The map shown in this stamp
was drawn by a Portuguese cosmopolitan, Manuoel Godhino de Eredia, to
show the course of the Spanish navigator Luis Vaez de Torres in 1606.
The name “New Guinea” was given to the island in 1545 by Ynigo Ortez
de Retez, a Spaniard, who saw a resemblance to the Guinea coast of
Africa. In 1605 Pedro de Quiros led an expedition seeking Terra
Australis. He believed he had found it when he discovered the land
Australia del Espiritu Santo, a large island in the New Hebrides
Group. When de Quiros returned to South America, de Torres sailed for
Manila. On the way he passed through a strait, now named for him, and
sailed around New Guinea proving that it was an island and not a part
De Eredia was born at Malacca, the son of a Portuguese
father and an East Indian princess. He traveled a great deal and made
many discoveries, from Australia to China. He first sighted Australia
in 1601. He left at least seven manuscript accounts of his adventures
and a dozen manuscript maps.
Alexander Dalrymple saw a manuscript account of de
Torres’ voyage in Madras, and he acquired a copy of Juan Luis Arias’
memorial printed in 1640. On the bases of these materials he was
confident that there was a strait south of New Guinea. His Account
of the Discoveries made in the South Pacifick Ocean previous to 1764
was published in 1769. It contained a map with de Torres’ course.
When James Cook sailed to the South Pacific on his
first voyage (1768-1771) he had copies of de Brosses’ Histoires des
Voyages aux Terres Australes, Dalrymple’s book and a chart by
Vagne. Cook sailed through the “Endeavor Strait,” south of the one
found by de Torres. He landed on the west coast of New Guinea.