A gallery of radiolaria depicted on postage stamps and postal stationery

compiled by David Walker, UK


I wouldn't describe myself as a philatelist but as a microscopy enthusiast I do like collecting philately items on themes related to microscopy. I particularly like the challenge of the detective work often involved in seeking them out from the vast numbers of stamps issued.

Radiolaria are a group of protozoa with intricate ornate silica skeletons and I already had one USSR stamp in my collection depicting one. I wondered how many other stamps specifically showed this group and in what context. A search of my favourite thematic stamp source www.delcampe.net highlighted a beautiful set of five issued by Senegal in 1972 and 1973. As radiolaria featured so prominently, this set had been catalogued as such by the dealers, but this is not commonly the case for many narrow themes.

A search of the Web for 'radiolaria on stamps' revealed a more recent stamp issued by Norway in 2005 highlighted by the splendid website radiolaria.org. To date the USSR, Norwegian and five Senegal stamps are the only stamps that I've found featuring radiolaria plus two related envelopes. I would be pleased to hear from readers who know of other examples. This is in contrast to another major group with silica skeletons, the diatoms, which are better represented on stamps.

The gallery below presents these radiolaria themed items with comments on each one and links where relevant to related information.

It's interesting to study how different stamp designers approach the presentation of a narrow topic. I have a great admiration for the designers' skills—in the limited space of a stamp, they create both striking and informative designs.

There could well be more stamps issued in the future on this theme or already issued examples but not documented. For me, seeking out elusive stamps on very narrow thematics is largely part of the fun. It's also quite inexpensive, none of the stamps and envelopes shown above were more than a few Euros each.

Comments to the author are welcomed.

Image acknowledgements. The copyright of the stamps and envelope designs remains with the originators and have been credited where known. They are presented here as an educational resource on this not-for-profit website. If a copyright holder wishes to contact the author please use the email above. Thank you.

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Published in the March 2016 edition of Micscape.

Revised May 5th 2016.

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