In May 1497 Giovanni (John)
Cabot (1450-1499), an Italian navigator sponsored by King Henry VII of
England, sailed from Bristol in the Matthew (probably named for
his wife Mattea) for the western hemisphere. He made landfall in June
in southern Labrador, Newfoundland, or Cape Breton Island. He believed
that he had reached the northeast coast of Asia.
He returned to Bristol in August of the same year. His
landing helped lay the basis for England's claims in Canada. Cabot's
Strait between Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island is named for him.
The stamp marks the 500th anniversary of Cabot's
voyage. It shows part of a globe with the northern part of the western
hemisphere and the Matthew.
Sebastian Cabot (1476-1557) accompanied his father, John Cabot, on the
latter's voyage of discovery in 1497. They left Bristol, England, in
the navicula Matthew, May 20, 1497. They made a landfall in the
western hemisphere and took possession in the name of Henry VII. They
sailed along the East coast of Newfoundland for about a month and
returned to Bristol, arriving on August 6.
Sebastian Cabot's world map was published in Antwerp in
1544, and is preserved in a single copy in the Bibliothèque
Nationale in Paris. The map is eliiptical, 47 X 84 inches,
engraved on copper. The inscriptions, which were not written by Cabot,
are lettered on paper and pasted to both sides of the map. The St.
Lawrence River area shows evidence of the discoveries of Jacques
Cartier, nearly 40 years after the Cabots visited the area.
The portion shown on the stamp is of the area of John
Cabot's voyage. It strongly resembles the similar region on Nicolas
Deslien's World Map of 1541 and parts of the Ribero map of 1529. The
picture of Cabot is based on a copy of an engraving found in Samuel
Seyer's Memoirs illustrative of the history and antiquities of
Bristol (1823). Seyer's engraving was based on an original
contemporary portrait by Hans Holbein which was destroyed in
Pittsburgh in 1845. In 1897 Newfoundland issued a stamp with this
portrait identified as John Cabot