Rare plaster cast portrait of QEII by Arnold Machin expected to bring upwards of $20k

A rare plaster cast portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by iconic artist and sculptor Arnold Machin is expected to highlight an upcoming sale by Cavendish Philatelic Auctions.

To be held March 15-16 at the firm’s Cavendish House in Derby, the sale will feature more than 1,000 lots of stamps and postal history from Great Britain and around the world, including the Bob Dearnley Collection of Malta Postal History and the Colin Poynton Collection of Portugal in the First World War on March 15. The following day will see the sale of the John Gammon Collection of Great Britain Used Abroad as well as the Jim Gomersall Collection of British Free Mails (1678-1840) and Great Britain used in Nicaragua.

Among the highlights of the Jim Gomersall Collection is Lot 815, the rare plaster cast portrait used in the design process of the final Machin head. According to auctioneers, the plaster cast belongs to a deceased estate (a former printer).

Machin’s left-facing portrait of Queen Elizabeth II has been featured on Britain’s definitive stamps for 50 years—since 1967.

The plaster cast was produced around March or April of 1966. It was based on Machin’s previous work with British coinage.

“This item was an early design piece used in the process that eventually resulted in the final accepted version,” reads the auction catalogue.

“We are aware of one other cast of this model, which is in the National Postal Museum in London. Two casts of the final accepted Machin head have been auctioned in recent years, with Royal Mail paying £18,500 in 2008 for the first and the other fetching £21,000 in 2009. This latter example is now held by the Royal Philatelic Society London. This appears to be the first occasion a cast of this particular model has come to the market.”

The cast is about 380 mm in diameter with a mount of 450 mm square by 70 mm deep and a few small chips along the edge.

It has a pre-sale estimate of £12,000 (about $19,695 Cdn.).

Cavendish has held continuous regular stamp auctions every year since 1952 and will soon arrange its 800th consecutive sale. For more information, visit cavendish-auctions.com.

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