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A Postage Stamp History of Chemistry

Volume 40, Number 7 (Oct. 1986) Page 911-924

Miller, Foil A.


An earlier historical article in Applied Spectroscopy used postage stamps to provide colorful illustrations for a short history of spectroscopy. Since the Editor has kindly suggested another historical article, and since nearly all the readers of the journal are involved with chemistry to at least some degree, it seemed that an article on the history of chemistry might be of interest. It too will be illustrated with stamps. It will also be a postage-stamp-size history, for in the space of only a few pages much must be omitted. Although many of the significant individuals and events in chemistry have been pictured on stamps, there are some notable exceptions. Great Britain and the United States in particular have been remiss in honoring their scientists this way. There are no stamps for Joseph Black, Cavendish, Dalton, Davy, Faraday, J. W. Gibbs, Joule, Kelvin, G. N. Lewis, Moseley, William Perkin, or Count Rumford. Nevertheless there are approximately one thousand stamps on chemically related subjects, so the article can be illustrated reasonably well by this means.