Plate of Brass

What is ‘Drake’s Plate of Brass’?

Sir Francis Drake landed in northern California in June 1579 during his famous round-the-world voyage. According to an account by one of his men, he left behind “a plate of brasse” as “a monument of our being there”.

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In 1936, an inscribed brass plaque was found, laying claim to “New Albion” in the name of “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England”. It seemed to match the written description and, despite some doubts about its authenticity, it was hailed as Drake’s original. For four decades it was displayed as a genuine historical artefact but, in the 1970s, scientific tests proved it to be a modern forgery. The plaque was probably created by a local historical society as a prank that got out of hand.

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Answered by: Nick Rennison