Stamps of the Norfolk Islands

Topical Stamp Collecting: Ships, Explorers, Oceania

The Death of Captain Cook

Captain James Cook (1728-1779) was an English explorer, navigator and cartographer, credited with numerous accomplishments over the course of three voyages to the Pacific Ocean. Cook charted much of the Pacific Ocean and discovered several island groups. He was the first European to reach Hawaii. He was also the first European to reach the eastern coast of Australia, and he made the first map of the New Zealand coastline. He sailed farther south than any other explorer before him, proving that the fabled Northwest Passage was just that - fabled. Cook was well regarded for both his seamanship and his leadership; the care he showed for the wellbeing of his crew is often cited as a direct factor in his success. Cook's adventures came to a sudden end in 1779 when he was killed in a confrontation with Hawaiian villagers.

This four stamp set (two se-tenant pairs) was issued by the Norfolk Islands on the 200th Anniversary of Cook's death. The first pair, 20c each, depicts a ship (presumably the HMS Resolution commanded by Cook on his third and last Pacific voyage), a map detailing the route of the third voyage, and a statue of Cook. The second pair, 40c each, shows a panoramic scene of Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii, depicting the confrontation with the islanders that ended his life. The image for this scene came from the work of 18th century painter John Cleverly who produced a number of paintings each named "Death of Cook."

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