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Bletchley Park flogs Alan Turing first day covers

Enigma codebreaker puts his stamp on 2012

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Computing pioneer and Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing is to be commemorated next month in a series of limited edition first day covers for stamps designed to celebrate the centenary of his birth and help raise some more funds for the renovation of Bletchley Park.

The covers, essentially snazzy envelopes specifically designed to carry a new set of stamps on their first day of issue, will be released on 23 February in four different designs.

Restricted to 500 copies each, the covers are going for £9.99 each and can be previewed here.

The first is a design created by Rebecca Peacock of Firecatcher Design which features a portrait of Turing himself. The other three are paintings by artists Steve Williams depicting the buildings which Turing and his fellow codebreakers lived in during the Second World War.

All four covers will also feature a first-class stamp depicting the Turing Bombe – the machine built to decipher the German Engima code – as well as a first day of issue postmark illustrating one of the bombe’s 36 rotor wheels.

The stamp-related tribute is all part of the centenary year of mathematical genius Turing, who has been credited with pioneering the development of everything from artificial intelligence to the modern computer.

More importantly, his work with colleagues at Bletchley unpicking Enigma and other German and Japanese codes is believed to have shortened the war by as many as two years.

Turing was also famously persecuted by the British government, and even forced to undergo chemical castration after being convicted of homosexuality in 1952. He committed suicide two years later, aged just 41.

In 2009, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally broke the establishment’s silence over Turing’s treatment, with a public apology for the “appalling” persecution he had suffered in the years following the war.

The money raised from the stamp sale will go straight into the coffers of Bletchley Park, which received an early Christmas present last month when Google pledged £500,000 to help restore the site. ®

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