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FIRST STAMPS 1 January 1859.


1859, 100 centavos = 8 reales = 1 peso.
1879, 100 centesimos = 1 venezolano.
1880, 100 centimos = 1 bolivar.

Discovered by Columbus and colonized by the Spanish c. 1550, Venezuela formed part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. Independence was proclaimed on 5 July 1811, and after a 10-year war Venezuela became part of Greater Colombia. From this it withdrew in 1830. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Venezuela was one of the most turbulent of all South American republics, with civil wars in 1863-70 and 1899-1903 and many revolutions. However, since the discovery of oil (1922) and the exploitation of iron resources, it has become one of the richest and most stable of South American republics, with a parliamentary constitution dating from 1958.

Mail from the colonial period bore straight-line postal markings. In the period under Greater Colombia, markings took the form of a large oval. In 1842-59 they were circular.

Stamps inscribed ESCUELAS and INSTRUCCION were revenue stamps showing payment of a tax to finance state primary schools. They were also valid for postage until 1911 and were so used, more especially during the chaos of March 1871-August 1873 and in 1879-80.

Since at least 1818 outgoing Venezuelan mail has been sent from La Guaira to St Thomas for onward transmission to Europe.


In 1863 a private concession was granted to Captain Robert Todd to carry mail between La Guaira, Porto Caballo, and St Thomas. After many changes of hands the service eventually succumbed to the superiority of its rivals.

Non-governmental stamps issued July 1864-73. Stamps with the same face value but in different colours were necessary for sale in Venezuelan ports and in St Thomas as the island real was worth more than the mainland real.

Stamps of Britain were used at La Guaira in 1865-80 (oblit. C60) and at Ciudad Bolivar in 1868-80 (oblit. D22).

Stamps of France were used in 1866-79 at La Guaira and Porto Caballo in connection with Ligne L to Fort-de-France (Martinique).

During the civil war of 1899-1903, provisionals were issued as follows:


FIRST ISSUE November 1902 during hostilities.

SEDCOND ISSUE January 1903 during blockade by European powers.







Venezuela & the Guianas to 1903
Click map for larger view

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