PSB: Royal Society - Pane 1 Stamps

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

25.02.2010 | Charles Babbage, Postmarked at London SW1

BUY NOW   £40 PSB: Royal Society - Pane 1, Charles Babbage PSB: Royal Society - Pane 1, Charles Babbage
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Stamp Type:
Producer/Series:   ( BLCS No 452 )
London SW1, 350 Years of Excellence, Special Handstamp
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Reference Images:
Prestige Stamp Book - Pane 1
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Computing & IT

Royal Mail provided background information for this issue
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Reason and inspiration

Founded in 1660, The Royal Society celebrates its 350th Anniversary in 2010 and as the National Academy of Science of the UK and the Commonwealth. It maintains its position at the forefront of enquiry and discovery, and at the cutting edge of scientific progress.

The backbone of the society, which is a charitable body, is its fellowship of the most eminent scientists of the day, and there are currently more than 60 Nobel Laureates amongst the society's Fellows and Foreign Members, of which there are more than 1,400. To this day, Fellowship of The Royal Society is one the greatest honours that can be conferred on any scientist.

The origins of the society lie in an ‘invisible college’ of natural philosophers who first met in the mid 1640s and were united by a common desire to better understand the world and the universe through observation and experimentation. This spirit of empirical observation is encapsulated in the society’s ‘latin motto, nullius in verba’, which can be roughly translated as ‘take nobody’s word for it.’

The Royal Society still supports many top young scientists, engineers and technologists, and continues to influencing science policy and stimulating debate on scientific issues with the public.

Stamp design and background

The Royal Society was instrumental in helping Royal Mail’s design team select ten significant scientific figures from its 350-year history – and perhaps typically – their approach was both simple and logical.

Leading figures in the society came together and decided that, with ten stamps covering 350 years, a case of basic division was the answer.

This created ten, 35-year increments in which, the society, could demonstrate ‘…how through the work of its Fellows, (The Royal Society) has had a major impact on the World.’

Working with Royal Mail, ten individuals were selected, from each of the ten 35-year ‘blocks’, but not all were from the UK: one stamp included one of the United States’ Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, and another the New Zealand born physicist Ernest Rutherford.

Hat-trick Design pursued a ‘split stamp’ approach, marrying portraits of those selected to imagery that represented their achievement. This imagery sits above the portrait to represent the concept of their idea.

Stamp by stamp

1st Class

Robert Boyle, Chemistry
Robert Boyle (1627 – 1691) was a natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor, and gentleman scientist, also noted for his writings in theology. He is best known for the formulation of Boyle’s Law. Although his research and personal philosophy clearly has its roots in the alchemical tradition, he is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the founders of modern chemistry. Among his works, ‘The Sceptical Chymist’ is seen as a cornerstone book in the field of chemistry.

1st Class

Sir Isaac Newton, Optics
Sir Isaac Newton (1643 –1727) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian who is perceived and considered by many as one of the most influential men in history. His Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, is by itself considered to be among the most influential books in the history of science, laying the groundwork for most of classical mechanics. In this work, Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. Newton was also president of The Royal Society.

1st Class

Benjamin Franklin, Electricity
Benjamin Franklin (1706 –1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author and printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, soldier, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He was important in the development of scientific experimentation and invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'.

1st Class

Edward Jenner, Vaccination
Edward Jenner (17 May 1749 – 26 January 1823) is widely credited as the pioneer of smallpox vaccine, and is sometimes referred to as the ‘Father of Immunology’. Jenner observed that milkmaids rarely got smallpox and concluded that exposure to the bovine disease cowpox conferred immunity a theory he tested and proved by injecting a child with pus from cowpox blisters. 1st Class – Charles Babbage, Computing Charles Babbage, (1791 – 1871) was an English mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer.

1st Class

Alfred Russel Wallace, Evolution
Alfred Russel Wallace (1823 – 1913) was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist and biologist. He is best known for independently proposing a theory of natural selection which prompted the joint reading of his and Charles Darwin’s papers on evolution in 1858, and spurred Darwin to publish his own theory the following year.

1st Class

Joseph Lister, Antiseptic Surgery
Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister, (1827 – 1912) was an English surgeon who promoted the idea of sterile surgery while working at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. He successfully introduced carbolic acid (phenol) to sterilize surgical instruments and to clean wounds, which led to reduced post-operative infections and made surgery safer for patients.

1st Class

Ernest Rutherford, Atomic Structure
Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, (1871 – 1937) was a New Zealand born chemist and physicist who became known as the father of nuclear physics. He discovered that atoms have a small charged nucleus, and thereby pioneered the Rutherford model (or planetary model, which later evolved into the Bohr model or orbital model) of the atom, through his discovery of Rutherford scattering with his gold foil experiment. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908. He is widely credited as splitting the atom in 1917 and leading the first experiment to ‘split the nucleus’ in a controlled manner by two students under his direction, John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton in 1932. He was also president of The Royal Society.

1st Class

Dorothy Hodgkin, Crystallography
The stamp marks the centenary of the birth of Dorothy Mary Hodgkin, (1910 –1994). She was a British chemist, credited with the development of Protein crystallography. She advanced the technique of X-ray crystallography, a method used to determine the three dimensional structures of biomolecules. Hodgkin was also the first female Briton to win a Nobel Prize.

1st Class

Sir Nicholas Shackleton, Earth Sciences
Sir Nicholas John Shackleton (1937 – 2006) was a British geologist and climatologist who specialised in the Quaternary Period. Much of Shackleton's later work helped to clarify the rates and mechanisms of aspects of climate change - a fitting subject to bring the stamp set right up to date.

Product portfolio

Presentation Pack No. 437

The fully illustrated Presentation Pack contains all ten of The Royal Society Stamps. Inside Eugene Byrne tells the story of each of the individuals on the stamps. The pack was designed by Hat-trick Design and printed by Walsall Security Printers.

Prestige Stamp Book

Inside the Prestige Stamp Book Eugene Byrne looks at the history and role of The Royal Society, the book is lavishly illustrated with objects from the society’s archive. The book has been designed by Russell Warren-Fisher and contains four stamp panes, one of four stamps featuring two of Jenner and one each of Lister and Hodgkin, one of four featuring Boyle, Babbage, Wallace and Shackleton, another of four featuring Newton, Franklin and two of Rutherford and a mixed Machin pane of 2 x 10p, 2 x 22p and 4 x 54p.

Stamp Cards

Ten postcards bearing enlarged images of each of the Royal Society stamps go on sale about a week before the stamp issue date.

Mint Stamps - Technical Details:

Feature Type/Detail
Number of stamps Ten
Design Hat-trick Design
Acknowledgements Robert Boyle drawing and portrait, crystallography pattern © The Royal Society; colour spectrum, smallpox vaccination, Edward Jenner portrait, Ernest Rutherford portrait © Science Photo Library; Isaac Newton diagram and portrait, Charles Babbage diagram and portrait, Dorothy Hodgkin portrait © Science Museum/SSPL; lightning and Benjamin Franklin portrait © Getty Images; Alfred Russel Wallace portrait © National Portrait Gallery, London; oak tree photographed by Paul Grundy; Joseph Lister portrait © Wellcome Library, London; spray photographed by John Ross; atom © iStockphoto; micro-fossil image © SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology, photographed by Dr Stanley A King; Nicholas Shackleton portrait courtesy of Ingrid Pearson
Stamp format Square
Stamp size 35mm x 35mm
Printer Cartor Security Printing
Print process Lithography
Number per sheet 30/60
Perforations 14.5 x 14.5
Phosphor All Over
Text © reproduced with the permission of Royal Mail Group Ltd. All rights reserved.