Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

Charles Darwin - 12 February 2009 - stamps and miniature sheet

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.

Set of 6 Charles Darwin stamps .
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Stamp designs:
1st class - Charles Darwin;
48p - Zoology (Marine Iguana);
50p - Ornithology (Galapagos Finches);
56p Geology (Pacific Atoll);
72p - Botany (Bee Orchid);
81p Anthropology (Orang-utan).

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

Charles Darwin Miniature sheet of 4 British stamps.

Miniature Sheet. Stamps showing some of the unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands.
1st class - Flightless Cormorant
1st class - Giant Tortoise and Cactus Finch
81p - Marine Iguana
81p - Floreana Mockingbird

The animals are shown against the background of the map produced on the Beagle mission.

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

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.  He died on 19 April 1882 at Down House, Downe, Kent.

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.

The stamps in detail

Of the six stamps the 1st class 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 (48p) is represented by a photograph of a Marine Iguana, just like the uniquely adapted reptiles observed on the Beagle Voyage; ornithology (50p)> by the Galapagos Finches that demonstrated variation through the shapes of their bills; geology (56p) by a Pacific atoll; botany (72p) by an illustration of a bee orchid; and anthropology (81p) 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 features four ctamps 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 by Captain Robert Fitzroy.

Prestige Stamp Book

Inside the Prestige Stamp Book Eugene Byrne takes an in-depth look at Darwin's life. It contains four Stamp Panes: two panes include three of each of the Darwin Stamps in a unique gummed format, a third features the whole Miniature Sheet, together with a final pane of mixed Machins.

Charles Darwin Prestige Stamp Book Pane 1. Charles Darwin Prestige Stamp Book Pane 2.
Charles Darwin Prestige Stamp Book Pane 3. Charles Darwin Prestige Stamp Book Pane 4.

Prestige Stamp Book featuring Charles Darwin. Enlargement of linked jigsaw perforation on Darwin stamps.
Enlargement of 'jigsaw' perforation in PSB
(the stamps are not self-adhesive)

Technical details:

Charles Darwin Bicentenary Royal Mail first day cover. The self-adhesive stamps are designed by hat-trick Design and are printed in gravure by De La Rue Security Print. The size is 35 x 33mm plus the 'puzzle'-type tab.
The conventionally gummed miniature sheet is designed by Howard Brown and printed in litho by De La Rue Security Print, size 115 x 89mm, with stamps 41 x 30mm.
The Prestige Stamp Book is designed by Howard Brown with text by Eugene Byrne. It is printed by De La Rue Security Print.
Pane 1: three Darwin stamps (48p, 50p, 56p), conventionally gummed interlocked (see image);
Pane 2: Darwin miniature sheet;
Pane 3: three Darwin stamps (1st class, 72p, 81p), conventionally gummed interlocked (see image);
Pane 4: Machin definitives: 5p, 10p, 48p; 2 x 1st class separated by a Darwin portrait label; 48p, 10p, 5p.

All images are Copyright Royal Mail 2008/09.

Products issued:
Mint set  
Mint miniature sheet 
Presentation Pack (contains set and MS) 
Prestige Stamp Book (mint) 
Set on PO FDC  
MS on PO FDC  
Set of 11 Stamp Cards 

Special Postmarks
Postmarks available for the day of issue are shown below - these may not be to scale. More will be added later.

NOTE: These postmarks cannot be obtained after the date of issue.

Tallents House FD postmark for Charles Darwin stamps. Shrewsbury FD postmark for Charles Darwin stamps, with text as below. Shrewsbury non-pictorial FD postmark for Charles Darwin
stamps. postmark showing progression from ape to man. postmark showing portrait and signature of Charles Darwin.
Ref FD905
Philatelic Bureau Official Postmark
Ref FD906 Shrewsbury Official Postmark "I am turned into a short of machine for observing facts and grinding out conclusions." Ref FD906NP
Shrewsbury non-pictorial Postmark
Ref L11241 - Darwin, Bletchley Park Post Office, Milton Keynes Ref M11254
Darwin House, Birmingham
postmark illustrated with Darwin's FInch. postmark with portrait of young Charles Darwin. Postmark illustrated with marine iguana. Postmark showing portrait of young Darwin. postmark showing HMS Beagle.
Ref L11245
Darwin's Finch, Downe Orpington
Ref L11247 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1
(location of the Royal Society)
Ref L11246
Marine Iguana, Regent's Park London NW1
Ref W11260
Charles Darwin, Shrewsbury
Ref W11263 The Beagle Project, Lawrenny, Pembrokeshire (not M11263)
Postmark showing apre & homo sapiens. Postmark showing cartoon ape with face of Darwin. Postmark showing portrait of Darwin. Postmark showing HMS Beagle. Postmark showing logo of Friends of the Earth.
L11248 Piccadilly, London W1  (location of the Linnean Society of London) M11253
Apethorpe, Peterborough
W11264 (not W11263)
HMS Beagle, Plymouth
L11244  Friends of the Earth, London N1
Postmark showing text, as below. Darwin postmark, amended Christian fish motif design. Postmark illustrated with stamp on turtle. Postmark showing HMS Beagle, turtle & ape.
'On the Origin of Species', Downe, Orptington, Kent
Darwin Road, London W5 (Adapted Christian Fish symbol)
Charles Darwin, Shrewsbury
Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution, Cambridge

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This page updated 16 March 2009

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