Sir Francis Drake
Pirate in the service of Queen Bess

Sir Francis Brake enjoys a rather high standing in Anglo countries, but the Latinos tend to consider him to be not much better, or even worse, than a pirate. And such he was: Pirate in the service of Queen Bess, which Good Queen he presented with a lot of gold. So both Anglos and Latinos seem to be right here. It all depends on your point of view, as so often is the case. Actually, there is not much to choose from between Anglos and Latinos in those times, don't you agree? Plenty of faults on both sides.
Of course Drake wasn't all bad. He was the British leader of the battle against the Spanish Armada and was much more important for his exploits as an explorer.

Drake Brass Plate
Brass Drake Plate
found in California, 1935 - left in 1580?

Student Prank
Anyway, the story is that, in 1579 (fifty years after Magellan), Drake made a voyage around the globe in his ship The Golden Hinde, during which he touched on the Pacific coast of North America, naturally claiming it for England. To make it all nice and legal, he left a Plate of Brasse there, nailed to a post.
In the 20th century this Berkeley professor Herbert Bolton was always boring his students with his stories how he was convinced the plaque could be found back, and even encouraging them to go out and look for it. So they obliged by, lo and behold, finding it back for him. That was in 1935, near St. Quentin prison. Bolton, of course, was delighted. He called it one of the world's long-lost treasures, and authentic beyond all reasonable doubt. I'm glad to say that he died long before the truth was discovered: It had been a prank, of course, making a Brasse Asse out of him.
His fellow members of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, where history was mixed with drink, bought a brass plate from a ship chandler, covered it with some authentic-looking text and wrote the letters ECV on the back with fluorescent paint. In spite of that dead give-away, the experts declared it to be authentic. This shocked the students but, as so often has been the case, they didn't dare to come out with the truth. They tried to drop some hints, they even had a second more obviously hoaxed plate found, but professor Bolton never wavered.
In 1977, the long-suspected forgery was confirmed as one when metallurgists declared the brass plate had been rolled in the 20th century. But only after the original conspirators had died, the story was assembled from bits and pieces and finally published in California History.
(Not much) more on the Drake Plate hoax.

Donald Drake Duck
El Draque
in His Majesty, McDuck

Drake Confidence Tricks
The Drake Map supposedly shows the location of the treasure Drake buried somewhere on his voyage. As he brought back enough for Queen Elizabeth to pay off Britain's foreign debt and to keep the country going for several years, it seems astonishing that he would have had anything left to bury. But no matter.
Con artists keep coming back to this trick to ensnare suckers. An old map is easily faked, even to fool real experts—for a while, at least. I could show you one of those, but I'd have to make it up myself. And so could you. What's the use? However, authentic maps of his explorations do exist.
I'd rather tell you how Carl Barks, the Duck Man, loved con men and has Francis Drake appearing in several of his Donald Duck strips. In Donald Mines His Own Business, Donald goes for one of those fake maps. In The Ghost of the Grotto Donald and the three little pests encounter a Spaniard guarding a treasure; and in Some Heir Over the Rainbow the map appears again, astonishingly leading to the finding of the treasure! Naw, it's only a strip... But the clincher may be His Majesty, McDuck, where Tycoon Scrooge McDuck discovers a brass plate on the site of Duckburg - originally Drake Borough.

The Drake Estate is another well-worked con ploy, principally by one Oscar Hartzell in and around Iowa, 1924-1932. His story was that the illegitimate son of Drake and Queen Bess (musta been a real bastard) had left an enormous fortune, which fact had always been suppressed by the State of England, which much preferred to hold on to the gold. However, Hartzell had found out about it and discovered the proof, and, by the way, did you know you are one of Drake's descendants and heirs? Just a little seed money and we'll pry all that lovely money loose, to the tune of 22 Gigabucks including accumulated interest. Hartzell grew so successful, he hired salesmen to go out and tell the tale for him, but he was finally sent to jail. Many of his thousands of devotees never wised up but saw that as yet another way to keep them from coming into their rightful money.

You can find more on this and many other con tricks in
How Con Games Work
by M. Allen Henderson
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map drake circumnavigation
Sir Francis Drake's
380*540mm, Hondius, ~1590

Quite another story is
The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake
by Samuel Bawfl
Some 16th-century Dutch maps depict the American Pacific northwest coast more or less accurately. Bawfl concludes that the maps of Drake's voyage - which don't show those details - have been censored. Only Drake or his crew could have provided that information to the Dutch, Protestant allies of the English against Catholic Spain. On English maps, the explorer's journey had been shifted south by 10 degrees of latitude.
So Bawfl reasons, but not everybody agrees. I immediately had my suspicions. The Dutch and English were allies indeed, but still mortal competitors. Coincidence may play its part as well. Strange way to keep it a secret, by merely shifting it all 10 degrees. God help the poor navigators using that map... Maybe they put a note in the Legend? If I didn't hate those stupid smileys, this would be a good place to put one. And then they gave the info to a foreign country that did not even oblige by shifting the location as well?
Stupid Dutchmen... Well, I finally did read the book. There's a lot of noise about that 10 degree shift, but hardly, if any, explanation or proof how this came about. Most of it is dedicated to showing how this or that place visited by Drake could or might possibly have been such and such real place (obligingly shifted 10 degrees from the Drake documents). Found it not at all convincing, but the book does contain some very good info on this and other Drake voyages and exploits.

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the best stories on treasure hunts I've read:
Treasure Island
R. L. Stevenson
Amazon.USAAmazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
Red Rackham's Treasure        
Amazon.USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
The Gold Bug
Edgar Allen Poe
Amazon.USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca

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