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United Kingdom 2009 "Charles Darwin"

Issue Date 12.05.2009
ID Michel: 2707-2712, BL. 49 ScottStanley Gibbons: Yvert:  UPU: GB015.09 Category: Dw
Author The self-adhesive stamps are designed by hat-trick Design The conventionally gummed miniature sheet is designed by Howard Brown The Prestige Stamp Book is designed by Howard Brown with text by Eugene Byrne. 
Stamps in set 10: self-adhesive stamps x6 + Mini-sheet with 4 stamps
Value  self-adhesive stamps
1st class - Charles Darwin;
48p - Zoology (Marine Iguana);
50p - Ornithology (Galapagos Finches);
56p Geology (Pacific Atoll);
72p - Botany (Bee Orchid);
81p Anthropology (Orang-utan).
Charles Darwin, finches and bee orchid 2009, The Natural History Museum, London; Cocos (Keeling) Islands Karen Willshaw - Undersea Reflections, Cocos (Keeling) Islands; marine iguana Tui De Roy, Roving Tortoise Nature Photography; orang-utan Frans Lanting/Corbis

Miniature Sheet. Stamps showing some of the unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands.
1st class - Flightless Cormorant
1st class - Giant Tortoise and Cactus Finch
81p - Marine Iguana
81p - Floreana Mockingbird

The animals are shown against the background of the map produced on the Beagle mission.
Galapagos Islands map Crown Copyright. Reproduced by permission of the UK Hydrographic Office; images of the flightless cormorant, giant tortoise, cactus finch, marine iguana and Floreana mockingbird Tui De Roy, Roving Tortoise Nature
Size (width x height) self-adhesive stamps 35x33mm plus the 'puzzle'-type tab, Mini-sheet size 115 x 89mm, with stamps 41 x 30mm.
Layout self adhesive sheet of 25 and 50
Products FDC x MC  PP x1
Perforation 14x14
Print Technique

self-adhesive stamps: Gravure  Mini-sheet: lithography 

Printed by Walsall Security Printers  
Issuing Authority Royal Mail of Great Britai

Ten colourful Philately celebrates the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species.

Julietta Edgar, head of special stamps, Royal Mail, said: "Charles Darwin's ideas triggered a revolution in the understanding of how species evolve. The brilliance of his thinking is symbolised in the unique design of the stamps the jigsaw shape suggests how Darwin was able to draw on his different areas of study to formulate groundbreaking new ideas."

Royal Mail also issued a separate set of tamper-proof stamps today, which have improved security features to stop users peeling used stamps from envelopes which have not been franked and reusing them.

Part of a sticky film covering the stamp will remain on the envelope and thwart fraudsters. The new stamps will also be printed on the same tamper-proof paper used for currency. They are called the Machin stamps, named in honour of the (late) artist Arnold Machin, who created the classic image of the Queen which features on British stamps and coins.

The Royal Mail's stamps commemorate Darwin and the areas of study which inspired his ideas on evolution: zoology, botany, geology, ornithology and anthropology. The six "jigsaw" shape stamps symbolise how his studies of different disciplines came together to form new ideas on evolution.

1st class shows a portrait of the man himself while the others show Darwin's areas of study that helped to contribute to his ideas on evolution: Zoology, Ornithology, Geology, Botany and Anthropology through a mixture of present day photography and relevant archive material from Darwin's time.

Born at the Mount, Shrewsbury on 12 February 1809, Darwin studied at both Edinburgh and Christ's College, Cambridge before in 1831, aged just 22, he embarked on a five year journey to south America, and beyond, aboard the HMS Beagle.  He died on 19 April 1882 at Down House, Downe, Kent. More than two decades after his return he eventually published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859. Darwin wanted to unravel 'the mystery of mysteries - the first appearance of new beings on Earth', and his book immediately challenged the established beliefs concerning evolution that were commonly held at the time, triggering a scientific revolution that still causes debate today

Zoology (48p) is represented by a photograph of a Marine Iguana, just like the uniquely adapted reptiles observed on the Beagle Voyage

ornithology (50p) the Galapagos Finches that demonstrated variation through the shapes of their bills

geology (56p) a Pacific atoll


botany (72p) an illustration of a bee orchid


anthropology (81p) an orang-utan like the one Darwin studied in London Zoo


Royal Mail has also produced a special sheet of four stamps illustrating the unique wildlife of the Galpagos Islands that includes the Flightless Cormorant, Giant Tortoise, Floreana Mockingbird and Marine Iguana, and which builds up into a contemporary map of the Galpagos Islands with the key species Darwin studied in the 1830s during his voyage as Ship's Naturalist on the hydrographic

survey ship HMS Beagle. The animals of these isolated islands and how they showed evidence of variation and evolution had a profound influence upon Darwin's theory of natural selection. The animals are shown against the background of the map produced on the mission by Captain Robert Fitzroy.


Official issues


FDC Mini-sheet

Presentation Pack


This First Day Cover features a pane from the Prestige Stamp Book which includes eight Machin stamps surrounding a portrait of Darwin. As with all First Day Covers,



The Miniature Sheet First Day Cover is also available.  The town of Darwins birth, Shrewsbury, has been selected as the postmark for this issue. Inside leading science historian Professor Dorothy Porter provides an explanation of Darwins tree of life.


If you want to know more about the subject, the Presentation Pack is perfect.  Its clever fold out design is packed with Professors Dorothy Porters insight into Darwins life and the influences that led to his theory of Natural Selection. It contains all six Darwin Mint Stamps and the Miniature Sheet.



Prestige Stamp Booklet Coin Cover Stamp Card (PHQ)

The Prestige Stamp Book includes a fascinating account by noted writer Eugene Byrne who provides his own take on Darwins life, influences and legacy to discover how this Shropshire lad became perhaps the worlds greatest naturalist.

It contains four panes of stamps; two of the panes include three of each of the Darwin stamps in a unique gummed format, the third features the whole Miniature Sheet, and the final pane is of mixed definitive stamps.







Royal Mail and the Royal Mint have produced an exceptionally fine Coin Cover for this issue, featuring the six Darwin stamps. Designed by Thyme Design Associates, it contains a six-page insert card featuring the Miniature Sheet and Royal Mints 2 Commemorative Coin.

The obverse of the coin is designed by Ian Rank-Broadley, while the reverse designed by Suzie Zamit, features a profile of Darwin facing an ape. The edge inscription on the coin reads; On The Origin of Species 1859.

A total of eleven stamp cards will be available: ten showing enlarged versions of the six Darwin stamps and four Miniature Sheet stamps, and one featuring an image of the complete Miniature Sheet.  These will be available about a week before the issue date


Circulated covers (well overpaid, FDC like, air-mail covers)


Some Private FDC issues



 Special postmarks announced for the Day of Issue.

 Official post marks. 

Tallents House FD postmark for Charles Darwin stamps.

Shrewsbury FD postmark for Charles Darwin stamps, with text as below.

Shrewsbury non-pictorial FD postmark for Charles Darwin stamps.

Ref FD905
Philatelic Bureau Official Postmark
Ref FD906 Shrewsbury Official Postmark "I am turned into a short of machine for observing facts and grinding out conclusions."

Ref FD906NP
Shrewsbury non-pictorial Postmark


 Another (private) post marks

 Darwin postmark, amended Christian fish motif design.  Postmark illustrated with stamp on turtle.  Postmark showing HMS Beagle, turtle & ape. postmark showing progression from ape to man. postmark showing portrait and signature of Charles Darwin.
Darwin Road, London W5 (Adapted Christian Fish symbol)
Charles Darwin, Shrewsbury
Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution, Cambridge
Ref L11241 - Darwin, Bletchley Park Post Office, Milton Keynes Ref M11254
Darwin House, Birmingham
postmark illustrated with Darwin's FInch. postmark with portrait of young Charles Darwin. Postmark illustrated with marine iguana. Postmark showing portrait of young Darwin. postmark showing HMS Beagle.
Ref L11245
Darwin's Finch, Downe Orpington
Ref L11247 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1
(location of the
Royal Society)
Ref L11246
Marine Iguana, Regent's Park London NW1
Ref W11260
Charles Darwin, Shrewsbury
Ref W11263 The Beagle Project, Lawrenny, Pembrokeshire (not M11263)
Postmark showing apre & homo sapiens. Postmark showing cartoon ape with face of Darwin. Postmark showing portrait of Darwin. Postmark showing HMS Beagle. Postmark showing logo of Friends of the Earth.
L11248 Piccadilly, London W1  (location of the Linnean Society of London) M11253
Apethorpe, Peterborough
W11264 (not W11263)
HMS Beagle, Plymouth
L11244  Friends of the Earth, London N1
Postmark showing text, as below.
'On the Origin of Species', Downe, Orptington, Kent

Norvic Philatelics   BFDC  Natural History Museum
Royal Mail of Great Britain  Darwin Preview article of    Royal Mail of Great Britain 


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