Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

Medical Breakthroughs - 16 September 2010

A set of 6 stamps celebrating six of the most significant medical breakthroughs from the 20th century.  

The United Kingdom has been at the forefront of medical research and technology since William Harvey first described the circulation of the blood in 1628. British physicians and scientists can justly take credit for the discovery and application of smallpox vaccination, anesthetics, anti-septic surgery and many public health measures, but perhaps some of the most important breakthroughs have taken place in the last 120 years.  We understand that a retail booklet will be issued in January 2011 containing two of these 1st class stamps, with 4 gold Machin definitives.

Set of 6 new British stamps showing images symbolising medicine.
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Set of 6 stamps:

1st - Heart-regulating beta-blockers (Inferior anterolateral view (left side) of the heart and its major blood vessels)

58p Antibiotic properties of penicillin (Petri dish culture penicillum notatum)

60p Total hip replacement (Coloured X-ray of the pelvis of a 74 year old woman)

67p Artificial lens implant surgery (Intraocular lens, an artificial implanted lens placed in the eye surgically)

88p Link between Malaria and mosquitoes (Coloured transmission electron micrograph of a section through a misshapen red blood cell infected with a malaria parasite (Plasmodium sp.))

97p Computed tomography scanner (CT scan of an axial section through a patient’s abdomen showing a false aneurysm (red) due to chronic pancreatitis)

Brief descriptions - stamp by stamp

1st Class – Heart-regulating beta-blockers synthesized by Sir James Black 1962
Beta blockers are used for various indications, but particularly for the management of cardiac arrhythmias, cardioprotection after myocardial infarction (heart attack), and hypertension. Propranolol was the first clinically useful beta adrenergic receptor antagonist. Invented by Sir James W. Black in the late 1950s, it revolutionized the medical management of angina pectoris and is considered to be one of the most important contributions to clinical medicine and pharmacology of the 20th century.

58p – Antibiotic properties of penicillin discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming 1928
The discovery of penicillin is attributed to Scottish scientist and Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming in 1928 He showed that, if penicillium notatum was grown in the appropriate substrate, it would exude a substance with antibiotic properties, which he dubbed penicillin. This serendipitous observation began the modern era of antibiotic discovery

60p – Total hip replacement operation pioneered by Sir John Charnley 1962
Sir John Charnley began his research into hip replacement in 1949 when he moved his clinical practice as an orthopedic surgeon to Wrightington Hospital near Wigan. While suffering many setbacks during its development Charnley finally performed the first successful hip replacement operation in 1962. This subsequently became the gold standard treatment for this condition and has remained the most successful surgical and radiological procedure up to the present day.

67p – Artificial lens implant surgery pioneered by Sir Harold Ridley 1949
Whilst working with Royal Air Force casualties during World War II, Ridley noticed that when splinters of perspex from aircraft cockpit canopies became lodged in the eyes of wounded pilots, they did not trigger rejection, leading him to propose the use of artificial lenses in the eye to correct cases of cataracts. He had a lens manufactured using an identical plastic – Perspex CQ made by ICI – and on 29 November 1949 at St Thomas’ Hospital, Harold Ridley achieved the first implant of an intraocular lens.

88p – Malaria parasite transmitted by mosquitoes proved by Sir Ronald Ross 1897
In 1897, Ronald Ross discovered the presence of the malarial parasite within a specific species of mosquito, the Anopheles. He initially called them dapple-wings and following the hypothesis of Sir Patrick Manson that the agent that causes malaria was spread by the mosquito, he was able to find the malaria parasite in a mosquito that he artificially fed on a malaria patient. Later using birds that were sick with malaria, he was able to ascertain the entire life cycle of the malarial parasite, including its presence in the mosquito’s salivary glands. He demonstrated that malaria is transmitted from infected birds to healthy ones by the bite of a mosquito, a finding that suggested the disease’s mode of transmission to humans.

97p – Computed tomography scanner invented by Sir Godfrey Hounsfield 1971
While on an outing in the country, Hounsfield came up with the idea that one could determine what was inside a box by taking X-ray readings at all angles around the object. Hounsfield built a prototype head scanner and tested it first on a preserved human brain, then on a fresh cow brain from a butcher shop, and later on himself. In September 1971, CT scanning was introduced into medical practice with a successful scan on a cerebral cyst patient at Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon, London.

Technical details:

Designed by Howard Brown the six 37 x 35mm stamps are printed in lithography by Cartor Security Printing.  Perforations are 14 x 14½ and phosphor is 'all-over'.

Photographic credits:  Inferior anterolateral view (left side) of the heart and its major blood vessels: ©, Petri dish culture penicillum notatum: Wellcome Photo Library, Wellcome Images, Coloured X-ray of the pelvis of a 74 year old woman, showing hip replacement: Dr P. Marazzi/Science Photo Library, Intraocular lens, an artificial implanted lens placed in the eye surgically: Helen Mcardle/Science Photo Library, Coloured transmission electron micrograph of a section through
a misshapen red blood cell infected with a malaria parasite (Plasmodium sp.): Dr Tony Brain/Science Photo Library, Coloured computed tomography (CT) scan of an axial section through a patient’s abdomen showing a false aneurysm (red) due to chronic pancreatitis: Du Cane Medical Imaging Ltd/Science Photo Library.

All images are by kind permission of Royal Mail, Copyright 2010. This website is copyright Norvic Philatelics 2010.

Products issued
Mint set
Royal Mail FDCs 
Presentation Pack
Set of 6 Stamp Cards

Special Postmarks
Postmarks available for the day of issue will be shown here, others will be added later. These are not to scale. These postmarks cannot be obtained after the date of issue.

Official Bureau first day of issue postmark for medical breakthrough stamps. Official Bristol, first day of issue postmark for bird Faststamps. Official Bristol first day of issue non-pictorial postmark for bird faststamps. Stampex Medical Breakthroughs first day postmark. Birmingham postmark showing microscope.
Ref FD1031
Philatelic Bureau Official Postmark illustrated with life-saving equipment.
Ref FD1032
Paddington official postmark
Ref FD1032NP
Paddington Official non-pictorial Postmark
Ref L11866
Autumn Stampex, London N1 First Day of Issue
Ref M11858
Fleming Road, Birmingham
postmark showing human body. Free-form postmark in the form of a flame. postmark with text as shown.
postmark showing .
Medical Breakthroughs Oxford postmark showing DNA double Helix.
Ref L11852
Tavistock Square, London WC1
Ref L11850 Joint Action - British Orthopaedic Association, London WC2 Ref L11849
London SW7
Ref S11863 - Edinburgh Ref L11869 - Oxford

This page updated 7 September 2010

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2010 stamp issues
Visit our online shop!
7 Classic Album Covers
7 Olympic Games retail book 1
26 Business & Customised Smilers MS
2 Girl Guide Centenary
25 350th ann of the Royal Society
25 Olympic Games retail book 2
1 Castles of Wales
11 Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
23 House of Stewart
30 Machin & Country Definitives
30 Festival of Stamps retail advertising book
13 Endangered Mammals
6 Accession of George V*
8 The King's Stamps* &
London 2010 Souvenirs *
Britain Alone (1940)*
* London 2010 Festival of Stamps issues
18 Halley's Comet Commemorative Sheet
15 House of Stuart
15 Endangered Mammals Retail Booklet
8 British Grand Prix Commemorative Sheet
Olympics & Paralympics II
& Olympic Games retail book 3

10 London Eye Commemorative Sheet
19 Great British Railways I
19 Retail booklets: 12x2nd, 6x1st
15 Battle of Britain - Spitfire Generic Sheet & Retail booklet
16 Medical Breakthroughs
17 Faststamps: Bird pictorials
12 Children's Books
12 Olympic Games retail book 4
26 Special Delivery Machins
28 Remembrance: the National Arboretum
2 Christmas - Wallace & Gromit


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Norvic Philatelics, PO Box 119, Dereham, NR20 3YN, GB. -- UK Phone: 08450 090939 -- Skype:ian.billings-norvic