US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

Born March 10: King Ferdinand II of Aragon

March 10, 2015 05:55 AM

  • The 15¢ stamp from the 1893 Columbian Exposition set shows King Ferdinand II (born March 10, 1452) seated with Queen Isabella, listening to explorer Christopher Columbus.

The circumstances of history have resulted in a small number of foreign rulers appearing on United States stamps. King Ferdinand II was one of the first, owing to his sponsorship, with his wife Queen Isabella, of the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World.

Ferdinand was born March 10, 1452, in Sos, kingdom of Aragon. He married Isabella of Castile in 1469, when she was 18 and he was 17, and they came to be known as the Catholic monarchs.

The marriage led to a union of kingdoms and the eventual creation of Spain. Following the conquest of Granada, the two monarchs supported Columbus in his efforts to find a new westward ocean route to Asia.

The U.S. Post Office Department issued a set of 16 stamps in 1893 to celebrate the World's Columbian Exposition taking place in Chicago, Ill., and to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus reaching America.

Ferdinand and Isabella are featured on stamps from this series, including the 15¢ dark green (Scott 238), which is inscribed "Columbus Announcing His Discovery" along the bottom of the stamp design.

The engraved vignette, executed by Charles Skinner, is based on a painting by Ricardo Balaca y Orejas Canseco that shows the two monarchs upon their thrones at left as Columbus, standing at right, reports his discoveries. The frame and lettering were engraved by Douglas S. Ronaldson.

A 15¢ stamp with the same design (Scott 2628b) was issued May 22, 1992, as part of that year's tribute to the 1893 Columbian Exposition set. 

Isabella died at age 53 in 1504, and Ferdinand died at age 63 in 1516.