Photomicrography on Stamps

by Dave Walker


The previous Micscape Article Microscopy on Stamps showed some of the very attractive stamps that have been issued which illustrate microscopes. There have also been many attractive stamps issued which are illustrated with photomicrographs or illustrations of microscopic subjects.

In this short article, a few of these stamps from the author's very small collection are shown. Although lists of stamps depicting microscopes have been issued (see above article for refs.), I 'm not aware of a listing for those illustrating microscopic subjects (if you know of a listing let me know). Many stamps do illustrate both a microscope and a microscopic subject.

Some of the topics or events that have been celebrated by photomicrography or microscopic illustrations are scientific meetings, disease control or eradication, anniversaries of the deaths of famous microbiologists (or the anniversary of their discovery of a disease), anniversaries of the founding of societies, institutions. A recent well known set of UK stamps illustrating the 150th anniversary of the Royal Microscopical Society was shown in the previous article.

You don't have to be a philatelist (and my interest is a very casual one) to enjoy collecting stamps on a thematic topic. Collecting stamps related to microscopy can promote an interest in the lives of some of the famous scientists celebrated on many of these stamps or the diseases they discovered.

Here are a selection of stamps that illustrate some of the themes listed above. 

I believe this stamp illustrates marine radiolaria, which are protozoa with silica shells. The Russian script hints it was issued for a meeting on protozoology. The upper radiolarian is possibly Acanthometron pellucidum.
G. H. Armauer Hansen, a Norwegian bacteriologist discovered the leprosy bacillus in 1879. Not sure what the photomicrograph shows - leprosy bacillus invading cells?
Haematology Congress,
Budapest, 1982.
A simple but striking design incorporating an SEM image of blood corpuscles.
World Health Organisation,
forty year anniversary 1988.
An optical photomicrograph of blood. Do you recognise the microscope, possibly a Zeiss.
The microscopic illustration seems to be depicting either a disease of the eye, or just part of the eye at cellular level. Any ideas?
Discovery of the tubercle bacillus by Robert Koch in 1882. This is is a popular theme where a photomicrograph or microscope is used in stamp illustration. Part of a lung section is shown.
A scientist looking down a microscope, and in this case with an inset photomicrograph, is a popular illustration of scientific endeavour, education etc. on stamps.
Some suggestions for starting a collection of themed stamps on microscopy, and references were given in the previous article.

Acknowledgements. Thanks to Jan Parmentier, Holland for suggesting a possible identification for the marine radiolarian. Also to Bill Heathwood, Eire, who I have swapped some stimulating correspondence with on microscopy on stamps and who generously supplied some stamps to boost my collection.

Dave Walker

Related web sites:
Microscopy as illustrated on postage stamps - an excellent online stamp gallery of various microscopy themes and also of famous scientists, with notes.  Link seems to be inactive Feb. 2006.

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