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.