French physicist Pierre Curie, born 15 May 1859, is perhaps best known for his work in radioactive studies with his wife, Marie Curie. But he was also a pioneer in the study of magnetism. Studies which have greatly impacted on our modern way of life. With his brother Jacques, he studied crystallography. Through this research, the brothers discovered what is known as the piezoelectric effect. Basically this effect shows that the magnetic properties of a given substance change at a specific temperature, a level now known as the Curie point. The piezoelectric effect has many practical applications in the modern world. Many gas burners, ranges, and electric cigarette lighters have a built-in piezo based injection systems. Even modern music benefits from Curie's discovery! Microphones and electrically amplified guitars utilise piezoelectric technology.
In 1895, Pierre married a fellow scientist by the name of Maria Skłodowska. History knows this woman as Marie Curie. Juggling a busy teaching schedule and working with inferior equipment, Pierre and Marie joined forces, working to isolate the elements of radium and polonium. Incidentally, Marie named polonium after her home country, Poland. Their hard travails were rewarded when in 1903 they won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Not only that, the radioactive unit 'the curie' was named after them (some say this was named after just Pierre, but I'd like to think it was to honour both scientists).
Tragically, Pierre was run over by a horse-drawn carriage on 19 April 1906 in Paris. It is believed, however, that had he not suffered this fate, he likely would have died of the effects of his prolonged exposure to radiation during his and his wife's studies. Indeed, Marie Curie later died of the effects of deadly radiation. Ironically, the Curies' daughter, Irène, and her husband, Frédéric Joliot, also studied radiation, and they both died due to radiation exposure. And they too won a Nobel Prize in 1935, this time in the field of chemistry. Their other daughter, Ève, wrote an award-winning biography of her mother. And she married a diplomat, Henry Labouisse, who just so happened to have... Wait for it... Won a Nobel Peace Prize! Quite a family!
On 25 May 1981, Mali issued a stamp honouring the scientific research of Pierre Curie. This lovely tribute stamp was designed and engraved by French engraver, Pierre Albuisson. This was Albuisson's first ever engraved stamp. And I think it is brilliant. The fine details of the pieces of scientific apparatus is superb. I also consider Pierre's beard an engraved masterpiece, full of life and energy.
Pierre Albuisson now has over 150 engraved stamps to his name for France and her territories, namely Monaco and French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF). He has even engraved a Marianne for France, the Marianne de Cheffer in 2007. For a full Pierre Albuisson biography pop across to Adrian Keppel's great Stamp Engravers blog post HERE. I really look forward to studying more of his stamps as I acquire them.
Until next time...