Friday, December 25, 2009

Ships calling at El Salvador ports

Several months ago, Guillermo Gallegos, Director of Philately of the SFIES-ACES, visited me and brought along digitized scans of the Diario Oficial of El Salvador. The file is about 47 Gigabytes as it contains over 100,000 scanned pages of the publication from 1845 to 1950.

I have been reviewing the publication and copying any postal and revenue information I discover. This information will be published in the society’s web only journal, El Salvador Filatelico – El Faro. (

As I peruse the pages, I also am extracting information on the ships that called at the various ports in El Salvador. I have produced a file showing the name of the port, the date of being in port, the name of the ship, the country of registry if other than U.S., the place from which it departed or the place of destination and the quantity of mail carried.

I have started with the years of my collecting interest (1906-1917) and have created a pdf file for these years. It can be downloaded at the following URL - The listing probably is not absolutely complete as sometimes pages or entire issues are missing from the file.

I plan on also doing the same for the years 1845 to 1905 and shall post them as time permits.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A New Book by Danilo Mueses

I recently did a review of Danilo A. Mueses’ new book La Emisión de 1880 y sus Derivaciones for “The American Philatelist” that will appear in an up-coming issue of the magazine. In the book, he states that certain of the postal stationery items are quite rare, which they are.

During a visit to the Smithsonian Institution National Postal Museum the past July, Bill Welch and I were privileged to examine some of these rare items that are in the Michel Postal Stationary of the World Collection, which is comprised of 143 volumes and several boxes. It was donated by A. Eugene Michel on June 12, 1940 (Accession Number 152441). I want to thank Tom Lera, Winston M. Blount Research Chair, and Jim O’Donnell, NPM Museum Specialist for providing illustrations of all these covers.

15c envelope used from Puerto Plate to Germany, 7 January 1890


The high values in the collection:

On parchment like paper

60c (210 x 93 mm)

60c (240 x 101 mm)


1 Peso

On Laid Paper

60c on white

60c on blue

75c on yellow

The book is at the American Philatelic Research Library.

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except December 25. Admission is free.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

U. S. Philatelic Classics Society

I just returned from viewing the exhibits on display at the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society, 4th Annual Postal History Symposium held at the American Philatelic Building in Bellefonte, PA.

As many of the readers of this blog know, I do not collect U.S. stamps at all although I have done so in the past. I am a life member of the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society (RA818) so I do have some knowledge of these issues.

I do not know enough superlatives to adequately describe what I saw. There were so many, unique, only one known, one of two known, one of three known, largest known multiple, etc. that I can not mention them all.

I do enjoy seeing rare and unusual material from anywhere and virtually most of the aristocrats of U.S. classic material were on display. Anyone, who viewed the exhibits and walked away with out being astounded, is in my opinion not a true philatelist.

I am sure that the only venue where you may see such an array of outstanding U.S. classic material would be at an international exhibition.

I want to thank the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society for holding the symposium, the exhibitors for sharing their collections, and the American Philatelic Society for hosting the event. I shall remember this experience as long as I live.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

El Salvador Finding Guide

Today I received the following notice from Thomas Lera, Winton M. Blount Chair in Research at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

"The new Specialized Collections of El Salvador Finding Guide is now online. Five different collections of El Salvador make up this finding guide.
I want to thank Joe Hahn for the time he spent going through these collections in great detail and helping in the preparation of this finding guide.
You can find the guide"


Thomas Lera
Winton M. Blount Chair in Research
Smithsonian National Postal Museum
2 Massachusetts Avenue NE
MRC 570 PO Box 37012
Washington , DC 20013-7012

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Request for Help

A reader of this blog asked a question I do not have an answer for, so I am hoping that someone will be able to do so.

How would the postage costs, consisting of Colombian national stamps, been settled between the private carrier and the Colombian Governmental Post, in the case where the private carrier not had issued its OWN stamps? This question is also valid for the time-period after the private carrier stamps had been prohibited.

1: Could the private carriers purchase stamps from the Colombian Governmental Post at reduced prices and was the letter, to be carried by the Private carrier, handed over to the private carrier unfranked? If so, did the Private carrier then affix the national stamps on the letter (purchased at reduced prices from the Colombian Governmental Post) and charge the sender of the letter the full rate?

2: Did the private carrier receive a certain amount per transported letter from the Colombian Governmental Post?

3: did the Colombian Governmental Post subsidize the private carrier?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Philately has lost an outstanding student

This past Friday, September 4, 2009, my dear friend and excellent philatelist, Bill Welch, died from complications following surgery.

Bill was well known in philatelic circles not only for being a past editor of The American Philatelist but also for his award winning exhibits. He won the Gran Prix at the FIAF show in Bogota two years ago. His collection of the Seebeck issues is probably one of the finest in the world.

Bill’s interest in philately was wide ranging although he is best known for his interest in Latin American issues. He had collected the 1875 Taylor issue of the United States, cancellations on the stamps of Peru and the Le Coq press issues, cancellations of Sierra Leone, Australian States and many other areas.

Bill had been editor of several specialist publications and was a gifted writer. He was also a serious researcher and had a deep understanding of printing methods.

Bill was mayor of State College for the past sixteen years and his death leaves a big void in our community as well as the philatelic world.

He will be greatly missed.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The American Philatelic Research Library is a treasure trove

While at the American Philatelic Research Library yesterday, I found a few interesting items in Mekeel’s Weekly Stamp News and thought I’d share them here.

The first is from the August 22, 1908 issue and records the three Formula Cards. It states, “The three cards before us have the 1c, 2c and 3c of the upright rectangular series showing the ‘Palacio Nacional’.” Note that no 5c card is mentioned.

In the October 17, 1908 issue, Mr. Herman Focke writes, “I wish to state the following in regard to other varieties of Salvador stamps published in Kohl’ new handbook and by several foreign philatelic papers : - Stamps of the issue of 1906 with head of ex-President Escalon surcharged in purple, ‘Estampillas – no validas’ meaning stamps not good,’ have been mentioned but they are of absolutely no philatelic value since there were of the old stamps used after the term of their official issue, and the surcharge was made with a rubber stamp by the Post Office clerks, to indicate that the letter was not franked and that postage was due on it….Stamps of the present issue with the National Palace are reported to exist with a surcharge of only the rays without the shield. this is staid to be utterly impossible since the surcharge is made with a brass stamps of one single piece…..The 6c rose and black of 1906-07 with bust of Escalon, is reported surcharged with Scott’s Type G of 1905, but this stamp has not been issued by the Salvador Government…”

In the issue of March 8, 1909 we find, “Prof. M. Loewy sends us an official stamp from this country with has not yet been catalogues. The 1c of 1898 has been surcharged with the second type of official surcharge ‘De Oficio’ in bar on circle containing ‘Correos – de el Salvador’. …”

Then in the July 3, 1909 issue on page 232 Hermann Focke writes, “A short time ago you called my attention to a provisional official stamp of Salvador, the 1 centavo of 1898 having been seen with violet surcharge of ‘Correos de el Salvador’ in circle and ‘De Oficio’ in a rectangle across circle. I did not reply to your request to express an opinion, as I wanted to obtain reliable information before giving my view.
I am today in receipt of the following communication from an official of the Salvador Post Office: ‘Salvador stamps with the surcharge in question, made by a rubber stamp still in existence, are the product of some junior employee in this office. These provisories (sic) have never (my emphasis) been authorized by this Post Office, as there has always been an abundance of the regular official stamps since 1896, and they are simply ‘bogus.’ I have not been able to detect the young employee who has been circulating postage stamps of this country with the surcharge referred to, or I should have punished him with dismissal from the office.
From this we should gather that all (my emphasis) the stamps with this surcharge, now be taken out, and thus relieve collectors from worrying about the impossibility of getting them.”

Can any reader identify who Hermann Focke was? I know he was in New York City and I suspect he may have been a collector or more likely, a dealer but I have no proof of this.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

El Salvador Society Celebrates 5 years

With the just released issue of El Salvador Filatelico-El Faro the Sociedad Filatelica de El Salvador-The Associated Collectors of El Salvador celebrates the fifth year of publication. The Director of Philately and publisher of the journal is to be congratulated on producing an outstanding journal.

Here is an index of the first five volumes.

El Salvador Filatelico – El Faro Index

Author Page
Year 1, Number 1

Cover (1879 1c sheet) 1
The 1879 1 cent color essay in red Gallegos, Guillermo 3
Who’s Who on the stamps of El Salvador
– Juan Aberle Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 6
Three Centuries of Salutatory Protocol Alegria, Edgardo 10
The El Salvador Section in the UPU archive Gallegos, Guillermo 13
Show-n-Tell (1940 Roland Hill Essays) Cabrera, Jose Luis 16 the stamps of El Salvador Gallegos, Guillermo 17

Year 1, Number 2

Cover (1955 Morazan Postal Card Proofs) 1
In Memoriam – Jeff Brasor Hahn, Joe 3
El Salvador Handbook Report Gallegos, Guillermo 4
Scarce Postmarks on the Early Volcanoes Wagner, Bill 5
Who’s Who on the stamps of El Salvador–
David J. Guzman Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 7
The 1955 postal card Ross, Steve 10
The Lithographed issue of 1899 Hahn, Joe 14
1892 El Salvador – Nicaragua Gutter Pair) Cabrera, Jose Luis 22
The Soccer World Cups...
in the stamps of El Salvador Gallegos, Guillermo 23

Year 1, Number 3

Cover (1930 Airmail Essay) 1
The El Salvador Section
of the American Bank Note Sample Collection Gallegos, Guillermo 3
Adlets 7
Who’s Who on the stamps of
El Salvador – Francisco Gavidia, Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 8
25 Year Recognition from APS 11
1889 Enigmas Wagner, Bill 12
El Salvador: Postal Organization
In 1853 Gruson, Cecile 15
The Provisional Issues of 1900
Produced from the 1899 Issue Hahn, Joe 16
Show-n-Tell (1971 UNICEF Proofs) Gallegos, Guillermo 27
The Soccer World Cups...
in the stamps of El Salvador Gallegos, Guillermo 28

Year 1, Number 4

Cover (1836 Central American Federation Postmaster Document) 1
Zeppelin Flight Covers to
El Salvador Gallegos, Guillermo 3
Notes on Early Postmarks Wagner, Bill 6
Adlets 7
Who’s Who on the stamps of
El Salvador – Salarrué Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 8
The locally produced Lithograph
Issues of 1900-1902 Hahn, Joe 11
Show-n-Tell (1895 Shield Overprint Cover) Welch, Bill 22
The 1955 3c Barrios Card Cahen, Pierre 23
The Soccer World Cups...
in the stamps of El Salvador Gallegos, Guillermo 31

Year 2, Number 1

Cover (1915 Sample Sheet – Taller Nacional de Grabados) 1
A Mail Route in the 1860’s Gallegos, Guillermo 3
Notes on Early Postmarks Wagner, Bill 7
Adlets 8
Who’s Who on the stamps of
El Salvador – Alfredo Espino Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 9
Philatelic look Serrano de Lopez, Rosa 11
The 1905 – 1906 Provisional Issue Hahn, Joe 12
Show-n-Tell (Unadopted bi-color die proofs
for the 3c value of the 1896 issue) Welch, Bill 23
A slight detour Gallegos, Guillermo 24
The UPU Anniversaries...
on the stamps of El Salvador Gallegos, Guillermo 27

Year 2, Number 2

Cover (1895 - only cover with postage due stamps) 1
Post Offices in 1893 & 1905 Gallegos, Guillermo 3
Enigmatic Postmarks Wagner, Bill 10
Who’s Who on the stamps of
El Salvador – Hugo Lindo Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 12
The Official Stamps of the
Ceres Design 1899-1911 Hahn, Joe 15
Show-n-Tell (B6 of 1942 Eucharistic
Congress 30c stamp with vertical
imperforations) at the left of the
first and the third vertical pairs) Gallegos, Guillermo 27
Adlets 28

Year 2, Number 3

Cover (1892 1 on 25c blue provisional overprint) 1
The 1879 Issue Decree Gallegos, Guillermo 3
Enigmatic Postmarks Wagner, Bill 6
Who’s Who on the stamps of
El Salvador – Juan Jose Cañas Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 8
Those Pesky ‘S’ Overprints Hahn, Joe 11
Adlets 20
Show-n-Tell (Engraved 3c printing plate
of the 1906 Escalon Issue) Hahn, Joe 21
Archaeology … On the Stamps of El Salvador Gallegos, Guillermo 22

Year 2, Number 4

Cover (1 real used as a revenue stamp
in a promissory note, April 1878) 1
Who’s Who on the stamps of
El Salvador – Claudia Lars Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 3
Adlets 5
The 1907 Escalon “Provisional?” Issues
and the Overprinted Escalon
Postal Stationery Hahn, Joe 6
Show-n-Tell (Imperforated and uncut
proof sheet of the 1982 Spain
World Cup Issue) Cabrera, Jose Luis 23
SFIES – ACES Auction # 1 Cahen, Pierre 24

Year 3, Number 1

Cover (1929 1c stamp; sheet of 32 with inverted center) 1
Who’s Who on the stamps of
El Salvador – Isidro Menéndez Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 3
Who Printed the 1c value
of the Escalon Issue? Hahn, Joe 7
Adlets 9
Mal Encaminado Alonzo, Jose Luis 10
Show-n-Tell (1885 Die Proof prepared
by HBN for the Postal Telegraph Company) Welch, Bill 14
Salvadorian Art … On the Stamps
of El Salvador Gallegos, Guillermo 15
Auction # 2 Cahen, Pierre 22

Year 3, Number 2

Cover (Postal Tariffs of the Central American
Federation, April 1824) 1
Prestamp Postal Markings Gallegos, Guillermo 3

Year 3, Number 3

Cover (“Salvador 3” by Lois Blackburn) 1
Who’s Who on the stamps of El Salvador
– Alberto Masferrer Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 3
An Unusual Printing Method Hahn, Joe 6
The American Bank Note Photographic
Record 1911 - 1949 Gallegos, Guillermo 9
Adlets 18
Show-n-Tell (1935 Maximiliano
Hernandez Martinez Essay) Cabrera, Jose Luis 19
Stamp On Stamps … On the Stamps
of El Salvador Gallegos, Guillermo 20

Year 3, Number 4

Cover (Diario Oficial Headings) 1
Introduction Gallegos, Guillermo 3
El Salvador’s Entry to the UPU Gallegos, Guillermo 4
The Fire at the National Palace Gallegos, Guillermo 9
A Selection of Postal Decrees
(1876 - 1889) Gallegos, Guillermo 13

Year 4, Number 1

Cover (Seebeck, Postal Office, HBN Samples) 1
Introduction Gallegos, Guillermo 3
The Seebeck Contract for El Salvador Gallegos, Guillermo 4
A Selection of Postal Decrees
(1889 - 1899) Gallegos, Guillermo 7
After Seebeck Gallegos, Guillermo 15

Year 4, Number 2

Cover (1867 Revenue Use) 1
The Postal Gallery in San Salvador Alonso, Jose Luis 3
Who’s Who on the stamps of El Salvador
– Carlos Imendia Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 3
El Salvador: The mail steamships
1890 – 1910 Hahn, Joe 6
1867 Stamps used on Bill of Ladings Gallegos, Guillermo 18
Show-n-Tell (1838 Cover) Harris, Leo 20

Year 4, Number 3

Cover (Flower Imperforate Proofs) 1
Who’s Who on the stamps of El Salvador
– Alvaro Menendez Leal Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 3
1929 Varieties of the “Opening of the
International Railroad” Issue Cabrera, Jose Luis 6
1982 World Cup Issue Varieties Cabrera, Jose Luis 14
Show-n-Tell (1938 Sketches
for non issued stamps) Gallegos, Guillermo 20
Flowers … On the Stamps
of El Salvador Gallegos, Guillermo 21

Year 4, Number 4

Cover (Letter sent by Gerardo Barrios to Tomas Medina) 1
Tomas Medina:
The man & his correspondence Diaz, Juan Santiago 3
Addressee: Tomas Medina Gallegos, Guillermo 12
Two Maps of El Salvador from 1729 Gallegos, Guillermo 20

Year 5, Number 1

Cover (1875 Passport) 1
Postal History Conference at the
Salvadorian Academy of History Gallegos, Guillermo 3
“The mail service before the issue
of postage stamps (1602 – 1866)” Gallegos, Guillermo 7

Year 5, Number 2

Cover (1919 Cover to Australia) 1
StampShow 2008 Report Gallegos, Guillermo 3
Who’s Who on the stamps of El Salvador
– Pedro GeoffroyRivas Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 7
Some Unusual Destinations Hahn, Joe 9
The Barcelona 92 Issue &
its Bogus Items Gallegos, Guillermo 13
Show-n-Tell (1894 Cover to Seebeck) Welch, Bill 23

Year 5, Number 3

Cover (1930 Airmail Cover with C1a & C10 in Black) 1
Auction Report Hahn, Joe 3
Who’s Who on the Stamps of El Salvador:
Oswaldo Escobar Velado Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 5
The 1930 50c on 1C
Black Surcharge Stamp Gallegos, Guillermo 7
A Name on a Cover Gallegos, Guillermo 11
(Transito Territorial Sheet) Welch, Bill 14
Flowers … On the Stamps of El Salvador Gallegos, Guillermo 15
SFiES-ACES 2009 Auction # 1 Cahen, Pierre 19

Year 5, Number 4

Cover (1867 issue 4r full sheet) 1
In Memoriam – Abraham Luspo Gallegos, Guillermo 3
Handbook Report Gallegos, Guillermo 4
Who’s Who on the stamps of El Salvador
– Roque Dalton Cañas Dinarte, Carlos 5
The “Ecological” Cover Alonso, Jose Luis 7
Auction Report Hahn, Joe 10
El Salvador New Issue Menjivar, Manuel 13
Show-n-Tell (1891 Printing Plate) Gallegos, Guillermo 16
Flowers … On the Stamps of
El Salvador (Part 3) Gallegos, Guillermo 17
El Salvador Filatelico – El Faro
General Index Years 1 – 5 Gallegos, Guillermo 18

Additional information on the group can be found at

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Guest Post

A dear friend and very competent philatelist, George Luzitano, has sent me an expanded comment on my post about How to Evaluate a Cover. I feel this should be presented as a Guest Post.

I would, first, use the following question to give my evaluation direction: What can I learn about and from the cover?

• I would have to determine the probability that the cover is genuine and what status it has regarding whether it represent a genuine extant of a postal service. Yes, there are covers that would be in the fantasy category such as those from Sedang. However, more importantly today, is the cover genuine? There are areas of postal history where the average collector doesn’t know enough to be able to tell if one is being offered a fake.

• That being determined, I would next look at the stamp. Is it genuine? Is it known to have been used in this fashion before? If not, can this cover establish that use as being “normal” for that service?

• What is the nature of the envelope, card or other carrier of the stamp? Is it typical for those obtainable for users at that time and place?

• Can I say that about the material used to seal and mark the cover...that is, ink, seal wax, etc?

• Is paper tape or just any tape required for the sealing of this type of registered (as for registered mail here in the US.)?

• If it is a postal stationary item what is its nature. Various governments have stationary other than envelops, postal cards and wrappers, such as a money remittance envelop.

• What authority accepts this as properly franked to provide the service the covers intends?

• Is that authority a member of the U.P.U.? If not, how far does its authority extend?

• Does the letter appear to have undergone the service requested?

• Then I begin a standard examination of the items placed on the cover: what does the cancellation tying or validating the use of the stamp say: yes, month, day, hour, authority, location posted at, etc.

• Does it show the correct rate? If so, in what currency? Currency issued by whom?

• Is the authority named on the cover, the provider of the service or is a proxy providing that service? If by proxy, what is the nature of that provider’s authority?

• Then there is all the information that can be gathered about the addressor, the addressee.

• Does the cover show any signs of being tampered with, censored, or in any way handled outside of the “normal procedure?”

All of these and many more I would add to Joe’s list. Many seem silly but they are quite serious. We should take nothing for granted.

Of course, there are a whole series of other facts a cover can show. Is it a first day, or earliest known use?

Is it also the earliest known use of any item for the authority or a division of that authority?

The list can go on much further.

I hope this helps provide some useful criteria for evaluating a cover.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Fabricated Story

Recently an Italian philatelic magazine published a story about the portrait on the 1893 issue of El Salvador. The basic story is that the issue was engraved by a Jimmy (Jo Jo) Seebeck who, it is claimed stated to a Rosa Carcero, supposedly a servant in the Seebeck household, “They have ordered me to engrave six stamps with the portrait of President Carlos Ezeta. Here is the frame and in the center is his image.” The story then goes on to claim that Rosa substituted the picture of her lover, Rivola Gomez, for that of Carlos Ezeta with some glue. Jo Jo then engraved the stamps without checking the photo. Further, it is claimed that President Ezeta never saw the stamps because he was worried about a revolution and so they were issued with the substituted picture. Apparently, whoever dreamed up this story never looked at a stamp catalog because there ate 10 identical stamps in the set not six.

I find no reason to believe the substitution story. I have heard about it for many years and I think it is just an urban legend.

The stamps from this period were produced by Nicholas Frederick Seebeck (NOT Jimmy Seebeck). Furthermore, Nicholas Seebeck had sisters but no brothers, so who would this Jimmy Seebeck have been? The El Salvador Consul in New York was Ernest Schernikow, who was Seebeck’s brother-in-law. Shernikow surely would have recognized a substitution of someone else for Carlos Ezeta as would have the postal employees in San Salvador. Had they noticed it they would have rejected the stamps. They did this in 1889 when the stamps printed by the American Bank Note Company showed up with the legend “UNION POSTAL DEL SALVADOR” instead of the correct “SERVICIO POSTAL DEL SALVADOR.”

I’m sure the portrait of Carlos Ezeta, who was president from 22 June 1890 to 9 June 1894, was provided by the government in El Salvador, probably via the Consul. How could a servant in Seebeck’s house be able to slip another portrait to the company or engraver? I consider this highly unlikely or impossible. Further, what is the source that states a Rosa Carcero was a servant in Seebeck’s household? Seebeck was born in Germany and if he had a servant, I suspect it would have been someone from Ireland as they were often employed as servants at this time.

I suspect the story has been accepted because many collectors think that Hamilton Bank Note Company was a “kitchen table” (small) operation. It was NOT! During the time Seebeck was with Hamilton, they printed millions of tickets for the Elevated Railway (El) in New York City. They also printed stock certificates, Bonds and many other things. Stamps were probably only a small part of their business. In fact, they bid on the 1894 issue of United States stamps but the contract went to the Bureau of Engraving & Printing, which produced almost all U.S. stamps until recently. Hamilton was a competitor of the other big security printing firms in the U.S. A security-printing firm is always very rigorous in protecting and controlling their products because they are financial instruments.

Some stamp collectors have a low opinion of Hamilton because of the Seebeck contracts but they were an important company and proud of their reputation. I’m sure they would have taken steps to insure that the material they produced was accurate and of high quality. Although Hamilton did use “free agent” engravers they never would have permitted the work to be done at home nor would they have just accepted something without checking it for accuracy. Hamilton was still in business in the 1940’s when Seebeck’s grandson, August, was president of the company. Eventually, the American Bank Note Company acquired Hamilton. In fact, the dies and transfer rolls of the “Seebeck” issues still exist in American Bank Note Company vaults.

Nicholas Seebeck was a stamp collector. He formed a good collection of former German States and so knew about how other collectors study stamps and look for errors. He was a founding member of the Collectors Club of New York and therefore not a “lone-wolf” or closet collector, who might be unaware of how other collectors study their material.

Carlos Ezeta was the first living person depicted on the stamps of El Salvador. I suspect that he would have been proud of this “honor” and thus would have rejected a design that did not resemble him. Furthermore, his government originated in a coup-d’état, so he had a long list of political opponents who would have ridiculed him if the stamps did not resemble him. Finally, had he been misrepresented, I would imagine that the Salvadorian Post would not have asked for Antonio Ezeta, Carlos’ brother, to be the portrait two years later. While I realize that some of my comments are speculations, I believer that for now this is all that we have. It would be great if we could find the photo from which the design was taken. Carlos Ezeta was a general in the army of El Salvador. I suspect the picture on the stamps shows him in a military uniform not the fireman’s uniform so often claimed in the philatelic press.

Does anyone have a picture of President Ezeta that shows him in the uniform depicted on the stamps?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

El Salvador Handbook

I and several other collectors are working with Guillermo Gallegos, Director of Philately for the El Salvador Society on updating and finishing the El Salvador Handbook for the period from Pre-Philately through the issues of 1889. We plan to publish this section within the next year or sooner.

I am asking the readers of this blog to help us make the handbook more complete. If you, or anyone you know, have scans of any odd, unusual or rare items you/they would be willing to share with us, we can consider including it in the handbook. Of course, we would give you full credit unless you requested otherwise.

The handbook will be in full color and present the best up-to-date information we have.

We are also working on the Seebeck section and plan to publish that within a year of the appearance of the first section. In addition, we would appreciate any help you could give with this section.

If you do not have access to a scanner, you could send us color prints and we could scan and insert them.

I can be contacted at the address noted in my profile.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Little Bit of Knowledge

I'm sure you all have heard the adage that “A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Perhaps the following is an example of this.

You may have seen examples of the Honduras “1929 á 1930” issue with an inverted overprint being offered at greatly increased prices because the overprint on the stamp is inverted.

Although the decree authorizing this issue stated that the stamps were to be overprinted diagonally reading from lower left to upper right it was not followed. Except for the 5 centavos and 6 centavos stamps, which were printed in sheets of 50, all the other values were in sheets of 25. The printing was done at the Litografia Nacional at Tegucigalpa.

Shown here are two sheets of the 1 Peso stamp. The first example shows the overprint when the sheet was fed into the press correctly. The second sheet when it was fed inverted. If you look closely you will see that the “inverted” overprinted variety is actually more common than the non-inverted. There are 15 examples of the invert and only 10 of the non-invert on the sheet of 25.

Monday, April 20, 2009

El Salvador Transito Territorial Issue

About 30 years ago the following item was in a collection of mine of El Salvador. It, to the best of my knowledge, is unique. It is a block of 50 of the Transito Territorial issue showing the full setting of the overprint. I also had a block of 45 - the top row was missing. I suspect it had been removed because position 2 of the setting shows the third “r” in Territorial being italic (r). This is the only position in the setting with this variety.

There are other varieties as noted in the write-up on this page.

A comparison of the block of 45 with the block of 50 showed these varieties to be consistent and that the block of 50 illustrated the complete setting. It appears that the size of the setting was the largest that could be done by the press in use in El Salvador.

Covers bearing this issue are very scarce although a few are known to exist.

The Color Overprints

In addition to the black overprint, catalogs record the overprint in Violet, Red, Magenta and Yellow. With very, very few exceptions ALL of the color overprints I have seen did not plate into the setting so they must be counterfeits. Nor have I ever seen a convincing genuine postal cancellation on a copy and I do not know of any genuine covers bearing a colored overprint.

Thus, I suspect that at best, the color overprints are either trials to see what color best showed up on the stamp or they were produced for politically connected people as a special souvenir. Caveat Emptor!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

How To Grade A Cover

There is a reasonable amount of information available on how to grade a stamp regardless whether one agrees with the information or not.. However, if you are a cover collector there seems to be precious little. I submit that the following can be used as a guide on how to grade a cover.

For each of the following points I assign a numerical value from one to ten, where one is extremely poor quality and ten is perfection.

Point 1) What is the condition of the cover? Is it torn or not; extraneous information written-upon it or not; or have a piece missing or whole? Does it have a stain or not; has it been folded or creased or not? All of these points would require a very low score.

Point 2) What is the size of the cover? Is it a standard personal size or an unusual size? Less desirable sizes are business, odd-shaped, and extremely large. In the U.S. an European size is considered less desirable generally. However, if you collect non-U.S. covers it should not be considered so.

Point 3) What is the condition of the stamps on the cover? Are they torn, have a piece missing or poorly centered?

Point 4) What is the condition of the postal markings? Are the faint, missing sections or smudged or are they clear, sharp and complete? Are all of the markings on one side of the envelope or both sides? Does it have all common postal markings or are there unusual ones? Note: Each postal marking must be judged separately and then the total points given are to be divided by the number of markings.

Here is an example of a cover that I have rated and my reason why I gave it the rating I did.


First Point

The cover is clean, whole and stain free but shows some signs of being rumbled at bottom left. Therefore I assign it 8 points.

Second Point

It is a U.S. standard sized envelope. So, it receives 10 points.

Third Point

Being a postal stationery items it has no added adhesive stamps. Therefore, the points made are not applicable.

Fourth Point

There are 2 postal markings and 2 private markings. Looking at each I would make the following rating:
Postal Markings
Santa Ana marking – very clear, very sharp and 95% complete - 9.5 points
San Salvador “cogwheel” – very clear, very sharp and complete - 10 points
Private Markings
Via Panama & New York – clear, somewhat faint & complete - 8 points
Merchant marking – clear, sharp and complete - 9 points


There are 3 postal markings and one merchant marking on the reverse
Postal Markings
2 Mannheim markings – very clear, very sharp and complete - 10 points each
Santa Ana marking in blue (between Mannheim markings) - clear, rather faint and complete - 7.5 points
Merchant marking
Clear, sharp and complete - 8 points

The total points for all markings – 72 points. Divided by number of markings – 9 points.

Thus, I would rate the cover with a total of 27 points, which I divide by 3 as the number of applicable points for a score of 9. Out of a possible score of 10 I would have to rate this as Extremely Fine.

What are your comments?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Philatelic Covers

Although not as common these days, I still hear people disparage an item in an exhibit as, “Oh, that’s just a philatelic cover.” I suspect this may just be sloppy use of language.

A case could be made that any cover in an exhibit is a philatelic cover (I know that is not what is meant.) since it is acquired by a philatelist.

Oftentimes the cover in question is one addressed to or from a stamp dealer. Does that automatically make the cover philatelic? In my opinion NO. Remember, stamp dealers are business people and so most of these covers are really business covers, especially if they use stamps currently available at the post office. Shown here is an example of currently available stamps in the minimum number necessary to pay the fees.

Say you have a cover going from one person to another. Is that always a non-philatelic cover? In my opinion, again NO. If they are old enough how do you know that one or both were not collectors? You probably don’t unless one was a famous collector and you recognize the name. Here is an example of a cover going to a collector although you may not recognize the name. (He wrote the classic article on the Old Postal Cancellations of Nicaragua that appeared in the magazine Die Post in 1935.)

To overcome the problem of sloppy use of language, I submit that we should always use the term “philatelically inspired cover.” So, how do you recognize a philatelically inspired cover? There are several ways. If it is an unaddressed cover it means it was created specifically for collectors so it is philatelic ally inspired. Another way is if the stamps were not regularly issued to the general public. Here is an example from El Salvador. Most of these stamps were not issued to the public but if you had the right political connection you could get examples and their usage was tolerated.

What is your opinion?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Don't Be Fooled

From time to time I see items, like the following, that are offered as being “dual franking” or “mixed franking” usage. They are NOT! The El Salvador stamps paid nothing. The first item is an unsealed printed matter cover that had a fee of 1c; the second a 1c post card rate. The third item should have been charged postage due as the stamps had been invalid since 1891 but it managed to slip through without being so. I have seen Christmas Seals used in a similar way and you know they didn’t pay any postal fee. All such items are mere curios.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

High Denomination Seebeck Covers

I continue to hear or see comments from some collectors that the higher denomination Seebeck stamps were never issued.

In order to give pause to those who claim this I am showing some covers with these higher denominations properly used.

The first cover is from Nicaragua. The rate was 17 times the 10 centavos letter rate plus Registration (10c) and Acknowledgement of Receipt (5c) for a total 1 Peso 85c.

The second cover from Honduras shows the 24 times 10 centavos rate plus Registration (10c) for a total of 2 Pesos 50 centavos.

The third cover also from Honduras shows a 19 times 10 centavos rate plus Registration (10c) and Acknowledgement of Receipt (5c) for a total of 2 Pesos 5 centavos.

The fourth cover from Honduras show the 26 times 10 centavos letter rate plus Registration (10c) for a total of 2 Pesos 70 centavos

This fifth covers from Nicaragua shows a 50 times 10 centavos per 15 grams letter rate for a total of 5 Pesos.

The last cover also from Nicaragua show the 100 times 10 centavos letter rate plus Registration (10c), this latter paid by fiscal stamps.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Addendum to Seebeck Originals & Reprints

A correspondent has pointed out that an easy way to identify originals of the 1896 issue of El Salvador is to look at the First Issue of 1895.

No reprints of the First Issue of 1895 are known EXCEPT for the unoverprinted ones and those with the coat of arms in the wrong color. In fact, the unoverprinted ones and the ones with the coat of arms in the wrong color exist ONLY as reprints. Thus, collectors can acquire mint copies of the 1895 First Issue with confidence they are originals.

Now, since the First Issue 1895 and First Issue 1896 issues were on the same plate you can use this to determine whether a First Issue 1896 stamps is an original or not. Just, closely compare the paper, gum and shade.

The plates used for these issues were of 200 subjects, 100 of each issue. Here are the known combinations of the plates:

1896 1895
1c + 5c
2c + 3c
3c + 2c
5c + 1c
10c + 30c
12c + 20c
20c + 12c
30c + 10c

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Different Kind of Camp Cover

Everyone has heard of the concentration camps in Poland during World War II but this cover if from a different kind of camp.

At first glace it appears to be a normal field post cover from Zakopane to Aryes in East Prussia. However, it was sent from a K L. V camp - Camp Boleslewska.

The K.L.V (Kinderlandversichkung) were camps for sending children to in the countryside. On September 26th, 1940 Baldur von Schirach, head of the Hitler Youth (HJ) was ordered to organize a K.L.V. effort for the whole German Reich.

Initially, the evacuation of children applied only to Berlin and Hamburg. In addition to the Hitler Youth the BDM (Bund Deutscher Mädel), the group for German girls, helped to run the K.L.V. camps.

Shown here is a full letter from Gisela Eichoff to her brother who has become a reserve officer. It also mentions the attacks on Hamburg, which is probably why she is in this camp.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

1899 Cordoba Issue of Antioquia

Does anyone have a genuine postally used envelope bearing the 1899 Cordoba issue of the Colombian state of Antioquia? Or, does anyone know someone have one? I do not know if one exists. I have seen a cover dated one month before the supposed issue date of the stamps and it is either a philatelically inspired item or a fake. Fake covers and pieces are known.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Seebeck Originals and Reprints - Some fairly easy ones to determine

Although reprints for some values do exist prior to 1895 they are not noted in catalogs, except for the 1891 reprints on coarse paper. However, these are mostly of the higher denominations so a careful study of the 1c, 2c and 3c values will help the collector identify the paper and gum of the originals. Further, a close examination of the provisional issues prior to 1895 will assist collectors in becoming familiar with the characteristics of originals.

In 1895 a shortage of 1 centavo stamps led to the overprinting of the 12c, 24c, and 30c, while a shortage of 2 centavos stamps resulted in the 20c and 30c being overprinted to meet this need. Thus, originals of the 1c and 2c stamps are not common mint. A study of the various overprinted stamps will help collectors determine the original paper and gum of this issue and the shades of the 12c, 24c and 30c can be used to weed out originals from reprints.

The “First” Issue of 1896 has two shades of the 15c. Only the violet shade (on a gray-white paper) is an original. The 15c in bright ultramarine (on a white paper) is always a reprint on a paper similar to the originals. Use it to help determine what is an original and what is a reprint on a similar paper. The official stamps of this issue exist ONLY as reprints.

The “Second” and “Third” Issue originals are not easy to distinguish. The only overprinted value is the 15c on 24c provisional but it can be used to help distinguish the original paper and gum. The “FRANQUEO OFICIAL” overprint is on originals and some reprints so care must be taken with these.

The originals of the 1897 issues are on the same paper as the originals of the Second & Third 1896 issues although the gum now is now yellowish-white to brownish instead of colorless. However, there are a number of provisional stamps that can be used to help make a determination of what the originals are like. I refer to the 13c on 24c, 30c, 50c and 100c. Also, there is a distinct difference in color of the 24c. The best way to see this is to obtain a copy of the 13c on 24c provisional and use it to compare to the unoverprinted stamp. If the color is the same it is an original else it is a reprint.

The originals of the issue of 1898 are on the same paper as the Second issue of 1896 so they can be compared to that.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

El Salvador - The First (BOGUS) Issue

In the September 30, 1907 issue of “Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal” Joseph B. Leavy, once the philatelic curator of the Smithsonian Institution, states, “…in The Stamp Collector’s Magazine for February 1867, appeared the following description of a bogus stamp, said to have emanated from a notorious San Francisco counterfeiter: “The design is very similar to that of the Hawaiian…”

Today these bogus items are quite scarce. Shown here are the two colors they appear in:

If you have a copy of this item, treasure it as they are seldom seen.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Whatever became of the de Thuin counterfeits?

Recently, a fellow-philatelist and I were discussing various matters and the question arose “Where are all the de Thuin counterfeits?”

Both of us remember the flurry of publicity in 1967 about the acquiring of the clichés, art work and material when the American Philatelic Society acquired these items from de Thuin in Mérida, Mexico and the subsequent publishing of the book, The Yucatan Affair: The Work of Raoul Ch. De Thuin, Philatelic Counterfeiter, in 1974.

Although the works of Spiro, Fournier and others are offered for sale (as counterfeits frequently, but not always) neither of us has seen any de Thuin material offered as such. Also, other than the above mentioned book not much literature seems to exist on these items.

We got to wondering why this is and several possibilities occurred to us.

• People don’t recognize the work as being that of de Thuin

• When the material was brought into the U.S. the counterfeit stamps were turned over to the Treasury Department and destroyed.

• Since de Thuin generally sold to collectors rather than dealers only a limited number of copies were sold and these remain in collections unrecognized.

• Collectors at the time examined their collections for this material and destroyed it.

We have no way of knowing which, if any, of these possibilities is the correct one. What do you think the case may be? What do you think happened to them?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Another example

Here is another example showing how the “cut corner” was used to verify the printed matter rate. It was sent from Asuncion using the 1900 issue 8c value to pay the rate. However, since the U.S. postal regulations required that printed matter could be sent only unsealed it was considered to be a first class letter and charged double the international letter rate.