Notes from the Past

Columbus and Cabot in Same Boat

Linn's Weekly Stamp News, in a recent note, called attention to the similarity of the ship shown on the 3 Columbian stamp of the 1893 issue, and the stamp shown on the 10 stamp of the Newfoundland Cabot issue of 1897.  This is an interesting discovery, surprising that it has not been noted before.  A comparison of the two stamps will show that the ships are one and the same, bank note engraver's license.  The U. S. Columbian stamp identifies the ship as the "Flagship of Columbus," the Santa Maria, while on the Newfoundland stamp, the engraving is reduced in size and the ship reappears as "Cabot's Ship, the Matthew, Leaving the Avon."  The U. S. Columbian issue, and the Cabot set of Newfoundland were both produced by the American Bank Note Co.  No doubt when the Newfoundland printing order was received no picture of the Matthew could be located, so with a change of flags, the Santa Maria was pressed into service, and re-christened the Matthew.  Since Columbus, whose first voyage took place in 1492, and Cabot's in 1497, were contemporaries, their vessels most likely resembled each other.
- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
May 1, 1937

Posted September 24, 1999

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