Newfoundland ~ 1583

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     In 1933 Canada issued a series of stamps to mark the 350th anniversary of the annexation of Newfoundland to England by Letter Patent issued by Queen Elizabeth I to Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1583. It is the first use of an old map on a Canadian stamp.
     The twenty cent value displays a partial reproduction of a map drawn by Captain John Mason. His map was first published as the frontispiece of Sir William Vaughn's The Golden Fleece in 1626. It is considered to be the first reliable map of the island and was not replaced until 1763 when Captain James Cook charted the coastline of the island.

SCN 223

     In preparation for Gilbert's expedition to North America, a map on a polar projection was drawn by the astronomer, John Dee. It shows the northern lands of America, Eurasia and the polar islands with the waterways which could link them for trade, and shows two inland water routes to the South Seas, via the St. Lawrence River. The fictitious “Sea of Verazano” which almost cut north America in two can also be seen. To the left of the picture of Gilbert is North America, while to the right is the Asian continent. The original map is in the Free Public Library of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

SCN 995

     The designer of the stamp, Roger Hill of Toronto, has combined a redrawn version of Dee's map, with a portrait of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, reproduced with permission from Mrs. Walter Raleigh Gilbert of Devon, England.
     John Dee was born in 1527 and was educated as a mathematician. He was one of the first Fellows of Trinity College, Oxford, after its founding in 1546. He edited an edition of Euclid and wrote a preface for it defending the study of mathematics. He was a consultant in geography and navigation to the Muscovy Company from 1551 to 1583. He developed the paradoxall compass, which was intended for navigation in polar regions, and a compass of variation, to determine the variation of magnetic north from true north. He studied with Gerard Mercator and Gemma Frisius and was associated with Abraham Ortelius and Pedro Nuñez. He was “the central figure in the development of scientific cartography in England” and “helped form Dutch cartography in its so-called golden age.” His library of 4000 books was the greatest in England. 
     On the other hand, Dee was a conjuror, and was imprisoned as a magician and heretic. He was the Royal Astrologer during the reign of Queen Mary, and cast horoscopes for Queen Elizabeth, determining the date of her coronation by the stars. He was a founder of the Rosicrucian Order, an alchemist, hermeticist, and cabalist. He put a hex on the Spanish Armada, which many believed destroyed the fleet. He died destitute in 1608 without the honors or wealth he believed to be his due.

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