Mexico’s first stamp was issued on 1st August 1856 depicting Miquel Hidalgo y Costilla a Mexican Roman Catholic priest and a leader of the Mexican War of Independence. These first stamps of Mexico are generally referred to as the ‘Hidalgos’. As Mexico was divided into numerous postal districts each with a main post office and a varying number of sub-offices. In those early years Mexico’s posts were often disrupted by bandits and anti-government factions so these early stamps were printed and distributed from Mexico City to the main district PO’s with a so-called “DISTRICT OVERPRINTS” as a security measure. Such overprints with the districts name and/or number might occur before despatch or upon arrival but proved to be a useful anti-theft device, the 1856 and 1861 were all overprinted prior to despatch.
Mexico’s rarest stamp comes from this time, a primitive provisional stamp from Tlacotalpan of which two exist; the example on cover dated 20th October 1856 is one of the most valuable items of Mexican philately. The 1864 “Juarez”, 1864–1866 “Eagles” and 1866–1867 Maximilian issues all bear district overprints and specialised collectors recognise the wide range of stamps and different overprint combinations, some of which are rare or even unknown. The catalogues by Stanley Gibbons and Scott price these stamps as having the most common district overprint.
One of the most complex and rewarding areas of the South and Central Americas with its civil war stamps and local overprints plus stunning 20th and 21st Century issues we recommend that any serious stamp collector or postal history enthusiast join the Mexico Elmhurst Philatelic Society International, better known as MEPSI.