Portugal on stamps

Poet and playwright Luís Vaz de Camões is to Portugal what Shakespeare is to England, and his death anniversary, June 10th, became Portugal’s national day, his birth date being unknown.

When Portugal became a Republic in 1910, a decree overhauling the public holidays was passed. Religious holidays were abolished or renamed (e.g. Christmas Day became Family Day) and cities could celebrate one municipal holiday of their choice. Lisbon chose the 10th of June, to diminish the importance of the traditional St. Anthony festivities on June 13th and to commemorate the celebrations of Camões’ 300th death anniversary in 1880, during which the Republican Party (founded in 1876) gained momentum by exploiting the patriotic wave of those celebrations.

The 10th of June became a national holiday under the Estado Novo regime. After the Carnation Revolution ended the regime in 1974, it became the ‘Day of Camões and of the Portuguese Communities’ (as inscribed on the stamps) to celebrate the millions of Portuguese emigrants and their descendants living throughout the world.

The stamps apply the national flag colour layout to a compass rose similar to one in marble and with 50m diameter at the foot of the Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon. The inscription on the ribbon is the last verse of stanza 14 of canto VII of The Lusiads, Camões’ major work, a long epic poem narrating the Portuguese Discoveries. It translates roughly to “And if there was more world, they would reach it”, a fitting way of describing Portugal’s Renaissance navigators and current diaspora.

The stamps were designed by the Post Office Art Department, lithographed by the Mint on enamelled paper sheets of 5×10 stamps with perforation 12×11¾ and a phosphor band, and circulated from 8 June 1977 to 31 December 1983.

Value Print run Afinsa Gibbons Michel Scott Yvert
4.00 3,000,000 1334 1658 1364 1336 1344
8.50 1,000,000 1335 1659 1365 1337 1345


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