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Benjamin Franklin (USA)

The Stamp

This stamp was first issued on 3 February 1903, (although it is part of the 1902 series) in the United States of America. It was part of a series issued as learning tools to educate people, in particular new immigrants to America.

The stamp was designed by Raymond Ostrander Smith: the image of Franklin was taken from an original painting by James Longacre, and engraved by George FC Smillie, Robert F Ponickau and Lyman F Ellis. The new stamp was somewhat criticised for showing a rather doleful looking Franklin, flanked by “writhing nude boys”.

The Subject

The stamp shows Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), American polymath, politician and one of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence. As a scientist, he experimented with electricity and you can see a reference to this with tiny light bulbs in the top corners of the stamp.

Urology Connections

Benjamin Franklin designed a flexible, silver catheter. In 1752, he wrote a letter to his brother enclosing a silver catheter he had instructed a local silversmith to make.

His brother must have suffered from lower urinary tract symptoms but it is not clear whether the catheter was ever used, it was an experimental model, and he discussed how it could be improved by a covering of gut or by making it smaller.

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