JULES VERNE (1828-1905)
The science fiction writer has been a source of inspiration for scientists. The world of adventure stories owe much to the work of Jules Verne, Journey to the centre of the Earth, 2000 leagues under the Sea, Around the Moon and From Earth to the Moon to name but a few.
Every rocket scientist Goddard, Oberth and Von Braun to name but a few, started their childhood days engrossed in his flights to the Moon, because so carefully did he do him scientific homework. The science in ‘Do la terre a la lune’ is nearly as accurate as the knowledge at the time (1865) permitted. Despite this, the voyage he describes while spectacular is not feasible.
Verne pictured a canon, quarter of a kilometre long, pointing straight up to the sky. The capsule weighted nine tonnes. His passengers of course survive the flight to the Moon. While in ‘Autour de la Lune’, his weightless passengers orbit the Moon and return to a splashdown in the Pacific.
His launch site was in Florida. Verne postulated, unlike most of his literary predecessors, that the Moon was barren and lifeless. Verne is still deservedly popular today.
Verne first makes his appearance in the philatelic world as a ship’s cancel, from 1931-1946. Since their have been some fifty different cancellations commemorating Verne. The first postage stamp to portray Verne was issued 3 June 1955, it pictured him with the U.S.S. Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine to pass under the North Pole. Monaco released a set of eleven stamps picturing scenes from his stories.
After the successes of the Luna and Surveyor programmes, Verne became synonymous with ‘MOON’ stamps, There have been over one hundred different Verne stamps produced by about thirty countries, ranging from Djibouti to Yemen Arab Republic.
Jules Verne is a good example of a sub-theme in a ‘Space’ collection. He is a must in terms of the development of Space Travel, no exhibit is complete without a page or two of Jules Verne items.
Contributed by Charles Bromser, References: Ray Cartier ‘Jules Verne Philatelic Tributes, unpublished, 1990, Von Braun, Ordway & Dooling ‘Space Travel, a History’ Haper & Row, New York, 1975.
Below: Some Postmarks for Jules Verne.