Scott 148 surcharge proof – complete pane

As i have said many times before, I have always liked surcharges and overprints. Every time I have the chance of studying a pane, I try to get the most of it.

Some time ago, I had the chance of buying a complete pane (of the proof and the issued stamp) of Scott’s 148 surcharge. I looked in all the available publications articles regarding this stamp and found one recently written by Fred O’Neil in the Repertorio Filatélico Costarricense.

In that article, Mr. O’Neil mentions the following varieties: positions 80, 86, and 88 with broken 5 and position 83 with the 5 full of ink. I took such data to study the complete pane of the proof which is easier than studying it over the base stamp. It was a big surprise that the varieties mentioned by Mr. O’Neill were not there. This made me reach to the most obvious and important deduction: those varieties are not constant and appeared when the process was advanced and due to the printing pane being worn. Which makes those varieties even harder to find and get.

After an exhaustive revision of the pane, I was able to find another variety. Usually the number “5” ends with a “tail”, but in position 52 it doesn’t. It ends straight. One interesting thing is that this variety appears in the pane over the base stamp too. Making it more likely to be a constant variety. Below you can click on the image to see a full size scan of the complete pane of the proof.

Scott 148 surcharge proof - complete pane

Also, you can see variations -Almost minimal- in the upper line of the number “5” in several positions, but I consider (for now) that it’s not worth it detailing them because they don’t represent an important difference in their original shape.

Lindbergh surcharge study

By decree number 37, on December 27th it was ordered to surcharge 20.000 10 céntimos stamps from the 1923 definitive issue. This, to commemorate the visit of Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh -The first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean- to Costa Rica. In this article i will cary on the Lindbergh surcharge study.

Said surcharge consist in 4 quadrants: the first one, an allusive drawing to the Spirit of St Louis (Lindbergh’s airplane used for his endeavour). The second quadrant has “Lindbergh” and “1928”. The third and forth quadrants consist in the value of the surcharge (10 céntimos) placed over the original stamp’s values.

Since the surcharge was used over an engraved stamp, sometimes it has flaws that look like imperfections, but are not constant. There are mayor -and constant- varieties which will be described below.

The two biggest (and best known) varieties are: the “antenna” variety, on the plane’s tail and the dots below the values which can be found under one and/or the two values. These are often mistakenly considered fakes, because all fake surcharges have dots under the values.

There are 2 major differences to highlight that will help to differentiate the authentic surcharges from the fake ones: 1- The authentic surcharges were transferred in panes of 100 and the fake ones were transferred in panes of 25. 2- The ink on the authentic surcharges is brighter while on the fake ones is opaque.

Returning to the pane’s varieties, in the image below all the known constant varieties are identified and marked. You can click on the file to have a better understanding of all varieties.

Estudio de la sobrecarga de Lindbergh

Now, it’s time to describe the “less known” varieties found on the pane of 100:

  • Line at the right side of the value’s box: it seems like a fallen bar. It can be found on positions 49, 57 and 97.
  • Line at the left side of the left value box: positions 50, 61, 62, 73 and 74.
  • Left flap full of ink: until know it hasn’t been demonstrated if this is a constant variety because of a flaw in the pane. Position 1.
Estudio de la sobrecarga de Lindbergh
  • Rear part of the airplane broken: position 4.
  • Broken line under the “L” of Lindbergh: position 4.
  • Right wheel broken: position 5.
  • Left flap broken: position 15.
  • “X” outside the left value box. This is the most important constant variety found during this study. in the lower left corner two lines cross forming an “X”. Position 49. In this same position the right flap is broken. his is not a constant variety.
Estudio de la sobrecarga de Lindbergh
  • Lower right corner in the right value box broken: position 72.
  • Upper rear part of the plane broken: position 90.

Estudio de la sobrecarga de Lindbergh

With exception of the “X” variety we I can’t confirm all mentioned varieties are constant.

Stamp collecting accessories and where to buy them

Find below the best way to handle your stamps with stamp collecting accessories.

All stamp collectors -beginner and professional- want to treat their stamps as real jewels. And they are! It makes no difference what type of stamps you collect, stamps have a way of accumulating unless you come up with ways to organize and preserve your stamp collection with the proper stamp collecting accessories.


Stamp collecting accesoriesStockbooks are simple bound stamp albums made of extra heavy card stock with strips to hold the stamps or other contents and interleaves to separate the pages. They are available in many sizes and colors. With hard or padded covers and either white or black card stock as the background. Strips and interleaves can either be clear or glassine. Clear strips and clear interleaves are typically found in higher end leather stockbooks. Stockbooks are an indispensible tool for every collector. They are useful for storing stamps before adding them to pre-printed albums as well as for keeping duplicates and extra stamps for trading. They are also recommended for starting topical collections or for storing your most valuable stamps in safe deposit boxes. Lighthouse stamp stockbooks are unmatched for consistently high quality.

Magnifying glasses

Stamp collecting accesoriesMost collectors like to have a magnifying glass so they can look at their stamps more closely. Again, they come in a wide range, from the fairly basic, offering 2 or 3× magnification. Another option are pocket microscopes giving 30× magnification. Also digital microscopes that offer a really detailed examination of your stamps. Probably this is the most common of the stamp collecting accessories.


One of the stamp collecting accessories every stamp collector must have is a pair of tweezers. All stamps should be handled with tweezers; they ensure that the natural oils in our fingers do not get on to the stamps and, after a bit of practice, they are easier to use than fingers as well. They come in different lengths, with different points and made from different materials (generally stainless steel or gold-plated).

Stamp collecting accessories

Perforation Gauge

Perforations or “perfs” in a stamp was an innovation introduced in 1854 to allow postage stamps to be easily separated and removed for use, rather than individually cutting them by hand from imperforate sheets. The standard for measuring is the number of perforations found in 2 centimeters (20 mm).
Stamp collecting accessories
Different perforations can greatly affect the value of a stamp. A stamp with 10 holes in 2 centimeters is called a “Perf 10”. Some stamps also have different horizontal and vertical perforations, called compound perfs. Compound perforations are listed first horizontally, and then vertically, for example, a stamp with Perf 11 on the top and Perf 10 on the sides would be Perf 11×10.

stamp perforation gauge is an affordable devise that illustrates a range of perforations. The stamp is moved down the gauge until the perforations on the stamp visually match that on the gauge.

Collection Binders

Binders are great to store your collections mounted on blank pages. It’s Stamp collection binderimportant to to choose the right ones. I recommend Lighthouse. The Lighthouse Grande Classic Binder will hold sheets up to 9-1/2″ x 12″ in size. Leatherette cover in book binder’s quality makes it classy. It includes a slip case for added protection, extra-large rectangular 3-ring mechanism. It can hold up to 60 sheets depending on contents. This elegant binder will hold your valuable collection without drawing unwanted attention.

Blank Album Pages

These are great when you want to mount your collections your way. They will give you the freedom of arranging your collections with your unique technique. You can buy them here.

Hinges and Mounts

There are two main ways in which collectors can mount their stamps to album pages. The original method involves using hinges, small pieces of special gummed paper which allow the collector to attach stamps directly to an album page.

Plastic mounts meanwhile enable collectors tStamp collecting accessorieso present their stamps in albums without physically attaching the stamps themselves to pages. Stamps are placed inside protective plastic mounts and the mount is then attached to the page, meaning unmounted mint stamps can remain in pristine condition whilst still appearing in an album. Mounts are available already ‘cut to size’ or in strips that can then be cut to the correct size depending upon the size of stamp.

Glassine envelopes

Stamp collecting accessoriesOne of the most practical stamp collecting accessories is the glassine envelope. This handy item is a popular seller and has many uses, especially for storage. Glassine envelopes are what we use to store all of our bulk stock. What makes them so ideal?

Firstly, they are made of high quality #30 semi-transparent acid free glassine. You can easily store hundreds of stamps per envelope, depending on their size and the size of the envelope. We have 11 different sizes of envelopes for you to choose from, in packs of 100 or boxes of 1000. Glassine is a paper product which is grease, air, and water resistant, so you can also label your envelopes with a marker and not worry about leakage through the paper. For water resistance, make sure your envelope is well sealed shut.

The fact that glassine envelopes are acid free is an important point. Some papers and cardboards contain chemicals which, if they come into contact with your stamps, could actually damage them. No such worries with glassine envelopes. You can use them to store your stamps for a long period if necessary.

Glassine envelopes are useful for other hobbies or occupations also, such as photography. The acid-free glassine is perfect for storing film and prints. Other markets where glassines have become popular are marketing, food packaging and fashion, either in envelope or sheet form.

Ultra-violet lamps

Finally and especially if you are collecting stamps  at a more specialised level, you will probably want an ultraviolet lamp to identify different papers and phosphor types. These come in a range of designs at different prices, so it is useful to seek the advice of an experienced collector before deciding on the one to buy. Depending on the stamps you collect you really need a “short wave” lamp to identify different phosphors, but some lamps incorporate both “long” and “short” wave bulbs, which give them wider potential use.

Stamp collecting accessories

For more detailed reviews, please visit

Cover with cuban postal censor and 5 colones from Legislacion Social

Rare use of a cuban postal censor in Costa Rica mail.

Cover from Esso Standard Oil with double WWII censor. Sent via air mail in May 18th, 19945 (11 days after Germany surrended). As mentioned before, this cover has two censors. One “defensa continental” censorship tape, which is really common in Costa Rica mail. The other one is a cuban postal censor in hand stamp, that being honest, is the first time i see it.

It´s true that the cuban censor is pretty rare, it isn’t the most attractive characteristic of this cover. The most attractive thing is its franking. Why, well, just because 5 colones and 74 céntimos is way to high. A 5 colones stamp from the Legislación Social Issue. A 50 céntimos revenue surcharged for air mail use in 1945. A 15 céntimos Francisco Morazán surface mail stamp. And finally a 10 céntimos San Ramón issue stamp for surface mail. According to the postal rate decree from November 15th, 1942, the 5 colones and 75 centimos franking can be broken down as follows: 85 centimos for the regular franking + 7 times the rate every additional 5 grams (70 centimos x7).

cuban postal censor

The cover doesn’t have a receiving mark from La Habana. This is not an inconvenient since the censorship demonstrates it arrived at the island.

Costa Rica: pics of stamps – lots of pictures

pics of stamps

Are you that kind of philatelic enthusiast that likes to surf the web looking for pics of stamps from time to time?

Well, here I am to help you! I know that looking at stamps can be hypnotizing. I know that once you start, you’ll leave your computer until you saw the last one.

I’ve been a Costa Rica stamp collector for over 20 years. And i’m pretty sure I never get tired of looking at stamps.

That’s why Estampillascr’s Facebook page has more than 1,500 pics of stamps…Costa Rica stamps. It doesn’t matter what you are looking for, we have plenty! We divided them in several sections, so it would be easier for you to browse them.

You can browse our albums of surface mail stamps, air mail stamps, semi postal stamps, Christmas stamps and proofs. If you like cancellations on stamps, there’s an album too. Also we have albums for postal history and postcards. At last but not least the “errors” albums will take your breath away.

If by any chance you don’t find the stamp you were looking for, don’t panic! Just let me know and I will help you finding it.

Also, you can view the rarest and most expensive Costa Rica stamps from the Frederick R. Mayer collection auction.

Bernardo Soto and Tomas Guardia’s Correspondence Embossing Die

It was common during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that important people from the government embossed their stationery. This was usually made using an embossing die made of either iron, copper or bronze.

I was lucky enough to find 2 fantastic pieces of history: the embossing dies for Bernardo Soto and Tomás Guardia. Both of them presidents of Costa Rica during the 1800’s.

The first embossing die belonged to Bernardo Soto. Born in 1854. President in 2 terms from 1885 to 1888. In which decreed the creation of the Asilo Chapuí, the national lotery, the national museum and the national library.

It consists in a round iron die (with a screw on the back). On the front it has Costa Rica’s coat of arms and it reads: Bernardo Soto below it. On the back there’s a legend that reads: “STERN 47. Passage Panoramas”. All this point that this was made by Stern Graveur in Paris. Also it has an engraved number “1141” on the back pin.

embossing die 1aembosing die 1bembossing die 2c

The other embossing die belonged to Tomas Guardia, president in 2 terms. From 1870 to 1876 and from 1877 to 1882. During his terms approved a new constitution, abolished death penalty and started the railway to the Atlantic.

The die consists of a rectangular iron piece that on the front has Costa Rica’s coat of arms and it reads: General Tomas Guardia below it. Also it’s numbered “9296” on one side.

embossing die 2a

embossing die 2b

Embossing die 2c

World’s rarest postage stamps. Greatest Costa Rica items from the Frederick R. Mayer Collection

It’s the dream of every stamp collector to own the world’s rarest postage stamps. For most of us it is indeed just a dream. 9 years ago, the philatelic world had the chance to witness the auction of the biggest Costa Rica stamp collection.

In October 22nd, 2008 Spink Shreves Galleries sold at an unreserved  auction, one of the greatest single country collections ever formed. There is no question that the collection of postage stamps and postal history of Costa Rica is the most comprehensive and valuable ever formed. This collection was assembled over a lifetime by the renowned philatelist Frederick R. Mayer. Its scope and depth are simply remarkable. Replete with virtually every recorded major rarity in all categories. Often with multiple examples of each.

Costa Rican philately were extensively covered in Mayer Collection in all areas. It included stampless covers, stamp issues both on and off cover. It also included the finest and most comprehensive selection of 1863 First Issue covers ever offered at auction. Essays and proofs, air mail related material, postal stationery and revenues and much more. The appearance of this spectacular collection was truly a once-in-a-life opportunity for collectors of Latin American stamps.

I’m excited to present you the rarest and most expensive items sold in this auction.

Start gallery

Stamp test, design and production process

There is a common question that beginner philatelist ask: what is the stamp’s printing or production process? We’ll take on this subject from a different angle: Stamp test as a design and production process.

The stamp test process starts when there’s an agreement or government decree. The selected provider starts to design the stamp(s). Below are a few examples.

Stamp test: artist design1863 First Issue hand-drawn watercolor essay of the basic design with blank value tablets. Stamp size on India mounted on card measuring 39x44mm. The color being the shade chosen for the 1/2r value. Extraordinary detail in the drawing, very fine. Certainly unique and absolutely gorgeous.


Stamp test: artist designCocos Island, production file. Containing an enlarged original model of vignette on thick card measuring 320x177mm. 10c model with hand painted frame. Most initialed and approved, plus a few notes, fine-very fine; ex-American Bank Note Company archives.

Stamp test: artist design

National Exhibition, production file. Hand painted model; ex-American Bank Note Company archives.

The design is approved and the printer starts with die proofs. They can be of either centers, frames or complete stamps and sends them to be approved.

Stamp test: center die proofLarge die vignette essay with retouched state with with inscriptions at bottom.

Stamp test: die proof with correction notesHealth Day air post, production file. With enlarged photographic and hand painted model for 10c with alternative 1.35Col value tablet adjacent.

When the die proof is approved by the respective government, the printer starts printing complete sheets (plate proofs). Usually in different colors to determine which one will be the final one.

Stamp test: color plate proofTrial color plate proof sheetlet of nine. This impression was taken from the original die at a later date. It was prepared for Waterlow & Sons sample books. Very few intact sets of sheetlet remain today.

After these are approved, the stamps are printed for circulation.


Postage stamp machine: Costa Rica’s ATM

In July 12th, 1993 Costa Rica started implementing selling stamps through a postage stamp machine. Known in Costa Rica simply as ATM, they faced several complications, but led the way for the postage labels we use nowadays.

The ATMs were dispensed by the Klussendorf postage stamp machine. They were printed by Enschede in Netherlands in phosphorescent paper. Their size is 43 x 25.5 mm. The value was printed in black. The design was quite simple. It consisted in an oxcart on a light blue background.

Correos de Costa Rica installed one postage stamp machine in 4 locations. They were: in the Main Post Office, Gran Hotel Costa Rica, Hotel Alameda and Restaurant Soda Palace.

When the ATMs came out, the demand was very slow…and kept like that through the time. The postage stamp machines constantly got damaged by the stamp resellers since they represented a huge threat.

Their demand was mostly from tourists since this kind of postage was usual in their countries. Besides this, we must take into consideration that the postage stamp machines didn’t last long.

Even though it’s a fact that the ATM machines didn’t last long, the dates in which the distributors were out of service are not known. Possibly they only worked during a few months. According to Joseph J Jove, the equipment installed in the Main Post Office was in discontinuous use until 1995.

Postage stamp machine, Costa Rica ATMThere are very few covers known with these stamps. Mostly are FDCs.

Scott 98 Perf. 14×14, block of 6 with inverted surcharge and “Correos” inverted

Have you ever watched the movie Inception? A dream inside a dream…

We’ll, here you can see an inverted surcharge inception: an inverted “Correos” in a block of 6 with inverted surcharge. Sounds weird, I know, but let me explain it:
In this issue there are stamps with inverted surcharge because the pane was upside down when the plate came down. Also there are stamps with only the “Correos” inverted because it happened in just one position in the plate (position 46).
This block of 6 has 3 characteristics that make it special and fairly rare:

  1. It has the less common perforation for this stamp (14×14).
  2. The surcharges in this block are inverted.
  3. And last and most important is that the inverted “Correos” error is present. As you can see in the position 3 of this block, the inverted “Correos” error inside the inverted surcharge looks as if it wasn’t inverted.

Is it genuine? Yes, of course!
Just look at the stain between the “o” and the “r” of the inverted “Correos”.