James Cook’s Birthday

Captain James Cook FRS was born on November 7, 1728, in the village of Marton in Yorkshire and baptized on November 14 in the parish church of St Cuthbert, where his name can be seen in the church register. A British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy, Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, … Continue reading James Cook’s Birthday

Kingdom of Tonga #526 (1982)

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, the Kingdom of Tonga (Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga), is a Polynesian sovereign state and archipelago directly south of Samoa and about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand. Its 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited, are divided into three main groups — Vava’u, Ha’apai and Tongatapu — and cover a 500-mile (800-kilometer)-long north-south line. The total surface area … Continue reading Kingdom of Tonga #526 (1982)

Norfolk Island #286 (1981)

The Territory of Norfolk Island (Teratri a’ Norf’k Ailen in Norfuk) is a small island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia, 877 miles (1,412 kilometers) directly east of mainland Australia’s Evans Head, and about 560 miles (900 km) from Lord Howe Island. The island is part of the Commonwealth of Australia. Together with two neighboring islands, it forms one of … Continue reading Norfolk Island #286 (1981)

James Cook Finds the Sandwich Islands

On January 18, 1778, James Cook became the first known European to discover the Hawaiian Islands during his third voyage. On this, his last voyage, Cook again commanded HMS Resolution, while Captain Charles Clerke commanded HMS Discovery. The voyage was ostensibly planned to return the Pacific Islander, Omai to Tahiti, or so the public were led to believe. The trip’s principal goal was to locate a … Continue reading James Cook Finds the Sandwich Islands

James Cook and Alaska

On January 3, 1959, the huge Territory of Alaska was admitted to the United States as the nation’s 49th state. Last year, I wrote an overview of the history of the region illustrated by U.S. Scott #800, released in 1937 as part of a series commemorating territorial possessions. The only other Alaska-related stamp currently in my collection is a first day cover of Scott #1732, … Continue reading James Cook and Alaska

Abel Tasman Discovers New Zealand

On December 13, 1642, Dutch seafarer, explorer and merchant Abel Janszoon Tasman became the first European to sight New Zealand. He was in command of two vessels that belonged to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) which had dispatched Tasman to look for the fabled Southern Continent in August 1642. Eventually, he sailed across the sea which now bears his name and arrived off the … Continue reading Abel Tasman Discovers New Zealand

New South Wales #98 (1897)

The British Crown Colony of New South Wales was established as a penal colony in 1788 and existed until it became a state in the federal Commonwealth of Australia on January 1, 1901. At its greatest extent, the colony of New South Wales included the present-day Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia, as well as New Zealand. It originally … Continue reading New South Wales #98 (1897)

The First Voyage of James Cook

On August 26, 1768, the British Royal Navy ship HMS Endeavour departed from Plymouth-Dock (Devonport), England, carrying 94 people and 18 months of provisions starting the first of three Pacific voyages of which James Cook was the commander. The aims of this expedition were to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun (June 2-3, 1769) and to seek evidence of the postulated Terra Australis … Continue reading The First Voyage of James Cook