12 03 2008

CabrilloCabrillo with added infoUnited States, Scott 2704, 1992, 22mm x 38mm
The design depicts the 16th century Spanish-Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo wearing a breastplate and a helmet in the Morion style backed by a galleon and the outline of the California coast near San Diego. I am showing it here both as a traditional plate block of 4 and as a strip of 3 with attached selvage, which reads:

On September 28, 1542, explorers representing Spain landed at San Diego Bay, California.

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo led the expedition. He named the area San Miguel and claimed it for Spain.

If he was Portuguese as many believe, his name would be spelled João Rodrigues Cabrilho.

The plate block just has registration numbers along the edge. The map content is pretty minimal, lacking labels definitively identifying the location within California.

For me the main interest in this issue is not so much the map but the portrait. Cabrillo is tan, virile, visionary. He looks like Jonathan Frakes in costume and makeup. To me he looks nothing at all like his portrait, making me suspect that some parties in the office of the U.S. Postmaster General of sexing up this subject to entice the collecting public. This is perhaps not a bad thing in itself, just a bit of warning on using philately as a source of historical fact.

The other point of interest for me is the street name mentioned in the Wikipedia article. Convienently, this fellow’s last name falls nicely in the alphabetic sequence of the avenues out near where I grew up in San FranciscoAnza, Balboa, Cabrillo up in the Richmond district up against Golden Gate Park, down through the Sunset including Santiago where my parents still live, all the way down to Wawona and Yorba. Not all of these were featured on postage stamps, of course.




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