US stamp's Columbus error

This 1992 US stamp has a significant geography goof. It's supposed to show Columbus pitching Isabella on the idea of a westward journey across the Atlantic. But one thing in this scene is all wrong. By the time historians caught it, the stamp was already in circulation—and it was never changed. To view it more closely, I've posted a much bigger version here. Take your guesses... the answer tomorrow!

5 comments:

  1. It has to be the globe, unlikely at a time when most believed the world to be flat. Even if they had begun to be persuaded of the curvature of the earth, I doubt that globes were in production.

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  2. Are those lines of latitude and logitude on a map on the table?

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  3. It's the globe...there were very few in existence at the time, and they weren't mobile. Many learned people knew or suspected that the Earth was round at that time, and the idea had been around for about 1700 years, so that was old news. Ptolemy--of the "Sun goes around the Earth" fame--knew this, for instance, and both religious and astronomical illustrations from ancient and Medieval times show the Earth as round. There weren't very many world travelers (or world empires) out there, so flat maps were perfectly adequate--there wasn't much demand for globes, which are an awkward shape to store.

    Columbus was simply trying to avoid the route around Africa or across the deserts of Asia and "shortcut" the trade routes. He didn't suspect there might be two big contents in the way...

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  4. What's really ironic is that everyone (with an education) knew not only that the world was round, but also about how large it was. The only person who didn't was Columbus, who greatly underestimated the size of the Earth. As a result, the voyage he planned would have run out of supplies long before he reached Asia. Somehow, he scrapped the funds together, ran low on supplies about where everyone expected, and had the good fortune to accidentally run into the Americas

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  5. I think it's the map. It looks like America (you can see Florida on it), which Europeans didn't know existed at the time.

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