Royal Mail issued a five-stamp miniature sheet entitled Long To Reign Over Us on September 9, the day Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history, surpassing Queen Victoria’s reign of 63 years and 216 days.

One of the stamps is the new-coloured 1st class Machin definitive (October issue, page 22), and the miniature sheet is the only source of this design in gummed form.

The other four are larger-format commemoratives featuring royal portraiture and insignia. Unconventionally, they also feature the Machin head and security overlay text in iridescent ink; on all five designs, this repeats the phrase ‘Long To Reign Over Us’.

London design agency Sedley Place created the issue, with two of the illustrations produced by Gerry Barney.

The sheet was printed by International Security Printers using a mix of processes: the Machin definitive is in gravure, but the other stamps are in intaglio.

1st class WYON’S CITY MEDAL

William Wyon’s City Medal was designed to commemorate Queen Victoria’s first visit to the City of London after her accession to the throne in 1837. Based on a sketch of Princess Victoria made three years earlier, when she was just 15 years old, the portrait was adapted for use on the Penny Black and Twopenny Blue in 1840, and remained in use on stamps until her death in 1901.

1st class WILDING PORTRAIT

Dorothy Wilding’s three-quarter profile photograph of Queen Elizabeth II was one of a series taken in February 1952, shortly after her accession. It was used on all British postage stamps from 1952 until 1966, and on definitives into 1967.

1st class MACHIN DEFINITIVE

The long-standing Machin definitive, featuring the iconic profile of Queen Elizabeth II by sculptor Arnold Machin, has been in constant use since 1967. Its latest incarnation has a new colour, amethyst purple, which will replace red for the 1st class value for a 12-month period.

£1.52 BADGE OF THE HOUSE OF WINDSOR

The Badge of the House of Windsor was approved by King George VI and has been in use since 1938. It features a depiction of the Round Tower of Windsor Castle, flying the Royal Standard, framed by the branches of an oak tree and surmounted by the Imperial Crown.

£1.52 THE QUEEN’S PERSONAL FLAG

Created at her request in 1960, the Queen’s Personal Flag has an 'E', surmounted by a crown, surrounded by a garland of roses, and is usually seen in gold on a blue background. Symbolising her role as Head of the Commonwealth, it is commonly flown on buildings, ships, cars or aircraft in which she is staying or travelling, and can serve as a royal standard in Commonwealth countries which do not have their own.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

Uncut press sheets of four miniature sheets are available, in an individually numbered limited edition of 2,015.

The presentation pack features biographical details about the Queen and other long-reigning British monarchs, written by historian Andrew Roberts, as well as background information behind the images that appear on the stamps.

Serviced and unserviced first day covers are offered, along with a range of coin covers and other souvenirs.

 

PRICES

Miniature sheet £4.93

Press sheet £21.70

Presentation pack £5.45

Stamp cards £2.70

First day cover (serviced) £6.40

First day cover (unserviced) £6.40

Coin covers from £17.50

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   5/5

Not an anniversary as such, but a landmark that was hard to ignore

QUALITY OF DESIGN   2/5

The stamps are interesting rather than dynamic, with an unconventional use of the Machin head

WOW FACTOR   2/5

The public are unlikely to see the commemoratives in use, but should notice the special definitive issue