Stefansson, Vilhjalmur

1959 US Arctic Exploration stamp First Day Cover signed by the Canadian arctic explorer

Price: $30.00

Description:
(1879-1962) Icelandic-Canadian Arctic explorer, author of works on arctic and eskimos. Recruited for an Anglo-American Polar Expedition, he lived with the Mackenzie Delta Inuit in winter 1906-07. Under auspices of the American Museum of Natural History, he undertook a 1908-12 ethnological survey of the Central Arctic coasts of No. American shores. Stefansson was often called the "Blonde Eskimo", but preferred "Copper Inuit." Organized and directed 1913-16 Canadian Arctic Expedition to explore regions west of Parry Archipelago for the Canadian Government, using 3 ships: the Karluk, the Mary Sachs, and the Alaska. He left the main ship, Karluk, when it became stuck in the ice Aug.-Sept. 1913. He later stated that he and 5 others went hunting for fresh meat; those left on the ship believed he deliberately left, anticipating Karluk would be carried off by moving ice, which happened. The ship, captained by Capt. Bob Bartlett of Newfoundland, with 24 others aboard, drifted west with the ice, sank Jan. 11, 1914. Four made their way to Herald Island and died there; 4 others tried reaching Wrangel Island (north of Siberia), but died. Those remaining, under Bartlett, made their way to Wrangel Island where 3 died. Bartlett and his Inuk hunter crossed sea ice to Siberia for help, survivors rescued by American ships. Stefansson resumed his explorations by sledge over the Beaufort Sea in April 1914. A support sledge turned back but he and 2 men continued on one sledge, living largely by shooting polar game for 96 days until they reached the Mary Sachs in the fall. He continued exploring until 1918. In 1921, he planned an expedition for 4 young men to colonize Wrangel Island where the Karluk's 11 survivors lived. Stefansson sought to form an exploration company for those wanting to tour the Arctic island. He originally wanted to claim Wrangel Island for Canada, but the government refused to assist, as did the British. The 4 young, ill-equipped, inexperienced men died. Stefansson's reputation was severely tainted by this disaster and that of the Karluk. Roald Amundsen called him "the greatest humbug alive" over his mismanagement of the Wrangel Island fiascos. Stefansson's discoveries did include new land such as Brock, Mackenzie King, Borden, Meighen, and Lougheed Islands, and the edge of the continental shelf, his successes among the marvels of Arctic exploration. He was awarded the Royal Geographic Society Founder's Gold Medal 1921. Later in life, he was Director of Dartmouth College's Polar Studies and helped establish the US Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) in Hanover, NH. He joined The Explorers Club 1908, president 1919-22, 1937-39. In 1941, he became 3rd honorary member of the American Polar Society, History of Science Society president 1945-46. In 1986, the US Postal Service issued a 22c stamp in his honor. Signed 3 3/4 x 6 1/2 attractively cacheted typed addressed US 4c 1959 Arctic Exploration stamp First Day Cover, dated August 28 1959 by him, postmarked "First Day of Issue", Cresson, Pa., April 6 1959.

Condition: Very good
Type:First Day Cover






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