Today in Postal History

Guatemala to Germany
July 20, 1901

This cover was sent from Guatelmala City.*

There is a nice purple octagonal CORREOS GUATEMALA datestamp.
Purple is the standard color for rubber postmarks.
There is also a bold purple 2 in a circle canceller (designated CN2).
GUATEMALA |  C. A.  surrounds the 2.
The canceller is common during ca 1897-1908.
It was also applied in many other colors as CTO cancel on the 1902-07 issues.

This is a separate postmark used in both Guatelmala City and Retalhuleu.
Retalhuleu is about 130 km west of Guatemala City.
The size of Retalhuleu suggests that it is much more likely that this cover came from Guatelmala City.

The cover was franked with a late but legitmate use of an engraved 1890 10c vermilion (red) Quetzal
based on the national emblem design first used in 1886 (Scott 48).*
The national emblem design first used in 1886 was lithographed (Scott 37) with the “10” narrower.

In 1900, this issue appeared in other colors and this value in red was demonetized.
However, the quantities printed in new colors were insufficient so it was decided to reauthorize
the use of the series in the earlier colors as substantial stocks remained for some of the values.
At that time Guatemala’s public treasury was in a very bad state, so this was an appropriate move.

The stamp appears to be on colored paper, and, although I originally attributed the color
to discoloration with age, I am told that some printings of the stamp were on off-white paper.

The cover was destined for Potsdam.
Potsdam is less than 30 km southwest of the center of Berlin.

There are no other transit marks on the front and there is no image of the back.
UPU rules required transit and arrival marks to be stamped on the REVERSE of covers and ADDRESS side of cards.
At that time, complete mailbags were made up in Guatemala to various European destinations.
Therefore, the standard state would just be for a receiver on the back, without the need for other transit marks.

*Thanks to David Benson for identifying the city where the cover
originated and for catching my misidentification of the stamp.
The bulk of the information above has been provided by CÚcile Gruson,
editor of El Quetzal, the quarterly journal of the
International Society of Guatemala Collectors through the good offices of Eric Dyck.
I owe both of them a big "THANK YOU!"
She was kind enough to write an extensive note on the uses of the small cicular cancel on the stamp,
the history of the stamp, and the foreign mailing practices of Guatemala at the time.
Her additions show just how much can be learned when you know all about such a cover.
She recently published a new book,
The Postal Markings of GUATEMALA, sus marcas postales, available from ISGC - Home Page


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