Charles Darwin: Miniature Sheet Stamps

These Royal Mail stamps were affixed to specially designed envelopes and postmarked on the first day that the stamps were issued.

12.02.2009 | Darwin's Tree of Life, Postmarked at Shrewsbury

BUY NOW   £20 Charles Darwin: Miniature Sheet, Darwin's Tree of Life Charles Darwin: Miniature Sheet, Darwin's Tree of Life
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Stamp Type:
Stamp Details:
1st Flightless Cormorant
1st Giant Tortoise and Cactus Finch
81p Marine Iguana
81p Floreana Mockingbird
Shrewsbury, First Day of Issue - "I am turned into a sort of machine....", Special Handstamp
Stock remaining: 4
Reference Images:
Miniature Sheet
PHQCards (320)
Postmark illustrations
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Royal Mail provided background information for this issue
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Darwin is a ten Stamp Issue marking the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth and 150th anniversary of the publication of ‘On the Origin of Species’. This comprises six self-adhesive sheet Stamps and four Stamps in a gummed miniature sheet.

Reason and inspiration

This year marks both the bicentenary of the birth greatest naturalist in history and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Royal Mail is celebrating these events with a set of six Stamps and a special Miniature Sheet.

It was always hoped that Charles Robert Darwin would join his mother, father and grandfather in becoming a doctor, little suspecting that he was destined to challenge the scientific understanding of how life on Earth adapted and evolved.

Born at the Mount, Shrewsbury on 12 February 1809, Darwin studied at both Edinburgh and Christ’s College, Cambridge before in 1831, aged just 22, he embarked on a five year journey to south America, and beyond, aboard the HMS Beagle.

More than two decades after his return he eventually published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859. Darwin wanted to unravel ‘the mystery of mysteries – the first appearance of new beings on Earth’, and his book immediately challenged the established beliefs concerning evolution that were commonly held at the time, triggering a scientific revolution that still causes debate today.

Stamp design and background

The Stamp Issue consists of ten Stamps – six in sheets and four in a Miniature Sheet.

Of the six Stamps one shows a portrait of the man himself while the others show Darwin’s areas of study that helped to contribute to his ideas on evolution: Zoology, Ornithology, Geology, Botany and Anthropology through a mixture of present day photography and relevant archive material from Darwin’s time.

Zoology is represented by a photograph of a Marine Iguana, just like the uniquely adapted reptiles observed on the Beagle Voyage; botany by an illustration of a bee orchid; geology by a Pacific atoll; ornithology by the Galapagos Finches that demonstrated variation through the shapes of their bills; and anthropology by an Orang-utan like the one Darwin studied in London Zoo.

For these Stamps Design group hat-trick incorporated a radical jigsaw design, featuring a cut out and ‘peg’ into each Stamp, to demonstrate how the various areas of Darwin’s studies interconnected with each other.

The Miniature Sheet, designed by Howard Brown, features four Stamps showing some of the unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands that Darwin encountered during his voyage as Ship’s Naturalist on the hydrographic survey ship HMS Beagle. The animals of these isolated islands and how they showed evidence of variation and evolution had a profound influence upon Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The animals are shown against the background of the map produced on the mission.

Product Portfolio

Miniature Sheet

The Miniature Sheet was designed by Howard Brown and comprises of four Stamps showing the unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands that had such a profound effect upon Darwin’s thinking. The creatures are set against the background of the Admiralty hydrographic map made from observations taken on the Beagle voyage.

The dimensions of the Miniature Sheet are 115mm x 89mm.

Presentation Pack No 423

In the fully illustrated pack Professor Dorothy Porter tells the life story of Charles Darwin and looks at some of the influences that came together to influence his theory of natural selection. The Miniature Sheet is also included inside its own dedicated insert where Professor Porter explains the importance of the Beagle voyage. The pack was designed by hat-trick, and printed by Walsall Security Printers.

Stamp Cards

A total of eleven Stamp Cards will be available: ten showing enlarged versions of the six Darwin Stamps and four Miniature Sheet Stamps, and one featuring an image of the complete Miniature Sheet. These will be available about a week before the issue date.

Prestige Stamp Book

The Prestige Stamp book written by Eugene Byrne contains an in depth look at the life of Charles Darwin. The four Stamp Panes feature two panes of three of each of the Darwin Stamps in a unique gummed format, the whole Miniature Sheet and a Pane of mixed Machins. The PSB is designed by Howard Brown and printed by De la Rue Security Print.

Mint Stamps - Technical Details:

Feature Type/Detail
Number of stamps 6
Design hat-trick design
Acknowledgements Charles Darwin, finches and bee orchid © 2009, The Natural History Museum, London; Cocos (Keeling) Islands © Karen Willshaw – Undersea Reflections, Cocos (Keeling) Islands; marine iguana © Tui De Roy, Roving Tortoise Nature Photography; orang-utan © Frans Lanting/Corbis
Stamp format Landscape
Stamp size 35mm x 33mm including jigsaw knob
Printer De la Rue Security Print
Print process Gravure
Number per sheet 25/50
Perforations Die-cut
Phosphor Background screen
Gum Self-adhesive

Miniature Sheet - Technical Details:

Feature Type/Detail
Number of stamps 4
Size of Sheet 115mm x 89mm
Design Howard Brown
Acknowledgements Galapagos Islands map © Crown Copyright. Reproduced by permission of the UK Hydrographic Office; images of the flightless cormorant, giant tortoise, cactus finch, marine iguana and Floreana mockingbird © Tui De Roy, Roving Tortoise Nature
Stamp format Landscape
Stamp size 41mm x 30mm
Printer De la Rue Security Printers
Print process Litho
Perforations 14.5 x 14
Phosphor Bars
Text © reproduced with the permission of Royal Mail Group Ltd. All rights reserved.