Costa Rica Stamps – Emergency Surcharge Over The 1946 Soccer Issue

Because of the lack of 15 céntimos stamps during the first months of 1947, the government decided to issue an emergency surcharge on 45.000 stamps of each value from the 1946 Central America & the Caribbean Soccer Championship issue.

The surcharge reads “Habilitado para ₡0.15 Decreto No. 16 de 28 de abril de 1947” in 4 lines. It comes in panes of 50.

This beautiful surcharge, despite of being over 70 years old, has not being studied as much as it deserves.

So, trying to honor these Costa Rica stamps, I decided to make a study of this emergency surcharge which I share with you now.

Emergency Surcharge

Pos. Comments
4 ₡ symbol line broken
5 ₡ symbol line broken
6 ₡ symbol line broken. Thin “H”.
7 ₡ symbol line broken
8 ₡ symbol line broken
9 Broken “l” in “abril”
10 ₡ symbol line broken
11 Broken “8” in “28”
13 ₡ both symbol broken
18 ₡ symbol line broken
19 ₡ symbol line broken
22 ₡ symbol line broken
23 ₡ symbol line broken
27 ₡ symbol line broken
28 ₡ symbol line broken
30 ₡ symbol line broken
31 Ink stain diagonal to “1” in “1947”
32 ₡ symbol line broken
33 ₡ both symbol broken
37 ₡ symbol line broken
38 Ink dot under “o” in “Habilitado”
39 ₡ both symbol broken
41 ₡ symbol line broken
42 ink dot inside “6” in “16”
45 Line over “Habilitado”
48 ₡ symbol line broken

For this kind of studies, we recommend the following tools:

Costa Rica Stamps – Scott 148 surcharge proof – complete pane study

As I have said many times before, as a Costa Rica stamps enthusiast, 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.

For this kind of studies, we recommend the following tools:

Costa Rica Stamps – 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 carry on the Lindbergh surcharge – one of the most beautiful Costa Rica stamps – 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.

For this kind of studies, we recommend the following tools:

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

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.

Costa Rica Stamps – Scott 49a, imperforated pair: a real gem!

This is the first of a series of posts describing the imperforated pairs of the late XIX and early XX century.

This time, we have an incredible vertical pair imperforated in between of the 20 Cts from the 1901 issue.

It´s being said that this error happened between 2 rows only. So, this means that only 10 of these happened.

Scott 49a Imperforated Pair

Now, do you think that errors that only 10 exist are worth $1.000? Of course not! In my opinion the Scott catalog is under rating many Costa Rican stamps. A great example are the imperforated pairs from the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s. Fortunately, the market is taking action and setting the right prices.

Costa Rica Stamps – First issue, medio real (Scott 1) double perforations

It is true that the stamp Scott 1 (medio real stamp)doesn’t have an error like the vertical pair imperforated horizontaly (Scott 1b), but we can find other interesting errors. For example double perforations. They’re not as difficult as the Scott 1b, but they’re very elusive.

What’s really interesting about this errors is that they’re human made -the first issue perforations were made manually- that (in my opinion) gives more authenticity to the piece.


medio realmedio real


Costa Rica Stamps – Scott 83: block of 25 with several varieties and errors

I will never get tired of saying that surcharges and overprints are my favorite. Why? Because there’s more chance there will be varieties and errors…and the 1911 issues are the living proof of it.

Here we have a block of 25 of Scott 83 consisting of positions 56-60, 66-70, 76-80, 86-90 and 96-100 of the base stamp pane and 6-10, 16-20, 26-30, 36-40 and 46-50 of the overprint plate.

The error/variety list is the following:

  1. First roman 1 (position 56 of the base stamp pane and position 6 of the overprint plate).
  2. Double transfer at bse stamp (position 58).
  3. Third roman 1 (position 69 of the base stamp pane and position 19 of the overprint plate).
  4. Second roman 1 (position 100 of the base stamp pane and position 50 of the overprint plate).

varieties and errors

For this kind of studies, we recommend the following tools:

Costa Rica Stamps – Scott 1b, the rarest Costa Rica stamp from the XIX century!

Let’s head back to 1875. By this time -and after several printings- the plate of the medio real cracked to the point that it wasn’t able to be used anymore. So, another plate was made to continue printing, but there were some differences in the plate -really easy to see- from the previous one…Scott 1a was born! For Unknown reasons -and thank God- the quality inspection process wasn’t that good and we’re fortunate to have one of the top 3 rarest stamps in Costa Rica’s philatelic history.

Yes, Scott 1b which consists in a vertical pair imperforated horizontaly. Only 36 of these have been reported to exist. And guess what? here you have it!