The 8 stamp designs (chosen from 45 submitted by 15 artists) depict:
- Vasco da Gama;
- Luís de Camões and some of his verses from The Lusiads, which narrates the trip;
- windows in the contemporary Manueline style;
- the Order of Christ Cross and the Portuguese shield, with some artistic freedom;
- Saint Gabriel, after whom the main ship captained by Vasco da Gama was named.
In total, 28,900,000 stamps were issued and sold for a limited time. The sale was meant to contribute towards a statue in honour of Vasco da Gama.
The stamps were designed by Roque Gameiro (2.50 réis), Manuel Pedro de Faria Luna (5 réis), Silvestre Correia Belém (10 réis), José Júlio Gonçalves Coelho (50 réis), João Ribeiro Cristino da Silva (100 réis), and João Vaz (remaining values), printed in recess by Waterlow & Sons on wove paper sheets of 10×10 stamps with varying line perforation 13½–16, and circulated from 1 April to 30 June 1898.