The Most Reproduced Work of Art in the World

The world's first adhesive postage stamps were issued by Great Britain in 1840, with the issuance of the "Penny Black" depicting Queen Victoria.  Thus began the convention of designating British stamps by the depiction of the country's sovereign.  Great Britain is the only country allowed by international postal regulations to omit a text name of the issuing country, which allows artists much greater flexibility in the creation of stamp designs.

In 1966 Arnold Machin sculpted a bust of Queen Elizabeth for the Royal Mail.  This "Machin head" has been in continuous use since then, and has thus been reproduced some 320 BILLION times.  Three copies of the original bust were known to exist, but recently a fourth one was discovered at the Machin family home.

In October the Queen's head will be sold to the highest bidder; it is expected to fetch £10,000.

Link.  Photo:

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

@johhny cat. it is Queen Elizabeth in the bust, Queen Victoria was mentioned as the first queen to appear on the stamp.

Pretty academic really as it's Queen Elizabeth II and she isn't the countries ruler.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
kj, what's confusing about having copies of the original? There were copies of the Declaration of Independence. And the Magna Carta. People did backups of important documents long before computers existed. Except Moses didn't have a backup of the Ten Commandments and had to go back for another original.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"The Most Reproduced Work of Art in the World"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More