Notes from the Past

Nicholas F. Seebeck - Part III

A few days before signing the contract described in the previous Note from the Past with Nicaragua, the Hamilton Bank Note Co. entered into similar contracts with El Salvador and Honduras.

Two years later Ecuador signed a similar contract with Henry N. Etheridge of the Hamilton Bank Note Co.

The issue of these countries under the Seebeck agreement are reported to be Nicaragua and El Salvador 1890-99, Honduras 1890-95, and Ecuador 1892-96.

These arrangements soon brought the countries into disrepute among collectors, and in North America the Seebeck issues, as they came to be called, were pretty much ignored.

Gentle notes, however, that they have been extensively studied by European philatelists who offer the following reasons for their philatelic unpopularity:

"In the more conservative era of philately in the early 1890s, the annual issuance of long, new stamp sets with high face value was considered almost a crime by collectors.

"The issuance of stamps with face values up to 10 pesos ($5 US) by Nicaragua, and, to some extent, by El Salvador and Ecuador was validly criticized.  This represents a face value far exceeding that required for postal needs in those countries.

"Objections were raised because the stamps could be sold by Seebeck at a substantial discount from face value after demonitization.

"European collectors objected to Seebeck's right to reprint the issues.

"Eventually there existed a widespread uncertainly as to which stamps were originals and which were reprints.  Even when the differences became known, the difficulties of identifying the reprints increased the unpopularity of genuine and reprint alike.

"When it was discovered that many stamps had been canceled to order or bore fraudulent cancelations, the measure of philatelic dislike greatly increased to the point where there was almost a complete boycott against collecting them."

Gentle reports the suggestion that the boycott of the "Seebecks" arose because the collectors of that time were reluctant to purchase long sets.

To be Continued

- Kenneth A. Wood
This is Philately - Volume Three Q-Z
Van Dahl Publications 1982
Posted October 19, 2000

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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