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1970  150th anniversary of the RAS

The 150th anniversary of the Royal Astronomical Society was commemorated by one of a set of five stamps issued in April 1970 to mark various anniversaries.

Shown on the RAS stamp, but not named, are three characters who were influential in founding the society: Sir William Herschel (at left), the first President, holding his famous drawing of Uranus and two satellites; Francis Baily, of Baily’s beads fame; and John Herschel, William’s son. In the background is William Herschel’s 40-ft telescope, which stood at his home in Slough, as depicted in the RAS logo. This telescope also turns up on the 26p stamp in the Astronomy set issued in 1990. The other anniversaries commemorated by the 1970 set were: 5d, the Declaration of Arbroath; 9d, Florence Nightingale; 1s, signing of International Cooperative Alliance; 1s 6d, the Mayflower. The Queen’s head was elegantly embossed in gold.

As the highest-value member of the set, at one shilling and ninepence in old money, the RAS stamp was probably the least seen.

Stanley Gibbons no. 823