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A Funny Little Favourite of Mine

Next week’s mail bid sale catalogue is on my desk and I can see we are offering one of my favourite stamps on the front cover! I turn the page and find a few more pictured on the inside.

The Dominican Restoration War was a guerrilla war between 1863 and 1865 waged between Dominican nationalists and Spain, who had recolonized the country 17 years after its independence. The war against the Spaniards ended in July 1865 with Dominican independence restored but with the country devastated and disorganised.

Into this difficult environment and no doubt partially as an expression of renewed national pride the Republic issued its first stamps just a few months later in October 1865. Not surprisingly given the difficult conditions it is a rather primitive stamp, imperforate and of a strange shape (small and almost square) there are two basic designs including one with simulated perforations. I am minded of the second issue of Sirmoor, this Indian Feudatory State utilised the (perforated) image of their 1878 stamps found in a stamp dealers catalogue to print new ones complete with perforations as part of the design!

Clearly this does not explain the Dominican simulated perforations and I feel it’s fair to consider them to be an expression of intent! Perforating machines are tricky and it would not be until 1879 that Dominica’s Postmasters could tear sheets with the aid of perforated holes.

Anyhow, we have 5 of these stamps and they are in pretty nice condition as almost all surviving examples are damaged in some way. They are often forged too and I think that may be why I have a ‘soft spot’ for them. As a young apprentice I found an example in an old album and despite my boss telling me that I was probably wasting my time I did my research and found it to be genuine! You don’t forget those moments and since then I’ve always loved these quirky little stamps and their equally- odd bedfellows issued the following year which are strangely tall and narrow.

Clearly back then the Dominican Republic needed some help with designing their stamps but the strange formats and primitive production tell us more about the country than any modern pictorial possibly could.

Vincent Green

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