The Arnold Machin Set: Unveiling a Numismatic Marvel

In the captivating realm of coin collecting, few names evoke as much reverence as Arnold Machin. This esteemed sculptor’s indelible mark on British coinage etched a lasting legacy, with his designs adorning decimal coins and stamps for over two decades. Among his most celebrated creations stands the Arnold Machin Set, a numismatic treasure trove that ignites the passion of enthusiasts worldwide. Join us as we delve into the extraordinary story behind this coveted collection, exploring its rarity, historical significance, and the meticulous artistry that breathed life into each piece.

A Sculptor’s Journey: From Potteries to Prestigious Commissions

Arnold Machin’s artistic odyssey began amidst the bustling Potteries of Staffordshire, where he honed his skills as a figure painter at the tender age of 14. This early exposure to the world of ceramics kindled a lifelong passion that would shape his illustrious career. Driven by an insatiable thirst for knowledge, Machin pursued formal training at esteemed institutions like the Derby School of Art and the Royal College of Art, where his exceptional talent earned him accolades and scholarships.

A Conscientious Objector’s Resilience

Machin’s journey was not without its challenges. During World War II, his stance as a conscientious objector led to his imprisonment, a testament to his unwavering principles. However, this setback proved to be a mere detour in his remarkable trajectory, as he emerged from the conflict with renewed vigor and a commitment to creating works that would leave an indelible mark on British cultural heritage.

The Wedgwood Legacy: Forging Artistic Bonds

Machin’s long-standing association with the renowned Wedgwood pottery company was a pivotal chapter in his artistic journey. His commissions for the esteemed brand included iconic pieces such as the Taurus the Zodiac Bull, a symbolic gift presented by Hugh Gaitskell to Nikita Khrushchev during a diplomatic visit to Moscow in 1956. Machin’s relief portraits and busts of prominent figures, including Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, Winston Churchill, and President Roosevelt, further solidified his reputation as a master sculptor.

The Royal Academy: A Pinnacle of Artistic Excellence

Machin’s ascent to the pinnacle of artistic recognition reached its zenith with his election as a Royal Academician in 1956 and his subsequent appointment as the Master of Sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools. This prestigious honor not only acknowledged his exceptional talent but also provided him with a platform to inspire and nurture the next generation of sculptors, ensuring the continuation of his artistic legacy.

The Arnold Machin Set: A Numismatic Masterpiece

At the heart of Machin’s enduring legacy lies the Arnold Machin Set, a collection of coins that epitomize his artistic genius and meticulous attention to detail. This coveted set comprises a series of decimal coins issued by the United Kingdom from 1968 to 1984, each bearing Machin’s iconic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Obverse: A Regal Visage Etched in Time

On the obverse of these coins, Machin’s masterful sculpting skills are on full display. His portrait of the Queen, characterized by its understated elegance and timeless beauty, captures the essence of Her Majesty’s regal bearing. The intricate details, from the delicate lines of her face to the intricate folds of her robes, are rendered with exquisite precision, imbuing each coin with a sense of majesty and grandeur.

The Reverse: Emblems of Tradition and Celebration

The reverse of the Arnold Machin Set is a testament to Machin’s versatility as an artist. The 1972 crown, issued to commemorate the Silver Wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, features Machin’s intricate design, a harmonious blend of symbolism and artistic flair. Similarly, the Silver Jubilee crown of 1977 bears his masterful touch, with its obverse and reverse designs celebrating the Queen’s milestone reign.

The Arnold Machin Set - 1974 Sovereign reverse
The Arnold Machin Set - 1974 Sovereign obverse
The Arnold Machin Set - 1979 Sovereign reverse
The Arnold Machin Set - 1979 Sovereign obverse
The Arnold Machin Set - 1980 Sovereign reverse
The Arnold Machin Set - 1980 Sovereign obverse
The Arnold Machin Set case left

Rarity and Collectibility: A Numismatic Treasure Trove

The Arnold Machin Set holds a revered place in the hearts of coin collectors, not only for its artistic merits but also for its scarcity and collectibility. As the years pass, these coins become increasingly rare, making them highly coveted by enthusiasts worldwide. Each piece in the set represents a tangible connection to a bygone era, a physical embodiment of British history, and a testament to Machin’s enduring legacy as one of the nation’s most celebrated sculptors.

Architectural and Garden Wonders: A Multifaceted Talent

Machin’s artistic prowess extended far beyond the realm of sculpture and coinage. His fascination with architectural and garden design found expression in his personal sanctuary, a meticulously crafted arcadian garden in Staffordshire. Here, he seamlessly blended natural elements with man-made structures, creating a harmonious oasis replete with bridges, fountains, waterfalls, and grottos, each bearing the imprint of his creative vision.

Terracotta Mastery: Capturing the Essence of Life

While Machin’s coin designs and architectural endeavors captivated the public eye, his true passion lay in the expressive medium of terracotta. His life-size figure of “Spring,” exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1947, was a testament to his ability to breathe life into clay, earning him widespread acclaim and a place in the prestigious Tate Gallery’s collection.

A Legacy Etched in History

As we explore the intricate details and historical significance of the Arnold Machin Set, we are reminded of the enduring power of art to transcend time and inspire generations. Machin’s legacy extends far beyond the confines of coin collecting, serving as a testament to the human spirit’s ability to create, innovate, and leave an indelible mark on the world.

Whether you are a seasoned numismatist or a casual admirer of artistic excellence, the Arnold Machin Set is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Each coin tells a story, a narrative woven from the threads of history, artistry, and cultural heritage. Embrace the opportunity to delve into this remarkable collection, for it is not merely a assemblage of metal and design but a living embodiment of the human spirit’s boundless creativity.

Cultural Impact

The widespread use of the Machin portrait on British coinage has also contributed to its cultural significance. The image of the Queen, as rendered by Machin, has become ingrained in the collective consciousness of the British public, serving as a symbol of national identity and the enduring presence of the monarchy.

Arnold Machin Royal Museum

Collecting the Machin Set

For coin collectors and enthusiasts, the pursuit of the Arnold Machin Set is a captivating and rewarding journey, filled with the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction of building a comprehensive collection.

Strategies for Collectors

Collectors seeking to acquire the Machin Set must navigate a diverse landscape of mintage figures, design variations, and condition-based rarity. Developing a well-informed strategy, which may involve targeting specific denominations, commemorative issues, or high-grade specimens, is crucial for building a valuable and cohesive collection.

Marketplace and Acquisition

The Machin Set is traded in a robust numismatic marketplace, with auction houses, online platforms, and specialized dealers offering a wide range of opportunities for collectors to acquire these coveted coins. Staying informed about market trends, auction results, and emerging collecting trends can help collectors make informed decisions and maximize the value of their acquisitions.

Preservation and Maintenance

Proper care and preservation of the Machin Set are essential for maintaining the coins’ condition and ensuring their long-term value. Collectors must employ best practices in storage, handling, and display to protect these numismatic treasures from the ravages of time and environmental factors.


The Arnold Machin Set stands as a testament to the enduring artistry, historical significance, and cultural impact of British coin design. Through the lens of this iconic collection, we witness the convergence of numismatics, art, and the enduring legacy of a remarkable designer, Arnold Machin. As collectors and enthusiasts continue to seek out and cherish the Machin Set, the story of this remarkable coinage will continue to captivate and inspire generations of coin collectors.

Special photo credits – Arnold Machin: The Royal Mint Museum

Leave a comment

Evaluate Your Coin with Confidence! Upload a picture of your coin and our team of experts will evaluate the coin’s condition, rarity, and historical value to give you an accurate market price estimate. All you have to do is fill out the form below and attach a clear image of both sides of the coin. Get your evaluation quick!

Start by telling us:

  1. The country of origin of the coin
  2. The year it was minted
  3. The denomination
  4. Any notable features or inscriptions