Little Known of Interpreter Featured on Canada’s 2017 Black History Stamp

Mathieu Da Costa — a 17th-century interpreter who is thought to be the first person of African descent to arrive in Canada — is featured on this year’s Black History stamp from Canada Post.

The domestic rate self-adhesive stamps sold in booklets of 10 are being formally issued February 1 at the start of Black History Month. The official first-day cover is canceled in Tadoussac, Quebec, where historians believe Da Costa may have come ashore.

Da Costa continues to fascinate and confound scholars. Admittedly little is known about Da Costa and there is no known portrait. From the few records that remain, historians conclude he was a free man who earned a living as an interpreter for Europeans who were trading with indigenous people in the New World. Believed to be of African or even Euro-African descent, his connection to Canada came in the year 1608 — the year Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Québec — when Da Costa signed a contract to work for French fur trader, explorer and governor of Acadia, Pierre Dugua de Mons.

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Royal Mail Honors David Bowie on a Set of 10 Stamps

Songwriter, performer, and music innovator David Bowie will be honored on a set of 10 commemorative stamps to be issued March 14 by Royal Mail of Great Britain.

Bowie — considered by many critics, music historians, and fans as one of the most influential musicians and performing artists of the modern era — would have been 70 on January 8, but died from cancer a year ago on January 10.

Six stamps will feature album covers: Hunky Dory; Aladdin Sane; “Heroes”; Let’s Dance; Earthling and ★ [Blackstar], which was released on the singer’s birthday, two days before he died. The arc of the vinyl album protrudes from the right hand side of each stamp.

Another four stamps will show Bowie performing on tours across four decades: The Ziggy Stardust Tour (1972); The Stage Tour (1978);The Serious Moonlight Tour (1983); and A Reality Tour (2004).

Endlessly innovative and pioneering, Bowie is widely regarded as having elevated his music to an art form. He also was a music composer and producer, writer, and actor, performing in movies (The Man Who Fell to Earth) and on Broadway (Elephant Man).

In its appreciation of Bowie after his death, USA Today used such phrases as “transformative,” “enduring chameleon,” “charismatic,” and “shape-shifter” to describe him.

This is the first time Royal Mail has dedicated an entire stamp issue to an individual music artist or cultural figure. Royal Mail has honored two other rock-era musical groups with stamps: The Beatles (2010) and Pink Floyd (2015). In addition to Bowie’s 70th birthday, the stamps coincide with the 50th anniversary of the singer’s first album.

Alongside the special stamps, first-day covers and a presentation pack, Royal Mail will offer several limited edition David Bowie souvenirs, some of which have an edition limit of just 950. Advance orders are being accepted on the Royal Mail website (royalmail.com/davidbowie). The set of six album stamps (£6.48) and four-stamp performance minisheet (£4.32) will cost approximately $13.60.

Canada UNESCO World Heritage Sites Stamps

Canada Post debuted five new UNESCO Heritage Sites definitive permanent stamps January 16 in panes of 10 and 30, a souvenir sheet, and international rate picture postal cards.

The five locations are: Dinosaur Provincial Park (AB), Mistaken Point (NL), Historic District of Old Québec (QC), L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site (NL), and Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (NL).

The stamps feature some interesting tagging with the flag and Canada 150 symbol in the selvage of the sheet. The frame of the stamps have symbols that include the UNESCO building logo. An image of the stamps photographed under ultraviolet light, as seen below, shows the tagging.

[Canada Post Press Release]

Stamps showcase five UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Earth’s earliest complex large life forms, a Viking settlement and Old Québec’s well-preserved historic district are all celebrated

OTTAWA – Canadians are invited to discover the country’s early historic settlements and to envision the origins of complex organisms on this planet by new stamps depicting UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

“These sites are treasures for Canada and the world – and we hope that these stamps instill pride and arouse a sense of wonder in every Canadian,” says Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra.

Three of the stamps feature sites that are new to the multi-year series, which has celebrated all 18 sites:

• Mistaken Point (N.L.), at the southeastern tip of Newfoundland, gives us some sense of what life looked like when organisms began to get larger than microbes and complex. Embedded along this gorgeous coastline are groups of the oldest known fossils of ancient soft-bodied life forms, dating back 560 to 580 million years. These strange multi-celled organisms ranged in size from as small as a fingernail to as long as a metre and had no legs or eyes. They are believed to be the planet’s first large life forms.
• The Historic District of Old Québec (Que.), founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, is still bustling with activity, yet has maintained the integrity of essential historical buildings and spaces over more than four centuries. Fortified with walls, gates and bastions, this is the only colonial city north of Mexico to have preserved its ramparts.
• L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site (N.L.), at the tip of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula, contains timber-framed turf dwellings built by a Norse expedition more than 1,000 years ago. The settlement is the earliest known European presence in North America.

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Royal Mail Issues Ancient Britain Stamps

Royal Mail issued eight new stamps January 17 titled “Ancient Britain.” The postal administration described the stamp subject inspiration as follows:

“How people lived in prehistoric times fascinates the public and this stamp issue explores this subject. The stamps show famous iconic sites as well as some of the most exceptional artifacts, and overlays illustrations to show how people lived and worked at these sites and used the objects. Overall, the stamps give a timeline across thousands of years of history, from a glimpse of Stone Age ritual of 11,000 years ago, to the Iron Age of some 300 BC.”

The two 1st class stamps show a Battersea Shield and Skara Brae village, the £1.05 stamps show a Star Carr headdress and the Maiden Castle Hillfort, the £1.33 stamps have the Averbury Stone Circles and Drumbest Horns, and the £1.52 stamps show the Grimes Graves and a Mold cape.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. on Worldwide Stamps

Today’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the 32nd annual federal holiday first honoring the slain civil rights leader, who has appeared on more than 100 stamps worldwide.

King (January 15, 1929–April 4, 1968) was a prime force in the civil rights who was awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977) and Congressional Gold Medal (2004).

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983 and first celebrated in 1986. It is annually on the third Monday of January to coincide with actually birthday — January 15 — of the slain civil rights leader. King has been honored on two U.S. stamps and as image is used as the central focal point on a 10-stamp pane dedicated to the civil rights movement.

King was first honored on a U.S. stamp as the second subject of the then-new Black Heritage series (Scott 1771). His stamp, a year after a Harriet Tubman commemorative, was issued January 13, 1979.

King and his “I Have a Dream Speech” are honored on the top-left stamp (Scott 3188a) of the 15-stamp Celebrate the Century 1960s pane of 15, issued September 17, 1999. The dynamic speech — delivered August 28, 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. — is considered a masterpiece by many. Like the U.S., in 1999, Belgium included an image of King with text from the speech in the background (Scott 1779f).

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