OTD: Canadian biochemist wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry

On today’s date in 1993, British-born Canadian biochemist Dr. Michael Smith was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with U.S. biochemist Kary Mullis for their groundbreaking work in molecular biology.

In 2004, Smith was featured on a 49-cent (then the domestic rate) stamp (Scott #2062) issued by Canada Post as part of its Nobel Prize Winners issue (SC #2061-62), which also featured Gerhard Herzberg (SC #2061). Designed by Paul Haslip, of HM&E Communications, the stamp depicts a black-and-white profile alongside a coloured DNA double helix and alphabet, alongside a grayscale photograph of Smith.

“As graphic artists, we work with a visual language, and we’re always looking for recognizable images that we can use in our own way,” said Haslip. “I realized that this kind of image would show the newness and creativity involved in scientific discovery.”

Smith was commemorated on a se-tenant pair (SC #

Smith was commemorated on a se-tenant pair (SC #2062a) alongside fellow scientist Gerhard Herzberg.

Bill Danard, then-manager of stamp products, said: “The vivid colours here aptly represent the activity of the mind.”

The colours also have specific relation to Smith’s field: because he worked in genetics, his portrait shows the double helix alongside the letters that represent the chemical building blocks of the genetic code. The stamps were printed in eight colours with a pearlescent silver ink adding a reflective sheen; however, there’s more here than meets the eye.

“We wanted to emphasize the unseen qualities of the science, because both men studied phenomena invisible to the naked eye,” said Haslip.

The genetic letters above Smith’s black-and-white profile are both overprinted with blue fluorescent ink, which is invisible in normal light but fluoresces when exposed to ultraviolet light. This stamp, which was printed by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell coated paper, has regular, four-sided tagging that fluoresces yellow-green under ultraviolet light.

Keep up to date with the philatelic community

Sign up to receive our newsletter.

Canadian Stamp News

Canada

Canadian Stamp News is Canada's premier source of information about stamp collecting and related fields.

Although we cover the entire world of philatelics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

Send Us Your Event

Running an event? Send it to us and we will display it on Canadian Stamp News!

Submit Event →

Subscribe To 26 Issues For Just $45.75/year

Subscribe today to receive Canada's premier stamp publication. Canadian Stamp News is available in both paper and digital forms.

Subscribe Now