Guillaume Le Testu was born around 1509 at Le Havre in Normandy. He
was a member of the cartographic school of Dieppe, which flourished in
the middle of the sixteenth century. Le Testu died as a result of
wounds suffered in a raid, with Sir Francis Drake, on a Spanish
treasure train in 1573.
The souvenir sheet is based on one of the maps of the
manuscript atlas, Cosmographie Universelle selon le navigateurs,
tant anciens que modernes, of 1555 (or 1556), which was made by Le
Testu for Gaspard de Coligny, a leader of the French Huguenots, who
had been made an admiral in the French navy in 1552. It was based on a
collection of charts from French, Spanish and Portuguese sources,
furnished by the Admiral. The maps vary widely in accuracy and contain
inhabitants, animals and plants, many of them quite imaginary.
I have not been able to identify the specific map
in the atlas used on the stamp. Near the bottom, under the name
“Magallan” there appears the following words: Royal Me De Ginganton.
The sheet is used to honor Fernando Magellan, so perhaps it is a map
of one of his discoveries. Since it was believed by some that the land
south of the tip of South America was inhabited by giants, these may
be referred to by the inscription on the map. The sheet was issued in