Portugal on stamps

This is the second of two issues commemorating the first European expedition, led by Bartolomeu Dias, to surround the southern tip of Africa. That paved the way for Vasco da Gama‘s expedition to India, which established a direct route from Europe to the lucrative Asian spice markets, avoiding the control of the land route by the Italian Maritime Republics and the Ottoman Empire.

Dias’s first landfall in the eastern coast of Africa took place on 3 February 1488. After a further month of eastward sailing, the expedition turned back along the coastline and discovered Africa’s southern-most point and, in May, Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of Storms). The expedition arrived in Lisbon in December, after 16 months at sea. King John II renamed the Cape of Storms to Cape of Good Hope (Cabo da Boa Esperança), as it opened the possibility of a maritime spice route.

In 1500, Dias took part in the expedition to India led by Pedro Álvares Cabral, which became famous due to the en passant discovery of Brazil. During the crossing of the Southern Atlantic to Africa, the ship commanded by Dias disappeared in a storm. Some researchers speculate the disaster took place near the presciently named Cape of Storms.

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 3 February 1988 to 31 August 1995.

Stamp Print run Afinsa Gibbons Michel Scott Yvert
storm 1,000,000 1833 2099 1745 1721 1718
map 1,000,000 1834 2100 1746 1722 1719

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