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The Americas

North, Central and South America and the Caribbean

North, Central and South America and the Caribbean The differences between the early postal histories of North and South America spring from the characteristics of their colonists. If these origins now seem too diverse to allow generalization, it is nonetheless no accident that English and French are officially spoken north and east of the Gulf of Mexico, Spanish and Portuguese west and south of it. Northern Europeans, with their independent and often nonconformist spirit, took their families with them and thus their whole way of life. The dominant theme of North American history is resistance to official and external interference.


Nevertheless North American ties with Europe remained cultural and racial as well as administrative and commercial; above all they remained personal.


The tradition of literacy and elementary schooling also ensured the development of widespread internal posts.


The Portuguese came as explorers, the Spanish as conquerors (con quistadores) bringing their despotic aristocracy and the Inquisition. The Spanish Indies were run as a vast royal estate rather than as open house for private enterprise. Settlers of Mediterranean origin tended to marry native women, which weakened European ties.


From 1514 the Spanish posts were farmed to the Galindez de Carvajal family for two and a half centuries. Services were operated by their private carriers and ships for the state and the nobility. A stream of edicts from Seville threatening penalties for interfering with the freedom to write letters had little effect; to Spanish administrators private correspondence smacked of subversion. Until the reforms of Philip V (1700-46), South Americans were lucky to see a mail once a year when the merchant fleet arrived from Seville. Only four ports were open in Spanish America; Havana, Vera Cruz, Cartagena and Portobello.


Though shipping was less rigidly controlled in the 18th century, not until Charles III took the posts back to the Crown in 1764 and introduced a packet boat was there a reliable regular service. But even this suffered from bureaucratic control and ceased in time of war.


The break-up of the Spanish Empire into a number of independent republics was fostered by Britain during the Napoleonic Wars for its own political ends ('calling the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old'). In South America close relations with Spain did not survive the 19th-century wars of independence. Almost the only postal legacy was the series of handstruck town marks started after 1750.


Central and South American republics - and their US printers - were among the first to exploit collectors by issuing a steady stream of unnecessary stamps. The notorious Seebeck issues of Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua are the worst of many examples. Under contract, Seebeck (a director of Hamilton Bank Note Company, NY) supplied new stamps each year on condition that the demonetized remainders were returned for his exclusive sale to less sophisticated collectors. Though the practice endured only from 1892 to 1896, these countries have never recovered popularity for serious philatelists. Actual use of such stamps was small.


A characteristic of Latin America is the use for cancelling of violet and other coloured inks rather than black. This together with non-standard shapes (oval, rectangular, etc.) and sizes (often large) of the cancellers makes differentiation difficult between stamps used postally and fiscally.



The Americas from 1945
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South America 1939
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Highlights


    We offer thousands of items for sale, here are just a few of our favourites...

  • ZEPPELIN MAIL 1933 14th October Chicago Flight to the Century of Progress Exhibition, Round Flight , franked 4Rm brown Chicago Flight stamp, Mi 498, tied by Friedrichshafen 14.10.33 cds with red triangular flight cachet in association. Sieger 238Cb, Simon BPP photo cert.

    ZEPPELIN MAIL 1933 14th October Chicago Flight to the Century of Progress Exhibition, Round Flight , franked 4Rm brown Chicago Flight stamp, Mi 498, tied by Friedrichshafen 14.10.33 cds with red triangular flight cachet in association. Sieger 238Cb, Simon BPP photo cert.

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  • BRITISH LEVANT - 1887-1921 fine mint range incl. 1887-96 set, 1902-05 to 4pi on 10d, 40pa on 2½d block of four nhm, 1909 set, 1911-13 1pi on 2½d perf 15x14, 2pi on 5d, 1913-14 set, British currency 1911-13 ½d distorted

    BRITISH LEVANT - 1887-1921 fine mint range incl. 1887-96 set, 1902-05 to 4pi on 10d, 40pa on 2½d block of four nhm, 1909 set, 1911-13 1pi on 2½d perf 15x14, 2pi on 5d, 1913-14 set, British currency 1911-13 ½d distorted "N", 1921 British to 6d and 1s etc. (62 stamps)

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