“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Charles Darwin …” Maybe not. Although this tune was late Victorian, it was composed after Darwin’s death , whilst the words emerged in the early 20th century. However it’s a chance for a school assembly theme, craft idea or a beautifully designed stamp page: Charles Darwin’s birthday is coming up on Friday 12 February 2010. This is celebrated each year in Shrewsbury (his birthplace) and in many unusual ways around the world. Many unusual events are registered at www.darwinday.org and you can find out more about Darwin on our Blogroll links.
2010 will see not only the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity (biodiversity being now under threat in many of the areas Darwin visited) but also the 150th anniversary of the famous Oxford ‘Evolution’ and ‘Creation’ debate between the Victorian church (in the church corner: Bishop Wilberforce) and Victorian Science (in the ‘red in tooth and claw’ corner, not Tennyson but Darwin’s ‘bulldog’ T.H. Huxley). Darwin was, by nature, quite a shy man and wisely working elsewhere!
The Charles Darwin: A Celebration in Stamps is now published. It is aimed at schools and a copy will be available free to schools on request (while stocks last) but it is also of general interest and can be purchased for £6 (plus p&p). Our Darwin stamp book is available from Sandie Robb at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo or from Mark Norris at Newquay Zoo – see blog entry 25th Nov 2009 for details.
We’d nominate this 1982 stamp series (shown opposite) to join the BBC Radio 4’s series A History of the World in 100 Objects. This has a fine section on Victorian objects submitted by museums around the country, individuals and an ‘Early Victorian Tea Set’ (for serving early Victorian tea). The Darwin link? The tea set was designed by Wedgewood, Darwin’s relation by marriage to his cousin Emma Wedgewood. You can see the tea objects in a fabulous new digital museum online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/FWYgWOCSSpKKuF3pctC6tA There are plenty more Victorian objects at http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/explorerflash/?tag=63&tagname=The%20Victorians&/#/culture/63 with lots of other learning resources and even a CBBC website game called Relic : Guardians of the Museum http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/ There are hundreds of fabulous objects on this BBC / British Museum site. Our other zoo blog World War Zoo gardens http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com has nominated a child’s ‘wartime handmade sliding puzzle’ toy featured from the 1940s but which could easily have come from the 1840s and the Darwin children’s nursery. They still make such sliding toys in plastic and still make tea sets much like the early Victorians – some objects do not change design or purpose very quickly, others rapidly become obsolete or extinct.
Finally, it’s 175 years this year since Darwin visited the Galapagos islands in 1835. Whilst there are no Darwin stamps for 2010 from the Royal Mail (2009 saw a fine ‘jigsaw’ set for Darwin’s bicentenary), we need time to catch up with all the Darwin 200 bicentenary issue stamps and Galapagos visit anniversary from elsewhere around the world! There are plenty of new thematic or commemorative releases by the Royal Mail. These include Children’s literature, the Royal Society, Railways, Mammals and others which may feature Victorian subjects, science or animals. Unusually the centenary of Florence Nightingale’s death in 2010 is not obviously commemorated (but there are Florence Nightingale Royal Mail issues from the past). For more stamp collecting information, to inspire you to set up a stamp club in school or collect yourself http://www.royalmail.com/portal/stamps/content1?catId=32300678&mediaId=32600692
7th January – Classic Album Covers –
26th January – Smilers 2010 –
2nd February – Girl Guiding UK –
25th February – The Royal Society
11th March – Battersea Dogs & Cats
13th April – Mammals (Action for Species 4)
6th & 8th May – London 2010 Festival of Stamps
13th May – Britain Alone
*15th June – House of Stuarts
27th July – The London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games
19th August – Musicals
16th September – Great British Railways
*12th October – Children’s Books
2nd November – Christmas
*New issue date for this Special Stamp Issue
Happy stamp collecting! Happy Darwin’s birthday on the 12th!