Making Light of Stamp Collecting

Betsey Davis

With all the hoopla in past months over the Elvis stamps, one might easily forget that stamp collecting can be an enjoyable and educational hobby. Optical phenomena, optics devices, and the history of optics and photonics can all be found in the fascinating world of philately. Although the 1993 U.S. stamps to be issued include the circus, musicians, flowers, horses, and only one scientist—Percy Lavon Julian, an African American scientist and chemist whose work led to developments in the treatment of glaucoma—there is hope elsewhere for those seeking optics on stamps. In January 1993 alone, worldwide there were seven astronomy issues, three for light houses, and two for mathematics.

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