U.S. #1488c Tagging Omitted
8¢ Nicolaus Copernicus
Issue Date: April 23, 1973
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
Color: Black and orange
Celebrates the 500th anniversary of the birth of Copernicus, the astronomer, with a design based on an 18th century engraving. Copernicus (1473-1543) was a born in the Kingdom of Poland. His theory that the sun - not the Earth - was the central position in the solar system replaced a theory that had been accepted for several hundred years.
Nicolaus Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473, in Thorn, Poland.
The youngest of four children, Copernicus attended the University of Krakow where he studied math, philosophy, and astronomy. Though he attended for four years, Copernicus didn’t earn a degree.
Copernicus left the school in 1495 at his uncle’s request. His uncle was Prince-Bishop of Warmia and wanted his nephew to study canon law in Italy. The following year he traveled to Bologna to begin his studies. He remained there for three years but was more interested in the humanities than the priesthood and took a particular interest in astronomy. During this time he met noted astronomer Domenico Maria Novara da Ferrara and soon became his student and assistant.
Copernicus aided Ferrara in his astronomical observations and began making observations of his own, verifying previous studies of the Moon’s motion, witnessing a lunar eclipse, and studying the planets. He eventually completed his doctorate on canon law and then studied medicine. By the time he was 30, Copernicus had completed all of his studies in Italy and returned home to Warmia. There he served as his uncle’s secretary and doctor. Living in the bishop’s castle, Copernicus began working on his heliocentric theory that the planets revolved around the Sun. He continued to work as a canon (priest) for the rest of his life, using his free time to study the sky.
At the time, it was believed the Earth was the center of the universe and all other heavenly bodies moved around it. One of the major problems with this belief was that the planets would occasionally travel backward across the sky. Astronomers called this retrograde motion and followed Ptolemy’s model. According to this model, the planets traveled on epicycles – circles within circles – but that seemed too complicated to be a natural occurrence.
Copernicus secretly questioned this belief and conducted his own observations and developed a new theory, possibly around 1508. Then around 1514, he distributed a handwritten book called “Little Commentary” to his friends. The book described his theory that the sun was the center of the universe, and all the planets revolve around it. He also thought the Earth rotated daily on an axis, rather than remaining motionless.
Throughout the remainder of his life, Copernicus gathered more data, but would not publish it because he was worried about the ridicule “to which he would expose himself on account of the novelty and incomprehensibility of his theses.” His book, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, was finally published two months before his death. He died on May 24, 1543. Many years later, Johannes Kepler was deeply inspired by Copernicus and would expand and improve on his observations, helping to popularize the heliocentric model.
Now you can own this stamp with rare tagging omitted. Did you know a stamp missing its phosphorescent tagging is considered by many to be similar to a missing color error? The good news is that unlike some error stamps, untagged error stamps are affordable.
What is Phosphorescent Tagging and Why is it Important?
Tagging of U.S. stamps was introduced in 1963 with airmail stamp #C64a. It helps the U.S. Post Office use automation to move the mail at a lower cost. A virtually invisible phosphorescent material is applied either to stamp ink or paper, or to stamps after printing. This “taggant” causes each one to glow in shades of green (red on older airmails) for a moment after exposure to short-wave ultraviolet (UV) light. The afterglow makes it possible for facing-canceling machines to locate the stamp on the mail piece, and properly position it for automated cancellation and sorting.
Some stamps have been printed with and without tagging intentionally, but when tagging is omitted by accident, we collectors are treated to a scarce modern color error. Our stamp experts examined thousands of stamps to find these just for you. Now you can easily give your error collection a boost or explore this fascinating new area of collecting. Quantities are limited, so order your untagged error stamp right away.
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