Arnold Machin was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1911. He studied sculpture at Stoke-on-Trent Art College and then at Derby where he gained a Royal Exhibition to the Royal College of Art.
While at the College he won a travelling scholarship, the College Medal and a continuation scholarship. Arnold Machin was elected an A.R.A. in 1947 and R.A. in 1956. He has held posts of tutor at the Royal College of Art, Assessor to the Scottish College of Art, and Master of Sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools.
His portrait of the Queen adopted for the United Kingdom coinage in 1968, was for him a first in coin design. Previously his commercial work had been largely associated with the designs for porcelain, examples of which have been purchased by the Tate Gallery.
In anticipation of the planned new decimal coinage, Arnold Machin was commissioned to prepare a new coin portrait of the Queen. It was the first time he had worked on a numismatic design and he was granted four sittings at Buckingham Palace and Balmoral. The new design was approved in June 1964 but was not used for United Kingdom coinage until 1968, after which his “Decimal Portrait” of Elizabeth II was used on all Australian & British decimal coins from 1968 through to 1984.