5630 Dunbar St. at 41st Ave.

Newsletter #21, November 4, 2001

Great Britain Produces a Dynamite Set of Stamps

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Among the latest U.K. stamp offerings is a must have set of six stamps marking the Nobel Prize Centenary. The Dutch Printers have used six different printing processes, one for each Nobel Prize category commemorated.

Swedish-born Alfred Nobel made a fortune in dynamite production, a process he perfected in England in 1864, and in Russian Oil exploration. Upon his death in 1896, he designated his estate to annual prizes, first awarded in 1901, for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace, and, since 1969, economics.

The first class stamp, denominated 1st, utilizes the intaglio, or recess, printing process and features a red and blue globe commemorating economics.

The second-class issue, my favourite, celebrates the Chemistry Prize, and depicts a Carbon 60 molecule. Amazingly, the stamp is heat sensitive, and firm pressure from a fingertip reveals an ion hidden behind the black on white design.

The E stamp, for European mail, bears an embossed Dove marking the Peace Prize.

The stamps not marked 1st, 2nd, or E bear numeric rates, but no currency designation, presumably foreshadowing the U.K.'s eventual entry into a European Economic Union.

The 40 (p), Medicine, stamp shows a green cross, which releases a Eucalyptus scent when scratched and sniffed.

The 45, airmail rate, Literature commemorative includes the micro-printed text of T.S. Eliot's The Addressing of Cats.

Finally, the 65 airmail rate, Physics, high value carries a boron molecule hologram--a technology pioneered by the British 30 years ago, but only now featured on a U.K. stamp.

These stamps are a worthy introduction to the fascinating life and legacy of Nobel. Are they gimmicky? Yes. Are they innovative? Yes. These "dynamite" stamp designs are entirely appropriate for Nobel Prize commemoratives and they come from the country that first produced the innovation that is the postage stamp.

Collectors should appreciate the different printing methods utilized for this remarkable stamp series. Dealers should see these stamps as an opportunity to introduce new collectors to the joys of stamp collecting. At last, here is a stamp set that incorporates enough technologies to compete with the computer games, and internet connections, that are competing for prospective collectors' time and attention.

For more information and larger pictures, visit the Royal Mail web site. Click on the logo. It will open a new window.

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