1999  Isaac Newton/Hubble Space Telescope

Part of a Millennium Series set of four devoted to the achievements of British scientists, and jointly called The Scientists’ Tale, this stamp carries the wording “Newton/Hubble Telescope”. It honours the work of Isaac Newton (already the subject of a set in 1987), but the image is a false-colour infrared view of Saturn taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The intention was to demonstrate the development of astronomical telescopes since Newton built the first reflector – but surely a more appropriate illustration would have been either Newton’s original telescope or the present-day Isaac Newton Telescope in the Canary Islands. (Incidentally, this isn’t a poor-quality copy of the stamp – the perforations really were that rough, and the printing was dark.)

The stamp, numbered “Millennium 1999/17”, was released on 1999 August 3 and then reissued eight days later as a four-stamp sheet to mark the total eclipse of the Sun visible from Britain on August 11. No designer is credited.

The other advances commemorated in the Scientists’ Tale set were:
19p, DNA decoding (1999/20); 26p, Darwin’s theory of evolution (1999/19); 44p, Faraday’s work on electricity (1999/18).

Stanley Gibbons no. 2105