I just ran across this wonderful Science Stamp exhibit. It is a real time-wasting collection (the best kind) but I’m struck by how few science and mathematics stamps the US has produced, and how many scientists have been placed on the stamps of places like Mauritania, San Marino, and Guyana.
There’s also this site devoted to mathematicians on stamps, which has links to some equally wonderful physics collections. My favorite stamp of the whole bunch is this Danish stamp depicting Neils Bohr and his wife on a three-legged bench.
The stamps presented here are from my personal collection and as such are an incomplete reflection of the range of published science-related postal materials. The large and fruitful area of space exploration deserves a separate exhibit, as does the diverse, fascinating field of technology. About half of the stamps on view here were shown in 1991 in the Science & Engineering Library, University at Buffalo, under the title Sci-Phi as an example of non-book related science instruction, and also in a 1992 poster session of the Western New York Library Resource Council, Promoting Scientific Literacy: the Non-Book Approach to Library Exhibits. Most recently, several of these intangible chapters presented here were printed out and shown at a Stamp Exposition during the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy(Pittcon) in Orlando, Florida in March 1999. The availability of scanning technology and web browsers now makes this material widely accessible to all who have access to the internet. As has been widely pointed out in articles in The Journal of Chemical Education, postage stamps can serve as starting points for engaging student interest in science, or initiating classroom discussion and projects. For others with an interest in science, professionally or not, these miniatures can be sufficient in themselves as objects of enjoyment and wonder, reminders of the marvels of the natural world and its laws.