Notes from the Past

Guatemala's First Stamps

The first stamp attributed to Guatemala was a fraud perpetrated by a Mr. J. Holland in 1867.  He represented himself as an agent of the government and ordered some 5 centavo stamps from a Boston printer.  The stamp was accepted at first until Pierre Mahé, a Paris dealer, denounced it in his journal, Le Timbrophile, in May, 1867.  Mahé knew that Guatemala was negotiating with the Anatole Hulot of the French mint for new stamps.  Proofs of the new stamps were shown to representatives of the philatelic press later that year.  However, the stamps did not come into use for 3 years.

In a decree dated December 17, 1870, Guatemala announced a number of postal reforms including the use of stamps.  Four values were issued: 1, 5, 10, and 20 centavo.  There are two types of the 10 centavo as it appears that two dies were used to manufacture the plate.  The stamps were printed on unwatermarked, white wove paper.  Before printing a faint wash was applied in the color of the printed stamp.  The perforation is 14 x 13½.  Since the separations between stamps were so small, almost all stamps have perfs cutting in on the side.

The stamps were issued March 1, 1871, and continued in use for four years.  A few years later remainders came on the market.  All values exist imperforate but these are likely to be printer's waste as they were not among the remainders but did come on the market in 1888 in France.  Also some came to market with impressions on both sides at the same time.  Forged postmarks were applied to some of these stamps and to others of the remainders.

Still other unusual stamps came to light in 1896 when 20 centavo stamps in the color of the 10 centavo were offered.  These may have come from Hulot's effects sold after his death in 1892.

Posted August 26, 2000

Editor's Note:  I have willingly excerpted (almost plagiarized) this from Stamps Day By Day, L. N. and M Williams. Blandford Press Ltd, 1950.

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