The kaleidoscope was invented in 1816 by Scottish scientist Sir David Brewster; however, the patent wasn’t granted until 1817.
Considered a child prodigy, Brewster constructed a telescope when he was only 10 years old and showed interest in a wide range of subjects—philosophy, inventions, religion, optics and science among them—from a young age. At the age of 12, he was accepted into the University of Edinburgh, where he was admired for his exceptional academic ability.
During his 20s and 30s, Brewster applied his intellect to the study of optics and the development of scientific instruments. This intrigued him throughout his life, and he received several prestigious awards in recognition of his immense contributions to science.
By the time of his death in 1868, Brewster had birthed many inventions, including the binocular camera, lighthouse illuminator and lenticular stereoscope; however, it was the kaleidoscope that would become his iconic creation, causing a frenzy of excitement across all ages and social classes during exhibitions and its early production. The optical phenomenon of forever changing patterns created by reflective symmetry encased in a small tube seized imaginations.
“As Jersey has such an amazing abundance of wildlife, we took the opportunity to showcase different aspects in a unique and interesting way, whilst commemorating the fascinating work of David Brewster, inventor of the kaleidoscope,” said Melanie Gouzinis, head of the philatelic department at Jersey Post.
For more information about Brewster, visit brewstersociety.com.
Designed by Mark Wilkinson, the six stamps feature “intricate, symmetrically designed” illustrations in homage to the beauty of kaleidoscope patterns. Each stamp—printed using four-colour offset lithography—is available in sheets of 10 stamps. The stamps are also available in six-stamp souvenir sheets.
“To design imagery inside a kaleidoscopic pattern of six segments was not as straightforward as I first thought it might be,”said Wilkinson. “Every element that sits on the edges creates a self-contained pattern that can be unexpected and occasionally obtrusive. After playing around for a while, it became easier to predict the symmetry.”
Each of the designs is based on a different theme, using Jersey’s abundance of flora and fauna as their subject. The denominations include:
- 49 pence (shells and anemones including Spider crab, Wrasse, Common urchin);
- 63 pence (feathers and eggs including Cuckoo and Wagtail feathers, alongside Bullfinch and Bunting eggs);
- 73 pence (wildflowers including Ox eye daisy, Yellow iris, Scarlet pimpernel and Red campion);
- 79 pence (woodlands including Gorse flowers, Chestnut, Polecat, Jay and Red squirrel);
- 90 pence (minibeasts including Bumble bee, Emperor dragonfly, Common blue butterfly, Wasp spider, 7 spot ladybird and Bloody nosed beetle); and
- £1.07 (marine life including Spider crab, Wrasse and Common urchin).