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Scientists on Stamps: Nikola Tesla

Author: Emil Drkusic
Date: 24/10/2020

Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856, in Smiljan, Austrian Empire, and died on January 7, 1943, in New York, United States. Without a doubt, he was one of the greatest minds in the history of Mankind.  

A brief history of Smiljan – and the/no answer to the question “Was he American, Croat or Serb?”

While this is a pretty irrelevant question, having in mind all his achievements, all three mentioned nations like to take Nikola for themselves. So let’s look at a few facts.

Nikola Tesla - Yugoslavia
Nikola Tesla - Yugoslavia

1936 Kingdom of Yugoslavia Post


Denomination: 75 para (100 para = 1 Dinar) and 1.75 Dinars

Nikola was born in Smiljan, a village 7 kilometers northwest of Gospić, a town in Lika county. At the moment he was born, Smiljan was a part of an Austrian Empire (1804-1867) which was later transformed into Austria-Hungary (1867-1918). After the end of WWI and the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, Simljan became a part of the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs (1918) which later joined with the Kingdom of Serbia into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (1918 – 1929). The Kingdom of SCS changed its’ official name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1929-1941) in 1929 and used it until 1941 when it was dissolved. From 1941 to 1945, Simljan was a part of the Independent State of Croatia. On November 29, 1943, Democratic Federal Yugoslavia was formed (during WWII) and it will later change names to the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (1945 – 1963) and later to Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1963 – 1992). During the wars in Yugoslavia, it was part of Croatia (1991 – today) and the Republic of Serbian Krajina (1991 – 1995). Few are overlapping to where Smiljan belonged to because of the wars that were ongoing at the moment and states being or not being internationally recognized.

Nikola Tesla - Yugoslavia

1956 PTT (Post Telegraph Telephone, Yugoslavia)

FDC - The 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)


Denomination: 10 (induction motor), 15 (Tesla coil), 30 (telecommand) and 50 (Nikola Tesla) Dinars

Nikola was born as the fourth of five children (sisters Mika, Angelina and Marica, and brother Dane) in the family of Milutin and Đuka. While his father Milutin was an Eastern Orthodox priest, his mother Đuka never received a formal education. Still, she was a remarkable woman with an eidetic memory. That enabled her to remember Serbian epic poems and she also had a talent for making mechanical crafts.

Nikola was educated in German because Lika was a part of an Austrian frontier. He completed primary school in Smiljan and Gospić, and later middle school in Karlovac. During his middle school education, he met with electricity. His physics professor used it in experiments of classes and that probably directed his whole life (just remember that when you’re teaching, maybe you have some new Nikola sitting in classes). In 1875 he started to study at Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, Austria. He was a remarkable student until he started gambling and never finished his studies.

Nikola Tesla - Yugoslavia

1976 PTT (Post Telegraph Telephone, Yugoslavia)

The 120th Anniversary of the Birth of Nikola Tesla, 1856-1943



Denomination: 5 Dinars

Later he had few employments related to telephones and electricity of which the most important was the one in the Continental Edison Company in Paris. In June 1884 he emigrated to the USA and stayed there until his death.

  • "By an irony of fate, my first employment was as a draughtsman. I hated drawing; it was for me the very worst of annoyances. Fortunately, it was not long before I secured the position I sought, that of a chief electrician to the telephone company."

After all of this, it’s really hard to say to whom Nikola belongs to, so let’s use his words:

  • “I'm equally proud of my Serbian origin and my Croatian homeland.”
Nikola Tesla - Yugoslavia

1983 PTT (Post Telegraph Telephone, Yugoslavia)

American Inventors

Charles Steinmetz – electrical theories

Edwin Armstrong – frequency modulation

Nikola Tesla – induction motor

Philo T. Farnsworth – first television camera


Denomination: 20 cents

Hobbies, activities, hotel rooms and sex life

Although you’ll find that Nikola had no hobbies, he loved gambling and playing cards, especially during his studies and playing billiards later.

His sex life was also one of these irrelevant things people usually asked about him – was he gay or not. If he was gay, it’s hard he would even go out with that statement. Still, there is a greater chance he was completely asexual because he simply didn’t have any time for relationships. This was his answer to the question about marriage:

  • “For an artist, yes; for a musician, yes; for a writer, yes; but for an inventor, no. The first three must gain inspiration from a woman's influence and be led by their love to finer achievement, but an inventor has so intense a nature with so much in it of wild, passionate quality, that in giving himself to a woman he might love, he would give everything, and so take everything from his chosen field. . . . It's a pity, too, for sometimes we feel so lonely.”
  • “I do not think you can name many great inventions that have been made by married men.”

He spent a lot of the time in hotel rooms with Room 3327 in the Hotel New Yorker being the most famous one. He spent 10 years there (actually in rooms number 3327 and 3328), from 1933 to 1943 and he died in Room 3327. That was also the place where his scientific papers (including the Death Ray) were kept in a safe. Papers disappeared after his death, never to be found again.

Nikola Tesla - Yugoslavia

1993 PTT (Post Telegraph Telephone, Yugoslavia)


Denomination: 40000 Dinars

Most important achievements

It’s hard to say which one of his achievements was the most important, so I’ll mention these well-known here.

AC / DCWhile Edison's work and research were based on the DC (direct current), Tesla was focused on AC (alternate current). He proved that AC is less costly and safer and the result of his work is today everywhere around us. On the other hand, Edison electrocuted animals using AC to prove how dangerous it is, so Edison gave us an electric chair ?

Nikola Tesla - Republic of Serbian Krajina

Copyright© 1996 Republic of Serbian Krajina Post. All Rights Reserved.

The 140th Anniversary of the Birth of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)


Denomination: 1.50 Dinars

Remote Control - In 1898, at the Electrical Exhibition, in New York's Madison Square Garden, Tesla used radio-waves to navigate a 4-foot-long miniature ship remotely. He controlled propeller, rudder, and scaled-down running lights. Needless to say, it looked like magic these days.

Nikola Tesla - Macedonia

2006 Македонска Пошта (Macedonia Post)

The 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Nikola Tesla


Denomination: 24 Macedonian Dinars

Tesla’s AC Induction Motor is sometimes placed into the category of the 10 greatest discoveries of all times. If you ask yourself “why”, just look around yourself. These days, we can also look at car engines.

Nikola Tesla - Bosnia and Herzegovina

2006 Bosnia and Herzegovina – Republic of Srpska Post

The 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Nikola Tesla


Denomination: 1.50 BAM

The radio – Usually Guglielmo Marconi is credited as the inventor of the radio and that was the case until 1943 when the Supreme Court overturned Marconi’s patent as it was proven Tesla invented the radio a few years earlier. Marconi initially got the patent because, probably, he had stronger financial backers at that time.

Nikola Tesla - Croatia

2006 Hrvatska pošta (Croatia Post)

The 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Nikola Tesla


Denomination: 3.50 HRK

Some other (claimed) inventions Tesla is related to are: the Death Ray, robotics, X-rays, wireless energy transfer, limitless free energy, and many others. And of course, all his work on the Wardenclyffe Tower. Some of them were concepts, some lost during the time. We’ll probably never know if some of them truly ever existed, were they hidden in archives for being too powerful or too much on the way of the current economic system.

Nikola Tesla - Serbia

2016 Pošta Srbije (Post Serbia)

The 125th Anniversary of the Patent of Tesla’s Transformer


Denomination: 70 Serbian Dinars

Few words from Nikola Tesla

  • "The history of science shows that theories are perishable. With every new truth that is revealed, we get a better understanding of Nature, and our conceptions and views are modified."
  • "Every living being is an engine geared to the wheelwork of the universe. Though seemingly affected only by its immediate surrounding, the sphere of external influence extends to an infinite distance."
  • "Electrical science has disclosed to us the more intimate relation existing between widely different forces and phenomena and has thus led us to a more complete comprehension of Nature and its many manifestations to our senses."
  • "Let the future tell the truth and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine."
  • "In a time not distant, it will be possible to flash any image formed in thought on a screen and render it visible at any place desired. The perfection of this means of reading thought will create a revolution for the better in all our social relations."
  • "The feeling is constantly growing on me that I had been the first to hear the greeting of one planet to another."
  • "We wind a simple ring of iron with coils; we establish the connections to the generator, and with wonder and delight we note the effects of strange forces which we bring into play, which allow us to transform, to transmit and direct energy at will."
  • "The human being is a self-propelled automaton entirely under the control of external influences. Willful and predetermined though they appear, his actions are governed not from within, but from without. He is like a float tossed about by the waves of a turbulent sea."
  • "There is no conflict between the ideal of religion and the ideal of science, but science is opposed to theological dogmas because science is founded on fact. To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end. The human being is no exception to the natural order. Man, like the universe, is a machine."
  • "If we want to reduce poverty and misery, if we want to give to every deserving individual what is needed for a safe existence of an intelligent being, we want to provide more machinery, more power. Power is our mainstay, the primary source of our many-sided energies."

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