The Guy is­sue


On Aug. 17, 2010, Cupids 400 Inc. and Canada Post un­veiled a sin­gle of­fi­cial com­mem­o­ra­tive stamp. It served to rec­og­nize the his­toric sig­nif­i­cance of Cupids, orig­i­nally known as the plan­ta­tion at Cu­pers Cove.

One hun­dred years ago, on Feb. 1, 1910, Henry John Ba­con Woods (1842-1914), post­mas­ter gen­eral of New­found­land, wrote: “ The is­sue of a com­mem­o­ra­tive stamp in con­nec­tion with the Guy Me­mo­rial Cel­e­bra­tion has been sug­gested. There can be no ob­jec­tion to such an is­sue if con­fined to stamps of the smaller de­nom­i­na­tions, as they are al­ways in de­mand for postage, even if there should be but a limited de­mand from stamp col­lec­tors, which of late seems to be fall­ing off.”

On Aug. 15, 1910, New­found­land re­leased, not a sin­gle stamp, but a com­mem­o­ra­tive set of stamps. The is­sue was de­signed to com­mem­o­rate the ter­cente­nary of the ear­li­est set­tle­ment in the Bri­tish Em­pire made in Con­cep­tion Bay in June 1610.

Stamp col­lec­tors call the se­ries the “Guy” is­sue. Each stamp con­tains a framed scene or por­trait, along with an ex­plana­tory caption.

The one-cent stamp is of King James I ( 1566-1625), who granted John Guy (?-c. 1629) a char­ter. The por­trait of the king is based on an en­grav­ing by Sir An­thony van Dyke ( 1599-1641), the Flemish Baroque artist who be­came the lead­ing court painter in Eng­land.

The two-cent stamp was said to dis­play the arms of the London and Bris­tol Com­pany for col­o­niz­ing New­found­land.

How­ever, this was an in­cor­rect de­pic­tion. The shield-shaped coat of arms was granted to Sir David Kirke (c. 1597-1654) by Sir John Bor­ough (d. 1643), the Garter Prin­ci­pal King of Arms in 1637 dur­ing the reign of King Charles I (1600-49).

The three-cent stamp is a por­trait of Guy him­self.

The four-cent stamp is of Guy’s 12-ton pin­nace, the In­deav­our, on which he set sail to ex­plore Trin­ity Bay to try and make con­tact with the Beothuk peo­ple.

The five-cent stamp is a framed scene of Cupids. In 1910, the com­mu­nity erected to Guy’s me­mory a mon­u­ment and flagstaff. New­found­lan­ders in Toronto pre­sented Cupids with a Union Jack. Ini­tially it was thought to be 40’ x 32’. How­ever, re­search in 2002 re­vealed the flag was 21’ x 36’.

The six-cent stamp is a por­trait of Sir Francis Ba­con (1561-1626), the guid­ing spirit in the col­o­niza­tion scheme. How­ever, Ba­con be­came Lord Veru­lam, not Lord Ba­con, as the caption de­scribed him. He suc­cess­fully ob­tained a char­ter for the New­found­land com­pany, in which he was a prom­i­nent share­holder.

The eight-cent stamp is a framed scene of Mos­quito, which was re­named Bris­tol’s Hope in 1910. Mos­quito was part of the colony of Bris­tol’s Hope. Es­tab­lished in 1617, it head­quar­tered at Har­bour Grace.

The nine-cent stamp is a framed scene of a log­ging camp on Red In­dian Lake. Ten men are stand­ing in the mid­dle of a log­ging camp. With this stamp, the Guy is­sue switches fo­cus from English set­tle­ment ori­gins to eco­nomic devel­op­ment and the monar­chy.

The 10-cent stamp is a framed scene of the Grand Falls paper mill and Ex­ploits River. At the time, the mill was one of the largest in the world.

The 12-cent stamp is a por­trait in pro­file of King Ed­ward VII (1841-1910) in dress uni­form. He died while the Guy is­sue was be­ing pro­duced.

Fi­nally, the 15-cent stamp is a por­trait of King Ge­orge V (1865-1936). This stamp was rushed into pro­duc­tion. In­deed, it was the first postage stamp is­sued af­ter his ac­ces­sion to pro­vide his por­trait.

To the de­light of phi­lat­e­lists, com­plete sets of the stamps were sold in small en­velopes in­scribed “ New­found­land, 16101910. Is­sue of New­found­land Stamps to com­mem­o­rate the 300th an­niver­sary of the ear­li­est set­tle­ment in the Bri­tish Em­pire made in Con­cep­tion Bay, New­found­land, in June 1610.”

If the set was rel­a­tively easy and cheap to ob­tain in 1910, it is much more dif­fi­cult and far more ex­pen­sive to ob­tain to­day.

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