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.
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.
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.
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.
1863 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.
Cocos 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.
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.
Large die vignette essay with retouched state with with inscriptions at bottom.
Health 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.
Trial 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.
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.
There are very few covers known with these stamps. Mostly are FDCs.
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:
- It has the less common perforation for this stamp (14×14).
- The surcharges in this block are inverted.
- 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:
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
For this kind of studies, we recommend the following tools:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.