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Monday, January 11, 1999 Published at 16:07 GMT


Masters of invention

Celebrating time and power

Philippa Forrester: They are beautiful images
Four British inventions that changed the world are featured on a new set of stamps released by the Royal Mail.

The stamps are the first in a series of 12 issues that will mark the coming of the new millennium. Each issue takes a theme from the past 1,000 years of British history.

The individual stamps are numbered, from 48 in January counting down to number one in December.

Technological revolutions

Called the Inventors' Tales, the first set salute the achievements Britons have made in timekeeping, steam power, photography and computing:

  • Numbered 48, the 20p stamp is a montage of a clockface and the Earth. It is inspired by the work of John Harrison, the man who revolutionised clockmaking in the 18th century and, in so doing, solved the problem of finding longitude at sea.
  • Priced at 26p, number 47 is the first class stamp in the issue. The image of a labourer and and a chimney show how steam power transformed British industry.
  • Stamp 46 - the 43p stamp - celebrates the photographic work of William Henry Fox Talbot whose calotype process developed in the 1830s was the first to use a negative to create a positive image.
  • Number 45 is an artist's impression of Alan Turing, the brilliant mathematician, who envisaged a machine which could, by following a stored program, perform any calculation. The 63p stamp was designed by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.

Fitting recognition

[ image: Turing was a visionary]
Turing was a visionary
The stamps were launched at the Science Museum in London by inventor Trevor Baylis and the presenter of the BBC's Tomorrow's World science programme, Philippa Forrester.

Mr Baylis, whose clockwork radio has won international plaudits and the backing of Nelson Mandela, said the issue was a fitting recognition of the "noble individuals and their inventions."

He said: "Many inventors have to endure the word 'mad' as a prefix to what is an honourable occupation. We are becoming aware of how important individuals are and how they can shape all our lives both socially and economically with their creativity."

[ image: The science of photography]
The science of photography
Philippa Forrester said the UK was a nation of inventors. "These stamps are a beautiful collection of wonderful works which have shaped the world as we know it today."

The Royal Mail Millennium Collection of stamps will be issued four at a time on the first Tuesday of each month. They will be available in presentation packs and as First Day covers in post offices.

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