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”.

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

Roman 1: Scott 84a overprint on red ink

Once again the beautiful 1911 issue. Overprints fully loaded of errors and varieties, so interesting, so nice. This time we’ll talk about the roman 1, but on the red ink (Scott 84a).

It’s true that these can be found on stamps Scott 82 and 83 (black ink), the most interesting are the ones that can be found on red ink because they are harder to get. There is not an exact number of printed stamps for each one (Scott 82, 83 and 84), but there’s no doubt that the ones with red ink are more scarce.

The roman 1 can be found in 3 the 3 positions of “1911”:

  • “I911” in positions 6 and 21.
  • “19I1” in position 50
  • “191I” in position 19

Scott 84a pair with first roman 1

Scott 84a pair with second roman 1

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

1910’s 10 Cts with folded paper

The 1910 issue is known for being a very “clean” issue. There are not known design errors in the more than 40,000,000 stamps that were printed. Fortunately, errors like folded paper are known to happen in this issue.

But there were errors in the printing process -and not many-. Some imperforated stamps are known, but the highlights are the folded paper errors when the stamps were being printed.

Here we have an example of the 10 Cts. What happened is that the paper was folded when printing the stamps and when the paper was unfolded, a part of the stamp didn’t have ink on it.

10 Cts with folded paper

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.

Scott 98c: on the Top 3 of the cancel bars

Have you ever been to online auctions and see that they offer the 2 colones from the 1907 issue? They say the’re “used”…cancelled with 5 horizontal bars (cancel bars). Then you think you finally found it for a good price. Hold your horses! Because those stamps are not really used, nor are as expensive as the catalog says!

In March 16th, 1914 a public auction was held to sell all the remainders of the issues of 1901-11. It’s been said that after the auction ended an order was given to overprint all stamps with a pentagram (5 horizontal lines).

There was more quantity of some stamps than other. Resulting that the majority of the stamps with cancel bars have a very low price (way more than what the catalog says). It’s important to know that there are a few, just a few stamps that their value is higher than the catalog price.

One of those stamps is Scott 98c (perf. 14×14). Less than 10 are reported to exist…and here we have it for you!

Scott 98c on the Top 3 of the rarest cancel bars

Guanacaste overprints: 2 price changes for Catalog 2018

The Scott Catalog is out now! on the 2018 edition there are some price changes worth mentioning, but for now we’ll focus on the Guanacaste overprints and on 2 stamps in particular.

Guanacaste Overprints Scott 12

First, Scott 12 (G2 overprint type with red ink) that on 2017’s catalog had a price of $1.000, so anyone that bought that stamp -for the catalog price or lower- before the new catalog came out made a great investment. Why? Because it’s price doubled! Yes, you read it right. Now it has a $2.000 price. 100% Y/Y ROI: that’s a wise way of investing your money!


Guanacaste Overprints Scott 24

Second, Scott 24 (G3 overprint type with black ink) that also had a catalog price of $1.000 and if it’s true that its price didn’t increase as much as the Scott 12, had a -not bad at all- increase of $500 for a 2018 price of $1.500.

First Issue: medio real (Scott 1) with broken plate…USED!

Quick trivia: How many medio real stamps were printed? R/5,750,000…yes, almost 6 million! Now, 3 million stamps are -or were- Scott 1 and 2.75 million of Scott 1a.

But why there are 2 types of medio real? the history says that because of the quantity of stamps being printed, the plate started cracking. at the beginning the crack was visible only on the position 1 of the plate, then it advanced to the position 11 and then to the 21st. At this point the government decided to order another plate. It had slight variances and that’s why we now have Scott 1a.

Returning to the broken plate, it’s usual to find unused copies, but once in a while, used copies come by. It’s right to say that used copies are not super rare, but they’re not easy neither.

medio real

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

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