years Michael Sedgwick worked for the Royal Mint in America. As he explains in this article, he met Arnold Machin in 1984 – a meeting that left a lasting impression on him. The article was first published in FDC Review in 1999, soon after Mr Machin’s death.