Tomorrow at noon, the United States Postal Service will officially issue a series of postage stamps recognizing four prominent American scientists, one of whom is Linus Pauling. Ceremonies marking the release will be held jointly in the Memorial Union Ballroom at Oregon State University as well as in New York City. The Corvallis affair will feature talks by Linus Pauling, Jr., Pauling biographer Thomas Hager, Steve Lawson of the Linus Pauling Institute, and Corvallis postmaster John Herrington, who will be cancelling envelopes with a special commemorative postmark. More information on the event can be found here and here.
Pauling — who, incidentally, was an avid stamp collector himself — is being honored for his research on sickle cell anemia. Pauling’s Nobel Peace Prize portrait is the likeness on which the USPS issue is based, while the background of the stamp incorporates sickled red blood cells similar to these drawn by Roger Hayward for his and Pauling’s 1964 publication, The Architecture of Molecules. The 2008 USPS issue looks like this:
While the sickle cell anemia stamp is the first U.S. issue honoring Pauling, four previous stamps bearing his likeness have been created for sale, beginning with a 1977 release by the Republic of Upper Volta. Now known as Burkina Faso, the West African country once derived a meaningful percentage of its national revenue through the issuance of stamps.
In 2001 the Caribbean nation of Antigua & Barbuda recognized Pauling in a series commemorating the one-hundredth anniversary of the Nobel Prize (which also happened to be the Pauling centenary as well). The Federated States of Micronesia followed suit one year later, including two Pauling stamps in a series on Twentieth Century Peacemakers.
Click on the thumbnail below for a closer look at all four of these earlier releases.