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FIRST STAMPS (originally printed for Pacific Steam Navigation Co.) 1 December 1857.



1857, 8 reales = 1 peso.
1858, 100 centavos = 10 dineros = 5 pesetas = 1 peso.
1874, 100 centavos = 1 sol.

Spanish adventurers under Pizarro landed in 1532 and quickly subjugated the Incas. From 1542 the Viceroyalty of Peru was governed from Lima, a city founded by Pizarro on the old Inca highway. Until 1717 this comprised the whole of Spanish South America, including Panama, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, and even until 1776 included Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Peru declared its independence on 28 July 1821; this became reality in 1824 after the ensuing war.

The War of the Pacific (1879-83) was waged over nitrate rights, Bolivia and Peru against Chile. By using its much stronger navy, Chile soon had the upper hand and most of the fighting was on Peruvian soil. The consequent boundary dispute between Peru and Chile was only finally settled on 28 July 1929, Tacna returning to Peru and Arica being ceded to Chile. Boundary disputes with Ecuador were settled in 1948.

Postal History
Before the Spanish landed in 1532, the Incas employed state runners (chasquis) between Quito and Cuzco, verbal messages being memorized and passed on from one relay station to the next. Lima became the headquarters of the posts of the Spanish Indies in 1561. Runner services to Potosi are recorded in 1599. A service to Buenos Aires via Tucuman was started in 1748. Marks of origin struck in black or red and 'Paid' (FRANCA) marks are known from 1766. Posts then extended to Santiago de Chile. In 1840 the Pacific Steam Navigation Co. opened a route from Panama to Valparaiso. From 12 August 1851 mail to Europe was permitted through British consular offices. In 1867 the PSNCo started a service to Valparaiso from Liverpool via Cape Horn. In 1870 Peru had only 166 POs.

Stamps of Britain used at packet agencies: in 1861-79 at Paita (oblit. C43); in 1865-79 at Arica (oblit. C36), Callao (oblit. C38) and Islay (oblit. C42); in 1868-78 at Iquique (oblit. D87); in 1868-70 at Pisco (oblit. D74); and (dates not known) at Pisagua (oblit. D65).

A Peruvian stamp depicting a railway engine issued in 1871 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the first South American railway is generally considered to be the world's first commemorative stamp.

During the War of the Pacific, stamps of Chile used in occupied Peru 5 April 1879 or later until 11 October 1883 can be identified by dated postmarks of 34 towns. Local issues were made in various towns in 1881-5.

Chile in Peru 1879-83
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Argentina, Bolivia, Chile & Peru pre 1900
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