Berkeley, California: Drake's Plate Of Brass: Former Fraud On Display

Francis Drake's plate has been determined to be a forgery.

Bancroft Library

S Hall Rd, Berkeley, CA
University of California. In a display case on the third floor foyer of the Bancroft Library.
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Drake's Plate Of Brass: Former Fraud On Display

Drake's Plate of Brass was supposedly the brass plaque that Francis Drake stuck on a pole or a rock or just left on a beach somewhere when he landed in Northern California in 1579.

After the Plate was found in 1933 -- then thrown away and found again in 1936 -- historians questioned its wording, spelling, and manufacture. The hoax's perpetrators even tried to tip off its discoverer's to its phony origins. But an early metallurgical study mistakenly concluded that it was genuine, and most of the experts obediently fell silent. It wasn't until the late 1970s, after a new round of physical and chemical tests, that scientists determined that the plate was a modern forgery. And it wasn't until 2003 that the Plate was found to be a practical-joke-gone-awry by local historians, intended to fool the gullible director of the Bancroft Library -- which still prominently displays the Plate, although now acknowledging that it's humbug.

[ Team, 04/27/2007]

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In the region:
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