Date of issue: March 3, 1971
Printer: British American Bank Note Company
Design: Ray Webber
The identification of insulin, the hormone involved in normal glucose metabolism and used for the treatment of diabetes, has been described as one of the most important developments in modern medicine. It was isolated in 1921 by Frederick Banting, Charles Best, and James Collip, a team of scientists at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Professor John Macleod. Before its discovery, diabetes had limited treatment options and was usually fatal (particularly its Type I (juvenile) variant).
Understanding the significance of their discovery, the investigators sold the patent rights for insulin to the University of Toronto for $1, allowing affordable mass-production and easy public access to the medication. In 1923, Banting and Macleod were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in recognition of their discovery.
The stamp was issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. It shows photographs of the actual instruments and materials used by Banting and Best in their experiments, including flasks, test tubes, a syringe, a drug container (undoubtedly insulin), a colorimeter and a balance. A preserved organ – possibly a dog pancreas – is present in a glass jar in the back. The first-day cover shows a sketch of Banting.
Date of issue: April 15, 2021
Design: Subplot Design based on photographs by Seth Stevenson
A second stamp was issued in 2021 to celebrate the 100th anniversary. It shows an early vial containing insulin produced in Toronto’s Connaught Laboratories. An excerpt from Banting’s unpublished memoir in which he describes his inspiration to ligate the pancreatic duct as a means of isolating insulin is seen in the background. The first-day cover shows a collage of letters addressed to Banting from individuals around the world, exemplifying the importance of his discovery.