Portugal on stamps

This is the first of two issues commemorating the first European expedition to surround Africa and thereby prove that the Atlantic and Indic Oceans were connected. This helped establish a faster route from Europe to the Asian spice market, which had a profound impact on Portugal’s economy.

The expedition of just two armed caravels and one supply ship was led by Bartolomeu Dias and departed in August 1487 from Lisbon. In December it reached the southernmost point chartered by Diogo Cão, on the current Namibian coast. Swept by a storm, the men unknowingly sailed around Africa’s southern tip in January 1488, which they only realised when they found again the coastline and followed it moving northeast. After a few landfalls, the expedition erected in March a padrão (cross-shaped pillar with Portugal’s coat of arms) on the easternmost point they reached, ca. 700km east of the Cape of Good Hope, before starting the return trip. Dias wanted to continue towards India, but the crew refused.

The composite stamps were designed by Luís Filipe de Abreu, lithographed by the Mint on enamelled paper sheets of 10×5 se-tenant stamps with perforation 12×12½ and a phosphor band, and circulated from 27 August 1987 to 31 December 1992.

Stamp Print run Afinsa Gibbons Michel Scott Yvert
Lisbon 1,000,000 1811 2083 1727 1710 1705
padrão 1,000,000 1812 2084 1728 1711 1706

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