The first ever postage stamps featuring Alfred Russel Wallace are published

The first ever postage stamps featuring Alfred Russel Wallace have just been published by the small island nation of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe. Although Wallace never travelled anywhere near these two Portuguese speaking islands (which are off the coast of West Africa) it is great that they have decided to honour him in this way. The stamps feature three portraits of Wallace, plus a variety of dinosaurs, which is somewhat strange as Wallace never had an especial interest in these extinct reptiles. However, I guess they symbolise evolution to the "general public", and in any case it makes the stamps desirable to the many people who specialise in collecting dinosaur stamps...


 The set of stamps.


Wallace in 1847, aged 24.

 Wallace in 1869, aged 46.

Portrait in oils of Wallace by Roger Remington in the Meetings Room of the Linnean Society of London. Copyright Roger Remington.

Two of the three portraits of Wallace featured on the stamps are based on well known early photos of him. I have sometimes wondered whether the earliest of these – of Wallace aged 24 in 1847 – is a mirror image, since at least in later life he seems to have always worn his parting on his left. The third photo – of Wallace in later life – has seemingly been copied from the oil painting by Roger Remington which hangs in the meetings room of the Linnean Society of London. [Actually, on further investigation it turns out that the second image - of Wallace aged 46 - was not copied directly from the above photo but from the oil painting in the National Portrait Gallery, London, which was painted over a copy of this photo - see]

Curiously if you look at the 'who'' map on the left hand border of this website, which shows the geographical location of visitors to this site, you will see that the only visits from any African country south of the Sahara are from the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe. These could be visits from the designer(s) of these stamps and/or citizens of this country eager to learn more about Wallace!

About 30 stamps featuring images of Charles Darwin have been produced to date, giving a fair indication of Darwin and Wallace's current relative fame (i.e. 30 to 1). I wonder what the ratio of Darwin to Wallace stamps will be like after the 100th anniversary celebrations of Wallace's death in 2013? 'Improved' to some degree I hope!

Strangely enough I contributed (in a small way) to one of the many sets of Darwin stamps which have been produced this year to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of his great book On the Origin of Species. The set of stamps in question were produced by Portugal and feature Darwin's rare full signature which was copied from an autograph I own. Unexpectedly they credited me by printing my name in tiny letters on the stamps, which I was not unhappy about!


 The set of Darwin stamps produced by Portugal in 2009.

 A close-up of one of the stamps.


My autograph of Charles Darwin. Copyright George Beccaloni.

Sun, 2009-07-26 00:46 -- Anonymous (not verified)

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