Isaac Newton (1642–1727)

As one of the all-time greats of science, Isaac Newton features on the stamps of many nations. Here are some notable examples, arranged chronologically. (For a more extensive selection, but without individual descriptions, see Michael Lahanas’s Stamps of Science pages.)
1957 France
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Newton’s first philatelic appearance was on this French stamp in 1957, part of a series featuring great names from science and the arts.

Stanley Gibbons no. 1361
1959 Poland
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Two years later followed this portrait of an elderly and somewhat dyspeptic-looking Newton from Poland, part of a set of six honouring famous scientists.

Stanley Gibbons no. 1130
1977 Benin
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Benin’s offering from 1977, marking the 250th anniversary of Newton’s death, showed an apple being attracted to Earth with a background of the Moon, planets, stars, and galaxies. It was part of a set of four depicting space anniversaries.

Stanley Gibbons no. 680
1977 Hungary
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Hungary’s commemoration of the 250th anniversary of Newton’s death shows a vigorous sketch of him in front of a diagram tracing the paths of rays of light through a lens. The stamp was issued with an attached label (a dummy stamp of no postal value) which depicts the lift-off of a Russian Soyuz rocket and Newton’s diagram from the Principia illustrating the principle of getting into orbit. The stamp and label were also issued in a sheet of eight (i.e. four pairs).

Stanley Gibbons no. 3111
1977 Mali
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Mali’s commemorative stamp for the 250th anniversary of Newton’s death showed the launch of an Atlas rocket carrying a Mercury single-man spacecraft, the ubiquitous apple, and a satellite which looks like NASA’s first Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO 1), launched in 1966 but which suffered a power failure once in orbit.

Stanley Gibbons no. 571
1987 Monaco
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An intricately engraved stamp from Monaco commemorated the 300th anniversary of the publication of Newton’s Principia in which he announced the laws of universal gravitation. A blur of orbits around the Sun is accompanied by Newton’s formula stating that the force of attraction between two bodies depends on their masses and diminishes with the square of their distance apart.

Stanley Gibbons no. 1847


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