USA, First postal stationery with prehistoric
This is, very likely, the very first philatelic item related to Paleontology.
2c prepaid envelope from the USA, produced by the Torrance Lime & Fertiliser Company, from Lomita city in California, which shows some prehistoric animals and Neandertaler. [The next Paleontology related post stationery issued in Poland almost 50 years after, with fossil of ammonite on imprinted stamp.] The image on the cover based on several earlier illustrations and reconstructions:
Neanderthal man as imagined in Chicago's Field Museum diorama circa 1920.
Illustration by Robert Bruce HORSFALL for “A History of Land Mammals in the Western Hemisphere“, by Robert BERRYMAN Scoot, 1913, shows a saber-toothed cat (Smilodon californicus) and a dire wolf (Canis dirus) fighting over a Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) carcass in the La Brea Tar Pits.
The La Brea tar pits is very famous because of the huge range of fossils, especially of predators like Smilodon.
By the way, Sabre tooth cat (Smilodon) is the heraldic animal of California and it designated as the official state fossil in 1973.
There are also a tetrapod dinosaur on the background, who leaved muchs earlier as Smilodon and Neandertaler, and some marine shells on the foreground and as logo of the company
The company used fossils of prehistoric animals to make their fertilizer. [A fertilizer is any material of natural or synthetic origin (other than liming materials) that is applied to soils or to plant tissues to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants.]
Very strange use of fossils in today's point of view.
P.S. Many thanks to fellow collectors Peter Brandhuber from Germany and John Noad from Canada for their help to find an information about the post stationery and some scans from their collections.
The only earlier item that can be consider is a post card from Germany (Postcards without imprinted stamps are not subject of philately, but Deltiology).
Dinosaurs, perhaps Plateosaurus, shown on its illustration and some Ad text underneath. The issue date of the postcard from Germany is unknown, sent in 1912 from Solingen.
Plateosaurus lived during the Late Triassic period, around 214 to 204 million years ago, in what is now Central and Northern Europe.
Discovered in 1834 by Johann Friedrich Engelhardt and described three years later by Hermann von Meyer, Plateosaurus was the fifth named dinosaur genus that is still considered valid. Although it had been described before Richard Owen formally named Dinosauria in 1842, it was not one of the three genera used by Owen to define the group, because at the time, it was poorly known and difficult to identify as a dinosaur. It is now among the dinosaurs best known to science: over 100 skeletons have been found, some of them nearly complete. The abundance of its fossils in Swabia, Germany, has led to the nickname Schwäbischer Lindwurm (Swabian lindworm). More info is on Wikipedia.
From the nineteen thirties until the fifties, the Sinclair Oil Company used this meter franking, as well as regular advertisements to advertise their motor oil. They chose a dinosaur for a company logo as a symbol of the great length of time their oil spent in the ground.
In 1935, 1938 Sinclair Refining Company run an ad compain. As part of it, they issued set of stamps-like labels (this kind of "stamps" known as Cinderella in philatelic community) depicted various dinosaurs. This is the first Cinderela set of stamps depicted prehistoric animals ever.
These were intended for children. In each program when you went to a Sinclair station on week one you would be given a stamp album. Then on each 8 following week you would be given a new sheetlet of stamps. The books had some advertising material but mostly contained scientific and historical information to explain the dinosaurs and petroleum to children.
On 10.08.1946, the U.S. Post Office Department issued a
celebrate the centenary (100 anniversary) of the Smithsonian
Sometimes it is difficult to identify paleontologists on stamps, because they are shown on neutral background, or just a portrait. On other side, not every personalities shown on stamps with fossil or prehistoric animal on the background is paleontologist.
The first stamp (known to me) shows
has been issued in USSR on January 17, 1947.
Actually it is a set of two stamps
30 kopejka(100 kopejka = 1
rubel), green and 50 kopejka sepia. These stamps are show a
Karpinskij (1847-1936), who is most known as First
elected president of Russian
Science Academic. However, he was also great geologist and
paleontologist, who made some important discovers at Ural mountains
area of Russia.
On 3 March 1952, Soviet Union issues a stamp titled "Greatest Russian scientist biologist-paleontologist: W.O. Kovalevskij" with a face value of 40 kopejka and this is actually the first stamp dedicated to paleontologist.
Vladimir Onufreivich Kowalewskij (1784-1856) Russian paleontologist and supporter of Darwinism. He was the one who assumed horses are appeared first in Europe continent then migrate to North America, then come back to Europe. Evidence of this theorie found more then 100 years after his suicide due to some trouble in private and commercial life in Grube Messel by Darmstadt, Germany. Very little prehistoric horse in size of a big dog was found there and depicted on stamp of BRD in 1978.
first stamp of scientists
with a prehistoric animal fossil on a background has been issued in
29 July 1967, as part of set
of famous Romanian people. The green stamp with a value of 40
bani shows Romanian biologist and director of
Museum of Natural History Grigores
Antipa (1867-1944). Some websites and even philatelic
books and catalogs mentioned
this stamp as the first stamp depicted paleontologist on.
Actually, he was not a paleontologist at all
the zoologist, ichthyologist,economist, ecologist,
oceanology, museologist. He founded the Romanian school of
Hydrobiology, Ichthyology and Oceanology, was pioneer in the field of
author of modern concepts in ecology, biosociologiei,
have found fossils since ancient
times, but Paleontology as a
science was established in the
middle of the 19th century. The
establishment was impossible without the
help of scientists from many other
sciences such as biology, botany,
and geology. Many politicians and
wealthy persons supported the young
The fact that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community and much of the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural selection came to be widely seen as the primary explanation of the process of evolution in the 1930s, and now forms the basis of modern evolutionary theory. In modified form, Darwin's scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, providing logical explanation for the diversity of life. In recognition of Darwin's pre-eminence, he was one of only five 19th-century UK non-royal personages to be honoured by a state funeral, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to John Herschel and Isaac Newton. Darwin's work had far-reaching impacts on the development of Paleontology, Antropology and many other Biology and Psyology related scients.
of most notable contributors to
establishment of Paleontology science in
United States was the
third US President Thomas
Jefferson, who is shown on many American and international
stamps. The first stamp of Thomas Jefferson issued in US in 1851.
Prince Albert I of Monaco, who had a keen interest in the origins of man and who founded the Institute for Human Paleontology in Paris that was responsible for a number of archeological digs, depicted on many stamps of Monaco and some international posts, start on 1891 when his portrait appears on definitive stamps.
Four stamps of the set can be consider as related Paleoanthropology topic:
All stamps except the
portrait of Prince Albert I, are the first stamps in
the Indian Geological Survey centenary on 13 January 1951,
India Post released a stamp showing two prehistoric “elephants”
(Stegodon ganesa), the first ever reconstruction of a prehistoric
animal on a stamp.
Stegodons were primarily an Asiatic group of Mammutidae. This family is believed to have evolved sometime by the middle Miocene, nearly 15 million years ago, and became extinct by the late Pleistocene about 30,000–40,000 years ago. Stegodons appear to be transitional between true mastodons on the one hand and true elephants on the other.
Dr. Darashaw Nosherwan Wadia (1883–1969) who pursued his personal research on stratigraphy, structure, and paleontology of the Kashmir Himalayan region with single-minded devotion. Being a very keen observer, he worked towards identification of broad structural elements of the northwest Himalayas. The discovery of this skull, which was found in association with fossil ganoid fish and pteridospermous plants, led to the fixing of the age of an important geological rock formation in the Kashmir Himalayas to the Permo-Carboniferous period (355–250 million years ago). The fossil tusk is now kept at the museum of the Geology Department of the Jammu University.
Note: On March 4, 2001 another stamp was issued by the Department of Post, Government of India , to commemorate 150 anniversary of Indian Geological Survey, but this time geological motive has been choose, the four color stamp shows some minerals.
In 1952, Algeria issued the first stamp showing a
The skeleton (bones) of a prehistoric
animal appears for the first time on a stamp from the United States on
15 January 1955.
The stamp pictures Charles Wilson Peale’s self-portrait,
“The Artist in His Museum” (see on the right, the image is from Wikipedia)
Many of the museum’s exhibits were collected by Peale, and he includes
some of them in his painting. The stamp features several, like a wild
turkey ready to be preserved as well as a great mastodon bone, in honor
of one of Peale's greatest achievements—the
reconstruction of a mastodon’s skeleton.
On 15 April 1958, the People’s Republic of China issued
a set of three stamps titled, “Chinese
Between 1958 and 1961 Swiss Post, in cooperation with
Pro Patria organization, issued four semi-postal stamp sets showing
some fossils and minerals from the collections of local museums.
Pro Patria is a Swiss patriotic and charitable organization. Its purpose is to give meaning to the Swiss national holiday, 1 August, by collecting donations to benefit social and cultural works of national public interest.
One of the methods the organization uses to collect donations is the issue of semi-postal stamps. The first stamp set was issued in 1938.
All the mineral sets contain five stamps: one
stamp with a logo of the
Pro Patria campaign and four stamps showing minerals and fossils. The
additional amount paid for each sold stamp
transferred to the organization. Actually, these are the first
semi-postal stamps with a paleontological context ever
The designs are based on pictures by Zdenek Burian, a Czech painter and book illustrator,
whose work during a remarkable career spanning five decades, played a central role in the development of paleontological reconstructions
Originally recognized only native Czechoslovakia, Burian’s fame later spread to an international audience, and a number of attempted emulate his style.
Burian is regarded by many as the most influential paleo-artist of the modern era. Many stamps issued around the world are based on his illustrations.
Only three months later the second pictorial set depicting prehistoric animals, also mostly dinosaurs issued in San Marino, similar to Polnish stamps design of these stamps also based on pictures of Zdenek Burian.
Also in 1965,
the first stamp
with an early human fossil came from Tanzania,
the “cradle of humankind.” On 9 December, Tanzania issued a set of 14 definitive
stamps with some typical animals, landscapes, and some
historical episodes to show development of the country.
For much of her career, Mary Leakey
(1913–1996) worked together with her husband, Louis Leakey (1903–1972),
in Olduvai Gorge, uncovering the tools and fossils of ancient hominids.
She developed a system for classifying the stone tools found at
Olduvai. She also discovered the Laetoli footprints. It was
there, at the Laetoli site, that she discovered hominid fossils that
were more than 3.75 million-years-old. In addition, she discovered 15
new species of other animals, and one new genus.
On 31 March 1967, Post
Authority of Cuba issued a set of seven stamps that were the first to
show human evolution. Each stamp shows a skull stage of the human
relevant and depicts major stage of human development
known from worldwide fossil record.
On 5 January 1970, Lesotho issued a set of five stamps showing some footprints of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. "Dinosaurs and footprints at Moyeni" (1st serie, the 2nd serie issued in 1984 and shows footprint of another three dinosaurs).
Fossilized footprints of dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles, dated of about 200 MYA (upper Triassic period), found at Moyeni in the Quthig district of Lesotho. Four of five stamps shows not only the footprint but also reconstruction of the animals moved at sand and sea shore.
is the study of fossilized footprints. Scientists can learn
many things from such tracks. They can give an idea about
size of the animal and if it walked on two or four legs.
On June 19, 1970 Polish Postal Service issued a post card to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Polish Geological institute (face value 40 gr., quantity 100.000). The building of the institute depicted on the left side of the card. The imprinted stamp shows an ammonite of genus Perisphinctes, from collection of the institute. The ammonite is about 30cm in size and can be founded in various location in Poland.
A trilobite of genus Marrolithus ornatus featured on a special post mark issued in Kielce. This blind trilobite is only 2 cm in size, probably borrowed in the mud of Ordovician sea floor(485-443 MYA) .
Most stamps issued around the world have been rectangular or square shape. However, from time to time some post authorities produce stamps with other shapes.
On Octber 31 1970, Angola issued a set of definitive stamps with title "Geology, Mineralogy, Paleontology" shows some minerals and fossils found in the country. All 12 stamps of the set have diamond shape.
The six stamps that belong to Paleontology are:
0$50, Angolasaurus, skull and reconstruction, 2$00, Gondwanidium validum, 3$00, Stromatolites, 3$50, Procarcharodon megalodon tooth, 4$00, Microceratodus angolensis fossil, 6$00, Nostoceras helicinum, 10$00, Rotula orbiculus angolensis.
is an extinct genus of plioplatecarpine mosasaur. Definite
remains from this genus have been recovered from the Turonian of Angola
and some other places around the world. First named in 1964 by Miguel
Telles Antunes on the basis of a partial skull and skeleton, exactly as
depicted on the stamp.
first miniature sheets (or souvenir sheets) were issued before
usually with a surtax for raising funds for a charity rather than for
sale to collectors. They became more of a collectors item with
pictorial issues around 1970.
The set contains eight stamps showing various prehistoric animals, mostly dinosaurs, and a miniature sheet with a mammoth on a 10-riyal stamp along with some other prehistoric animals on the margin. The animal depicted on the stamp is a wooly mammoth (Elephas primigenius), a species that lived during the Pleistocene epoch from 2.588 million years ago (MYA) to 11,700 years ago, and was one of the last in the line of mammoth species.
From the 1960s until the end of the
1980s, some small Middle Eastern countries (called “Sand Dunes” by
philatelists) produced stamps in huge quantities for every popular
topic: space, sports, famous people, etc. These stamps were aimed at
stamp collectors rather than postal use and usually were never
available in the country of origin to actually use on letters as
postage. One such set is from Fujeira
the nineteen seventies and -eighties, rebel groups attempting to
overthrow the Oman government took control over parts of the country on
the Arabian peninsula. In order to raise funds and to establish
themselves as rightful rulers, stamps were issued under the names
'State of Oman' and ' Dhufar'.
Traditionally stamps were printed in sheets of several
postal authorities started to produce stamp sets on sheets. Such sheets
were usually designed as a big picture composed of many different
stamps. On one hand, it is nice to have a whole picture, but on the
other hand, these occupy a large space in an album and are not useful
for non-philatelist customers.
of the most beautiful souvenir sheets depicting prehistoric animals,
issued by the United States
on 1 May 1997, shows a
painting by the famous American paleoartist, James Gurney, author of
Australia, Canada, and New Zealand)
simultaneously issued some sets of stamps showing dinosaurs and other
prehistoric reptiles. All three sets were sold with a thematic stamp
book, The Stamp of the Dinosaur, which also told the story of
Australian stamps issued in several formats: 6 mint stamps issued in separate sheets of 15, mini sheet of all 6 stamps. Two stamps from the Australian set were issued as self-adhesive and sold as a booklet of ten and in rolls. These first self-adhesive stamps of prehistoric animals shows the following prehistoric animals.
Leaellynasaura, about the size of a chicken with a skull only 6 centimetres long, Leaellynasaura was a bipedal herbivorous dinosaur. Its eyes were exceptionally large, as was the part of the brain dedicated to processing visual signals (the optic lobes). It would appear to have been adapted for life in semi-darkness. During much of the Cretaceous, when Leaellynasaura lived, Australia was far closer to the South Pole than it is now, and would have been almost continuously dark for two or three months of each year. It has been suggested that this little dinosaur, too small to migrate,remained active throughout the long winter.
flying reptiles or pterosaurs were not dinosaurs. However, they lived
at the same time and were warm-bloodedthe energy demands of flight
could never be met with a cold-blooded metabolism. Ornithocheirus lived
in the Late Cretaceous and is also found in Europe, South America and
Africa. During the 19th century, in England many fragmentary
pterosaur fossils were found in the Cambridge Greensand. First found in
Australia in 1979, near Boulia in south-western Queensland. It was a
coastal species, and had a wing span of about 2.5 metres.
On 22 April 1998, the Singapore Post introduced the
first automatic teller machine (ATM) stamps depicting dinosaurs.
The stamps shows the following dinosaurs (from left to right):
The Pentucerutops ("five horned face") belongs to the family of Cerutopsidae. They looked like the rhinoceros and were plant-eaters with huge heads, bulky bodies and heavy limbs and hooike claws.
("deceptive lizard") was from the family of Diplodocidae. The
Diplodocids stood highest at the hips, earing weight upon their
elephantine limbs with short broad "hands" and feet. The Apatosaurus
were plant-eaters which existed in the Late Iurassic period, and were
very large with long whiplash tail and long neck.
("Alberta lizards") was related to the Tyrannosaurus (or T-rex)
featured in the movies. They were fierce predatory animal
ran fast and they would lunge with their heads to take "scoop bites"
from their victims bodies.
First FRAMA stamps depicted
Amiel machine used big and bold font, SMD printed the text in small, regular font. Some machines used black ink rather than blue one , such stamps are very difficult to get.
Moreover ATM machines at philatelic desk of Portuguese Post programmed differently as ATM machines at post offices. Stamps sold to philatelist used a dot (".") as currency separator, when stamps sold at post offices used a comma (",") as currency separator, therefore mint stamps with comma separator are more difficult to get.
With introduction of common European currency the ATM machines were reprogrammed to print face value in Escudo and Euro currency in 2000 and Euro only in 2002.
The first 3D stamp set has
been issued by South
Africa in 2009.
There are two mini-sheets 4 and 6 stamps each as well as two FDC cards. Five of the stamps depict skeletons of different types of dinosaurs, while the other five stamps show images of what scientists believe these creatures most probably looked like. All the dinosaurs depicted on the stamps have an African connection.
Traditionally perforation of stamps made of small holes evenly distributed around the stamp. Since 2000 , for security reasons, some Post Authorities start use some odd forms at stamps perforation.
On 05th o f August 2010, Korean Post issued the stamp set "The Age of Dinosaurs Series (1st Issue)" with perforations in the shape of dinosaur. In the following years Post of South Korea issued two more sets of dinosaurs with similar perforations (2011, 2012).
On 5 March 2015, Switzerland issued a 2-swiss
franc souvenir sheet containing one irregularly shaped stamp
depicting an ammonite fossil along with an image showing a
reconstruction of how the creature may have appeared when it was living.
On 05th of June 2012, Post Authority of Turkeey issued a stamp set "World environment day (Dinosaurs)".The set is a mini-sheet of 4 stamps.
Additionally, souvenir book with one more plastic Lenticular (3d hologram-motion) stamp and several post cards are printed out. The Lenticular stamp, depict running T-Rex is the first Lenticular depicted dinosaur on it. Even though it sold with the booklet only is a valid post stamp, and can be used for postage, see on the right.
2014 Hong Kong, First luminous stamps depicted prehistoric animals
Latest update 20.02.2018
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