[ Vancouver Island; Benjamin Wyon, engraver; Birket Foster, illustrator ] Autograph Letter Signed "B Wyon" to Birket Foster, illustrator

Benjamin Wyon (1802 –1858), engraver of seals, and medallist
Publication details: 
287 Regent Street, London, 6 Aug. 1849.
SKU: 22148

Four pages, 12mo, bifolium, good condition. He's sorry he missed meeting him but was told by his brother "that he thinks you will not be so much occupied as prevent your making me a sketch or two which can be forwarded by post and has accordingly given me your address. | What I want is a design for a seal for Vancouver Island which will be introduced beneath the Royal Arms as you have before done for me for other colonial seals - it will not require to be confined within a circle as it will be embraced as you will probably recollect within some ornamentation scroll work somewhat about this shape [small circle drawn] but you need not define any line at all round your sketches which are only required [...] to fix the design. | The idea suggested is to turn to account the geopgraphical position of the Island as a sort of connecting link betweeen Asia and America and I should be glad of slight [underlined] sketches carrying out the idea in three different ways as follows: [...]" He goes into detail, the three options commencing: 1. "A ship sailing towards a harbour which should be on an island with a pine tree on one side and a Palm tree on the other [...] to indicate the continents of Ameria and Asia,"; 2. the same idea but [...] a sailor resting on an anchor on a small piece of ground with the waves o fthe sea dashing against it".; 3. [...] the stern of a ship with an asiatic on one side and a red Indian on the other [...]". He asks for Foster's "attention". Note: Things turned out differently, apprently without Briket Foster contributing: "Great Seal of the Island of Vancouver and its Dependencies:The distinguishing badge on the fly (right hand side) of the flag of Vancouver Island is based on the great seal of the colony, officially called the Island of Vancouver and its Dependencies. This was designed in 1849/50 in London by Benjamin Wyon (1802-1858), Chief Engraver of Her Majesty's Seals. The seal is on the classic pattern of British colonial seals from the Nineteenth Century, and combines the Royal Arms of Queen Victoria in the top third of the image with the symbols designed for the colony in a highly stylised shield or badge on the bottom two thirds. The principal symbols of the badge are Trident of Neptune and the Caduceus (or wand) of Mercury crossed in saltire. These represent the Pacific island colony’s relationship with the sea and with trade respectively. Above this is set a pinecone, and below is a beaver sitting on a small island surrounded by calm water. These represent the forest and other natural resources of the colony and perhaps also the early connection of the colony to the Hudson’s Bay Company (who also bore beavers on their arms). The seal was only in use from the time of its creation until the union of Vancouver Island with its neighbouring colony on the mainland, British Columbia, in 1866. Aside from their use on the flag of Vancouver Island these symbols have, however, lived on, with a similar version of the British Royal Arms and colonial badge being featured on the masthead of the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper, which originates from the colonial period." [Wikipedia] Birket Foster's name doesn't appear to be associated with the Seal.