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South African Coelacanth Issue - 9 February 1989


Fifty years ago, on the 20 February 1939, the stunning announcement was made that a Coelacanth had been caught off the Chalumna River mouth near East London. At that time, the Coelacanth was thought to be extinct for nearly 70 million years. The discovery of the Coelacanth was described as the biological find of the century.

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A live Coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae, in itís natural habitat.
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Portraying Prof. J.L.B. Smith and Dr. Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer with a Coelacanth.
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The modern building that houses the
J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology.
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The GEO two-man submarine which is being
used to study the living Coelacanth.
Technical Detail:

Values: 16c, 30c, 40c and 50c
Stamp Format: 38,07 x 28,7 mm
Sheet Division: 5 x 5 stamps
(3 unidentified panes per slate)
Paper: Harrison - phosphorous coated
Quantity Printed: 16c - 17 500 000
: 30c, 40c and 50c - 2 500 000 each

Designer: Angus McBride
Printer: Government Printer, Pretoria
Printing Process: Lithography
Perforation Guage: 14ľ x 14 mm
Gum: PVA
No water mark
Last Date of Sale: 8 May 1989

Philatelic Foundation Miniature Sheet

The 50c value of the coelacanth issue was printed as a miniature sheet for fund raising purposes. The miniature sheet has the cancellation of the National Philatelic Exhibition, held by the Wanderers Club in September 1989, imprinted on the sheet.

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The miniature sheet features the GEO two-man submercible which was used in the study of living coelacanths under water. Scientists are also investigating current conservation measures regarding this species because of possible threat to it's survival.

Two Oceans Corporate Miniature Sheet

This miniature sheet for the Old Mutual Environmental Education Centre of the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town was issued during the opening of new classrooms at the Centre.The miniature sheet was sold to generate funds for the Education Trust of the Aquarium and depicts two setenant 50c coelacanth stamps, originally issued in 1989.

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